Chamber News

June 23, 2020 Likes Comments

It's your friendly morning update

The clock is ticking on the Paycheck Protection Program.

The federal loan program still has billions left in unallocated funds but is set to expire one week from today (June 30) and some banks have already closed their loan portals.
Last week in the Senate, Democrats Chris Coons of Delaware and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire proposed extending the PPP deadline to Dec. 30 or longer.
The pair are also proposing a new second loan for borrowers with 100 employees or fewer that have lost at least half their revenue due to the pandemic. A similar bill will be introduced in the House.
As of June 12, the PPP still had almost $130 billion in unallocated funds. Any unused funds would be sent back to the Treasury unless Congress approves another use.
Any business considering applying for a PPP loan should do so ASAP, since of course, there’s no certainty that D.C. lawmakers will agree to extend the program.
Honk, if you already have your PPP
Last week the SBA released a new, streamlined loan forgiveness application for all PPP borrowers. There is also a new “EZ” version of the forgiveness application for certain borrowers who meet any of the following requirements:
  • Are self-employed and have no employees; OR
  • Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
  • Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25 percent.
Newton expands outdoor seating options
Late last night Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced that Newton will allow restaurants to serve diners at tables set up in parking spaces on the street in front of their establishments.
“They’ve already been serving diners on sidewalks and private parking lots, and at picnic tables provided by the city,” Fuller announced. “This next phase of Newton Al Fresco, allowing tables in parking spaces on the street, helps restaurants stay in business with more options on where to serve meals.”
Requirements can be found on the starting on page seven this document.
Last week a group of restaurant owners asked Fuller to allow expansion into parking spaces and to close some streets to accommodate more socially distanced tables. An editorial in the Boston Business Journal urged the mayor to “work quickly” on opening streets and parking spaces.
Fuller's pan does not include street closures as has been happening on Moody Street for two weeks. Yesterday, Cambridge announced streets closing for dining.
Watertown restaurants OK’d to serve outdoors
Eight Watertown restaurants have just been approved for outdoor dining. Watertown News has the list, as well as the names of restaurants that could already serve outdoors.
You can view the chamber’s dining directory here. Learn more here. Add your business here.
Spiga eyes all season outdoor dining
Owners of Spiga in Needham have received approval from the Planning Board to create outdoor seating in a parking lot adjacent to Italian restaurant, the Needham Times reports.
The restaurant is looking to install a permanent “tent-type” structure (with heat) over the outside patio seating so they offer al fresco dining year round.
Owner Marisa Iocco said her business was going through a tough time in the business and she hoped the tent would help Spiga serve more customers even after the summer has ended.
“It’s the only way that we think we can survive,” Iocco said.
The Zoning Board of Appeals will consider the special permit on Thursday.
Extra week frustrates tourism industry
Gov. Charlie Baker’s decision to delay Phase 3 of his reopening plan to at least July 6, frustrated some business in that sector who have “gone with little to no revenue for close to three months now,” the BBJ reports.
Museums, movie theaters, gyms, overnight camps and museums and other tourist attractions are all included as part of Phase 3 (full list here).
“These businesses have been so devastated by the crisis already,” said Martha Sheridan, president of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Each week we delay opening means fewer people going back to work and less revenue. It’s clearly disappointing."

Baker’s cautious approach comes, of course, as infection rates decline in the Bay State but soar in other parts of the country, which is why he’s also investing heavily in contact tracing and more testing.
And then there’s David Geiger, a partner at Foley Hoag, who argues in CommonWealth that Baker’s COVID-19 are “unconstitutional, unscientific, and destructive.
Business groups object to freezing H-1B visas
Businesses, including major tech companies, say yesterday’s move by the Trump Administration to freeze entry of foreign workers on H-1B visas for skilled workers and L-1 visas for workers would stifle the economic recovery.
“Putting up a ‘not welcome’ sign for engineers, executives, IT experts, doctors, nurses and other workers won’t help our country, it will hold us back,” said Thomas J. Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber.
The administration is also reportedly considering dismantling the F1 Optional Practical Training program which allows some 200,000 foreign students, mostly from China and India, to work in the country each year, the New York Times reported.
Last week, the Massachusetts Business Immigration Coalition sent a letter to Trump arguing that dismantling OPT would jeopardize a fundamental part of the state's economy.
(Note, our chamber is not affiliated with the U.S. Chamber but we are a member of the MBIC.)
Cover up for a good cause
We may be apart, but we’re in the fight against COVID-19 together. Share this sentiment while helping Newton and Needham nonprofits by purchasing a “Apart Together” facemasks. Our own Tiffany Chen has more here.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
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