Chamber News

Needham / Newton
February 09, 2021 Likes Comments

News and webinars to help you navigate extraordinary times

"Health care workers are heroes in my eyes,” said one supermarket worker.

“But we are forgotten.”
 
It’s easy to understand the frustration. For nearly one year, grocery workers have been there for us, at great risk to themselves and loved ones.
 
But even as experts warn us to minimize time spent in supermarkets because of new coronavirus variants, The New York Times reports only 13 states have started specifically vaccinating grocery workers.
 
Health care workers, first responders, nursing home residents, the homeless, those in prison, and those 75 years or older, are currently eligible for vaccines in Massachusetts.
 
Grocery workers aren't just behind the current 75-plus round. On deck are those who are 65-plus and those with two or more underlying conditions. Then comes teachers, followed by grocery, other food workers and retail. (Priority list here.)
 
Roughly 200,000 of the more than 430,000 residents in the 75-plus bracket have been vaccinated.

“I think we'll probably want to leave it open for a little while longer to see if some more 75-year-old folks sign up," Gov. Charlie Baker said yesterday, even though WBZ reports, thousands of appointments are open.
 
Meanwhile, the BBJ reports, some hospitals are drafting end-of-day wait lists, offering the vaccine to patients or providing leftover doses to qualifying family members of staff.
 
Just over nine percent of Massachusetts residents, and nearly 10 percent of all Americans, have received at least one COVID-19 shot.
 
Better mouse traps, er, vaccine search sites
 
While the state’s clunky vaccine appointment site has made improvements, did you see the NBC10 story about Olivia Adams, a software developer and mom to two young kids?
 
Adams built what's being described as an improved appointment site in between her kids' nap times. It took about 40 hours to get her site up and running.
 
Another new independent site, VaccinateMA.com, contains recent information on vaccine availability at about 125 locations throughout the state, the Globe reports.

Alexandria eyes Auburndale for lab space

Alexandria Real Estate Equities will be going before the Newton City Council’s Land Use Committee tonight to request a special permit to build a 62,531 square foot laboratory and research facility at Riverside Center on Grove Street.
 
The project is being developed for Corindus, a Waltham life sciences company that develops robotic systems for minimally-invasive endovascular procedures.

If all goes well, the council will approve this project as well as a proposal by Mark Development (in partnership with Alexandria) to build a life science center just down the street at the Riverside T Station. The lab space would replace a previously approved hotel and office building.

The two Grove Street projects would send a strong signal that Newton is open to the booming lab market, an area where the city has been woefully behind. There is no other sector that could do more at this time to bring good jobs and commercial tax revenue to Newton.
 
Just last week in Watertown, Berkeley Investments purchased Sasaki’s building at 64 Pleasant Street for $23 million to create office space for life science companies. The week before, a building behind Russo’s, also on Pleasant Street, was purchased, also for lab use.

Difficult choice for arts venues
Andy Medici at the BBJ has an update on the difficult choices facing performing arts venues.
 
The problem is, theaters and other arts venues looking for help from the SBA's new $15 billion Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program cannot apply to the PPP program at the same time.
 
But the rules aren’t final for the SVOG.
 
And March 31, the deadline for applying for PPP is just around the corner.
 
The SBA has created a matrix that compares the PPP, SVOG and EDIL eligibility designed to help venue operators decide what’s best for their business.
 
Bobbitt starts new gig
 
Speaking of the arts, former New Rep Theater Artistic Director Michael Bobbitt began his new job as the state’s top arts official last week.
 
Now executive director of the Mass Cultural Council, Bobbitt told WBUR he’s worried about our dual pandemics: "the pandemic of racism in this country and the coronavirus pandemic.”
 
He said he's committed to addressing them both by making the arts accessible to all through grants, programs and advocacy.
 
Fitness clubs vie for relief

While the federal COVID relief package includes $15 billion for shuttered venues, there was no help for another economically ravaged segment: Gyms and fitness clubs.
 
That could change if a proposal before Congress advances as part of a new stimulus package.
 
The proposed Gym Mitigation and Survival Act would provide $30 billion for gyms and fitness studios that can be used to cover payroll costs, rent, utilities, mortgages and worker protection expenses like personal protective equipment, among other costs.
 
Another proposal under consideration in the House is a new $25 billion grant program for the restaurant industry.

Need to knows
  • 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. To inquire about support, volunteer your time or skills, or simply learn more, email EquitablePPP@gmail.com.
  • Better Life Food is planning another Winter Pop-up Market at Dunn-Gaherin’s (344 Elliott St, Newton Upper Falls) parking lot and heated tent. Saturday (Feb.13) from 11 am - 3 pm. Perfect spot to safely grab prepared foods for take home, flowers, and Valentine's Day gifts.
  • J.P. Licks is running its 2nd annual Sock Drive to benefit the residents of Rosie’s Place. Bring new socks into their Newton and Wellesley locations during the month of February and receive a $1.00 off coupon for your next visit to J.P. Licks for every pair you donate. JP Licks (chamber members, of course) collected over 300 pairs in 2020 and hope to collect 600 pairs this year.
Businesses band together to boost childcare
 
In a recent Massachusetts Competitive Partnership survey, business leaders ranked the availability of childcare and the opening of schools as the third-most important factor in the return to the workplace, behind vaccinations and treatment.
 
And now a coalition of Massachusetts companies is banding together to advocate for policy changes at the federal and state levels to help daycares and preschools, reports Greg Ryan at the BBJ.
 
The group is also interested in spurring more early childhood education research and in sharing ideas on how to support employees with childcare needs.

Needham launches ‘mask challenge’

As part of a campaign to promote wearing face masks, Needham is distributing more than 2,000 free masks. The masks, from Rafi Nova (a chamber member) bear the slogan, “Needham Needs You. Mask Up!”
 
You can pick up your free mask, while supplies last at Needham Fire Station, Needham General Store, Volante Farms, Roche Bros, Sudbury Farms and Trader Joe’s

The town has also provided local restaurants with masks for their workers, masks for Needham seniors, masks for town employees and masks for hospital workers for personal use.

Look ma, new restaurants!
 
After so many closings, here’s three pieces of good news…
  • The much-loved Tatte Bakery & Café is looking to open a location at the site of the former Panera in Newton Centre. Tatte originally opened its first brick and mortar bakery in Brookline in 2007. It now has 18 Tatte bakeries in Greater Boston and Washington DC.
  • Peshwari Kebabs, featuring Pakistani cuisine and Halal food has opened in the former Common Cafe space on Main Street in Waltham, according to Patch.
Finally: Looking for some great dine in or take out ideas for Valentine’s Day? Check out our Valentine's dining directory here.
 
Bon appétit.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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