Chamber News

May 26, 2020 Likes Comments

Shop as if jobs depend on it (they do)

It’s the start of the workweek and a significant one for retailers and office-based employers who, under Phase One of Gov. Charlie Baker’s reopening plan, are among the sectors now allowed to inch back to work.

Every work sector has significant restrictions. (And as you’ll read below, even some of those guidelines may have been modified this weekend.) Office capacity, for example, is limited and there are strict protocols. Many of our members tell me they’re remaining closed, for now.
 
As of yesterday, retailers could expand into offering curbside delivery.
 
Why you can buy shoes at Target, but not Michelson's, or it's considered safe enough to get a haircut but not buy a belt, isn't clear to me. But now that our merchants can offer curbside, please think of them the next time you need something.
 
Sure, Amazon is easy.
 
But local jobs and livelihoods are on the line.
 
Before today’s updates
 
One more thing before today’s updates. Once again, I want to express my gratitude to the more than 50 local businesses and individuals who’ve donated so far to help us close our projected $75,000 budget gap. Thanks also and welcome to 19 new chamber members and 30 inaugural Citizen Members who’ve signed on during our appeal.
 
There are three ways to support our advocacy and programming:
  • If you’re not a member already please join. Belonging to the chamber not only supports our advocacy and programming, it conveys strength in numbers, signaling to local, state and federal officials that you share our commitment to thoughtfully rebuilding our economy.
  • Donate . Any contribution large or small will be deeply appreciated.
  • Become a 'Citizen Member' for $95. Citizen Members are individuals who are not directly affiliated with a local business or nonprofit organization but share and want to support the chamber’s mission.
Go here to contribute and learn more about these options.
 
I’ll report on our progress tomorrow.
 
State guidance updated (I think)
 
On Sunday -- just hours before retail stores were going to be allowed to offer curbside pickup – the Baker Administration updated its Essential Services FAQs page
 
Then yesterday (yes, on Memorial Day) the state's When Can My Business Reopen? document was updated too.
 
What’s different? Beats me. I’ve read both twice. But I’m not sure because neither document makes figuring out what’s been updated easy (although I do suspect some of the curbside pickup guidance changed).
 
Review both carefully for updates that may apply to your business sector.
 
And here’s a request to the administration (which generally speaking I believe has been doing a good job): How about noting what’s new when you change something that people’s health, safety and livelihoods depends on?
 
Reminder to all businesses and nonprofits
 
What can I do, is remind you that every business that is now open (and every business and nonprofit that’s looking ahead to reopening) must take these steps before opening:
For additional requirements, review the general business guidance and sector-specific protocols and best practices.
 
Congress to vote on PPP fix
 
It looks like Washington may be poised to revise the Paycheck Protection Program’s inflexible flexibility rules after all.
 
A bipartisan proposal in the House could be voted on in the House as early as tomorrow, Politico reports.
 
The bill would give businesses 24 weeks to spend the money instead of eight; a timeline that has frustrated many still-closed or mostly-closed businesses and nonprofits. The House proposal would also eliminate a requirement imposed by the Trump administration that required businesses to spend at least 75 percent of the funds on payroll if they want the full amount of the loans to be forgiven.
 
The Senate may also be open to reforming the federal program. A different bipartisan bill there would extend the spending period to 16 weeks and would provide some loans to help businesses with operating expenses for six months, according to NPR.
 
While business owners anxiously await revisions (and wonder what they should do in the meanwhile), the Treasury Department released new PPP guidance on Friday (what's with these weekend guidance releases anyway?)
It's not too late to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. (List of chamber member banks here.) You can sign up here to receive email updates from the SBA.
 
Need help? Ask a mentor.
 
A reminder, last month the chamber launched a our mentorship program.
 
We already have mentors ready to assist with HR, communications, digital marketing, Quickbooks, pivoting to online communications/ e-commerce, tax planning, selling, business networking and more. Use the mentee application if you want to tap into this free resource.
 
Or if you believe you have expertise to share, and would like to help a fellow member click here to apply to be a mentor.
 
LabShares shares with COVID-research companies
 
Last month I mentioned that LabShares Newton, a shared office and laboratory incubator for emerging biotechnology and life science companies located on the Nonantum/Watertown line, was offering free, fully-equipped lab space for projects that seek to address the COVID-19 crisis.
 
Sure enough, LabShares selected three companies and helped them undergo their critical research. Here’s who they picked:
  • DOTS Technology Corp is a startup democratizing science by unlocking the power of point-of-care detection. With a focus on developing diagnostics for severe food allergies, DOTS is applying its novel protein detection technology to target COVID-19 viral RNA.
  • Mantle Biotech is developing heat-stable, mass-manufacturable biological reagents for the detection of coronavirus proteins in patient samples, enabling the high-throughput production of rapid, low-cost, and instrument-free diagnostic assays.
  • NowAware, a subsidiary of Bambu Global, is developing a rapid point-of-need detection diagnostic test that will enable both consumers and healthcare professionals to detect COVID-19 within a sample in minutes, if not seconds, using its proprietary color-changing expertise.
And LabShares, a chamber member, did one more interesting thing since I last wrote about them.
 
They hired another chamber member called TOURIT to produce this highly-recommended 3D tour of their facility so you can see first-hand what this amazing facility looks like. Really check it out.
 
Be back tomorrow (or sooner if we learn anything that shouldn’t wait.)
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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