Chamber News

Needham / Newton
November 12, 2020 Likes Comments

Fuller alarmed by proposed MBTA cuts

If you find yourself in panic this morning racing to complete your application for the state’s $508 million small business grants, you can exhale now.

Today’s deadline has been extended from tonight to Tuesday Nov. 17.
If you need help completing your application LISC Boston is offering technical assistance for small businesses applicants.
Need help with stress in general? See today's final item.
Fuller, City Council alarmed by MBTA cuts
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and the City Council are appropriately sounding the alarm about those proposed MBTA service cuts as well as the curtailment of capital projects.
“The proposed cuts will definitely impact transit riders in Newton,” Fuller wrote in her email newsletter. “.... it will hurt employees, seniors, youngsters and those without access to cars. There will be a disproportionate impact on those with tight budgets.
"It will undermine our environmental goals, our ability to reduce congestion and the promise of transit oriented housing, retail, restaurants and offices," the mayor added. "Without frequent public transit, reviving the economy becomes even more difficult. We need the MBTA to provide more service, not less.”
The proposed cuts include ending all bus and subway service at midnight, reducing subway frequency by approximately 20 percent, and eliminating weekend commuter rail service.
In Newton, the proposal reduces bus service, including the elimination of Routes 52 (Watertown to Newton Centre to Dedham) and 505 (express route Auburndale to Boston). It also includes restructuring or shortening several bus routes, including Routes 553, 554, 556 and 558, as well as the continued consolidation of Routes 501, 502, 503 and 504.
(Watertown News has details about other service changes there.)
The Newton City Council sent a letter also expressing alarm, sharing concerns about the region’s ability to address climate change, housing, congestion and the state’s economic recovery in a post-COVID world.
“We are also concerned that the plan will have secondary, disparate impacts on lower income and transit dependent riders," the councilors wrote.
"Specifically, Newton has permitted over 2,000 units of housing in the past five years, over 400 of which are affordable. We were able to vote for projects like Riverside (582 apartments), Northland (800 units) and Trio (140 units) because of connections to and availability of transit to offset constituent concerns about increased vehicle traffic.”
The MBTA is holding a series of virtual public meeting to solicit feedback, including on Nov. 17 focused on the area serving Newton and Watertown. Details here.
CDC: Dress your face in layers
The CDC is now saying fabric choice matters and that evidence shows face masks protect the wearer from inhaling COVID-19, as opposed to just keeping others from catching the virus in the event that you were infected (MassLive).
Wearing masks correctly is also important. And they're recommending the use of multi-layer cloth masks.
“Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts,” the update states.
Real estate watchers hopeful following election
Hopes for predictability, stability, a rational COVID response, a stimulus package and an infrastructure funding leave local real estate watchers optimistic following the election, reports Catherine Carlock at the BBJ.
“Predictability and stability — two things that have been lacking at the federal level — are critically important for the commercial real estate industry,” Tamara Small at NAIOP Massachusetts tells Carlock.
Many also expect changes in trade policy, taxation, housing, health care could affect the industry, as would whether or not Republicans hold onto the Senate.
“[President-elect] Biden’s platform calls for $5.4 trillion in additional spending over 10 years. If enacted, expanded health insurance coverage likely will drive demand for medical space closer to the consumer and spur the conversion of some retail space, notes a CBRE’s U.S. Market Flash report.
“In addition, $1.6 trillion for infrastructure and R&D should benefit office and industrial real estate demand. Housing policy initiatives, such as tying federal funding to zoning changes to spur affordable housing development in suburban locales—as well as increased affordable housing subsidies—could present unique opportunities for residential real estate.”
Tomorrow: Learn about COVID testing for businesses
A reminder, if your company or nonprofit has a need for COVID testing in our region, the chamber is working with Project Beacon on a possible local solution.
The goal is to set up a local site where businesses could send employees, as needed. Costs begin at $40 per test depending on the scope of services involved. The tests are processed by labs at the Broad Instituteand results are generally within 24 hours.
Please join us tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. for a webinar hosted by Project Beacon to learn more.

Today’s three need-to-knows
  • Thinking about what’s next? NBA star Stephen Curry recently asked Bill Gates to answer some of the most common job interview questions during his new YouTube series as part of his State of Inspiration series.
  • Lawyers Weekly is hosting “Post-COVID-19 Employment Litigation Is Coming. How Can Employers Prepare?” next Tuesday (Nov. 17) at 10 a.m. A panel will discuss how employers can prepare for an expected surge of lawsuits, including including allegations of discriminatory layoff, wage and hour suits, and health and safety claims. Register.
  • MassDOT is now taking applications from municipalities for a Shared Winter Streets and Spaces Program, a new phase in the state's Shared Streets and Spaces Program which was launched this past June.
Watertown’s life sciences boom goes on and on
Elm Street Partners is proposing a 78,000 square foot, R&D/lab-life sciences and office building at 23-29 Elm Street, adjacent to the Watertown Mall.

The newly constructed three-story building would host a mixture of incubator and established research labs, with a main entrance off of Elm Street façade and a lower level garage. The developer is hosting a virtual community meeting via Zoom on Nov. 23 at 6:30 p.m. to present its plans. (Watertown News)
Meanwhile in Waltham, Lexington-based startup Translate Bio Inc., which is working on a Covid-19 vaccine, has signed a 10-year-lease with Boston Properties for a 138,000 square feet at 200 West Street. (BBJ)
Be still thy beating heart. Have another caramel.
Many Americans suffering from anxiety leading up to the Election Day and the uncertainty that followed found help this fall in the the form of gummy bears, cookies, chocolates, caramels and gel capsules, all infused with a dose of cannabis, notes the NY Times. Companies that specialize in edibles say sales soared in the weeks leading up to the election.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.
P.S. One last reminder to join us at 10:30 this morning for the unveiling of our 50 Business People of Color in the western suburbs list. And look for a copy of the list in your inbox later today.


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