Chamber News

July 31, 2020 Likes Comments

Gone fishing. Be back Aug. 10.

No one had a clue what was going to happen when our communities shut-down in March.

Including, of course, your friends at your chamber.
 
A big part of the chamber's focus "before" were our events: Spring Seasonings. The Spring and Fall Business Breakfasts. Coffee Connects. Business After Hours. Street Fairs. Members Appreciation Nights. Women in Networking lunches. Young Professionals meetups. And on. And on.
 
All told, we’d been hosting about 120 events annually. That all stopped in March.
 
Everything was cancelled.
 
But we didn’t stop. We transitioned our programming, member services and advocacy online.
 
And we hosted lots of Zoominars. And I mean lots. We’ve hosted 73 online Zoom events since March!
 
Finally, this Monday, we’re hosting our first in person event in five months: Our annual Children’s Charitable Golf Tournament is happening, as scheduled (with new protocols, social distancing and a chance to work on our face mask tan lines).
 
I look forward to seeing many of you there.
 
But I’m especially looking forward to seeing our mighty chamber team: Membership Director Lise Elcock, Operations Director Katherine Herer and Member Services Manager Tiffany Chen.
 
Like many of you, we have Zoom team meetings all the time. But Monday will be the first time we’ve been together since the March shut-down.
 
Then, we’re taking the rest of the week off! Our first vacations since the shut-down.
 
My Zoom shirt is going in the hamper. There will be no daily email newsletters either.
 
(We’ll still be sending some pre-scheduled event announcements next week. You’ll still be able to register for events online, become a member or submit nominations.)
 
Your chamber team will be back Aug. 10. These daily updates will resume Aug. 11 and, going forward, switching to a regular Tuesday through Friday schedule.

Residents willing to pay more to address transportation
 
Most Bay State residents believe the state needs to raise more money for transportation infrastructure, according to a new MassInc poll.
 
The study also found that 68 percent of residents strongly or somewhat strongly support redesigning local streets to improve walking and biking. Asked if they think cities and towns should redesign streets as the economy reopens to create more space for social distancing, 66 percent said they'd either strongly or somewhat back the idea.
 
Revenue ideas that enjoyed a majority support included:
  • Ending rental car companies’ exemption from the state’s sale and use tax (74%).
  • “Value capture” from real estate development to pay for nearby infrastructure (68%).
  • Allowing cities and towns to put local transportation projects and funding on the ballot (64%).
  • Letting cities and towns assess fees on parking spaces in large private lots and garages (55%).
  • Increasing the state fee on trips using ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft (51%).
“This poll makes clear that we must pass a substantive transportation finance bill this session,” said Rick Dimino of A Better City told MassLive. “As our state recovers from COVID-19 and roadway congestion increases, voters believe strongly that we can’t go back to the status quo.”
 
Albright asks to cut liquor fees
 
Newton City Council President Susan Albright wants the city’s alcohol licensing commission to temporarily cut the liquor license fees.
 
Albright said the idea came from Needham’s Select Board which recently reduced fees by half as a way to contribute to restaurants' financial stability.
 
Newton collects $3,250 for a full liquor license and $2250 for a beer and wine license.
 
“If you are able to reduce the fee for these licenses it may not be enough to keep some in business afloat but it may be just enough to save others," Albright wrote.
 
Albright will present her request at the commission’s Aug. 18 meeting.
 
Baker: Can’t blame this on reopening too soon
 
Our work from home summer seems to be morphing into a work from home fall and maybe winter too.
 
Yesterday Gov. Charlie Baker said the recent increase in COVID cases, isn’t because businesses opened too soon. It’s because some folks have become careless and are ignoring basic protocols.
 
He also said the state will review the guidance on public gathering sizes in light of recent parties and groups that are tied to clusters of infections. (MassLive story.)
 
Trip travel tools
 
Tripadvisor has launched a new suite of "Travel Safe" tools to help consumers find, filter for, and validate health and safety information to feel more confident with their future travel choices across town and around the world.
 
"If we want to get the world traveling again, the safety needs of consumers must be appreciated and recognized as the biggest hurdle to closing the confidence gap created by this pandemic," said Lindsay Nelson, chief experience and brand officer, Tripadvisor.
 
"As always, by submitting reviews, our hundreds of millions of members will be the best check and balance to ensure these businesses are responsibly abiding by their policies."
 
I'm looking forward to trying it out.
 
Be back Aug. 11. Until then, take good care. Shop and dine locally. And wear a face mask!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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