Chamber News

June 19, 2020 Likes Comments

Lots of news today

Gov. Charlie Baker told us on Monday that he will “probably have an announcement” about the start of Phase 2, Part 2, of his reopening plan by “the end of the week.”

It's the end of the week.
 
And the governor’s next press conference is scheduled for 1 p.m. today (Friday). You can watch live here.

Phase 2, Part 2 includes limited-capacity indoor dining, as well as personal care services such as massage therapy, nail salons and tattoo parlors.
 
The start of each phase is dependent on health data, which continues to trend favorably. It's possible that the second half of Phase 2 could begin as soon as Monday.
 
Business groups cheer DACA decision
 
The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold DACA (at least for now) drew applause from business groups yesterday.
 
There are an estimated 5,600 Dreamers in Massachusetts and 649,000 nationwide (including 30,000 health care workers).
 
Last fall, more than 140 companies and 18 major business associations, warned the Court that efforts by the Trump Administration to dismantle the program would “inflict serious harm” on their businesses, workers and the U.S. economy; creating havoc (and heartbreak) in many workplaces.
 
A break for restaurants and hotels
 
Small restaurants and hotels in Massachusetts can delay paying their upcoming meals, room, and sales taxes, the state announced yesterday.
 
Taxes ordinarily owed by the businesses between March and August can be paid in September without penalty and interest. Department of Revenue emergency regulations are here.
 
Help us spread the word about this
 
We should have done this a long time ago, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it now.
 
As part of an effort to support and promote a wide diversity of businesses within our communities, we’re expanding the searchable categories in our business directory to allow businesses to self-identify as immigrant-owned, minority-owned, LGBTQ-owned and/or woman-owned.
 
If your business fall into one of those categories, please provide your information here.
 
This self-certification is on the honor system and not a verified listing. Chamber members and nonmembers are eligible to be included, but as with our Outdoor Dining, PPE and other recent directories, chamber members can fully customize their listing (with descriptions, logos, and more content) and will appear first on any search.
 
We recognize that building these directories will take some time. We’ve had quite a few requests for this lately and will need your help identifying businesses, with the hope that you will look to direct some of your spending with these companies.
 
Also, a reminder that we’ve just added this Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Resource Page to our website.
 
My thanks to the chamber’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee for helping with both of these initiatives.

Four things I learned during our PPP webinar
 
More than 250 businesses and nonprofits participated in our Paycheck Protection Program webinar yesterday. Our apologies to everyone who had trouble submitting questions. We’ve forwarded all 81 of your questions (!) to the SBA and hope to have answers back by Monday.
 
In the meanwhile, here’s the slides from the presentation. (Sorry no video, this was on the SBA’s platform, not ours.)
 
Here’s four things I found noteworthy from yesterday’s presentation.
  1. There have been 18 interim final rules for the PPP, which basically confirms what most PPP lenders and 4.6 million applicants know already: The PPP rules and guidelines keep changing as might be expected for a massive relief program that was set up in record time.
  2. June 30 is the final deadline to apply for the PPP. But some lenders have already closed their portals. If you haven’t applied yet, do so ASAP. Here’s a list of chamber member banks, which may be able to help.
  3. PPP loan recipients are also eligible to participate in the recently reopened EDIL program, as long as the two loans are for different purposes. (So, not payroll.) While you must apply for PPP through an SBA-approved lender, you must apply for EIDL directly through the SBA. You will hear directly from the SBA via email.
  4. Landlords and nonprofits are eligible for EIDL. This is big, since landlords couldn’t apply for PPP.
It’s farmers’ market season
 
As the economy reopens, so have our local farmers’ markets.
  • Newton’s Farmers’ Market will be opening tomorrow (Saturday), 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its new location at Newton South High School (140 Brandeis Road). Many vendors are offering pre-order online (look here for a list) and curbside pickup but vendors have different ordering processes and different cut-off dates for pre-orders. A designated curbside pick-up area will be available. All shoppers are required to wear a mask, no dogs, practice safe distancing and leave your kids at home.
  • Needham Farmers’ Market is open every Sunday from 12-4 p.m. until Thanksgiving in front of Needham Town Hall. NFM is encouraging all to pre-order online through the vendor’s ordering systems to pick up at the market. Market rules include: adults only, no pets, stay home if you’re sick, wear a mask and observe lane markings. This is a no touch market (“you point, we pick”) with contact-less payment (if you didn’t pre-order online).
  • Watertown’s Farmers’ Market is open Wednesdays from 2:30-6:30 p.m. until Oct., 14 at Saltonstall Park (next to Town Hall at 149 Main Street). The market has developed a new layout to provide social distancing, monitored entrance and exits and one-way shopping. Additional rules can be found at this website.
Finally, about my Wellesley comments
 
A few business owners reached out to me this week after I made some admittedly snarky comments about a decision in Wellesley to offer drive-in movies, after nixing a plan by CVS to offer free drive-through COVID-19 tests.
 
I’m sure I should have phrased it more diplomatically. But this decision really bugged me.
 
Short of a vaccine, testing and face masks are the best tools we have to curtail this pandemic. Wellesley officials admitted the CVS plan was scrapped because of "traffic" concerns, even though the program would have been limited to five cars per hour (and patients would never even leave their vehicles).
 
It’s hard to not see this as a NIMBY response. But this bad decision shouldn’t reflect negatively on the entire town or Wellesley’s business community. I apologize for the way I presented this.
 
If you, your employees, or someone you know needs a COVID-19 test, this locator map can help. And you can find face masks here.
 
I’ll let you know if the gov says anything important at 1 p.m.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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