Chamber News

August 27, 2020 Likes Comments

Here's a stimulus idea from across the pond

The British government has launched a program designed to help restaurants and everyone else struggling from a deep recession: Half price meals.
The Eat Out to Help Out program provides customers in participating restaurants, pubs and cafes, 50 percent off their food and nonalcoholic drinks, up to £10 per person (or about $13 per diner).
The dine-in only offer is good Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August and aims to “tempt people fearful of the coronavirus out of their home-bunkers,” the Washington Post reports.
It seems to be working.
“Look around, it’s absolutely full, there’s queues everywhere,” one restaurant goer told the Post.
“Some people are eating double, I heard, which is not great for their health. But a lot of people are taking advantage of the reduced bill.”
'See you in September' becomes 'See you in 2021'
A survey of Greater Boston employers indicates that 80 percent of their office workers still expected to be working from home after Labor Day.
But even after there's a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, nearly half (47 percent) of their employees will continue to work remotely.
“People are less tethered to their office,” Jay Ash of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (and Gov. Charlie Baker's former economic development secretary) tells the Globe's Jon Chesto.
“We need to understand that and we need to consider that as we’re thinking about fiscal policy. ... What I’m worried about is that it will be more difficult .. to compete if we continue to be a high-cost state, a high regulatory state, a high-tax state.”
A long term or even permanent shift to work from home, will not only impact the office real estate market but restaurants, retail and other businesses that depend on office workers for their customers. (CommonWealth story here.)
But can the suburbs benefit?
On the other hand, some observers believe the office market is about to experience what Bisnow is calling a “suburban renaissance” that was underway even before COVID.
"We've always thought the suburbs are resilient, and we've viewed them as a very important part of our portfolio," Patrick Mulvihill of Boston Properties (owner of the former PTC site in Needham that will soon be home to IDG ) said at a recent Bisnow webinar.
"Most of our development pipeline is suburban," he said. "It's where we plan to be very active moving forward."
Jay Hirsh at Jumbo Capital Management (the largest property owner on Wells Ave. in Newton) believes demographics are more important in the revival of Boston's suburbs than the impact of the pandemic, which is bound to be temporary.
"We’re doing more showings than we’d normally expect in the fall. But if schools don’t come back this fall we may see some leasing headwinds.”
The panelists predicted many companies will be looking at a hub and spoke model: A headquarters downtown or the inner burbs; with satellite and flex office spaces to compliment those working from home.

Meanwhile, residential sales soar
Home sales stalled during the shutdown in March and April but the spring real estate season eventually reached full bloom amid "super strong" demand that drove prices up to new highs, State House News reports.
Single-family home sales in Massachusetts last month increased 5.3 percent increase over July 2019, after three months of double-digit declines in year-over-year home sales.

The median sale price rose 8.2 percent from last year to a new all-time high for July, $460,000. July inventory was up 2,000 units from June but July's inventory was just half of what was available in July 2019.
"During the lockdown, many people were preoccupied with adjustments to their personal lives. Many were also uncertain about their jobs, as well as the economy, and weren't actively looking for homes. It appears that shopping resumed in May, and the first wave of deals closed in July," said Tim Warren, CEO of The Warren Group.
Realtor Mary Gillach explains why she thinks the home market is hot in this BBJ op-ed.
City and hospital partner on testing
The City of Newton and Newton-Wellesley Hospital are partnering to provide rapid result COVID testing for school community members and vulnerable residents who lack access to a primary care physician or have other extenuating circumstances that make obtaining a test challenging, Mayor Fuller announced last night.
Newton's Health and Human Services staff will refer eligible participants to NWH. Patients should start with their own healthcare provider if they have one, and turn to the Health and Human Services Department if they need more help.
Deadline next week for 'Business People of Color' list
The deadline for nominations for our list of the 50 Most Influential Business People of Color in Boston's Greater Suburbs is one week from tomorrow, Sept. 4.
To qualify, nominees must work and/or sit on a board for a business or nonprofit that is physically located in Newton, Needham, Watertown, Waltham, Wellesley, Natick or Framingham. Please nominate employees within your own organization as well as others you’re familiar with.

Also, we’re presently looking for a college intern to assist with this project. Strong organizational skills; a desire to become involved in the local community; and a passion for championing diversity, inclusion and equity a must.
All our internships are unpaid and can be completely virtual. Details here.

And please update your records
A reminder that the chamber’s office on Needham Street is closing Monday to make way for the Northland project.
Our new mailing address is PO Box 590132, Newton Centre, MA 02459.
We’ll primarily be working virtually for the rest of 2020. But we’ve opened a satellite office at Staples Connect at 163 Highland Ave, Needham. By appointment only.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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