Chamber News

September 10, 2020 Likes Comments

Nearly 200 nominations received for our Biz People of Color list

Our thanks to everyone who submitted nominations for our 50 Most Influential Business People of Color in Greater Boston’s western suburbs list.

Nominations closed last night. We received close to 200 submissions!
Now comes the interesting part. A panel of judges (four selected by our partners at Colette Phillips Communications and three selected by the chamber) will evaluate your recommendations and narrow the list down to 50. (I’m glad I won’t be a judge, since this won’t be an easy task.)
Then later this fall, we will publish a list of our honorees and host a virtual event to celebrate the selections.
Our goal 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.
But we also want this to be a way to launch conversations about where we fall short and how we can do even better.
Just yesterday, a group of nationally-known employers made a pledge to each add at least one Black director to their boards within the next year, something that has actually been trending the other way. We want to encourage those same commitments locally, at our for-profit and nonprofits.

And while nominations are closed, it’s not too late to demonstrate your company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in Greater Boston’s western suburbs by becoming a sponsor of this initiative.
Baker not sure he can freeze UI hikes
Remember the grim news I shared Tuesday about a possible 60 percent increase in the unemployment insurance costs employers pay?
Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday that without more certainty on the availability of federal funds he could not commit to supporting a freeze in rates, which are projected to keep increasing through at least 2024. (State House News .)

Unemployment in Massachusetts in July was 16.1 percent, the nation’s highest. The loss of jobs has been felt throughout the economy, and has taxed the state's system, paid for by employers, to support workers during down periods.
"People in both parties [in Washington] need to come together to make this happen, sometime soon," Baker said.
State ramps up restaurant inspections
Baker also said yesterday that the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission conducted over 1,200 spot inspections at restaurants last week to see if they were following state COVID regulations (including, according to one operator, in Newton where inspectors checked to see if food was served with alcohol).
About 900 were in compliance. The rest received a fine or warning.
“We’re pleased that a vast majority of our restaurants and customers are enjoying their experience, outdoor and indoor dining safely and appropriately,” Baker said.
Baker did not know if ABCC would be releasing a report on which establishments were in violation.
Announcing another new chamber initiative
Ever find yourself in need of a locally-branded, locally-sourced, gift for a client, employee, friend or even yourself for, say, living through a pandemic with small children?

We’ve just created a gift directory featuring items from our local merchants – a one stop shop. Includes gift ideas from chamber members, items with a local flare and gift sets curated by our local merchants.

Browse through and have the satisfaction knowing every purchase supports a fellow chamber member.

Are you a chamber member and would like to list one or more of your locally themed items? Login to your member portal at by clicking here to submit and get your item featured! Need help? Email Tiffany Chen.

Not yet a member? Join today to take advantage of this members-only benefit.
Here's a helpful CRE primer
For a good perspective into what’s happening nationally in commercial real estate by asset category and what it means for Q4, check out this overview by BisNow.

The article explores what’s happening with office, industrial, hotels, retail, restaurants, health care and multi-family and other sectors.
Also: The BBJ’s Catherine Carlock reports on Boston’s sublease market, which has ballooned to nearly 1.5 million square feet since the start of the pandemic, marking the worst two quarters in history.
Sublease space is often a harbinger of future rent declines, as well as overall vacancy, because landlords are typically forced to reduce rental rates in order to compete with drastically reduced sublease rates, Carlock adds.
And for insights into how the market may adapt, there’s this CNBC story about how Burger King has revealed two new restaurant designs that offer a totally “touchless” experience, along with solar panels, conveyor belts that deliver orders to customers and outdoor seating.
Join us in asking Newton board to help our restaurants
Newton’s Licensing Commission will vote Tuesday on a proposal to temporarily cut liquor license fees by half, as a way to help the city’s struggling restaurants.
The effort is being led by City Council President Susan Albright who says the idea came from Needham, which recently sliced fees in half as a way to contribute to their restaurants' financial stability.
“While restaurants paid [upward of $3,250 annually] for a full year license [in 2020] they were prevented from sales for nearly five months of the year,” Albright notes. “Even now they are only allowed 25 percent occupancy for indoors dining and outside seating is limited (with some notable exceptions) to a few tables on the sidewalk and for some in the parking lane.”
Albright’s proposal has the support of 17 Newton City Councilors.

But Mayor Ruthanne Fuller opposes the one-time reduction because it does not feel “equitable” to reduce fees for restaurants but not other types of businesses, Jonathan Yeo, the city’s chief operating officer told the commission last month.
I don’t usually disagree with Mayor Fuller, but I do on this. At a time when one in five restaurants have closed statewide, we need to do whatever we can to help our restaurateurs and find different ways to support other businesses too. There is no one solution that addresses all needs.
The loss of restaurants in our villages will be devastating to all our businesses and our property values.

Please take a minute this morning to email the commission. Ask them to temporarily reduce next year’s fees.
Yikes. I have more to tell you (and this darn email is already too long)
Briefly, before you start your day…
  • Dine Around Needham is returning on Sept. 16 from 6-9 p.m. Patrons can choose appetizers, entrees and desserts or drinks from specialty curated menus from different participating restaurants. Dine al fresco at the restaurants, at one of the picnic tables placed around town or order takeout.
  • Chuck Buyer at Buyer Advertising on Wells Ave. has a supply of Black Lives Matter lawn signs for anyone who wants one (they’re free). Email Chuck to arrange pickup.
  • Joanne Chang's Flour Bakery is coming to Chestnut Hill for a two-day pop up, tomorrow and Saturday at the Street, Patch reports. The pop-up will be tucked between Shake Shack and Lululemon across from Portobello Road. Order ahead here.
  • Newton’s annual 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony will be virtual tomorrow (Friday) at 6 p.m. broadcast live on NewTV
  • And another heartbreaking story to share: After more than three decades operating in downtown Needham, The Art Emporium will be closing permanently, according to an announcement on its website.
Back tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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