Chamber News

Needham / Newton
November 24, 2020 Likes Comments

Tell 'em the guv sent you

Gov. Charlie Baker has a message for shoppers heading into a holiday season that's unlike anything we've ever experienced:

“If you’re going to shop -- and you think you need to shop online -- you can certainly shop online [but] do that with local organizations and local retailers,” Baker said Monday.
 
“There are very few [local] retailers left at this time who don’t have an online capability.”
 
As for shopping in person, Baker stressed the need for consumers to “obviously pay attention to [safety] protocols. And I’m sure the store will be paying attention to them as well.”
 
“And buy from Mass-based companies,” the governor added.
 
Baker’s suggestion comes as a national retail group forecasts a 30 percent jump in online sales this holiday season but potentially devastating losses for brick and mortar shops.
 
It also comes just as the team at your chamber has been putting the finishing touches on our new online directory
 
It's designed to help you find local services, merchants, restaurants and organizations within our communities.
 
You’ll find lists of our retailers, restaurant gift card deals and local dining (including that last-minute Thanksgiving dinner).
 
And be sure to visit our curated ‘shop local market’ for locally made or locally branded items that make the perfect gifts for clients, family and friends.
 
[There's also a library of customized posters and social media graphics you can use to make the case for shopping local.]
 
Please shop this holiday season as if the future of our local businesses depended on it. Because it does.
 
You can tell ‘em Charlie Baker sent you.
 
Hopsters appears headed to liquidation
 
Newton's only brewery, Hopsters, lost its bid to prevent a court-appointed trustee from converting its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing to Chapter 7 liquidation during a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, reports Brewbound.
 
The brewpub which had locations at Newton Corner and downtown filed for Chapter 11 on Sept. 3, with hopes of restructuring its debts and continue operations.
 
Globe warns of 'unraveling' transportation system
 
In a sharply worded editorial yesterday, the Globe called on the “governor and the Legislature to lift their gaze from the immediate [fiscal] crisis” plaguing the MBTA and find a way to protect the system from hard to reverse transit cuts.
$128 million in MBTA service cuts are scheduled for late spring/early summer, which happens to be the same time experts predict most Americans could receive a COVID vaccine.
 
“If our political leaders fail to act, this could one day be viewed as the moment they chose to stand by and watch the unraveling of the state’s public transportation system — instead of help it grow,” the Globe Editorial Board wrote.
 
Later that day, Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack noted there’s no guarantee that riders will return once the virus is behind us.
 
"I don't want to be Debbie Downer, but if we just go ahead and cross our fingers and hope the riders appear and that nothing is changed with telework and nothing is changed with the number of enrolled college students and nothing is changed with telemedicine and all the rides just come back, and it doesn't happen that way, then you have a budget gap at a time when you can't fix it," Pollack said.
 
A decision about the cuts is set for Dec. 7. You can share your concerns with the MBTA by completing this survey before Dec 4.
 
Wellesley merchants get creative
 
If you’ve been to the Linden Square in Wellesley in the past week, you’ve inevitably noticed the scores of decorated wooden trees that merchants and volunteers are exhibiting to dress up the area for the holidays.
 
The hand-painted decorations were made from wooden pallets and other materials. Each "tree" was adopted by a local business, community organization or charity and decorated at painting parties.
 
You can learn more about “A Festival of Trees - A Community Celebration” and see some of the trees here and the Wicked Local story here.
 
Today’s three need to knows
  • A couple years back Minneapolis took the unusual step of eliminating single family zoning from its regulations. On Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. Metro West Collaborative Development will host a Zoom call featuring Neighbors for More Neighbors, the group that successfully lead that effort. Email Robyn at Robyn@metrowestcd.org to reserve a spot.
  • The IRS is hosting a 30-minute, free webinar to help small businesses guard against identity theft on Dec. 3 at 2 p.m. Register here.
Hi Tech council: We're not doing enough testing
 
Members of the state’s high-tech business community on Monday urged the state and the rest of the nation to step up the amount of COVID-19 testing, saying the number of tests is still falling far short of what is needed to win the fight against the coronavirus, the Globe’s Jon Chesto reports.
 
“We’re actually testing very few people in the general population,” Bain Capital co-chair and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca said at a Mass. High Technology Council presentation on the topic. “It’s far short of the levels being recommended to stop the spread.”
 
Locally, your chamber has been working with Project Beacon on an initiative to bring testing to our region. Those efforts continue, although everyone certainly wishes it could move faster.
 
There’s also unconfirmed reports that another group, CIC Health, may be closing in on a plan to set up a large testing operation in Newton.
 
BC infections back on the rise
 
Heading into Thanksgiving, COVID infection rates at Boston College are once again on the rise, reports the BC Heights, nearing levels that prompted warnings from Mayor Ruthanne Fuller at the start of the fall semester.
 
Meanwhile, editors at the Heights are upset about the “university’s new reporting hotline, where students can report one another for alleged violations of the Thanksgiving travel requirements,” arguing in an editorial that it “is a direct contradiction of [B.C.'s] own values.”

Campaign points to path to ‘getting back’
 
The state launched new public awareness campaign that stresses the importance wearing masks, getting tested and maintaining distance so we can one day return to traveling, birthday parties, spending time with relatives and chamber events (okay, it doesn't mention chamber events).
 
The #GetBackMass ads will run through February.
 
Wait until you hear what Watertown did for its businesses
 
While Needham, Newton and some other municipalities have cut liquor license fees for restaurants in half, Watertown is taking it one step further:
 
They’ve eliminated all fees charged to all business for all of 2021.
 
Last Thursday, the town's licensing board heard a proposal to eliminate the annual fees for liquor licenses for restaurants, which is $2,700 for most, according to Watertown News.
 
“Yes, it is a potential loss of $150,000 in fees, but we have half a million (dollars) of expected revenue from meals taxes,” Council Vice President Vincent Piccirilli said of the liquor fees. “And really, the blunt reality is if these local restaurants go out of business they will not be selling anything and we will not be getting any meals tax.”
 
But they did stop there, according to reporter Charlie Breitrose.
 
Licensing Board Chair Donna Doucette said she supported the measure but was concerned that the waivers only helped one type of business, while the fees remained for other licenses, including those for auto dealers, innholders, common victualler, hackney, livery and limousines.
 
Doucette suggested waiving the fees for all types of licenses.
 
And the board unanimously supported that too!
 
Single-day liquor licenses fees and fees charged by the state are not exempt. And all businesses must still file al license renewal applications.
 
Be back tomorrow,
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
Dine out. Take out. Shop locally. Mask up. And tip generously.

 

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