How are we doing? Really, how are we doing?
As we come upon the one year anniversary of the COVID shut down and look forward to things opening up in weeks to come, we’re interested in hearing your
thoughts about our chamber.
Later this morning, we’ll be sending you a very short six question survey. I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a few minutes and respond. Thanks in
Here’s today’s update:
Just in time for next week’s 60-degree weather
Newton Community Pride
has committed funds to dress up shared dining spaces (like the one established last year in the Newton Centre parking lot) with tents, lights or other
There will be set-ups in Newton Centre, Newton Highlands, West Newton, Newtonville and Nonantum. Also planned: An expanded outdoor dining area on Union
Street (opposite the Newton Centre T stop) with metered spaces converted to parklets and traffic reduced to one lane.
Starting April 1 Newton restaurants can request permission to expand into parking spaces beyond their frontage with written support from their abutting
neighbors. Applications here
Wellesley is still finalizing its outdoor dining options but distributed applications to restaurants on Monday.
State adds UI fraud protection measures
The massive surge in unemployment during the pandemic brought with it a wave of fraudulent claims and lengthy delays in delivering payments.
Yesterday the state Department of Unemployment Assistance announced a new identity verification process aimed at securely speeding up those payments, reports
Chris Lisinski at State House News
ID.me, a federally certified security vendor specializing in digital identity protection, will implement a mobile-friendly ID process for unemployment
benefits program starting March 5.
The department also plans to add a multi-factor authentication system to its online unemployment insurance system to improve security.
Meanwhile employers are nervously hoping the Legislature will approve a proposal by Gov. Charlie Baker that would stop Unemployment Insurance rates from
soaring by nearly 60 percent on April 1.
Earlier this week the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation joined those calling for a rate freeze
and the creation of a plan to repay federal UI loans.
SBA issues new PPP rules (but time is running out)
For these small businesses, it will mean larger forgivable loans.
The agency also released updated guidelines
for lenders on calculating loan amounts for Schedule C filers and new eligibility rules for borrowers, including those who had struggled with student
loan debt, had non-fraud felony convictions or were non-citizen business owners.
More than 600 organizations nationwide, including our chamber, cosigned a letter to Congress this week asking to extend the application deadline for the
Paycheck Protection Program through the end of the year. Read the letter here.
Here’s some other resources (please share if you know any small businesses, self employed or gig workers in need):
- UMass Amherst’s Massachusetts Small Business Development Center provides free, confidential, one-to-one business assistance and free and low-cost training
to prospective and existing small businesses. Schedule a virtual meeting here.
- The Massachusetts Equitable PPP Initiative offers multilingual technical assistance and lender matching for underbanked and historically underserved businesses, including businesses owned
by women and people of color, seeking a PPP loan.
- 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.
Need to knows
- Do you have questions, input, or comments regarding the Reopening Massachusetts plan? Submit them here.
- The World of Wellesley presents Dr. Maureen Walker speaking about her book “When Getting Along Is Not Enough, Reconstructing Race in Our Lives and Relationships” this Sunday (March 7) at 3 p.m.
- Did you know that chamber membership is at the corporate level? This means your company’s membership covers all of your employees. Sign your colleagues up here to receive this newsletter and other updates. Email for help.
Bike sharing expanding
Newton just secured a $200,000 MassDOT grant to fund four additional Bluebikes stations with 44 more shared bicycles, Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced last
Womxn to tell their stories
This program combines a zoom conversation moderated by Attorney General Maura Healey with to-go meals from woman restaurateurs across Greater Boston. To
learn more about the larger movement, watch this from “The Today Show
Construction alert: Needham St/Highland Ave
The bridge over the Charles River that connects Needham Street in Newton with Highland Ave. in Needham will be undergoing night work March 8 through March
19 from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.
The work is being done in the overnight hours to minimize traffic impacts. There will be one alternating lane of travel over the bridge during work hours.
Police details will be present.
Ultimately, the historic bridge will have two lanes heading into Newton and one lane into Needham, with cantilevered sidewalks to make the bridge safer
for cyclists and pedestrians, but the major components of that change are not happening now.
Is Fido getting fat?
Could Fido be suffering from the similar problem? Does Lassie need to run some laps?
A survey by the Banfield Pet Hospital, the nation’s largest general veterinary practice, found that among 1,000 dog and cat owners, 42% of their pets had
gained weight during the quarantine, up from 33% in May, reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Before the quarantine, it was loose on him,” one pup owner said, referring to the neon vest her four-year-old cavapoo wears for nighttime walks. “But
with everyone at home, baking banana bread
and feeding him table scraps, we could barely strap it on.”
That's all for now. Take good care -- and take a walk
-- this weekend.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber