Chamber News

September 09, 2020 Likes Comments

Here's what we know

We’ve all experienced frustrations with customers, colleagues and other covidiots who refuse to wear face masks.

But what about frustrations with the masks themselves?
Fogged up glasses? Mask slippage? Irritated nose or ears? Difficulty hearing or communicating?
And the dreaded ‘maskacne’?
Remarkably this one article from Consumer Reports has some practical suggestions for coping with all of those (except for the covidiots).
You’re welcome.
Second PPP in Senate COVID relief bill
Senate Republicans returned to work yesterday and unveiled a pared-down coronavirus relief bill. The bill includes a $300 per week unemployment benefit through the end of the year and liability protections from coronavirus-related lawsuits but it does not include another round of those stimulus checks that helped bolster consumer spending earlier this year.
It would also extend the Paycheck Protection Program to allow some small businesses to receive a second, forgivable loan.
To qualify for a second loan, businesses must have fewer than 300 employees and would have to show a 35 percent revenue loss in a 2020 quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. (Yahoo News).
(BTW, no need to call your lender just yet to get your second PPP application in. This version of the bill may not even have the votes to get through the Senate this week, let alone win support from the House.)
Meanwhile, Eric Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, is calling on Congress to clarify whether its Main Street Lending Program can make riskier loans, which could help push more money out the door to companies fighting for survival. (Washington Post)
Newton company rescues the Paper Store
Newton-based real estate firm WS Development has come to rescue of The Paper Store, the Acton-based, family-run regional gift retailer that had filed for bankruptcy in July, reports.
The move could save approximately 2,000 jobs, including at its Leominster warehouse that employs up to 200 workers seasonally and 50 people year-round.
“Our relationship with The Paper Store goes back many years and we have great respect for the business and its leadership,” WS Development CFO Eric Smookler said.
WS (a chamber member) owns, develops, leases, and manages more than 95 properties, including The Street at Chestnut Hill.
They're not the only retail property owner that is investing in tenants in the COVID-wrecked economy. Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall operator (including the Shops at Chestnut Hill, also a chamber member) and Authentic Brands Group closed a deal last week to buy the bankrupt Brooks Brothers. They've also acquired Lucky Brand denim and Forever 21. (New York Times.)
Grants available to Watertown businesses
The Town of Watertown is now accepting applications for microenterprise business grants, using federal Community Development Block Grant funds. Grants of up to $10,000 for microenterprise businesses (a commercial enterprise with five or fewer employees) can be used for emergency needs in light of the pandemic.
Real estate rentals/sales businesses, businesses owned by persons under age 18, businesses that are chains, liquor stores, weapons/firearms dealers, lobbyists or Cannabis-related businesses are not eligible.

Application is here. Deadline is Sept. 25. FAQs here. Questions? email Gideon Schreiber.
Resources you may find helpful
Blumshapiro has created a PPP loan forgiveness toolkit and calculator to reflect the most recently released guidance. Details and download here.
And here’s some resources from the U.S. Chamber (no affiliation with our chamber) that you may find useful
Business confidence? Blah
Business confidence enjoyed a modest increase last month but was well below its level of a year ago, with a predominantly pessimistic outlook still prevailing, Associated Industries of Massachusetts reported Tuesday.
And even more pessimistic for hospitality
One out of every five of the state’s restaurants have closed for good, Massachusetts Restaurant Association president Bob Luz tells WBZ-TV. That’s roughly 3,600 of the 16,000 businesses that were open in early March.
Luz said that while outdoor dining has kept some restaurants afloat, winter could bring even more closures.
Which is why there’s a rush to get outdoor heaters
Rooftop igloos, branded blankets and outdoor heaters. These are some of the ways, restaurants are looking to extend the outdoor dining season into the colder weather, the Globe’s Devra First reports.

“We have all our heaters on order,” Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz (chamber member) tells First.
Newton restaurants looking to expand the outdoor dining season through the use of outdoor heaters, need to apply for a propane permit. The application together with the $50 fee has to be brought into Fire Prevention at 1164 Centre Street. The permit includes up to 80 lbs of propane to be stored on the exterior of the building in an enclosed ventilated cage. (Inspectional Services needs to be contacted if a restaurant is using electrical outdoor heaters, especially in regard to the use of extension cords with such heaters.)
Last chance (for real)
And finally, one last reminder to submit your nominations for our 50 Most Influential Business People of Color in Greater Boston’s western suburbs.
The deadline is today, Weds. Sept. 9.
We’ll back tomorrow!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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