Chamber News

August 13, 2020 Likes Comments

What the PPP has meant for our cities and towns

If I’m fortunate enough to have a grandchild one day and he or she asks me what I did during the great COVID-19 Pandemic, I’ll have to say that I spent a maddening amount of time writing about, venting about (and even being interviewed about) the Paycheck Protection Program.

I've done a lot of eye rolling too, as I've shared the frustration experienced by so many businesses, nonprofits and lenders over the rushed-to-launch federal program’s ever evolving guidelines, deadlines and portal problems.
 
But as frustrating and infuriating as this program has been, the PPP played a significant role in helping small businesses nationwide cover costs during the late spring and into the summer.
 
Without a doubt there are businesses and people working in our cities and towns today that wouldn’t be, if not for this and the SBA's EDIL program.
 
And now an analysis by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, sheds some light on how many businesses and nonprofits statewide benefited from PPP.
 
MAPC found that about half of all businesses in Massachusetts (46%) applied for the PPP by July. In some communities, over 75 percent of businesses applied. In others, less than 25 percent did.
 
The municipalities in our immediate region fell somewhere in the middle, with Needham businesses receiving the highest percentage of PPP loans (63%) and Newton the most overall (2,091).
  1. Needham: 63.1% of 1,473 establishments covered (929 total loans)
  2. Watertown: 58.1% of 1,247 establishments covered (724 total loans)
  3. Wellesley: 56.9% of 1,495 establishments covered (851 total loans)
  4. Newton: 51.2% of 4,080 establishments covered (2,091 total loans)
  5. Brookline: 49.9% of 1,887 establishments covered (941 total loans)
  6. Waltham: 48.4% of 2,837 establishments covered (1,374 total loans)
Of course, most of those businesses and nonprofits will tell you that they spent the last of their forgivable PPP loans weeks ago.
 
And with the pandemic showing no sign of abating, our businesses desperately need a second round of relief. Elected leaders in Congress on both sides of the isle say they want to restore the program -- or launch a new one -- with little consensus on how.
 
More stories for the grand kids I suppose.
 
Don’t forget about this today
 
Have you registered for this afternoon’s 1 p.m. Zoominar “Getting Back to Work: Keeping Your Staff and Customers Safe”?
 
The experts from Newton-Wellesley Hospital have created a program designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses reopen their facilities in the safest way possible for employees and customers.
 
You’ll also get a chance to meet Dr. Errol R. Norwitz, Newton-Wellesley’s newly appointed president who will offer some welcoming remarks.
 
RMV business services
 
The Registry of Motor Vehicles offers numerous transactions and services through business-specific portals for charitable groups, driving schools, driver verification, IRP customers, school bus companies, inspection stations, insurance industry, professional licenses and Section 5 registrants.
 
Go to the RMV's Online Service Cente r and select the "Business Services" option. Note: If you don't have a login, request access to a business portal by emailing the RMV at rmvbusinesspartners@dot. state.ma.us.
 
Improving a Newton-Needham connection
 
Office workers in the Needham Crossing section of the N-Squared Innovation District could one day have better access to the restaurants, retailers and other amenities along Needham Street thanks to a grant received last week, Newton Patch reports.
 
The City of Newton received a $56,700 state MassTrails Grant to begin the process of constructing a new, fully accessible bike and pedestrian bridge at Christina Street Bridge (near the Barry Price Center) over the Charles River. The bridge would improve the connection between the Upper Falls Greenway and the Blue Heron trail on the Needham side of the river.
 
The city will provide $14,700 in matching funds to survey existing conditions and begin a structural review of the abandoned railroad bridge which is in disrepair and closed, leaving a gap in Department of Conservation and Recreation trail system.
 
DCR is attempting to find the title of the bridge, so that the state can transfer bridge ownership from the MBTA to DCR.
 
Education top issue for Latinx residents
 
Food insecurity, depression and unemployment are the top three issues impacting Latino residents in Massachusetts during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new poll, reports Sarah Betancourt at CommonWealth.
 
Twenty percent of the state’s Latinos are unemployed, a figure higher than the state’s overall highest-in-the-nation rate of 17.4 percent, according to the MassINC poll. Over a third say they have gotten food from a food bank.
 
Respondents listed education as a top issue. Affordable child care and health care and protecting immigrant rights and women's rights were also high priorities.
 
Senior Center not moving to Newton Centre
 
A working group exploring locations for a new senior center in Newton is recommending that it be built at the site of the current senior center in Newtonville. Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced last night that she agrees with their recommendations.
 
The announcement should end concerns by Newton Centre businesses who strongly objected to locating the new facility at the triangle parking lot over fears about lost parking.
 
Harvest Fair cancelled
 
Your chamber hosts two outdoor fairs on the Needham Town Common annually. Unfortunately, both have been cancelled this year, including Needham’s Fall Harvest Fair, which had been scheduled for Oct. 4.
 
(However, our Harvest Fair partner, Needham Farmers Market, continues to operate on the Common every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.)
 
My thanks to Needham Bank, Dedham Savings, BID-Needham, Middlesex Savings Bank, Briarwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center, One Wingate Way and Rockland Trust, who were scheduled to be our fair sponsors this year.
 
All have agreed to let us allocate their sponsor dollars to underwrite the chambers advocacy, including a virtual fall festival which we will launch next month. Details to follow.
 
Free online DEI training program ends soon
 
Finally this morning, time is running out to take advantage of a terrific online Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging training series offered for free on LinkedIn through Aug. 31. Three of the courses are designed to help us understand and confront unconscious bias. The series also covers having inclusive conversations and creating diverse workplaces.
 
Programs like these are a great option for any business or nonprofit looking to introduce diversity training into the workplace at a time when bringing in an outside consultant isn’t feasible. You’ll even earn a certificate of completion when you finish the full series.

Check it out. Let me know what you think.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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