Chamber News

October 21, 2020 Likes Comments

Stimulus? Fuhgeddaboudit

A reminder that the chamber’s Diversity & Inclusivity Committee has created a DEI resource page, featuring a library of articles, videos and websites on corporate leadership, racial justice and other topics.

The same page includes a directory to help identify minority owned businesses, listing minority-owned, woman-owned, immigrant-owned, LGBTQ-owned and veteran-owned business.
 
As you’ll see, the listings aren’t nearly as robust as they should be. This is very much a work in progress. If your business falls into one of these categories, please provide your information here. Also, please share this with anyone who should be included.
 
And stay tuned later this week for news about an event next month celebrating the release of the Newton-Needham MetroWest 50 Most Influential Business People of Color list, presented by Prime Automotive Group .
 
Needham Street/Highland Ave project gets real
 
Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack was on Needham Street with Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, Needham Select Chair Moe Handel, State Sen. Mike Rush and Rep. Ruth Balser for a ground breaking ceremony for the 1.7 mile Needham/Newton Corridor Roadway Reconstruction Project.
 
The $28.5 million project will make the road safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians and will include new, separated and raised bicycle lanes behind the curb line next to the sidewalk along with new traffic signals and crosswalks from the Route 9 in Newton to Webster Street in Needham.
 
Construction begins next month on the Highland Ave end of the project and will slowly move towards Newton over the next three years. Completion date is Aug 2023.
 
Pollack, Fuller and others noted that three years of construction is going to be really challenging for businesses, workers, residents and commuters. But I’ve been following this project over the years and agreed with them when they predicted the results will be worth it.

Information regarding the project can be found here.
 
Stimulus? Fuhgeddaboudit
 
Any hopes that Washington might agree to another Paycheck Protection Program, the Restaurant Relief Bill or any other stimulus measures, grew dimmer yesterday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the White House not to strike an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the Nov. 3 election, the Washington Post reports.
 
Why should McConnell be opposed to something many Republicans, Democrats, the Fed and virtually every economist agrees is needed?
 
McConnell reportedly said that any deal they reach could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week.
 
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s drop dead deadline to reach a deal was extended from yesterday to today, the Hill reports. She said the House would have to draft the legislation by the end of the week to get something done before the election. Others have suggested that getting a deal done by a lame duck Congress after the election may be even harder.
 
All of this baffles and frustrates desperate business owners and, well, just about everyone else, including Gov. Charlie Baker, who noted at his press conference yesterday that there’s a “whole bunch of things associated to COVID” that the House, Senate and White House all support.
 
“And it’s stuff that would really make a difference across the country with respect to fighting the virus across the country and would provide stability. I would like to see them finish the job on that.”
 
And this will make you even madder
 
As Washington fails to reach any consensus for more bailout money, hundreds of billions of dollars designed to help business from the Cares Act remains uncommitted and may go unspent.
 
What’s behind Door No. 7? A new tavern
Door No. 7, in Wellesley’s Linden Square is being repositioned into a “more family-friendly, accessible concept” called Wellesley Tavern that plans to open in late November, according to the Swellesley Report
 
Also in Wellesley, the Candy Bar Cosmetics is closing after a decade.
 
“It is with a heavy heart but a positive outlook that I announce the time has come for me to say goodbye to The Candy Bar,” read an email announcement. “Through the years, our staff have guided many of our valued clients through weddings, bar and bat mitzvah’s, proms and special occasions and we have enjoyed every minute of it! I cannot thank you enough for you loyalty, patronage and your friendship over the years.”
 
Newton company part of BoSox plan to transform Fenway area
 
Newton-based WS Development is partnering with the Red Sox to convert five acres surrounding Fenway Park from parking lots, garages and retail stores into housing and office space, along with green space and a possible hotel. (BBJ story here)
 
Today’s helpful bullet points
  • Is your business prepared for Paid Family and Medical Leave? Go here to register for one of two webinars (Mon. Oct. 26 at 1 p.m. or Weds. Oct. 28 at 8:30 p.m.) about the complex Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits that workers can begin utilizing in January.
  • And Latinx-owned businesses have until midnight tonight to apply for a grant from the Support Latino Business Impact Fund. Visit SupportLatino.Biz and apply
Public higher ed enrollment declines
 
From Chris Van Buskirk at State House News
 
Undergraduate enrollment levels at public higher education institutions took a historic tumble this fall, and education officials say they are fearful that the pandemic may forever throw college education plans off course for some students.
 
The 7 percent decline is the largest single-year decrease since data collection began, according to preliminary data. Fall enrollment for first-time degree-seeking students are down across the board, with a 12 percent decrease at the community college level.
 
"Millions of jobs in the hospitality and retail sectors are gone and tragically many of our students have lost jobs," said Middlesex Community College President James Marby. "They're being forced to put off their educational plans. And we are concerned that many may not be able to get back on track."
 
Students most commonly cited personal finances as the top factor in deciding not to attend or return to colleges or universities, according to Jonathan Keller, an official at the Department of Education.
 
Other reasons why students have given for not enrolling or returning to class include increased child care and parenting responsibilities, and discomfort or dissatisfaction with distanced learning.
 
"There's a fear that a lot of the students who decided they just won't go this year, may have difficulty deciding in subsequent years that they're gonna go back to higher education," Keller said.
 
We got mail!
 
A few readers emailed yesterday in response to a quote in this newsletter from Forbes’s Bruce Brumberg about potential legal issues related to divisive political speech in the workplace.
 
Please know that I was not suggesting that Black Lives Matter and Make America Great Again were parallel statements. I’m pretty sure Brumberg wasn’t either. But that doesn’t mean the courts will see it that way. Brumberg’s column was offering a legal perspective, not personal opinion.
 
I also heard from some skeptics who were certain I must have made a mistake when I wrote that the projected "$1.65 million net tax revenue" from the just-approved Riverside Station project.
 
"We're going to spend all that and more on all those extra kids!!!!" one wrote, as if there's something wrong with spending tax revenue to educate the next generation, just as a generation before us paid for our educations.
 
Either way, I wasn't mistaken. I meant "net," as in, after you calculate the cost of fire, police, schools, etc., there’s $1.65 M left. And that’s just one of the many reasons why the Newton City Council unanimously approved this transformative, transit-oriented, project on Monday.
 
Yes, the vote was 24-0!
 
Be back tomorrow. Go Mookie!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
 
P.S. Just one more day to submit entries for Week One of our four week long Keep Making Memories Contest in support of our local restaurants. Enter by posting on Twitter or Instagram using the #KeepMakingMemoriesContest hashtag or use this online form. Here’s some examples of our latest entries.

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