Chamber News

September 29, 2020 Likes Comments

We appear to have a forgiveness problem

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. But it’s unlikely that any businesses or nonprofits were inscribed in the SBA’s Book of Forgiveness.

In fact, according to Politico, as of Thursday “not one” of 5.3 million recipients of the agency’s Paycheck Protection Program has obtained forgiveness on their loans, the key feature of the federal program.
 
Not one.
 
Much like the confusion that reigned when the PPP program launched, banks say they’ve gotten conflicting information from various SBA officials, which can be a particular problem if you’re an owner trying to sell your business.
 
“There is significant concern as to how the process is going to work and a concern the SBA may not anticipate the magnitude of loan forgiveness applications they’re going to receive," Naeha Prakash of the Bank Policy Institute, told Politico.
 
Here's another concern: Reports say that it’s taking some applicants up to 15 hours to complete the SBA’s “EZ” forgiveness application. Then, depending on the complexity, it can take lenders between 50 to 75 hours to review each application, according to a Government Accountability Office report, the BBJ reports.
 
By many accounts, the PPP saved millions of jobs and many businesses, through $525 billion in loans.
 
But, needless to say, the last thing business owners and nonprofit directors need right now is to spend 15 hours filling out PPP’s "EZ" paperwork, rather than continuing the fight to save their operations.
 
Meanwhile hopes that Congress will offer streamlined or automatic PPP forgiveness, plus another round of loans are fading as the election approaches.
 
And this doesn’t even get into the tax bills forgiveness may create for businesses in Massachusetts and some other states, which we’ll get into on another day.
 
You can find the Treasury Department’s most up to date PPP information and links here.
 
City Council wants to hear from restauranteurs
 
The Newton City Council will hold a public hearing via Zoom on Thursday (Oct. 1) at 6 p.m. to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on restaurants. The meeting will provide an opportunity for restauranteurs to speak directly to the council about their challenges. Go here to join the Zoom meeting, Passcode: 836985
 
Speaking of restaurants, the Massachusetts Conference for Women in partnership with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association has created a $250,000 fund to assist women-owned restaurants across Massachusetts. Fifty $5,000 grants will be presented. Apply here by Oct. 22.
 
And if you’re a local restaurant operator and are not yet part of chamber’s Newton-Needham Dining Collaborative, we hope you’ll join your colleagues. Chamber membership not required (but we hope you will consider joining once economic conditions improve). Through advocacy, communication and marketing, the collaborative aims to a voice and a resource for the restaurant community. Sign up here.
 
Insurer offers ‘COVID coverage’
 
Wellesley-based Sun Life U.S. has added three new types of COVID-19 coverage for businesses that self-finance their employee health insurance plans. (BBJ story.)
 
One of the products covers businesses if a coronavirus outbreak occurs at their workplace. If a certain number of employees tests positive for Covid-19, policyholders can receive a benefit payment for the employees under the new coverage. The first of its kind product is an add-on to Sun Life’s stop-loss offerings. Pricing varies by employer size and other variables.
 
Learn how the Needham St./Highland Ave. project will impact you
 
A reminder that MassDOT will host a virtual public information meeting to discuss its $30 million redesign of the Needham Street/Highland Ave corridor tomorrow (Weds.) from 6:30-9 p.m. Register here. Go here for more information.
 
Project organizers will introduce the contractor P. Gioioso & Sons and discuss the construction schedule and sequencing.
 
The projects aims to address the most glaring challenges along this two-mile stretch; starting at the junction of Winchester Street and Route 9 in Newton and extending down Needham Street, across the Charles River onto Highland Avenue in Needham.
 
This will be a years-long project that will impact our lives and the lives of our employees and customers so it's worth understanding.
 
Flu vaccine clinics at your office
 
Andrew Stein at Bird’s Hill Pharmacy in Needham says he has plenty of flu vaccine on hand and is willing to come to your work place to administer a clinic.
 
Most insurances cover this at no cost to the employer or employee. You can go to the pharmacy to be vaccinated as well. Email or call 781-449-0550
 
Weekend BC celebration a cause for concern
 
A video featuring rambunctious, maskless, Boston College football players celebrating their win over Texas State Saturday, alarmed Newton City Councilor Alicia Bowman.
 
BC tells Boston.com the team was tested Friday and subsequently quarantined in a hotel until the home game Saturday afternoon.
 
But Bowman points to a study raising concerns about the likelihood of false negative tests. Even if the university is testing regularly, there are no assurances everyone is COVID-free.
 
“The celebration could have happened outside,” Bowman said. “It could have happened with masks. It could have happened with separation. It could have happened with all three of those.”
 
BC is the only college football program in New England playing this fall. NCAA guidance says that “even low-risk populations should consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments.”
 
Spokesmen Jack Dunn recently told GBH the university has COVID "under control" and cases declined last week. The latest results will be posted here today.
 
Back with more tomorrow.
 
Slow, deep, breaths before tonight's presidential debate, OK?
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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