Chamber News

July 22, 2020 Likes Comments

What was worrying these owners yesterday

Every Tuesday afternoon I have the privilege of sitting in on a Zoom meeting with some of our best local restaurateurs.

They’ve been meeting weekly since shortly after the shutdown, commiserating and sharing tips and tricks for navigating the biggest economic challenge any of these savvy business leaders have ever experienced.
 
They’re competitors who genuinely seem to like and want to support each other.
 
Typically, these Tuesday conversations are -- given current circumstances -- upbeat and productive.
 
Not yesterday.
 
Yesterday, they mostly sounded exhausted, overwhelmed and scared.
 
In the past few weeks, business has dropped precipitously. Maybe everyone is on the Cape or Moody Street. Maybe it’s the heat. Maybe it’s the economy.
 
Or maybe the early enthusiasm so many of us had to support our local restaurants has lost its pizzazz.
 
Whatever the reason, business – typically slow in July – is the worst they’ve ever experienced.
 
But that really wasn’t what was worrying our owners yesterday. They’re worried about the fall. They’re worried their business will never rebound, no matter how much they innovate. They’re worried customers will never feel comfortable eating indoors (even though they’re following health experts' every precaution) until there’s a vaccine or therapeutic.
 
They’re worried that their PPP loans are running dry and about taking on too much debt. They understand their landlords have bills too but unless they’re willing to partner with them, we will all soon be looking at more empty storefronts.
 
They see the virus spiking in other parts of the country. They see no national strategy. They fear another shutdown here will be their last.
 
It’s one punch in the gut after another. Uncertainty makes it impossible to formulate any sort of business plan. Not knowing. Not having control. It’s every business owners’ worst nightmare.
 
 
We are going to see more.
 
Allowing to go cocktails is nice (it would have been nicer months ago). Not curtailing third party apps and other abandoned ideas was a lost opportunity. New PPP loans, the national restaurant act and other measures
could be more substantive. Local leaders need to think creatively too.
 
When this pandemic began rallying behind our restaurants and other small businesses was all the rage. It needs to be again.
 
Eviction moratorium can kicked down the road
 
The moratorium on evictions and foreclosures was extended to Oct. 17 by Gov. Charlie Baker yesterday.
 
Originally set to expire Aug. 18, the law suspends most residential and small business commercial evictions, as well as residential foreclosures. It does not relieve tenants or homeowners of their obligation to pay rent or make mortgage payments. The law also:
  • Prevents landlords from sending notifications to residential tenants that threaten eviction or terminating of a lease;
  • Limits court actions on non-essential evictions;
  • Relieves tenants, both residents and small commercial, from late fees and negative credit reporting;
  • Allows landlords to use “last month’s rent” to pay for certain expenses, though not as a replacement rent payment, and only with proper notification of tenant;
  • Requires lenders to grant a forbearance for up to 180 days if a homeowner experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 submits such a request; and
  • Allows for alternative payment agreements between lenders and borrowers regarding forbearance payments.”
Douglas Quattrochi of the group MassLandloards previously told CommonWealth that his organization supported a short extension, but that the state should find funds to make landlords whole.
 
BC details COVID testing plan
 
Boston College has confirmed plans to test all students, faculty, and staff returning to campus at the University’s expense during the third and fourth weeks of August, prior to the start of classes.

The Broad Institute, a biomedical and genomic research center in Cambridge that is affiliated with Harvard and MIT, will analyze the test results within around 24 hours. BC is in the process of securing equipment to deliver single test results within one hour. BC is also working on establishing a state-certified laboratory on campus with the ability to analyze 200 to 300 samples per day, as needed. The B.C. Heights has the details.
 
AG strikes down fossil fuel regs that RE folks were closely following
 
A Brookline bylaw that had been closely watched by real estate developers and gas utilities (as well as municipal officials in Newton and other municipalities that were hoping to emulate it) has been struck down by Attorney General Maura Healy, CommonWealth reports .
 
The bylaw would have barred the installation of most fossil fuel infrastructure in any new buildings or significant rehabs of existing buildings.
 
Tamara Small, the CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts, the commercial real estate development association, called the decision “a huge win for development statewide, as at this stage of technology, natural gas bans would block important housing and economic development projects from advancing and would be extremely detrimental to the Commonwealth’s economy,” according to CommonWealth.
 
Small business grants program can assist Watertown businesses
 
Watertown is part of a consortium of 23 communities that has been awarded a $4.95 million grant from the Department of Housing & Community Development to assist small businesses. This funding is part of the $19.6 million award through the federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
 
Specifically, the grant will be utilized to award individual grants of up to $10,000 for microenterprise businesses (Newton offered a similar program last month).
 
A microenterprise is defined as a commercial enterprise that has five or fewer employees, one or more of whom owns the enterprise and must be a for-profit entity. Other exclusions and more details here.
 
Final day to support our golf tournament

Our Annual Children’s Charitable Golf Tournament is sold out but you still have until the end of today to support the tournament and our charitable recipient the John M. Barry Boys and Girls Club of Newton by ordering a tee sign.
 
Each year, the chamber’s golf committee selects a different local nonprofit whose mission includes working with children to be the recipient of a portion of the tournament’s proceeds.
 
This year’s selection of the Boys & Girls Club is notable because the club was forced to cancel its 2020 annual tournament, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
For $175 your company’s name will be displayed on a tee sign displayed out on the course and will be listed in the program book given to all tournament participants. But the deadline is today. Order online here or email Tiffany Chen and she will invoice you.

Additional sponsorship opportunities available - please contact Lise Elcock for complete information.
 
Until tomorrow,
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

 

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