Chamber News

July 30, 2020 Likes Comments

Here's today's update

If your business or nonprofit has yet to apply for one of the Paycheck Protection Program loans, you have just over a week to do so. Pending yet another extension, the application deadline is Aug. 8.

And if you’ve received the first PPP loan and are crossing your fingers hoping a second PPP round becomes available, you should know that, under the US Senate’s just released stimulus plan, not every business that received the first round would qualify for the second, Motley Fool reports.
Under the GOP plan, loans would be limited to 300 employees or fewer (rather than 500 or less under PPP 1). And you’d have to demonstrate at least a 50 percent revenue decline, compared to a previous quarter, was expressly due to the pandemic.
Here’s the good part: Under PPP 2 businesses could use the funds to purchase protective equipment for employees and customers, including masks and sanitizers. They'll also be able to use their funds for updated ventilation.
Housing Choice chosen
A zoning rule that has stymied housing production statewide is getting a much needed overhaul.
Yesterday the state Senate passed an economic development bill that includes Housing Choice. The provision would allow for a simple majority to change zoning for mixed use development, affordable housing near transit, accessory units, and inclusionary zoning, among others.
Gov. Charlie Baker has been championing Housing Choice for two years. The House approved the change on Tuesday. The bills now need to be reconciled before going to the governor.
“Our housing crisis wasn't created overnight and won't be solved by one bill. But this amendment is a significant step toward solving the crisis,” Sen. Brendan Crighton, chair of the joint housing committee said yesterday.
The Senate's bill also included measures covering offshore wind development and nondisclosure agreements but not legalization of sports wagering, which is part of the House bill (and included a fund to help restaurants).
Why is this candidate different from all other candidates?
Still undecided in the contest to fill the 4th Congressional District seat Rep. Joe Kennedy is vacating as he runs for the US Senate?
WBUR asked each of the eleven candidates (nine Democrats and two Republicans) four questions here.
There’s also this excellent forum with the Democratic candidates hosted by a group of students.
And the Leagues of Women Voters of Brookline, Needham, Newton, Sharon-Stoughton and Wellesley will host a forum with all eleven candidates on Aug. 5, at 3 p.m. To view the live stream, register here to view via Zoom. Or watch the live stream here.
The primary election is on Sept. 1 but with vote by mail, many voters will be making decisions as soon as next week.
Mayors seek ability to raise transportation revenue

Municipal leaders are making a pitch to allow cities and towns to impose their own fees or surtaxes to fund transportation projects, a tool that exists in 41 other states.
"Local and regional transportation investments will play an important role to foster economic revitalization and recovery," chairs of the Metro Mayors Coalition and other groups wrote in a joint letter to state lawmakers.
Though local revenue-raising options will not on their own raise enough money for transformative transportation improvements, local dollars can act as a down payment on larger transportation projects, help municipalities to address local needs and give residents a greater say in addressing local transportation challenges.
Our chamber and a coalition of other business groups endorsed the same tools as part of menu of revenue sources to address our transportation needs.
Face mask signs available for Needham businesses
The Needham Health Department is providing signage for local businesses to help enforce face cover requirements. Posting the signs are optional. Needham merchants can download and print this sign or email Tara Gurge and they will deliver copies to your place of business.
“We are asking business owners to let us know if they have any feedback on this sign or if they have any ideas for different signage that would help their business,” says Gurge.
Ellie Fund gets boost
The Boston Foundation recently announced the distribution of $470,000 to 12 Eastern Massachusetts nonprofits in grants made possible by the Massachusetts COVID-19 Response Fund, including the Ellie Fund in Needham, Wicked Local Needham reports.
The Ellie Fund will be offering $35,000 to provide prepared and delivered meals to patients struggling with breast cancer. Funding would also go to cover transportation costs and childcare support to children of single-parent households.
This round of grants brings the total funds distributed by the Boston Foundation/Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund partnership to over $3 million.
Movie theaters take it slow
Although Phase 3 of the reopening plan allows movie theaters to open under strict restrictions (no food service, limits of 25 people per screening room), as of last week, only one Boston area theater has opened: The West Newton Cinema.
“We can’t even turn on the air conditioning and pay for it with just 25 people,” Katherine Tallman of the Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline (a chamber member) told the Globe last week when asked why they remain closed.
And there’s been some confusion and frustration about the guidelines.
West Newton owner David Bramante said the city’s board of health said he could sell popcorn, soda and candy but the state regulations prohibit it.
”It’s much less contact than a supermarket or even some sidewalks I’ve been on and you’re pretty much in your own little area of maybe 20 feet of space right now,” said Bramante.
“We’re super aware of sanitizing and being aware of people’s needs and we’ve made all the adjustments in terms of barriers between the customers and the staff.”
There’s also a national campaign to lobby for federal support for local indie movie houses. Learn more here.
Safe and healthy workplace grants and assistance
Here’s two programs geared to help your business control potential safety and health hazards.
  • The Safety Training Grant offers up to $25K in Safety Training for your incumbent employees of Massachusetts businesses and municipalities.
  • The OSHA Consultation Program provides FREE service to employers to assist you in complying with the OSHA standards.
Learn more about both programs at a webinar on Wed, Aug 5 at 11 a.m. Details and registration
Newton makes a play for (Cam) Newton
Mayor Fuller is making a play for Newton.
Cam Newton, that is.
“News that MVP quarterback Cam Newton is suiting up with the New England Patriots this season got us thinking,” Fuller wrote in her email newsletter last night. “Is there a better place for a man with the name Newton to live than right here in Newton?”
So the mayor sent the Pats QB a gift box of, yes, Fig Newtons.
“We have no idea if NFL COVID-19 protocols will allow Newton to actually receive the Newton gift box. We’ll keep you posted if we hear from the QB.”
While hopes are high for the the Pat's Newton, it's worth noting that a different Newton did his best work during a pandemic.
Be back tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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