Chamber News

Needham / Newton
January 19, 2021 Likes Comments

Here's what we know

It’s opening day for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program.

While select lenders and applicants could submit applications last week, the portal officially opens this morning.
 
Today should also be “be patient with your local banker day,” because today will certainly be hectic and stressful as they -- and you -- navigate  new eligibility rules and limits.
 
And it will be "find out how good those federal servers are this time day" since, as many recall, the last big launch wasn't stellar.
 
Unfortunately, there's no wait until next year for many businesses. These funds will determine if they make it until spring. It's that important.
 
Performing arts venues will need to calculate whether or not its best to apply for the PPP or the SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant. A Globe article this weekend explained some of the calculations midsized performing arts venues need to consider. And there’s an SBA webinar on the venue program here.
 
For official PPP information and updates visit the SBA/PPP or Treasury/PPP websites.
 
Your chamber will be hosting a PPP zoominar this Friday.
 
New firm to help hire business leaders of color
 
Last fall when your chamber partnered with Colette Phillips on to publish the “Newton-Needham MetroWest Most Influential Business People of Color,” one of our goals was to celebrate and showcase the professionals and executives of color making a positive contribution to the economic and social fabric of the region.
 
We also wanted to send a strong statement to our businesses, nonprofits and social institutions to replace the phrase “we can’t find qualified candidates of color” with the names here and the many other exemplary people of color working and seeking opportunities here.
 
Phillips has just launched GK Execu-Search, an executive placement firm working exclusively with business leaders of color to fill C-Suite roles, board memberships and leadership positions just below the C-suite. The BBJ’s Greg Ryan has more here.
 
And please join us next Tuesday (Jan. 26) at 1 p.m. when Phillips will lead a chamber zoominar, The Art of Schmoozing: How to build a diverse and inclusive professional network.
 
Hey Boston Globe, don’t forget our restaurants!
 
As of last night, the Boston Globe’s “Project Takeout” directory map of restaurants offering takeout was still woefully light on restaurants in our west suburban communities, which is ironic since we know that Globe readership is especially high in our region.
Here’s a list 203 local restaurants offering takeout in our area that our friends at the Globe are welcome to use. (Or perhaps there's someone out here in chamberland who wants to volunteer to upload all our restaurants to their map.)
 
If there’s any doubt that restaurants are struggling, this tweet from the Globe’s Toff Wallack tells us all we need to know: MA meals tax revenue was down 36% in December, compared to 2019. But regular sales tax revenue was up 6%.
 
NBC10 offers nonprofit grants
 
NBC10 Boston, NECN, Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation is accepting applications through Feb. 12 for its Project Innovation grant challenge.
 
Local nonprofits that are helping to move communities forward by encouraging a culture of equity and inclusion, creating pathways for individuals to participate and volunteer in community engagement efforts, fostering the next generation of storytellers and providing youth with the tools they need to succeed across multiple disciplines including entrepreneurship, are encouraged to apply at nbcuprojectinnovation.com.
 
The stations and the Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation will together award a total of $315,000 (up from $225,000) to a maximum of 12 community organizations in May.
 
Fire side hangouts at Arsenal
 
Winter isn’t intimidating the folks at Arsenal Yards. You can now reserve your own socially distanced, outdoor propane fire pit to enjoy outdoor dining from Arsenal Yards’ restaurants in Watertown. They’re also hosting special socially-distanced events throughout the winter featuring live musicians and DJs.
 
Meanwhile, Arsenal Yard’s developer, Boylston Properties, hosted the first of two community meetings last week to unveil the proposed design of One Arsenal Marketplace, the existing office building and parking garage located at 617 Arsenal St., as Phase B of the Arsenal project.
 
Phase B consists of the renovation of 617 Arsenal St., home of the recently closed Miller's Ale House, into a life science lab space. The renovations will focus mainly on the office space in the current building while keeping the majority of the parking garage intact, Wicked Local Watertown reports.
 
A second community meeting will be held virtually via Zoom Thursday (Jan 21) at 6:30 p.m. (Webinar ID: 995 5862 9017 Passcode: 916154).
 
COVID relief funds for Newton businesses
 
$300,000 in grants are available to hard-hit brick and mortar businesses in Newton, through a new round of the Community Development Block Grant program.
 
The city will award grants from $10,000 for microenterprises (five employees or fewer, including the owner) to $15,000 for small businesses with 5+ to 20 employees.
 
Awards can help pay for commercial rent or mortgage, wages, loss of inventory and other demonstrated costs. (Independent contractors and consultants, home-based businesses, liquor stores, franchisees of national or regional chain businesses and nonprofits are not eligible under federal rules.) Details here. Deadline Feb. 8.
 
Need to knows
 
  • Looking for information about vaccines? The Mass. Department of Public Health COVID-19 website, includes information about when you, employees or family members will be eligible for a vaccine. Email questions to COVID-19-Vaccine-Plan-MA@mass.gov.
  • The Department of Conservation and Recreation will give an overview of a redesign of Hammond Pond Parkway (from Beacon Street to The Street near Rt. 9) that aims to make the road more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians. Attend the Zoom meeting on Thursday (Jan. 21) at 7 p.m. Register here.
  • The Massachusetts Equitable PPP Access Initiative offers help applying for a PPP loan in English, Spanish, Haitian Creole, Chinese, Arabic & Portuguese.
Baker nixes several transit initiatives

Gov. Charlie Baker signed a $16 billion transportation bond bill late last week but used his line-item veto to remove several proposals, including measures supported by this chamber and other business groups.
 
The overall package provides essential funds to multiple capital projects, including transit, bridge road, sidewalks, roadways, pedestrian and bikeways improvements.
 
But Baker vetoed a proposal designed to raise revenue by increasing some of the nation’s lowest ride share fees for companies such as Uber and Lyft. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council estimated the fees would have raised upwards of $56 million, providing essential transit funds for cities and towns and critical new investments in the MBTA and transit authorities. (Last year, Baker actually proposed increasing ride share fees, but only to $1 per ride rather the tiered structure approved by lawmakers.)
 
Also vetoed was a provision championed by Sen. President Karen Spilka which would have made sure those of us who live and work in the western burbs won't be subject to higher Mass Pike tolls to pay for that massive I-90 project in Allston if a provision.
 
As Spilka put it in a recent interview: “The MetroWest commuter should absolutely not be financing this project, which is essentially a land development... It’s absolutely not fair to use the tolls as an ATM to pay for things that don’t benefit MetroWest, Central Mass and Western Mass commuters."
 
And speaking of tolls, Baker also struck a call to create a commission to study equitable toll pricing and congestion pricing to alleviate congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“[We] cannot understand why the Commonwealth should be unwilling even to study a powerful tool that is already working effectively in other states and countries,” MAPC said in a statement.
 
Can we add your company to this list?
 
Finally this morning, join me in welcoming the following businesses and nonprofits who joined or reinstated their memberships at the end of 2020.
Chamber membership and annual partnerships make the chamber’s programming and advocacy (including this newsletter) possible.
 
We literally could not do this without our members.
 
If you’re not a chamber member, please help us help you by becoming a member today.
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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