Chamber News

Needham / Newton
November 11, 2020 Likes Comments

The changing face(s) of the suburbs

There was a lot of talk during this past election about the suburbs and the big role they played in Joe Biden’s election.

The 'burbs -- experts reminded us over and over -- have become increasingly racially and ethnically diverse and more motivated by issues like climate change and racial equity than warnings of left wing mobs destroying our neighborhoods.
 
You'll see the changing face of work and leadership in Greater Boston's western suburbs reflected in tomorrow’s release of Newton-Needham MetroWest 50 Most Influential Business People of Color list.
 
We received close to 200 nominations for this project this summer, which were narrowed down to 50 by a seven-member selection committee, in partnership with diversity expert Colette Phillips and Get Konnected!
 
Our 50 honorees include CEOs and scientists, sole proprietors and faith leaders. The list includes leaders in the nonprofit sector, higher ed, real estate, media, transportation and technology, among others.
 
The business leaders on our list tell one part of an important story about what Greater Boston's western suburbs have become, where we fall short, and how much further we need to go.
 
Please join us tomorrow (Thursday) at 10:30 a.m. as we unveil our list and discuss the challenges we face making our workforce and workplaces more inclusive and welcoming.
 
Happy Veterans Day
 
We are forever grateful to the men and women who’ve served and those who continue to serve.
 
Each of our core communities are holding Veterans Day Celebrations today. All four start at 11 a.m. Here’s the details:
  • Newton’s virtual ceremony will be livestreamed here by NewTV.
  • Needham’s ceremony will be held at Memorial Park. Masks required.
  • Watertown’s ceremony is virtual and can be watched online at WCATV.org.
  • Wellesley’s ceremony will be in front of the War Memorial at Wellesley Town Hall. Masks required.
Hundreds of nonprofits victimized by IRS glitch
 
Three weeks before Giving Tuesday, hundreds of nonprofits in Massachusetts may have been stripped of their coveted tax-exempt status ahead of the holiday giving season because of an apparent computer error by the Internal Revenue Service, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
 
The IRS automatically revokes the tax-exempt status of groups that don't file required financial disclosures three years in a row. The deadline is May 15, but this year it was extended to July 15 because of the pandemic.
 
"Due to systemic limitations, we were unable to update this deadline in the program that automatically issues notices of revocation," the government-speak statement from the IRS read. "This caused some revocation notices to be issued prematurely."
 
The website Nonprofit Quarterly is advising organizations to not panic, saying the error is being addressed.
 
Employer confidence? Nah.
 
The state’s employers remained pessimistic during October amid conflicting signals from the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence monthly index.
 
The index lost four-tenths of a point to 46.2 last month, up from a low of 38.4 in April but still 14.7 points lower than a year ago.
 
Overall business confidence was dampened by darkening views of both the state and national economies. The confidence reading for the Massachusetts economy has tumbled 24.9 points during the past 12 months.
 
The report comes a week after MassBenchmarks reported that the Massachusetts economy grew at a record 37.7 percent clip during the third quarter, regaining some of the ground it lost when the commonwealth imposed a broad lockdown during the early months of the pandemic.
 
But the specter of lockdowns also re-appeared in October as the United States hit a daily global record 100,000 new COVID-19 cases.
 
Needham merchants extend hours
 
Ahead of the holiday shopping season, a group of Needham Centre merchants will be staying open until 8 p.m. on Thursday nights.
 
“It is our hope that as shoppers are out doing their holiday shopping this year, they’ll look no further than our incredible retailers here in Needham and bring a little merriment to our local businesses,” said Select Board Member Marianne Cooley.
 
The Thursday holiday schedule begins tomorrow (Nov. 12) through Dec. 17. Stores will be closed on Thanksgiving.
 
New grant program for outdoor dining
 
The Greg Hill Foundation has teamed up with GrubHub to provide $10,000 grants through its Restaurant Strong Fund. Grants will be limited to restaurants that have five or less locations and in the Boston area and four other markets. Deadline is Nov. 17. Details here.
 
Meanwhile, in the grass is greener on the other side department: Somerville has joined other municipalities in offering programs to help restaurants purchase outdoor heaters and other equipment needed to continue serving through the winter, the Globe reports.
 
In Concord, businesses can apply for rebates both outdoor heaters and air purifiers.
 
Today’s three need to knows
  • The Overdue: Confronting Race and Racism in Newton series is hosting a talk by Richard Rothstein, author of “The Color of Law, A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” on Nov. 17. Attendees will come away with a deeper understanding of the systemic issues that contribute to housing inequities, particularly as Newton engages in a comprehensive review of its zoning codes. Register here.
  • The MBTA is looking for input before making expected deep cuts to T, bus, rail and ferry service. The cash-strapped agency has announced a series of virtual meetings in November and early December. All meetings will be held over Zoom. The schedule is here. There is also this online survey to provide input.
Group creates tool to compare school districts
 
The Massachusetts Alliance for Business Education has created a database comparing school district plans to meet students’ needs and move learning forward during disruptions from the pandemic in the 2020-21 school year.
 
The database includes the 40 largest districts in the state by enrollment. More districts will be added and the database will be updated regularly.

A recent analysis by McKinsey and Company determined that the nation’s students, on average, could fall behind in their learning by almost seven months, with 10 months lost for Black and Latinx students, and over 12 months for low-income students. It is estimated this will lead to 3-6% lower life time earnings.
 
Boss to workers: Get back to the office

The New York Times has an interesting story about the CEO of a toy company who has told his employees that it’s time to get back the office
 
“Fear is not an appropriate reason for not being at work,” he said. “We have to get over our fears. We can’t operate remotely, and this is a collaborative work environment. I pay a hell of a lot of rent to have an office, and that’s a big investment.”
 
You might think from that first quote (I did) that this is the story of a callous executive, or COVID denier, who’s willing to put his employees at risk over profits.
 
He’s not...
 
“Mr. Foreman is not a mask doubter or a coronavirus skeptic. Nor is he a fan of President Trump, who has questioned the efficacy of masks and criticized the lockdowns that have forced many employees to work from home, whether they like it or not. He backed Senator Kamala Harris in the Democratic presidential primary, and supported former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the general election.
 
"But he believes the necessary steps have been taken to ensure his workers' safety.
 
"People can’t enter our office unless they are wearing a mask, they can’t walk around the office without a mask, they don’t gather in small groups without a mask and work spaces are more than 6 feet apart. I think it’s as safe as your own home.
 
"What’s more, he said he believes there are benefits to working together and meeting face to face that can’t be replicated through conference calls or online get-togethers."
 
Happy Veterans Day. Thanks to all who’ve served. See you tomorrow.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.
 
P.S. Thanks for Congressman-elect Jake Auchincloss for a great conversation yesterday. Scroll down for a video replay.

 

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