Chamber News

September 18, 2020 Likes Comments

How to help our businesses right now

Amidst so much uncertainly, here’s two things that feel certain right now.

First, we’re going to be living with this pandemic for quite some time.
Second, we shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for Washington to agree to a stimulus package (including a second Paycheck Protection Program) to help our businesses and nonprofits remain solvent in the interim.
But here’s something the state could do that would give more businesses a fighting chance.
Release and promote industry specific details about contact tracing.
Right now, we have a lot of understandably nervous consumers who just aren’t comfortable dining indoors, going inside a store, to the gym, visiting their dentist, and so on.
I get why folks are nervous. I’m nervous too.
But what if we had better data to help us decide when, and where, our anxiety is justified?
For example, if contact tracing reports told me that COVID spread is prevalent inside restaurants, I’d know if I should stick to take-out, dining outdoors or whatever’s in my freezer.
If the data said folks were getting sick going to shoe stores, we’d know that we're better off going to Zappos.
And if the reports told us offices were super spreaders, then it would make sense to keep working from home.
On the other hand, if contact tracing reports showed that when restaurants and customers abide by the guidelines there’s little or no record of spread, I’d be a lot more open to dining indoors.
Same for shopping, gyms, yoga classes, haircuts, dentists, chiropractors etc. Are these, and other businesses, the source of community spread, or aren’t they?
If only someone was collecting the data that could tell us.
A few weeks back, Gov. Charlie Baker said the primary source of COVID spread are “people who are familiar with each other, being familiar with each other.”
In other words, the biggest problems are parties and other large gatherings.
“Most of the contact tracing so far does not imply or suggest or indicate that [work places are] the problem,” Baker added. “It just doesn’t.”
That’s incredibly useful information that really ought to be a cornerstone of the governor's $2 million shop local campaign.
Let’s not just tell people where spread is happening, but where (when all the proper precautions are followed) it isn’t.
Louisiana, Vermont and Colorado released data by sector or occupations, the Globe reported last month.
We would benefit from a similar mechanism in Massachusetts that tells consumers, employers and workers which parts of our economy have proven to be safe and which ones aren’t.
Three things to read (one to watch)
  • GBH’s Jim Braude talks to Boston College’s Jack Dunn who says the university has COVID "under control."
  • MassBay Community College's spring semester will be almost entirely remote. (Wicked Local)
  • Another sign of Boston’s soft rental market: Permits for moving trucks are way down (Boston Globe)
  • Charlie Baker to everyone: Get a flu shot! (MassLive)
Introverts, extroverts and ambiverts

Needham’s Robert Glazer published yet another fascinating Friday Forward column last week about the differences between introverts, extroverts and ambiverts and how it influences all our leadership styles and needs.
I was particularly intrigued by the idea that introvert and extrovert leaders both need, at times, to become ambiverts.
For introverts, that might mean working a room (yes Zoom rooms count), or giving “an important speech that rallies the troops.” For extroverts, it could be the need to “step back and not dominate the conversation, listening more than they speak to create space for others.”
The key is recognizing that while we sometimes need to be ambiverts, introverts and extroverts each need to recharge in different ways.
For this introvert, it's recharge time. I'll be back with another newsletter next Thursday.
Take good care. Mask up and tip generously!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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