Chamber News

Needham / Newton
February 03, 2021 Likes Comments

Is your empty building still burning the midnight oil?

Will workers come back to the office?

Will companies shrink their footprint or abandon Greater Boston altogether?
 
Both the Globe’s Jon Chesto and Tim Logan explored those questions in back-to-back articles this week.
 
Chesto's story asks "Will Boston lose its competitive edge in a WFH world?" It hasn't yet, he suggests, in part because of our region's strength in talent, hospitals, universities and life sciences.
 
But he also explores our region's vulnerabilities.
 
That include "issues that bedeviled us before the pandemic, such as transportation and housing" and the "thorny issue of taxes." He notes that "one-fourth of companies surveyed by the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership said they are considering moving jobs or offices out of state."
 
The day before Logan reported that Amazon’s plans to bring 3,000 tech jobs to the Seaport District, is mostly an outlier.
 
“A lot of companies are wrestling with what are we going to look like when we come back? What’s the best workplace strategy for us going forward?” Ron Perry at real estate firm Avison Young told Logan. “They’ll get there. They’re just not there yet.”
 
Then there’s this article from USA Today about “Zoom towns,” efforts by smaller communities to attract new residents who are able to work remotely.
 
Also this week, a new Pioneer Institute studytracks how Massachusetts was already losing taxable income, especially to Florida and New Hampshire, via out-migration of the wealthy.
 
“Because of our stable tax environment and concentration of talent,
Massachusetts has outperformed most states and outpaced the nation in job growth since the Great Recession,” said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios. “Yet even during that period of growth we were shedding almost a billion dollars a year to low-tax states like Florida and New Hampshire.”
 
Both Florida and New Hampshire have no income taxes. Florida residents also do not pay capital gains or estate taxes.
 
The state Legislature will decide, perhaps this spring, whether to put the "Millionaires Tax" on the 2020 ballot. The proposal would impose a four percent surtax on all income above $1 million.
 
Empty buildings keep burning the midnight oil
 
Is your office still blasting the heat, or air conditioning, and leaving all the lights on, even though hardly anyone is reporting to work?
Fast Company notes that while many offices remain closed or nearly emptied of people, electricity use is climbing steadily back up to pre-pandemic levels.
 
Why is that?
 
Often, it's because of the lease terms, writes Nate Berg.
 
“It’s common for leases to stipulate hours of service delivery, and that service delivery can be as detailed as we will deliver 70-degree Fahrenheit air to your space between these hours,” says Zach Robin, CEO of Hatch Data, which has been studying consumption.
 
Owners and operators don’t have the legal right to ignore those contractual agreements, which means the air conditioner keeps running. The language of these leases varies from building to building, but unless tenants explicitly consent to changes—say, during an unanticipated and indefinite closure of business premises during a global pandemic—the building operations remain as agreed, and the electricity keeps flowing as scheduled, adds Berg.
 
Grants! Get your grants!
  • Reminder, the deadline for Newton bricks and mortar businesses to apply for one of $300,000 in grants is next Monday Feb. 8.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. Details here.
  • Watertown bricks and mortar business are also eligible to apply for the same type of grants with no hard deadline but a rolling admission. Details here
  • Needham still has funding is available to help residents who have lost income due to COVID-19 make rent payments in the coming months. Details here.
  • Wellesley’s COVID-19 Relief Fund has just awarded grants to assist residents through all phases of the vaccine roll out. A second grant went to the League of Women Voters to support voter education for the March 2 annual election. In the past year, the Fund has awarded nearly $117,000 to support at-risk and vulnerable residents, help struggling restaurants and businesses, provide PPE, and more.
Wellesley open house tomorrow
 
If you work for a business or nonprofit based in Wellesley, please join us tomorrow (Feb. 4) at 10 a.m. via Zoom for a presentation and conversation about our chamber’s expansion into Wellesley.

Or if you know someone who runs a company in Wellesley, please encourage them to attend (and maybe tell them a little about why you find value from being affiliated with our chamber at the same time). Scroll down or go here to register.
 
Need to knows
  • U.S. Congresswoman and Assistant Speaker of the House Katherine Clarkwill be the guest speaker at the chamber’s 4th Annual Women in Government event on Thursday Feb. 18 at 9 a.m, in partnership with the Waltham Chamber. Join us to hear first-hand about Clark’s journey to becoming the fourth highest ranking member of the US House. Registration opens soon.

 

  • Looking for a lender to help you apply for the PPP? Here’s a list of local chamber member banks that may be able to help. The SBA also has a searchable Lender Look Up tool listing all eligible lenders.

 

  • The Education Development Center, the Mass Life Science Center, and MassBioEd are convening a free, four-part panel series focused on growing and diversifying the state’s future Data Science workforce. Feb. 10, 2021, 10-11:30 a.m.
Another vaccine option in Newton
 
Add the Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst to the growing list of local COVID-19 vaccine sites.

The clinic will administer the Moderna vaccine to eligible individualsthrough at least March 19 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The Holtzman Medical Group plans to vaccinate between 200 and 250 individuals per day at Mount Ida and is working to increase capacity. Appointments will be posted to http://www.holtzmanmedical.org/covid19 on a rolling basis. Registrants do not need to be patients of the medical practice or affiliated with UMass.
 
Yesterday, I reported that Beth Israel Lahey Health and the BID Needham will open a vaccine clinic at the site of the old Boston Sports Club, at 135 Wells Ave. in Newton. That site will be open seven days a week beginning mid-February.
 
Of course added sites won't help without adequate supply. Yesterday the Biden administration announced it is freeing up more doses for states and to 6,500 retail pharmacies nationwide next week, AP reports.
 
Thinking of setting up your own clinic for employees?
 
Employers interested in operating an in-house program for getting their employees vaccinated against COVID-19 have two options, the Baker administration announced.
  • An employer may partner with a vaccine provider, such as an occupational health organization, pharmacy, or other health care organization.
  • An employer with an occupational health department can enroll in the Massachusetts COVID-19 Vaccine Program.
Contact Mary Joyce at the Department of Health with questions employer about vaccine programs.
 
This will break your heart
 
The Wall Street Journal has this heartbreaking story about a Dartmouth, Mass. Stop & Shop employee who -- in spite of taking every precautions to keep her family safe -- now comes home from work each night, walks to her fireplace mantel, lights a candle and talks to the gold urn that holds her husband’s ashes.
 
“I talk to him and tell him I’m sorry,” she says. “Because I brought it home.”
 
Be safe out there. Back tomorrow.
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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