Chamber News

Needham / Newton
December 04, 2020 Likes Comments

Stimulus proposal would include another PPP

Is there ever not a twist and turn in Massachusetts politics?

One day before the public comment period closes on the $128 million in proposed MBTA service cuts, the MBTA Advisory Board said the T has overestimated its budget deficit and doesn't need to make such drastic reductions, reports Craig Lisinski for State House News.

The board, which represents cities and towns, estimated the MBTA's fiscal year 2022 deficit was roughly 20 percent smaller than the total worst-case scenario gap of $652 million that MBTA estimated.

Also yesterday, Needham Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick sent this letter to the T saying the cuts would “negatively impact residents, employers, and people who need to travel here, including for work.”
 
Mayor Ruthanne Fuller has outlined similar concerns for Newton.
 
Stimulus proposal includes $228 B for businesses
 
Hopes for a new federal stimulus before Christmas -- with perhaps $288 billion for businesses, including another PPP and a separate restaurant relief program -- picked up steam yesterday, after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had an actual phone conversation.
The plan also includes $160 billion for state and local governments; federal unemployment benefits at $300 per week and billions for child care, hunger and vaccine distribution.
 
It also includes a temporary liability shield to insulate against coronavirus-related lawsuits. It does not include another round of stimulus checks.
 
Meanwhile, this week’s data release of PPP recipients came as a surprise to many business owners and raised objections from some business organizations, the BBJ reports.
 
Among the complaints? “This information could potentially be used maliciously by competitors, sales and marketing agencies, and even employees. I believe that by making this information public, it will deter some borrowers from taking additional PPP money, even if their companies could desperately use it,” one advocate told reporter Andi Medici.
 
Like it, or not, the truth is out there: The Globe has a searchable list of Massachusetts PPP recipients here. This Business Journal article allows you to search by state. And the Washington Post offers searchable localized maps.
 
The gift of art while addressing food insecurity
 
Here’s a great way to help support local artists while helping address the growing problem of food insecurity.
 
It’s a partnership between the Newton Art Association (a chamber member) and the Centre Street Food Pantry and the Newton Food Pantry (also both chamber members).
 
The art association has built an online portal featuring a wide variety of artworks (there’s some really nice stuff here too!). When you purchase something, half the proceeds go to the artist, the other half goes to the two food pantries. Browse the artworks here.
 
For a look at what happens at the Newton Food Pantry check out these photos by Maggie Leone in the Boston Globe.
 
White House notices we have COVID cases
 
Here’s an interesting role reversal: The White House Coronavirus Task Force recently suggested that Massachusetts consider a statewide rollback of the economic reopening, rather than imposing restrictions specific to regional COVID-19 hot spots, WCVB reports.
 
"Restricting certain activities in some areas may encourage movement and potential spread to surrounding 'non high-risk' communities," they wrote.
 
In spite of the recommendation, Gov. Charlie Baker said once again yesterday that he is not planning any additional business closures at this time.
 
Today’s three need to knows
  • MassBay Community College will hold its bi-annual Student STEM Expo, virtually from Dec. 14–18. This public event enables students in engineering, math, computer science, life sciences, and biotechnology programs to showcase their work to the MassBay community, local STEM professionals, and to the general public. Details here.
  • Here’s a COVID relief program that I just learned about yesterday: The 1k Project uses a network of trusted connections to directly match a family impacted by the pandemic with a family committed to giving them $1k for 3 months. Learn more here.
Just ‘don’t do it’
 
Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth had a good column yesterday about the perfectly understandable temptation to give in just a little to COVID fatigue now that we all know vaccines should be available to the general public this spring.
 
Her advice? Don’t do it.
 
“Contact tracing issues have cropped up,” Betancourt reminds us. “There are testing deserts where no state-funded free test sites exist in areas of Massachusetts with rising case counts, and people are wary of out-of-pocket costs. The field hospitals are ready. The biggest wild card of all may end up being the bored person who just wants social interaction, and the decision they make next.”

But reason for optimism too
 
If you didn’t have a chance to attend yesterday’s Regional Real Estate Forum, I urge you to check out the video replay.
 
Our all-star panel -- James Elcock from Colliers, Bill McQuillan from Boylston Properties and Gable Clarke at SGA – provided a frank look at where our commercial real estate market is now. And the discussion of where things may go once we have vaccines left me feeling optimistic, even bullish, about our region’s future. (Certainly better than I felt after listening to this report on WBUR.)
 
Our thanks to BBJ Real Estate Editor Catherine Carlock for leading the conversation and to the Village Bank and Cambridge Savings for sponsoring.
 
Anyone have Elvis’ email address?
 If Elvis Pressley is still alive, this would be a good time for him to resurface.
 
Back in the late 50s, when a jittery public was resisting the polio vaccine, Pressley was part of a celebrity-driven marketing campaign targeting, um, suspicious minds.
 
“Hey kids, can I talk to you for about 30 seconds. This is Elvis Presley,” he said in a recorded public service announcement. “If you believe polio is beaten, I ask you to listen... the fight against polio is just as tough as it ever was.”
 
They even paraded The King before reporters and photographers, with his sleeve rolled up, getting his vaccination backstage at the Ed Sullivan Show.
 
Ray Kelly at MassLive has the rest of the story, photos and a link to a documentary about the campaign.
 
Take good care this weekend.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
 
P.S. I'll you this week with this video from Mass Restaurants. Please share...

 

 

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