Chamber News

May 12, 2020 Likes Comments

We learn a little more every day

As each day passes, we’re getting more insight into the state’s plans for reopening the economy.

Yesterday, the Baker Administration announced a four-stage framework and new mandatory workplace safety standards. We still don’t know which industries will be allowed to open when but should know more in between now and Monday when the governor’s Reopening Advisory Board releases its final report.
  • Go here for more information about the four-stage reopening approach.
  • Go here for Monday’s presentation from the governor’s Reopening Advisory Board.
  • Go here for more information about the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards with will apply to all workplaces
Do you have employees who need testing or PPE?
AFC Urgent Care Walthamis offering regular surveillance of the workforce with both rapid COVID-19 live virus RNA testing and rapid COVID-19 finger-stick antibody testing for all employees currently in and returning to the workplace. Call 781-430-8161.
CVS is also offering free testing (to qualified patients but without a referral) in Lowell.
And for anyone hunting for PPE, the chamber has a list of local vendors who are supplying PPE here. (Let me know if you have any additions.)
In addition, the Black Economic Council has established Protect MA, an online marketplace that connects Black and Latinx designers with PPE products.
What else will you need to reopen your office? Check out this “Post-Pandemic Shopping List To Get Ready” from BizNow.
More PPP details (and worries)
In yesterday’s newsletter I mentioned that the SBA has promised to release guidance by Friday regarding how businesses and nonprofits can activate the forgiveness features of their Paycheck Protection Program loan.
Liz Adler of the Beacon Law Group wrote to remind me that PPP recipients are also anxiously facing a safe harbor deadline of this Thursday to decide if they want accept or return their PPP funds. More details from Alder here.
Meanwhile, the Boston Business Journal (paywall), offers this warning:
“[The SBA] is adding items to its online FAQ sheet for the program on a daily basis. That means if you thought you understood the rules one day, they could change the next. The piecemeal distribution of guidance has led to some confusion and often resulted in changes that could impact whether a business receives loan forgiveness.”
All that said, it’s not too late to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. (List of chamber member banks here.)
You can sign up here to receive email updates from the SBA.
And there’s a webinar tomorrow (May 13) from 9-10 a.m. on SBA Resources Update for Underserved Communities in MA. Go here to register.
Fuller’s budget reflects pandemic pain
Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller presented her fiscal year 2021 budget to the city council and, not surprisingly, the pandemic’s impact will have a big impact.
“This is a realistic budget and takes into account a lot of bad news,” she said.
“The Commonwealth might be forced to cut aid to cities and towns. Some of our property owners simply may not be able to pay their property taxes. The virus might reemerge ferociously so restaurants, shops, hotels, universities and colleges take a second serious hit.
"Thus, we will have to continue to stay nimble, responding to these changing economic conditions by holding back on some spending and providing even more assistance to those in need."
The recommended $439.5 million defers investments and initiatives until revenues rebounds. Among other things that includes:
  • Forgoing $2.5 million of spending on roads
  • No layoffs of permanent, full-time employees but eliminating or delaying the filling of open positions (100 part time positions were recently furloughed).
  • A pause of many major capital projects, except those for which we have already received funding, or those that are crucial to the operations.
  • Deferred buying vehicles and equipment.
  • Suspended Sunday hours at the library.
  • Delayed investments in playground equipment.
  • Postponed some work on fields.
  • Eliminated summer’s community flowerpots.
“We intentionally built a conservative budget as we know it is easier to relax spending constraints during the course of the year if revenues are higher than anticipated, than to scramble to make cuts if we experience a shortfall,” Fuller said.
Meal delivery cap could face legal challenge
Meanwhile, we’re still awaiting news from Newton City Hall regarding the request to Fuller from the City Council to cap the fees restaurants have to pay delivery companies like GrubHub and UberEats.
Commonwealth Magazine reports that that Cambridge City Council passed an ordinance capping commissions at 10 percent and requiring the apps to tell customers how much of their money is going to the delivery service. But Cambridge is waiting for a legal opinion on whether a municipality has authority to cap fees.
GrubHub has raised the prospect of a legal challenge, Commonwealth reports.
Worth attending this week
Our Zoom account will be working overtime for the next two days.
We start tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. with another edition of the chamber’s Open House, an opportunity for new members (and those thinking about joining).
At 11 a.m. we’re hosting “Don’t Panic, Pivot!” This should be a good one, presented by Colette Phillips (Founder of Get Konnected! and CEO of CPC) and Carol Roby (Client strategist and former Executive Director of Cyber Warrior).
Although it’s not a chamber program, I also recommend checking out “Supporting Small Businesses, Offsetting Unemployment: How Municipalities Can Help,” a presentation at 2 p.m. from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, exploring, among other things, how municipalities can support small businesses as they reopen.
Finally, on Thursday at 11 a.m. I’ll be speaking to Sen. Ed Markey about the federal response to COVID-19 and other issues. Let me know if you have something you’d like me to ask
Scroll down to register for all of the above.

A few final items
  • Today at 2 p.m. NBC 10 Boston continues its series of Facebook Live webinars: Small Business and the COVID-19 Crisis: Your Questions answered. Today’s focus: Philanthropy and giving, with Phil Buchanan, author of “Giving Done Right.”
  • Cambridge Savings Bank will match up to a total of $5K in donations to the Centre Street Food Pantry over the next 3 days.
  • Volante Farms donated Mother’s Day flowers to 97 isolated seniors in Needham this weekend.
  • No surprise but still sad: the Needham Exchange Club has cancelled its two-day Needham 4th of July Celebration.
Until tomorrow!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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