Chamber News

April 02, 2020 Likes Comments

Our latest: PPP, Joe Kennedy, construction rules and more

Another day. Many more updates, starting with a note about today’s online conversation at noon with Congressman Joe Kennedy.

 
We're currently at capacity for this Zoom meeting but you can still watch live by going to www.facebook.com/NNRegionalChamber/live. If you have a question you'd like to submit in advance email me by at 11 a.m.
 
Also today at 4:15 p.m. Kendra McDonald, Community Education and Outreach Manager for Samaritans, Inc will host a super-important webinar on how we can support those at risk for suicide. Scroll down to register.
 
Applying for PPP? Get started today.
 
If you’re thinking about applying to the new federal Paycheck Protection Program – and if the volume of calls we’re getting is any indication, that’s just about every business and nonprofit in the country – now is the time to act.
 
Small businesses and sole proprietors can begin applying tomorrow, Friday April 3. (Independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning on April 10.) But the SBA has published a sample application here so today is the day to start gathering the necessary payroll and expense records and other information so you’re ready to apply Friday. Yes, there’s more $350 billion in this fund. But, really, the demand for these dollars is going to be astronomical.
 
You can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution. Call your bank or any of our chamber member banks and ask if they're participating.
 
And here’s one more thing that both surprised and concerned me when I read this yesterday: According to the U.S. Chamber, the Paycheck Protection Program “prohibits borrowers from taking out two loans for the same purpose."
 
That’s different from advice we heard last week during our SBA webinar. I wish we had more clarity on this. We recommend speaking to your lender or even calling the SBA hotline 1-800-659-2955.
 
Need more details about this and the other SBA programs? Try the U.S. Senate’s SBA CARES ACT Guide.
 
Rotary to the rescue
 
In Monday’s edition of this newsletter, I told you about a new initiative created by group of Newton residents with two critical missions: Helping our front line health care workers and supporting our local restaurants.
Feed The Fight Boston buys prepared meals from local restaurants and delivers them to hospital workers, including Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Boston Medical Center.
 
I also mentioned that FeedthefightBoston is seeking partnership with a local 501c3, to serve as its fiscal sponsor organization and accept tax-deductible donations.
 
The good news today is that group has found that sponsor, the Rotary Club of Newton. The arrangement enables FTFB to further its reach purchasing meals from local restaurants to feed frontline healthcare workers. Donations of any size welcome at www.feedthefightbos.com.

Newton bans non-essential construction
 
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced last night that the city has adopted the state’s new guidelines for public and private construction projects in Newton. Construction can only continue if it meets the criteria of essential and complies with the strict social distancing, hand hygiene, employee health protections and site risk prevention measures included in the state guidelines.
 
Projects like tear-down replacement homes, kitchen remodels and additions are no longer considered essential and therefore must immediately stop in accordance with the state’s guidance.
 
The city’s Inspectional Services Department will continue permitting projects but non-essential projects may not start or continue. If a project is at a particularly difficult or dangerous point to stop, and it can continue with public health measures in compliance with the state guidelines, contractors may request permission to continue from ISD.
 
The city will be doing unannounced visits to job sites and routine inspections. The state guidance document that Newton requires for construction sites and workers is here.
 
What else is ‘essential’?
 
And a reminder on Tuesday Governor Baker updated the Essential Services List . The updated list adds health care providers like optometrists and chiropractors and businesses that provide disinfecting and sanitation services. Hotels and Airbnbs can no longer be booked for vacation or leisure purposes and should be used only in a direct effort to fight against the coronavirus, such as housing for essential workers.
 
One million workers are in high-risk sectors
 
The economic devastation from this pandemic has been swift and broad. But we knew it was going to be especially harsh for workers in a few specific sectors: service, hospitality, retail, travel and tourism.
 
How bad? Based on a new analysis from the always-insightful Boston Indicators, more than one in four jobs in the Massachusetts economy is in one of these industries at high-risk for job loss. Thirty-nine percent of these high-risk jobs are part-time, making these workers especially vulnerable. By contrast, part-time workers make up only 18 percent of those in lower-risk industries. Learn more here.
 
Now available: Social distancing for these emails
 
Has someone been looking over your shoulder each morning as you read these chamber updates? Tell them they can subscribe for themselves here.
 
Finally, a word of gratitude

Many landlords were anxiously watching their inboxes and mail boxes yesterday; worrying about how many of their tenants would be able to pay their rent.

The first of the month was nerve-racking for the team at the chamber too; as we waited to hear from members whose dues were up for renewal.

Sure enough, we’ve heard from some members who are requesting delays or alternative payment plans as they share their stories about the challenges they’re facing.
 
We completely understand the economic impact COVID-19 has had on so many of our businesses and nonprofits. We’re eager to work with you if needed. Just reach out to membership director Lise Elcock to discuss.

But we were also gratified by how many members processed renewals yesterday, or let us know they’ve mailed a check. These are challenging times for your chamber too. Our operating budget depends on dues and events. And we’ve cancelled or postponed some of our biggest revenue generators, including Spring Seasonings and our Spring Business Breakfast.

So for those who are able to renew – or join – thanks so very much. We’re grateful to everyone who can help underwrite our efforts but certainly understand if you can’t just now.

We’re committed to doing everything possible to represent and advocate for you and the economic and cultural vitality of our communities.
 
Stay in touch, okay?
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688

 

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