Chamber News

June 29, 2020 Likes Comments

The frozen margarita difference

Back in March, when Gov. Charlie Baker unveiled an economic development bill, unemployment was 2.9 percent and business was booming.

Today, unemployment is 16.4 percent and we’re learning everyday about businesses closing and declaring bankruptcy.
On Friday, Baker unveiled a revised version of his bill designed to generate economic growth amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposal -- $35 million more than the prior version -- aims to bolster housing, community development, and business competitiveness. (CommonWealth story here)
The legislation includes the governor’s long-stalled housing choice bill, which would lower the threshold on land-use votes from a 2/3rds to a simple majority.
That one change would significantly impact projects where, Baker said, “a small group of people can say no to something the majority supports.” Jon Chesto’s Globe story here.
And as a different Globe story published this weekend noted, our housing crisis is only worsening, as thousands could be soon pushed from their homes due to growing unemployment and the expiration both the $600 unemployment boost and the state’s eviction moratorium.
Among other features, Baker’s revised bill would also:
  • Establish new tools to promote equity and drive economic growth among businesses facing barriers to entry in areas like state contracting.
  • Triple funding for grants to support micro businesses from a total of $5 million to $15 million.
  • Increase funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) by $25 million (for a total of $35 million) to serve entrepreneurs in under-served populations with financial services, technical assistance, and credit building opportunities.
Takeout cocktails could make a big difference
Twenty-eight states and Washington, DC currently allow bars and restaurants to sell takeout cocktails or spirits. Massachusetts is not among them, the Dig Boston reports.
But it’s not for a lack of trying. A restaurant relief bill that would have allowed a resultant owner to sell frozen margaritas or other mixed drinks to go passed the House on June 3. Baker said Friday he supported the original bill. But the state Senate has yet to act.
Restaurateurs told Dig, take out mixed drinks could boost revenues 10 to 15 percent, a significant benefit for struggling restaurants that hampered by limited outdoor and indoor capacity. (We’ve been allowed to buy to-go beer and wine since early April.)
The same legislation would also place a 15 cap on commissions charged by third party apps like DoorDash and GrubHub, something local municipalities in Massachusetts apparently can’t do on their own.
We’re updating our directory
The chamber is in the process of updating our member directory to help identify minority owned businesses.
We’ve just started last week and this is very much a work in progress. But if you go here and type “minority owned” you will see what we have.
You can also search for “women owned” “immigrant owned” and “LGBTQ owned” on the same page.
If your business falls into one of these categories, please provide your information here. We need help identifying more businesses. So please share this with anyone who should be included.

This self-certification is on the honor system and not a verified listing. Members and nonmembers are eligible to be included, but as with our Outdoor Dining, PPE and other recent directories, chamber members can fully customize their listing (with descriptions, logos, and more content) and will appear first on any search.
Grant helps seniors and contractors
Needham is reopening its Small Repair Grant Program, a program that provides qualifying seniors and those with disabilities with up to $4,000 to make health and safety improvements to their homes while providing income for home improvement contractors at the same time.
"This program can make a difference for low and moderate-income homeowners, particularly seniors and those with disabilities," said Select Board member Dan Matthews. "With this funding, residents can make repairs and improvements helping maintain their safety, security, and independence." The deadline has been extended to July 30. Information is here.
Take 10 minutes for this
Don’t forget to complete the MassINC Polling Group’s statewide survey about how the coronavirus has impacted small businesses. This survey is for small businesses with 500 employees or less and should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Policy makers and the media tend to pay attention to MassINC surveys, so responding can be really useful. Take the survey here.
They cancelled theirs, so we’ve invited them to partner at ours
For 36 years the John M. Barry Boys and Girls Club in Newton has hosted its own, very successful, golf tournament.
But this year, the pandemic forced the event to be cancelled, stripping the club of needed revenue to provide caring, affordable programs for kids from 5 to 18.
So last week, the chamber’s golf committee decided to make the Boys & Girls Club the nonprofit beneficiary our annual golf tournament happening at Woodland Golf Club on Mon. Aug. 3. We won’t be able to generate the revenue that the B&G Club event normally realizes, but we’re really pleased to be able to step in.
David Sellers, the Boys & Girls Club executive director said the funds will support the many programs the Club offers to help young people stay safe, active, and engaged during afterschool hours and the summer.
“We appreciate that the chamber came to our rescue, and to the rescue of Newton kids,” he said.
Due to limitations mandated by state and city regulations, we can only accommodate 92 golfers this year. As of Friday we were at 56. If you’re interested in joining us, sign up soon!

President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
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