Chamber News

August 14, 2020 Likes Comments

We can't restart our economy without schools

Good morning and happy Friday!

Or is it really more of a high anxiety Friday?
Certainly the anxiety is high for the parents of school age kids, wondering and worrying about what’s going to happen this fall, as school systems statewide scramble to meet today’s deadline to submit reopening plans.
Gov. Charlie Baker believes most kids can safely return to in person learning. (And today's Globe editorial agrees).
But the plans submitted so far are all over the place, with some defying Baker.
And then there’s the Harvard epidemiologist who told the Globe that the hybrid approach many communities (including Newton and Needham) are pursing “actually produces more networks by which the virus can spread.”
That’s because parents who can’t work remotely, or spend the day supervising their kids, turn to external child-care solutions. So rather than spending the majority of their time in one or two places with a consistent group, they come up with their own hybrid plan, going between three or more settings with different groups of kids and adults.
Oh, and the problem isn’t limited to our public schools.
Preschool leaders are warning that we don’t have enough day care center slots to accommodate demand in September either.
We’re never going to restart our economy if we can’t find safe places to nurture and care for our kids. And it seems we have a way to go figuring that out.
We’re just not as close as we used to be
A study of cell phone data nationwide provides some fascinating insights into how American’s social habits have changed during the pandemic.
Americans in all 48 continental states have been interacting with fewer people than they were last year, providing insights into which states are doing the best job getting people to social distance.
Massachusetts came in ninth overall, the Worcester Telegram reports. At the beginning of August, Bay State residents interacted with an average of 2.29 other people each day, compared to 5.59 interactions during the same time last year.
The full report with national and some local county data is here.
4th Congressional District candidate forum
The candidates running for the Democratic and Republican nominations to succeed Rep. Joe Kennedy in Congress participated in a forum hosted by five local Leagues of Women Voters (Brookline , Needham, Newton, Sharon-Stoughton, and Wellesley) last week.
You can watch the forum on YouTube.
One of the Democrats in that video, Dave Cavell (who wins the prize for attending more Newton-Needham Chamber networking events than any other candidate ...back when we still had events) withdrew yesterday and endorsed former Alliance for Business Leadership President Jesse Mermell.
But that still leaves eight Democrats and two Republicans in the race.
The primaries are on Sept. 1.
And Monday, meet two candidates running for state rep
On Monday afternoon at 2 p.m. I’ll be speaking via Zoom with incumbent State Rep. John Lawn, of Watertown and Newton City Councilor Alison Leary who are also competing in the Sept. 1 primary for the 10th Middlesex District seat, currently held by Lawn.
The district includes parts of Watertown, Waltham and Newton.
Plans for Mass Pike in Allston under review
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack is launching an environmental review of three options for rebuilding the Massachusetts Turnpike and other transportation infrastructure between Boston University and the Charles River.
But it seems that two of the options are dead on arrival, writes Bruce Mohl at CommonWealth.
More commercial landlords face foreclosures
While retailers, restaurants and other commercial tenants scramble to pay their rent, a growing number of property owners are finding themselves in court struggling to pay down loans on their buildings, the New York Times reports:
"The delinquency rate on large commercial loans tied to real estate in the United States has surged to just under 5.78 percent — nearly doubling in just one month, according to Moody’s Investors Service... During the financial crisis that began in 2008, that rate peaked at just over 10 percent, but not until four years into the crisis. The hospitality and retail industries, which have been hit especially hard by the pandemic, account for 82 percent of the most seriously delinquent commercial loans, Moody’s said."
And a little bit of good restaurant news
At a time when we’re losing so many restaurants, it’s comforting to see a few getting ready to open.
  • David Sardella is getting ready to open The Bluebird Bar & Wood-Fired Grill in West Newton at the site of Lumière, which closed after 20-years (prior to COVID).
  • Garbanzo, a Colorado-based restaurant chain that focuses on Mediterranean food is opening a second Boston-area location at Arsenal Yards in Watertown, Boston Restaurant Talk reports. (Arsenal Yards is currently home to Shake Shack, Pepe's Pizza, Ben and Jerry's, Chipotle, City Works Eatery and Pour House with Kura Sushi, The Gallows, Tori Jiro, Condesa Restaurante Mexicano and Pokeworks are on the way.)
  • And Newton’s Blue Ribbon BBQ is collaborating with Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Café on a one night only all-you-can-eat ham & bean supper at the site of the future Northland Newton site on Needham Street. It’s happening Friday, Aug. 21, 6:30-8:30 p.m. (Rain date Aug. 22). Reserve your table and get additional details at 617-244-7427.
And some dining ideas for this weekend
That’s all for now. Take good care this weekend. Our email newsletter will return on Tuesday at 7 a.m.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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