Chamber News

August 28, 2020 Likes Comments

Don’t be the person who ‘meant to, but never got around to it.’

Will anyone at your business or nonprofit be included in our list of the 50 Most Influential Business People of Color in Greater Boston’s western suburbs?

The nomination deadline for this project (which will be celebrated with a print publication and a virtual event) is Sept. 4 … one week from today.

We already have some outstanding nominees. But we don’t want to miss anyone who should be included.

And I’m sure you don’t want to be the person who “meant to, but never got around to it,” right?

To qualify, nominees must work at and/or sit on a board for a business or nonprofit that is physically located in Newton, Needham, Watertown, Waltham, Wellesley, Natick or Framingham.

BTW, don't worry if you don't know every detail about your nominee's career or achievements. Share what you know and what impresses you. Let our judges take it from there. Self-nominations are welcome too.

(And here’s how you can demonstrate your company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by becoming a sponsor.)
Who gets the vaccine first?
From State House News Service (paywall):
Bars, concert venues and sport arenas won't fully open in Massachusetts until there is a vaccine, or a treatment, for COVID-19.
But if one were to be approved in the fall, or winter, who would be immunized first? And who would administer it?
"It would be a tragedy if a vaccine were produced, available and effective and we couldn't get it to people fast enough," said Lauren Stienstra, program director for homeland security and emergency management at the National Governors Association.
The NGA published a policy memo this month suggesting that a "whole of government" response will be needed to successfully distribute a vaccine to the public.
Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers, didn't know specifically how far along Massachusetts was in its planning, but said generally states were well engaged in the effort. She said Massachusetts has a "really good system in place" for disseminating the annual flu vaccine, including experience with getting that vaccine to uninsured adults.
There's also the question of convincing the public that the vaccine is safe. A recent Gallup poll found 35 percent of Americans said they were unlikely to get vaccinated even if the FDA approved a free vaccine today.
Wellesley Books bucks the trend
While nearly one-out-of-four retailers reported in a RAM survey that they were considering shrinking their footprint, Wellesley Books is trying a different approach.
The independent book seller is opening an annex space as a way to offer more merchandise to more customers while still complying with the social distancing and safety measures, according to the Swellesley Report.
The 90 Central Street annex is just a couple doors down from Wellesley Book’s main store.
Meanwhile in Wellesley Hills, progress continues on the creation of an outdoor parklet that will accommodate more than a dozen tables for take-out from nearby restaurants (possibly even delivery). It’s part of a $61,000 state grant to support increased biking, walking, dining, retail and community activities.
Needham businesses join ‘Equal Justice’ program
The citizen group called Equal Justice Needham has been going around town asking businesses to display a “Needham: An Equal Justice Town” sign.
Each sign features a QR code that links to the website of the State Attorney General's Office of Discrimination, where anyone who experiences or witnesses discrimination can report it.
More than 40 local businesses have signed on so far. See who here.

Email here to request a sign to display at your place of business.
Weekly ‘still no news’ PPP update
Most recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loans, upon advice from the lenders that processed their applications, have been holding off on seeking forgiveness for their loan with the hope that Washington will approve a proposal to grant automatic forgiveness for loans under $150,000 or a similar cap.
Under one Senate bill, borrowers of loans between $150,000 to $2 million would no longer have to submit payroll sheets and other documents showing how the money was spent but simply certify that the records exist and keep them for three years, according to Newsday.
But following reports of a growing number of fraudulent loans some feel blanket forgiveness may release too many bad actors from being held accountable.
And so we wait. ...And wait.
Payroll tax guidelines? Also waiting
Businesses are also awaiting guidance on the President's payroll tax suspension, only this time it’s not Congress that can’t reach consensus, but the White House and Treasury, according to the New York Times.
The White House sees it as a critical election year stimulus. Business and trade groups don’t like it, since employees will be on the hook to pay the deferred taxes back when the tax holiday ends.
And without guidance from Treasury, no one knows how to proceed.
Travel tech company expands in N-Squared
Another travel software company is securing space in the N-Squared Innovation District.
FareHarbor has leased 11,838 square feet of office space at 115 Fourth Avenue in Needham, a Davis Companies property. Founded in 2013, FareHarbor was acquired by Booking Holdings in 2018.
The newly renovated Fourth Ave. property is a boutique office and lab building adjacent to the Charles River. The building includes a new tenant lounge with TVs, soft seating, a LeanBox and a Bevi station, as well as a new fitness center and outdoor patio.
“Needham is an attractive market for office and lab space today more than ever due to its Route 128 access and its proximity to desirable work, play and living spaces.” said Matt Katz, VP at The Davis Companies.
Medical, BioPorto and Syniti are among building’s other tenants. Remaining vacancies include a 36,000-square-foot life science suite.
Just in time for a rainy Saturday
Showcase SuperLux at The Street in Chestnut Hill is reopening today.
Under state guidelines, auditorium capacity is limited to 25 people, which should work really well with SuperLux’s nice, intimate, layout. Movie theaters can’t provide food and beverage services yet but SuperLux is offering a special food service with Davio's, adjacent to the theater’s lobby.
"We have worked with our industry partners to re-envision our Showcase customer experience to make health and safety our main focus," said Mark Malinowski, VP of Global Marketing.
"We are calling our program Be Showcase Safe and encouraging our customers to work together with our employees and follow these new health and safety protocols as we are working toward the same goal – a safe and fun movie-going experience."
No grip and grin, more like slide and glide
There’s lots of things I miss about the pre-COVID days. But one thing I’ll never miss is participating in check presentation photo ops.
Don’t get me wrong: I love giving, or being on the receiving side of a donation!
It’s just those awkward grip and grins -- with everyone standing shoulder-to-shoulder, with frozen smiles, holding an oversized check -- never did much for me.
Yesterday, we tried something that was a lot more fun. Check out the video below and see for yourself….


Finally, a Graceful exit
A word of thanks to chamber intern Grace Huang.
The Newton South grad began her internship just as the world was shutting down, so I’ve never actually been in the same room with her. But Huang has been a full contributor to many of our initiatives this year, helping build out our DEI, PPE, outdoor dining, takeout and delivery and shop local directories (plus a new project we’ve yet to announce!)
And she was a full participant in our zoom meetings too, offering genuinely useful insights and ideas. Huang is off to study economics at Barnard College but left us with some parting thoughts here .
Speaking of interns, we’re now looking for a college intern to assist with our 50 Most Influential Business People of Color project. Details here.
Take good care, be back with more updates Tuesday at 7 a.m.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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