Chamber News

Needham / Newton
January 12, 2021 Likes Comments

Glimmers of hope?

"It Could Be a Great Year, if Your Business Survives Winter.”

That's the headline for a New York Times article featuring business owners from across the nation sharing optimism for a recovery.... if only they can survive the next few lean months.
 
“Restaurants see ‘glimmer of hope’ in state’s economic stimulus bill.”
 
That’s from a Globe story by Janelle Nanos, quoting restauranteurs who “are feeling a bit more hopeful” after last week’s passage of an economic development bill on Beacon Hill that included a relief fund and a cap on third party delivery apps, plus a new round of the federal PPP.
 
“Developer sees glass half-full on commercial real estate.”
 
And that comes from an interview for The CodCast with developer Tom O’Brien who is bullishly moving forward with plans to build 6.35 million square feet of office space in and near Boston and predicts "an explosion of people wanting to be outside, wanting to go to events, going to restaurants, going to hear music" once this thing is over.
 
After the week we’ve been through – and with pandemic still raging out of control, while vaccines lag – it’s helpful to see glimmers of hope, don’t you think?
 
On your mark. Get set... PPP!
 
Two new application forms for the new round of PPP loans are out.
 
The applications are based on whether you are applying for your first (aka “First Draw”) or second (“Second Draw”) PPP loan.
PPP 2.0 re-opened yesterday for new borrowers and certain existing borrowers through community financial institutions. Select second draw PPP loans open tomorrow.
 
We’re still waiting for the SBA to announce when the PPP will open to all participating lenders and borrowers. But judging by the 70 people who signed up for our Jan. 22 PPP webinar in just a few hours Monday, interest is high.
 
As with the first two rounds of the PPP, applications must be submitted online at banks and other SBA-approved lenders. Loans are calculated using a company’s payroll expenses; businesses can use either their 2019 or 2020 payroll to compute how much they can ask for.
 
The loans, which can be forgiven, will have five-year terms and carry an interest rate of one percent. In order for loans to be forgiven, 60 percent of the loan must be used for payroll. The rest can be used for employee health benefits, mortgage interest, rent, utilities and expenses that are essential to business operations.
 
Want even more PPP links? Have at it
 
Here's more opportunities to bone up on your government speak, thanks to the release of new SBA guidance….
And here's a video: The Independent Restaurant Association and the James Beard Foundation held a PPP webinar yesterday. Watch that webinar here.
 
Municipal group opposes housing bill amendment
 
The Massachusetts Municipal Association is calling in Gov. Charlie Baker to veto an amendment to housing bill passed last week by Beacon Hill lawmakers.
 
The measure would require municipalities served by the MBTA (so including Newton, Needham and Wellesley) to create at least one multi-family district near a station where multifamily housing could be built without any special permits.
 
The move would eventually create thousands of apartments and condos in Boston-area suburbs, writes Tim Logan in the Globe.
 
“We oppose Section 18 because it would mandate the creation of zoning districts with as-of-right multifamily development in 175 communities within the MBTA region, imposing state-set requirements and regulations that override the local decision-making authority of Town Meetings, city and town councils, and local planning, zoning and appeals boards," writes MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith.
 
“It seems to me that requiring municipalities to establish one by-right multifamily zoning district near public transit is extremely modest," says Kathleen Hobson of the Newton housing advocacy group Engine 6. "We’ve prioritized ‘local control’ over equity and a well-functioning economy for long enough.”
 
The MMA and Engine 6 both support the main feature of the Housing Choices bill which would limit the threshold for approving many zoning changes ― including transit-oriented housing ― from two-thirds of a city council or town meeting to a simple majority.
 
And if you’re wondering about other bills approved by lawmakers last week, the BBJ’s Greg Ryan looks at how Beacon Hill’s decisions will affect your business in 2021.
 
Stimulus bucks won’t reverse T cuts
 
The MBTA will receive between $250 to $300 million in new federal COVID relief funding but is still proceeding with most of its planned service cuts, reports Chris Lisinski at State House News.
 
Up to $17 million of the new stimulus will go toward bumping service back up on high-ridership bus routes and maintaining evening commuter rail service. And $178 million will replenish the capital budget.
 
But any stimulus money left over will be saved until fiscal 2022 and used to bring back service at that point "when we have the ridership and the demand, or at least the expectation of that demand" the T says.
 
Cuts at commuter rail and ferries (including elimination of Needham Line weekend service and fewer runs on the Worcester/Framingham Line) begin Jan. 23.
 
Other service cuts, including buses and transit, will be implemented later this year.
 
Time returns in Wellesley
 
The Wellesley Square station clock will return to its perch this week. The clock was removed in September for extensive renovations.
 
“It looks fantastic. You won’t even recognize it," Meghan Jop, the town’s executive director, said at last night's select board meeting.
 
Today’s need to knows
  • Looking for information about vaccines? The Massachusetts Department of Public Health COVID-19 website, includes information about when you will be eligible for a vaccine. Sign up to receive updates on the vaccine here.
  • The SBA’s Ascent program is an online digital learning platform to help women small business owners grow and scale their small business. All content is backed by research on the needs of empowering women business owners and female entrepreneurs.
Here's what actual 'draining the swamp' looks like
 
Some of the nation’s largest corporations are suspending all or some political contributions -- primarily to the 147 Republican politicians who voted against certifying the Electoral College -- in the wake of the deadly Capitol siege by Trump extremists last week.
 
The New England companies rethinking donations include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Boston Scientific, CVS Health, General Electric, Liberty Mutual, Raytheon Technologies and State Street, reports the Globe’s Shirley Leung.
 
They join AT&T, American Express, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Comcast, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Marriott and others according to multiple reports.
 
Hallmark has asked Sens. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) to return money it previously donated to them for opposing the count.
 
“Companies can issue carefully worded statements denouncing last week’s riot, but talk is cheap,” writes Leung. “Taking away the cash that has fueled a threat to our democracy makes a real statement, one that can make politicians do some deep thinking.”
 
Expect more pressure on more companies in the days to come. The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump group, is launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign targeting companies that bankroll Republicans.
 
But will any of the business leaders at these companies be dropping in for a lobster roll at Arnold’s in Eastham the next time they visit the Cape? Will you?
 
Be back tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously.

 

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