Chamber News

June 03, 2020 Likes Comments

How to know when Phase 2 starts

Restaurants, retail shops, hotels, day care centers and other businesses will be anxiously watching Gov. Charlie Baker on Saturday to see if he will allow Phase 2 of his reopening plan to commence on Monday (June 8).

Baker has always said the start of each phase depends on current health data.
But how can you follow the data for yourself? Easy.
Each day, the state posts the latest metrics here and then consolidates the data into one chart with six key indicators.
Here’s yesterday’s chart with numbers from the previous day (June 1). Scroll down a bit and you’ll see a series of yellow and green dots. Green represents a positive trend. Red is bad. Yellow’s in the middle.
The more green the better. But even those encouraging yellow dots seem to suggest that we’ll get a “green light” to launch Phase 2 on Monday.
Of course, just because some businesses may be able to open Monday, that doesn’t mean they will. This story from Commonwealth Magazine explains why it’s going to be “practically and financially” challenging for many day care centers and day camps. And the Cape Cod Times reports that some restaurant owners there have decided to close either permanently or for the season.
Summer dining decisions loom
Newton’s licensing commission is meeting at 2:30 this afternoon to hopefully approve Mayor Fuller’s proposal to streamline outdoor dining rules. Then the city is expected to be sharing guidelines with restaurants later in the day.
The good news is that this week, municipalities were given the authority to expand liquor licenses to outdoor spaces without the cumbersome weeks-long state approval process. Restaurants can use outdoor patios, sidewalks, decks, lawns, parking areas and more.
In addition, Beacon Hill lawmakers are pushing a restaurant relief bill that would cap those third-party delivery fees that can eat up profits to 15 percent and make cocktails available for takeout (only beer and wine is allowed now), among other things. Look for a vote in the House as soon as today.
Business confidence up in May
Business confidence ticked up slightly in May as Massachusetts employers welcomed the re-opening of the state economy, according the latest Associated Industries of Massachusetts survey.
The AIM Business Confidence Index gained 3.7 points to 42.1 two months after suffering the largest one-time decline in its history. The increase left the Index 15 points lower than in May 2019 and well below the 50-point mark denoting an optimistic outlook on the economy.
The rise in confidence came as Baker announced a four-phase process for re-opening the economy under strict workplace safety guidelines. Employers hope a timely return to business will allow them to re-hire some of the 1.2 million Massachusetts residents who have filed for unemployment since the onset of the pandemic, AIM said.
PPP news of the day
I keep telling myself, “One day I’ll be able to send out this morning newsletter without mentioning the Paycheck Protection Program.”
Today’s not that day.
While we’re still waiting to see if the U.S. Senate will respond to a House bill that would improve the flexibility rules (I love this headline), the Boston Business Journal has this troubling story about the significant hoops lenders have to jump through to administer the loans, or else forfeit the promised processing fees.
Some lenders already have sold their PPP portfolio in the secondary market because they did not want to get bogged down in trying to retrieve the money from the SBA as the PPP loans are 100 percent guaranteed by the federal agency.
"There's a general feeling that most documentation relating to forgiveness will not be correct, and PPP will become loans for small businesses," says Frank Williamson, CEO of Oaklyn Consulting, a Tennessee-based mergers and acquisitions firm. "The issue then becomes that these loans are likely not of good credit quality and servicing them could become a challenge."
That other P thing…
The state has launched a new project to boost the number of homegrown companies able to manufacture personal protective equipment or PPE. The new effort will be supported by a $250,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the organization managing the Massachusetts Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (MERT).
This effort builds on the successes of MERT, which has helped 27 Massachusetts companies produce over 3.5 million pieces of PPE to date. The new accelerator programs will provide additional companies with the support and resources to pivot their operations to manufacture PPE, giving them access to a wide range of experts and proven entrepreneurial methods. More here.
Finally, 36 is my new favorite number!
In spite the unprecedented challenges our businesses and nonprofits face right now, 36 new companies and organizations became members of the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber in May.
That’s right 36!
We recognize that many of you joined (or, in some cases, rejoined after an absence) in response to our recent fundraising drive to help us close a projected $75,000 budget gap. We’re getting really close to closing out that campaign successfully to (go here to learn how you can help) and will announce those results soon.
Belonging to the chamber not only supports our advocacy and programming, it conveys strength in numbers, signaling to local, state and federal officials that you share our mission to thoughtfully rebuild our economy.
We're gratified by this remarkable show of confidence.
Please join me in welcoming our newest chamber members…
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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