Chamber News

February 23, 2021 Likes Comments

This could be a life saver for our smallest businesses

What Biden’s PPP changes could mean for your business

If you own a small business, are a sole proprietor, independent contractor or are self-employed and didn’t think you’d qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, it’s time to take second look.
Yesterday President Joe Biden acknowledged that the federal program had failed to serve many of the nation's smallest operations and individuals and announced changes designed to make the program more accessible to a wider array of businesspeople.
“Small businesses are the engines of our economic progress, they’re the glue and the heart and soul of our communities," Biden said.
"But they’re getting crushed.”
The PPP changes, Biden said, “will make sure we look out for the mom-and-pop businesses even more than we already have."
Here’s what he announced:
  • Starting tomorrow (Weds) only businesses with under 20 employees can apply for PPP loans for a two-week period (Feb. 24-March 10)
  • Gives sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals access to more financial support by revising the PPP’s funding formula for these categories of applicants.
  • Eliminates an exclusionary restriction on PPP access for small business owners with prior non-fraud felony convictions, consistent with a bipartisan congressional proposal.
  • Eliminates PPP access restrictions on small business owners who have struggled to make student loan payments by eliminating student loan debt delinquency as a disqualifier to participating in the PPP.
  • Ensures access for non-citizen small business owners who are lawful U.S. residents by clarifying that they may use Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to apply for the PPP.
A game changer for the smallest of the small
Seventy percent of the nation's businesses without employees are owned by women and people of color. While those businesses lack payroll, as part of yesterday's PPP changes they can now apply for a forgivable loan based on gross income.
Over the past eight months or so, I’ve spoken to landscapers, dress makers, cleaning service operators, caterers, freelance photographers and noncitizen owners who weren’t able to get a PPP due to one of the impediments listed above.
They might qualify now.
If you know someone who tried but failed, or was disqualified, from getting the PPP, let them know about these changes and refer them to the resources list below.

Resources to help navigate the PPP
Watertown life sciences projects up for approval
Watertown’s Zoning Board could approve, what else, two more life sciences projects tomorrow, reports Watertown News.
Spear Street Capital, the new owner of the Tufts Health Plan site at 705 Mt. Auburn St. seeks to turn the complex into a life science lab and office complex. Also on the agenda is a proposed three-story 78,000 sq. ft. life science building at 23-29 Elm Street, located near Target and behind the Residence Inn by Marriott.

BC: Lockdown not necessary
The head of the Boston College’s COVID testing lab says the university is currently not planning to enter into a lockdown, in spite of a recent spike of cases on campus.

“Right now, I don’t believe it will be necessary as long as the numbers nationally and on campus keep heading in the right direction,” Welkin Johnson, chair of the biology department and head of the Johnson Lab tells the BC Heights.

Last week Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller urged state officials to strengthen oversight of Boston College’s handling of campus COVID-19 cases, the Globe reported.

Johnson said the administration monitors case numbers daily and consults with leadership of other universities in the area, to ensure it is prepared to shut down if it becomes necessary or is mandated by the state.

Since Feb. 1, 205 undergraduates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the University’s COVID-19 dashboard.
BC reported a record high of 139 students in isolation on Feb. 17, eclipsing a first semester high of 87 in November.

MBTA reshaping commuter rail service
Starting April 5, fewer trains will run during rush hour while additional frequency will be added at other times, the MBTA announced.
Most lines will run a train inbound or outbound roughly once per hour. Final schedules will be published next month, writes Chris Lisinski at State House News.
"It really is a new pattern, a new model for what we think is going to be a good way to attract back customers as they begin coming back to the workplace," said MBTA Deputy GM Jeff Gonneville, who hopes the changes will also attract new riders seeking day long service.
Most lines will run a final train departing Boston around 11 p.m. instead of ending by 9 p.m., as previously proposed.

Starting March 14, the T will trim frequency by about 20 percent on the Red, Orange and Green Lines and 5 percent on the Blue Line. Nine bus routes will be eliminated: routes 18, 52, 55, 68, 79, 212, 221, 465 and 710.
The T will hold a virtual meeting to review changes tomorrow (Weds) at 6 p.m. to discuss the changes.

Vax system up for a shot of sanity
The state’s infuriating COVID vaccine appointment system may soon address one of its most aggravating features. The change would allow you to “hold” a vaccination slot through as you complete registration process, reports WBZ. It wasn’t clear when the upgrade will take place.
Meanwhile, the Globe reports that yesterday’s new mass vaccination site opening inside the former Sears at the Natick Mall went smoothly. Appointments required.
The most recent group eligible in Massachusetts are those ages 65 and older, as well as those with two or more comorbidities.
Community fridge to open on Newton-Watertown line
Despite Newton’s image as an affluent suburb, too many of our neighbors struggle to put food on their tables.
Next month the Newton Food Pantry will open a community fridge that will be available at all times and in all weather for anyone.

The Newton Freedge, an outdoor refrigerator and pantry, will be located in Nonantum, hosted by Mark Levine in the parking lot of his business, Central Drapery and Dry Cleaning on Watertown Street. This initiative will be run by a collaborative of Newton Food Pantry volunteers and supporters from across the city.

A diverse group of community organizations will coordinate volunteer teams to monitor, clean, and stock the Freedge. Local businesses will donate prepared food and other items.
Go here to become involved as a volunteer or donor or lean about how to access this service. Here's a map showing other community fridges in and around Greater Boston.

That’s it for today. Be back tomorrow.

President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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