Chamber News

April 24, 2020 Likes Comments

Race for PPP round two begins

Welcome to day 44 of our state-ordered shut down. We’re also seven days away from the first of the month -- rent day -- a date that looms large for both tenants and landlords (more on that below).

Today also marks round two of scrambling for those Paycheck Protection Plan loans. Congress approved $320 billion to replenish SBA loan programs last night, although CBS reported that applications already sent to the SBA “makes it likely that much, if not all, of the new money will go to those already in the queue.”
PPP is a deeply flawed program, made worse by a flawed roll out. We’ve heard from many local businesses and nonprofits whose loans were approved; mostly with help from one of our local banks -- something we should all remember when we make our banking decisions in the future. But many others are desperately waiting and hoping. I fear many will be disappointed.
Now available: PPP multilingual translations
Among those flaws, we now know that the PPP left behind many minority and immigrant-owned businesses. (For more on that, check out this oped in yesterday’s Globe.)
Here’s a new resource designed to help those and other small business owners with their PPP applications – and future challenges -- including those with limited English proficiency.
The site – created by Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation (MGCC) in partnership with Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporation -- includes multilingual translation and application assistance in Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, French, French Creole, Italian, Russian, Vietnamese, Greek, Arabic, Cambodian, Somali, Amharic (Ethiopian), Filipino, Nepalese, Korean, Japanese and Thai.
“When MGCC recognized the opportunity gap for minorities, immigrants and other small business owners with limited English proficiency to access the Paycheck Protection Program, we immediately knew we needed to tap into this strong small business support team of TA Providers,” said Larry Andrews, MGCC President.
New commercial eviction laws explained
Yesterday the chamber hosted a webinar “How Landlords & Tenants Should Navigate Rent Relief,” exploring many of the challenges facing both sides.
If you’re a tenant or landlord struggling with this issue and missed it you can watch the replay here. Here’s the condensed version: It’s complicated.
One timely item that came up briefly in yesterday’s discussion was how the state’s new eviction moritorium law (signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday) regulates commercial and residential real estate in different ways.
I won’t try and explain the nuisances here. Instead here are two articles from two law firms -- Bowditch and Bernkopf Goodman -- that were recommended to me by experts I trust.
Newton City Council eyes cap on restaurant delivery fees
Here’s a follow-up to something I wrote about on Monday. Newton City Council President Susan Albright is proposing a resolution to cap commissions charged by restaurant delivery companies such as GrubHub and Uber Eats, at 10 percent.
These third-party delivery companies charge up to 30 percent commission on orders. Additional processing fees and special promotions (where the discounts come exclusively out of the restaurant’s share) often take an additional cut, wiping out a restaurant’s entire margin, or worse.
According to the Boston Globe, Albright’s proposal already has the support of 12 of her colleagues. It calls on Mayor Ruthanne Fuller to restrict those commissions to 10 percent for the duration of the pandemic.
“Just raising the subject, raising the awareness, will be a good thing,” Albright told the Globe. “People will understand they are giving away 30 percent of their money to delivery services.”
According to a statement included in the article the mayor “is supportive of the many restaurants in Newton and will understand the legalities of the measure’s proposed by the Honorable City Council,”
Feeding medical workers, paying restaurant workers
Last week, we shared news about a win-win program launched by the Boston Globe that pay restaurants to provide meals for hospital workers.
The Globe's Serving our Front Lines program is part of a pilot program that began at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, with the goal of expanding to other hospitals.
Late last month we also told you about similar program launched in Newton called Feed the Fight Boston, founded by Newton residents and business that is also dedicated to providing nourishment to heathcare workers while helping restaurants’s bottom line. That organization has raised enough to feed more than 5,000 healthcare workers at 19 area hospitals including Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital, according to this Globe story.
Newton restaurants affiliated with Feed the Fight Boston include Baza Supermarket, Cabot’s Ice Cream, Ellana’s Kitchen & More, Farm Grill, Farmacy Cafe, Johnny’s Luncheonette, Judith’s Kitchen, Moldova, and Sandwich Works.
Yet another group of caring people who raise money to support to support local restaurants and caterers by purchasing dinners and supplying them to the front line medical workers for free is FLAG Boston (Front Line Appreciation Group) which recently delivered 200 dinners to Tufts Medical Center staff prepared by Newton’s Better Life Food.
New program links essential workers with early educators
The state Executive Office of Early Education and Care has established a program connecting essential workers who need child care with out-of-work early educators who can provide skilled in-home care, though (This is in addition to the emergency drop-in child care programs that will continue to operate while traditional, non-emergency programs remain closed until June 29.) Details here.
Finally, this morning…
  • Another chamber member Fully Promoted report they have access to a variety of PPE items, including medical grade KN95 masks, fabric and disposable masks, gowns, hand sanitizer and more. They don’t have these products on site and there are minimums. Contact Alex Taggard.
  • And, yes another chamber member, Needham Community Theatre, is on the hunt for a space where they can rehearse, build sets and store costumes starting in June 2021. They’re looking in Needham and have a modest budget. Contact Kathleen Magni
See you at our meditation webinar today at noon. You’ve earned it. Or need it. Or both.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber


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