Chamber News

October 23, 2020 Likes Comments

More about Baker's plan to help businesses

Please block off Thursday Nov. 12 from 10:30 to noon on your calendar.

That’s when our chamber, in partnership with Colette Phillips Communications and GetKonnected! will release our list of the 50 Most Influential Business People of Color in the Newton-Needham MetroWest region.
In addition to celebrating our honorees that morning, we will host a panel discussion examining issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the west suburban business community.
The goal of the Newton-Needham MetroWest 50 Most Influential Business People of Color project is to showcase the individuals and employers who are making a positive contribution to the economic and social fabric of our west suburban businesses and nonprofits. We also want it to be a way to start a conversation about where we fall short and how we can do even better.
Thanks to Prime Automotive Group and Direct Federal for coming on as our lead sponsors for this initiative.
We’ll have more details about our event next week but hope you’ll be able to participate.
Baker presents plan to help economy
Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled a multi-million dollar plan yesterday designed to stabilize and grow the Massachusetts economy. The plan focuses on getting people back to work, supporting small businesses, fostering innovation, revitalizing downtowns and ensuring housing stability.
The effort includes $115 million in new initiatives, with $50.8 million in grants for some of the state’s hardest hit small businesses (see next item) to cover payroll, rent, protective equipment and other expenses. (WGBH)
There’s also a commitment to help build workforce skills, grow training programs and support internet connectivity to facilitate remote work and online career advancement.
And there’s additional $10 million to underwrite changes to municipal streetscapes; $10 million in recovery-planning grants for cities and towns; and $10 million to support cultural facilities like museums and theaters.
Baker acknowledged yesterday that his initiative “is no substitute for the size and scope that a federal aid [stimulus] package could deliver. But that doesn't seem to be in the offing and we certainly don't believe that we can wait."
And the governor urged the public to do its part too.
“These businesses and workers that make up our downtowns are owned and operated by many of our friends and neighbors. ... We can all do our part by continuing to buy, shop, and dine locally.”
More about those small biz grants
We sent a separate email about this yesterday, but it’s worth repeating.
Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation will be administering the $50.8 million Small Business Grants program announced yesterday by the Baker administration. Grant awards range between $25,000 – $75,000.
Preference will be given to small businesses whose owners are women, minorities, veterans, members of other underrepresented groups, or focused on serving the Gateway Cities of Massachusetts, who have been unable to open and those most adversely impacted by the pandemic. Preference will also be given to applicants that have not been able to receive aid from other federal programs, including PPP and other relief related to COVID-19.
The program has two distinct funding “doors” based on business size, with different eligibility criteria, which is available here. Baker said the grants will be awarded based on the program's targets, not dispersed first come first serve. Deadline to apply is Nov. 12.
Tuition tiers a success for Lasell
Newton's Lasell University continues to innovate.
For example, back in April, Lasell became the first, or one of the first, to announce three tuition tiers based on student participation.
Students living on campus pay one rate; commuter students a lower rate; and those who choose to attend classes completely remotely, even less.
No one knew how that would play out by the fall. But in a virtual town hall Wednesday, Lasell President Michael Alexander said the model has been well received and has been adopted elsewhere.
Ultimately, 52 percent opted to take up residence on the Auburndale campus; 16 percent are commuting; and 32 percent are attending fully remotely.
Lasell is also doing quite well managing the virus, having conducted 13,858 tests so far this semester, with six positive results and no current cases, according to this dashboard.

David Punch to open forth local restaurant

Chef David Punch continues to expand his presence in Newton.
The operator behind Sycamore, Little Big Diner and Buttonwood plans to open a “neighborhood pizzeria” this winter called Jinny's Pizzeria on Centre Street at the site of the former Italian restaurant Cupola, which closed this past winter, Boston Restaurant Talk reports.
Beacon Hill looks to help low earners access fed unemployment
Beacon Hill lawmakers are moving ahead with a plan to extend federal unemployment benefits to jobless workers who fall just below the threshold to qualify, reports Christian M. Wade, CNHI News.
The legislative fix would bump up state unemployment benefits for jobless workers who get less than $100 per week. That's the minimum needed to qualify for the extra $300 per week in jobless payments from the federal government.
Today’s helpful bullet points
  • The HartBeat of Main Street grant program, created by The Hartford Small Business Insurance and Main Street America, is offering grants between $5,000 and $15,000 to brick-and-mortar businesses. The applications are being accepted through Oct. 29. Details here.
  • Join me next Wednesday (Oct. 28) at 4 p.m. for a discussion with Needham’s Beacon Hill delegation: State Rep. Denise Garlick and Senators Michael Rush and Rebecca Rausch. We’ll discuss the impact COVID-19 is having on businesses and residents and the ways the state is or should be responding to the crisis. And we’ll discuss other timely topics and take your questions and suggestions. Register here.
  • If your small business qualified for an energy exemption certificate in 2019, you must renew your certificates by Dec. 31. The renewal option will be available through MassTaxConnect as of Nov. 1. Details here.
Winners, winners, may order chicken dinners
Finally, our #KeepMakingMemoriesContest has completed its first week and we’ve selected this week’s winners. Check out what our Week One winners had to say about their visits on our Facebook page.
Our goal is to flood social media with the message of supporting local dining.
To enter, visit a participating restaurant (dine in, dine out or take out) between now and Nov. 15, post to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #keepmakingmemoriescontest, or (if you’re not on social media) enter your meals via an online form.
Prizes include restaurant gift cards, including a fistful of cards donated this week by WS Development and The Street.

Enjoy the beautiful fall weekend. Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. And tip generously. Be back Tuesday.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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