Chamber News

June 17, 2020 Likes Comments

Here's the latest

Want to really help our restaurants? Eat at off hours. That’s one of my takeaways from conversations I’ve been having this week when I asked restaurateurs how the first week of outdoor dining went.

Too many folks want a reservation for 7 p.m. But with limited seats available due to social distancing restrictions, there’s only so much an operator can do. Yet earlier in the day and later in the evening, many seats are going unfilled.
 
Of course, this only applies to the restaurants that are fortunate enough to have space for tables in front of or adjacent to their property.
 
For example, restaurateurs in West Newton who don't have space for outdoor seats say their takeout business took a big hit this weekend as customers flocked to Moody Street, which has been entirely shut down for outdoor seating.
 
Many small retailers believe restaurant foot traffic helps them too. But WCVB reports about concerns retailers in Belmont have when streets are closed for outdoor dining.
 
That’s no small matter considering that Jon Hurst at the Retailers Association of Massachusetts tells Shira Schoenberg at Commonwealth Magazine that as many as 30 percent of small retailers may never reopen.
 
Newton’s top cop to retire
 
Just hours after Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced plans to create a civilian police review board (funded with $200,000 that had been earmarked for new police cruisers), Newton Police Chief David MacDonald said he’s retiring.
 
Fuller said MacDonald told her Tuesday morning of his plans to step down.
 
“Chief MacDonald shared with me that he wants to focus more on his health and his family, so it made sense to him, that this summer would be the time for him to hand over his gold badge after 27 years of service,” Fuller said in the statement.
 
Meanwhile Newton’s firefighters union has filed a complaint with the state Department of Labor Relations after the group said it was prohibited by Fuller from displaying a memorial flag in honor of fallen firefighters at a local fire station.
 
What to do if an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19

Massachusetts requires that employers notify their local board of health if they become aware of a positive COVID-19 case at the workplace. You will likely be asked to assist with contact tracing and advising workers to isolate and self-quarantine. Testing of other workers may also be recommended.
 
Apparently, we’re not all in this together
 
A few weeks back, the Town of Wellesley nixed plans by CVS to offer free drive-through COVID-19 testing because of concerns about traffic.
 
“The biggest concern was bringing more cars into an area which is already quite crowded,” a town official told Commonwealth, even though the by-appointment-only program was capped at five tests (cars) per hour.

But traffic is apparently not a “concern” when it comes to plans to turn a parking lot just blocks away from that CVS, into a makeshift drive-in movie theater.
 
Ten films will be shown on a 40-foot inflatable screen at a cost of more than $50,000 which came from the Community Fund for Wellesley’s COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Kiwanis Club.
 
“All involved are just so excited,” a different town employee told the Globe yesterday. “This is just trying to bring back summer as best we can and provide this little bright spot."
 
Renewed help from the SBA
 
I wrote about this yesterday but believe it’s important enough to mention twice.
 
Businesses and nonprofits with 500 employees or less can apply for low-interest assistance and an emergency advance grant of up to $10,000, though the SBA’s just reopened its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program
 
The advance, based on a company’s headcount ($1,000 per employee), doesn’t have to be paid back.
 
The loan may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact, and that are not already covered by a Paycheck Protection Program loan. The interest rate is 3.75 per cent for small businesses. The interest rate for nonprofits is 2.75 per cent. Payment terms can be up to a maximum of 30 years. The first payment is deferred for one year.
 
The chamber hosting an SBA webinar tomorrow that will primarily focus on Paycheck Protection Plan’s forgiveness features and the just approved changes to the PPP but I will also ask lli Spahiu, Assistant District Director for Lender Relations Massachusetts District SBA office, to discuss EIDL too.
 
Hopefully, these guys won’t also apply for EIDL
 
Speaking of the PPP, Politico is reporting that “at least four members of Congress have reaped benefits in some way from the half-trillion-dollar small-business loan program they helped create.”
 
There may be more than four. But only the SBA and Treasury Department know for sure since the administration won't release a list of PPP grant recipients.
 
Each of the lawmakers who received PPP loans, either directly for their business or indirectly through a spouse, told Politico the loans were acquired properly.
 
Last week, the Washington Post analyzed where the SBA program dollars have been going.
 
Resources you can use
  • The Massachusetts Small Business Development Center offers many resources for small businesses and, in particular, for small businesses navigating COVID-19. You can read more about available programs and services here.
  • The MA Small Biz Reopening Guide is an online resource created through a partnership between Mass Growth Capital Corp. and Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corps. The site helps businesses navigate available guidance and tools that will help them reopen safely and successfully.
  • Small Business Strong is a public-private partnership that offers access to information, business advisors, and functional specialists to help small business navigate the impacts of COVID-19.
I bought two of each
 
Three Newton do-gooders have come up with a creative way to engage residents in the COVID fight.
 
They created, produced and are selling locally-themed masks with 100% percent of the proceeds (from the total sales) donated to COVID related charities in Newton and Needham, including Center Street Food Pantry, Newton Food Pantry, WelcomeHomeMass, Needham Community Council, and Needham Community Farm. The chamber is proud to have been asked to help promote the effort.
 
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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