Chamber News

April 07, 2020 Likes Comments

It's your morning update

The situation looked a tad brighter yesterday for businesses and nonprofits hunting for those much needed Paycheck Protection Program loans from the Small Business Administration.

Many of our members reported Monday that they were finally able to find a bank to process their applications, even if they still haven't filed.
And (in spite of the SBA’s application portal crashing for a few hours yesterday) the Globe reports that “smaller banks have been generally more nimble at processing applications, while Bank of America and other massive institutions threw up roadblocks that infuriated longtime customers.”
If you need help finding a banker here’s a list of the chamber’s member banks.
Scroll down for a summary of the various SBA loan programs plus pro bono services available to businesses and nonprofits during this crisis. And if you’d tried to secure a PPP loan, please email me and let me know if you’ve been successful or not.
But first, a reminder about this morning's 11 a.m. webinar: “What Employers Need to Know Now” will focus on new sick and paid family leave benefits and considerations and tips in considering employee furloughs and layoffs. And tomorrow, you’ll have a chance to hear from questions to town officials in Needham. Register for both events below.
Finally, today we're pleased to introduce a series of mini-web tutorials from our friends at Last Minute Productions. This one's about making professional-looking videos from your smartphone. Scroll down for that too.
SBA's disaster programs in brief
Do you need capital to cover the cost of retaining employees?
Do you need quick infusion of a smaller amount of cash to cover you right now?
To ease your fears about keeping up with payments on your current or potential SBA loan? The Small Business Debt Relief Program could help.
Have questions email
Pro bono legal help
The Lawyers Clearinghouse is setting up a program to provide pro bono legal services to help small businesses and nonprofits who will need assistance dealing with employment and contract issues as well as those needing help to navigate and apply for assistance through the CARES Act.
They are working with a group of law firms to create a point of information for all things related to COVID-19. Following screening, clients will be placed among the participation for law firms for pro bono representation.
The nonprofit plans to have this program up and running by the middle of this week but if anyone has an urgent need contact Executive Director Maribeth Perry
Other small business assistance
Here’s two organizations that may be able to assist you complete an SBL loan application or provide other technical support or advice for your small business.
  • MA Small Business Development Center (MSBDC) provides small business owners and entrepreneurs in Massachusetts with the tools and guidance needed to become successful in today's challenging economic climate. We provide free and confidential one-to-one business advice to prospective and existing small businesses focusing on, business growth and strategies, financing and loan assistance as well as strategic, marketing and operational analysis. In addition, low-cost educational training programs are offered across the state targeted to the needs of small business. Website:
  • SCORE is the nation’s largest network of free, expert business mentors, is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneurial education and the formation, growth and success of small business nationwide. Website:
What does this crisis mean for coworking?
Among the topics we discussed during last week’s chamber real estate webinar was the impact Covid-19 might have on the future of coworking. Would users be less reluctant to want to share a workspace with others? Or after months of work from home, will businesses view the flexibility coworking provides as an even more attractive alternative to a multi-year office lease?
In an article published yesterday, WorkBar CEO Sarah Travers makes the argument for coworking as “a third place to work that is not your home and not your office, where you can perform the same functions just as efficiently with the aid of technology. It also means that the third place is not a coffee shop or a gym-or really anyplace whose main business function is not to provide a safe and healthy place to work.”
And Travis talks about how WorkBar, which is scheduled to open in Needham after the public gathering bans are lifted, plans to accommodate growing awareness for safe, healthy work spaces.
Russo’s temporarily closing in-store shopping
While most grocery stores and markets have remained open, Russo’s in Watertown has announced it will be closed for in-store shopping beginning Sunday through April 29. Customers will still be able to purchase the pre-packed, delivered-to-your-car Russo’s boxes, which have become a favorite with my family. The store’s wholesale operation will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Newton’s and Needham construction restrictions
We’re repeating this important clarification from the city regarding Mayor Fuller’s announcement of a construction ban in the city.
Projects such as tear-down replacement homes, kitchen remodels and additions are no longer considered essential and therefore must immediately stop in accordance with the state’s guidance. However, in keeping with state guidance housing projects that add new units to our housing stock are considered essential and allowed to continue, providing they comply with the strict social distancing and risk prevention guidelines. Energy retrofits and maintenance (e.g. plumbing and electrical) are allowed to continue.
Meanwhile, the Town of Needham has not placed any restrictions on construction so long as social distancing and other protective measures are followed. And Needham has deferred fourth quarter real estate tax payments for commercial and industrial real estate and the fourth quarter personal property tax (business equipment and furnishings), which would have been due May 1 are now due June 1.
Businesses going beyond
Businesses across our communities are stepping up in many ways. Here’s just a few example from the past few days.
Let us know what you’re doing or if there’s any way we can be helpful to you.
Until 7 a.m. tomorrow (or sooner if necessary),
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
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