Chamber News

September 24, 2020 Likes Comments

Everyone's talking about it. No one does anything. (No, not the weather)

No matter where you stand on filling our nation’s Supreme Court vacancy, we should all agree that the nomination battle is bad for our businesses, nonprofits, local governments and economy.

That’s because it’s now more certain than ever that Congress won’t be moving on a stimulus bill any time soon.
 
And that’s going to make it really hard for some employers to make it through this winter and while also placing more strain on local resources.
  • Yesterday, Mayor Marty Walsh warned that Boston is “very close” to moving into the red category for coronavirus transmission.
  • Also yesterday, Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said the “most difficult part of the recovery is still ahead of us.” (Globe story) “It’s going to be very difficult for Massachusetts to fully recover until Boston fully recovers. And a full recovery in Boston requires people to occupy the office buildings we have downtown,” Rosengren added.
  • Many of the nation's top CEOs, said basically the same thing yesterday calling for a ‘major’ coronavirus stimulus to keep our economy from backsliding.
But is anything likely to happen? Nah.
 
Restaurant rules relaxed
 
I grew up in a family of nine.
 
And starting Monday, the Reibmans would all be able to sit at the same table at our favorite Massachusetts restaurant, with an extra chair for our coats.
 
That’s because, Gov. Baker has expanded restaurant seating to up to 10 people per table (it's currently six).
 
He also authorized bar seating; providing you can safely social distance from others and the bartender (plexiglass counts) and have ordered food. Go here for the updated restaurant guidance.
 
Support for women & minority owned businesses
  • Small Business Strong, a nonprofit organization empowered to help women and minority owned small businesses navigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19, provides expedited, pro-bono resources to small businesses ranging from access to capital to consulting, business restructuring, business growth, digital marketing and customer engagement plans. Details here.
Needham leaders exempt meters
 
Needham Select Board voted this week to extend the free parking meter program for the rest of 2020.
 
However the town says it will strictly enforce the two-hour limit.
 
“It is our hope that by extending the free meter program for the rest of the year, we can make it easier for the public to visit the many great businesses we have in town during a time when they need it the most,” said Select Board member Marianne Cooley. “We respectfully ask the public to limit their parking to two hours so that the greatest number of people may enjoy our restaurants and shops.”
 
Free meters are just one of several initiatives adopted in Needham to support local businesses during the pandemic, including reducing liquor license fees (something we still hope Newton will do on Oct 6).
 
This week, Needham also voted to waive any fees restaurants must pay associated with obtaining outdoor heater permits (yes, we’ve asked if Newton will do this too).
 
And the town is partnering with us on our Needham 100 Day Challenge (Facebook page here) and Shop Local Dine Local banner campaign.
 
Save your quarters in Newton too
 
The City of Newton hasn’t been enforcing parking either (although they haven’t placed hoods over parking meters as in, yes, Needham). Drivers are reminded to abide by handicapped parking restrictions and will be ticketed for blocking driveways or sidewalks, fire hydrants and other safety related restrictions.
 
“We continue to evaluate how utilized parking meters are in our village centers and business districts. Currently, they continue to be underutilized,” said Economic Development Director Devra Bailin. “Mayor Fuller plans to drive around residential areas of Newton with a Newton Police officer tomorrow to evaluate parking.”
 
Wellesley Square loses two merchants
 
The Bruegger’s in Wellesley Square has closed, according to the Swellesley Report. The location had been listed as “temporarily closed” since April but is no longer listed on the company’s site. A real estate sign is now in the window.
Fashion boutique Jarbo has also left Wellesley Square, the site reports.
 
Child care programs have been overwhelmingly safe
 
The state released some encouraging numbers last week, that should provide some comfort for working parents who need an away-from-school, day care program.
 
According to the data, only nine of the 550 emergency child-care centers in operation from March through May reported more than a single case of COVID-19, the Globe reports.
 
Experts attribute the low infection rates to careful adherence to health and safety protocols that could provide insight to schools, day cares, and learning pods that are reopening their doors to children.
 
“Because COVID numbers remain relatively low in Massachusetts, the risk of COVID transmission in any setting, including child care settings, exists but remains low,” Department of Public Health said public health spokeswoman Ann Scales.
 
Families looking for out of school coverage for their kids have many local options.
 
For example, the John M. Barry Boys & Girls Club of Newton is currently accepting registrations for its full coverage for elementary school students. This small cohort program is priced at $10-$15 per hour.
 
The West Suburban YMCA also has openings for a similar program that offers distance learning support and physical activities for children grades K-8.
 
If your chamber member business has child care openings please send the details to Tiffany Chen so we can compile a directory for area workers.
 
What bank robbers rob during a pandemic
 
A convicted, four-time bank robber is facing federal charges after applying for $4.7 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans. The Department of Justice said he had made claims for four businesses in Massachusetts that did not exist. (WCVB)
 
New math: Get off at 128 and turn onto Galen Street
 
Beginning next month, new exit numbers are coming to highways and routes across Massachusetts, including to the Mass Pike and I-95/Route 128.
 
The switch to mileage-based numbering rather than the current sequential numbering system is required the Federal Highway Administration and had been delayed by the pandemic. Boston.com has charts showing the changes.
 
Here’s my prediction for the one that will be most confusing for customers and visitors: Exit 17 on the Mass Pike (Newton Corner) will now be labeled "Exit 128."
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Schedule time to meet with me at https://calendly.com/greg_reibman

 

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