Chamber News

April 22, 2020 Likes Comments

Today's news-packed updates

As you probably heard, Gov. Charlie Baker cancelled the rest of the school year yesterday and extended day care closings through June 29.

But the governor also talked about creating procedures to gradually reopen some parts of the economy in the weeks to come.
Baker declined to say if his non-essential business closure order would be extended beyond May 5. He also did not say which businesses might be permitted to reopen first under a gradual reopening. Both decisions would be based “around when we believe it is safe and appropriate to reopen the doors and make rules and regulations for how businesses can operate safely.”
“There are plenty of businesses that are open now that aren’t relying on the daycare programming to operate. There are many that would benefit from it if it were to be able to do so,” he said during his daily press conference. “I think obviously we’re going to have to align a bunch of different pieces and parts as we go forward on this, but I want to remind everyone we’re in the surge, and that’s what we’re focused on right now.”
Baker said he would be looking for input from the business, public health and academic communities to create a plan for how to reopen the state’s economy and praised the overall spirit of cooperation during the shutdown.
“People around here aren’t looking to jump off into the deep end of the pier,” Baker said of business leaders. “They’re to find a way to do something safely. I see a lot of people trying to gather a lot of data and move forward in a way that makes sense.”
Small business part of state’s new eviction law
Baker also signed a bill this week that will temporarily pause evictions and some foreclosures during the coronavirus pandemic, including evictions of commercial tenants that qualify as small businesses.
Massachusetts Eviction and Foreclosure Moratorium Act protects against “non-essential evictions” of small business or nonprofits and says a landlord cannot impose a late fee for non-payment of rent for a residential dwelling unit or a small business.”
Real estate industry officials told Commonwealth Magazine that they worried the new law would embolden tenants to stop paying their rent, while advocates for the legislation said it was desperately needed to protect tenants from being evicted in the middle of a pandemic.
You can’t push send on that PPP application yet
The U.S. Senate passed a $484 billion coronavirus relief package yesterday that includes $320 billion to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program. But we’re still one or two days away from when all those businesses and nonprofits that were left out of round one can try again.
The House is expected to pass the bill on Thursday. President Trump said he will sign it. And then the rush will be on to get approval before the well runs dry, as expected, again.
About a fifth of the new PPP funding for the small-business loan program, $60 billion, would be set aside for disbursement from smaller lenders.
The legislation also adds $60 billion for the Small Business Administration’s also-depleted disaster relief fund.
Earth Day like none other
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day; a milestone that’s totally different from anything we might have imagined.
Still happening is a long-planned three-day livestream featuring videos, live performances, movies, conversations, workshops and webinars is happening today through Friday.
UMass Boston is also hosting an online discussion at noon today on the emerging lessons learned from responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and how we can leverage those lessons in addressing climate change.
The challenge for us on Earth Day 2020 will be to refocus our attention on climate once we enter on new normal. That includes addressing our region’s still inadequate transportation system, neglected infrastructure and a housing shortage that contributes to traffic, suburban sprawl and greenhouse gas.
Only now, it’s going to be even harder to find the tax dollars to address these challenges. That doesn’t make it any less important.
Another resource for small business relief
Here’s a program (and an organization) I wasn’t previously aware of: The LISC Small Business Recovery Grant Program for Massachusetts is offering grants for hard-hit small businesses in Massachusetts to weather the immediate financial impact of closures and social distancing measures required to slow the spread of the coronavirus. LISC is offering grants of up to $10,000 to address immediate financial peril, limit layoffs, avoid gaps in employee benefits or insurance, mitigate economic instability, and increase the likelihood of business survival.
The fund also aims to connect critical technical assistance and generate longer-term funding to help vulnerable businesses and community-serving nonprofits weather the effects of the pandemic. Learn more about the LISC Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund here.
Employment law resources
The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network has generated an impressive list of information about relief funds available to nonprofits, as well as a breakdown of new state and federal policies, and tips for fundraising and event planning as well as this list of employment law links that all employers may find helpful:
Looking for help? Able to help?
A reminder that yesterday we launched a our mentorship program. We’re looking for mentors who are willing to provide professional advice and knowledge while cultivating leadership skills and expand their professional network. And we’re looking for mentees who want to tap into an experienced professional to gain expertise on a specific opportunity or challenge facing their business.
Ideally, everyone will go far as they gain new insights and perspectives.
If you believe you have something to offer, or if there’s some way you need help (or both), this program is for you. Details, requirements and applications are here.
Reminder about this morning
I’ll be talking about economic recovery with Newton state Senator (and Senate Majority Leader) Cynthia Creem and state Senator Eric Lesser, who chairs the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies for a chamber zoominar this morning (Weds.) at 11 a.m. We'll take questions too. 
Four last things:
  • Here’s a great story about a downtown Needham business (and chamber member) stepping up to help some kids locked out of school in Somerville.
  • What will reopening the economy look like for restaurants? Erin Kuschner at explores some possibilities
  • How might consumers spend their stimulus checks and how might their overall spending habits change? On Thursday, MassLive Media is hosting a webinar “Consumer Behavior Related to COVID-19: Where are They Spending Time and Money?” Register here.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber


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