Chamber News

June 26, 2020 Likes Comments

When companies have too much space

As companies rethink their office needs – and more employees look to keep working from home – some employers want to shrink their footprint and rent some of their space.

As a result, the sublease market in Boston has hit a 10-year high, Bisnow reports.
 
There’s now 700,000 square feet of office space is now on the Boston market, up from 300,000 at this time last year, according to Hunneman. By the end of the summer, they believe total sublease market could top 2 million square feet.
 
Among the properties in Boston is 54,000 square feet that TripAdvisor is looking to sublease at North Station. (TripAdvisor is also looking to sublease up to 100,000 square feet of its Needham headquarters.)
 
Some brokers believe our suburban communities may be more attractive to companies in the COVID era.
 
“We’ve received a lot of inquiries over the last 30 days, many of which are from existing Boston companies looking to make a move out to the suburbs or exploring a satellite office,” Jeremy Freid at 128 CRE told me yesterday.
 
“Whether or not they act on it remains to be seen.”
 
Economic recovery bill on State House agenda
 
Beacon Hill lawmakers will hold a hearing starting at 11 a.m. today to review a stimulus bill filed by the Baker administration designed to help business recover from the pandemic.
 
The Globe’s Jon Chesto previews some of the items up for discussion. He says he’ll be paying particular attention at 1 p.m. when Baker’s economic development guy Mike Kennealy presents the administration’s plan.
 
Here’s hoping one of things that comes out of this effort is passage of Baker’s long-stalled Housing Choice bill. This pandemic didn’t alleviate our housing crisis; it only magnified the need.
 
You can submit testimony here. Watch the hearing here.

Restaurant relief bill is getting cold
 
Imagine waiting three weeks for your waiter to bring you your entree.
 
Well that's how long restaurant owners have been waiting for the state Senate to act on a relief bill that passed the House on June 3.
 
Among other provisions, the law would allow the sale of to-go mixed drinks and cap commissions at 15 percent on third party apps like DoorDash and GrubHub.
 
Bob Luz, president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association told Chesto that he remains hopeful the bill will move forward.
 
But then there's the newly formed, Mass Restaurants United, a coalition of independent restaurateurs that apparently hasn’t been happy with Luz’s group. MRU also supports the bill but also doesn’t believe it goes far enough. They’re calling for tax relief or rent relief to be added to the package.
 
And speaking of MRU, on Tuesday the group hosted a very thorough presentation by Jesse Baerkahn of the real estate development group Graffito SP (a chamber member) titled “How to Talk with your Landlord.” Watch it here.
 
On the federal level, the Independent Restaurant Coalition has proposed a $120 billion “Restaurant Revitalization Fund” to provide grants to food service or drinking establishments through Dec. 31.
 
Life science news in Newton
 
The seven-employee Newton medical device startup CereVasc has raised $43.9 million in venture capital to advance its lead product, a minimally invasive shunt to relieve fluid that can build up in the brain as the result of a neurological condition.
 
Yes, you read that right: they have seven employees and just raised $43.9 million.

CereVasc’s global HQ is located in a humble space next to the post office in Auburndale. Globe story here.
 
On the other side of the city, LabShares Newton, a lab and coworking office space for life-science and biotech startups in Nonantum, has just expanded its office space, adding 3,400 square feet; something that can be really helpful right now for bio companies needing social distancing and a less dense working environment.
 
The newly expanded space features six private offices, one conference room, and an open office area with shared seating and a kitchenette. Services include admin support, shipping and receiving and a fully stocked kitchen. Go here to take a very cool virtual tour (made by a very cool chamber member TOURIT.)
 
Free summer parking in Needham
 
The Select Board this week voted to allow for free 2-hour parking in Needham this summer to help support local businesses. Beginning Monday, June 29th, all parking meters will be free until Sept. 8.
 
Also in Needham, the Exchange Club isn’t able to host the always-spectacular July 3 fireworks celebration but they’re encouraging the community to celebrate the July 4th holiday with a House Decorating Contest. Send a photo of your home via email your name and address to needhamexchangeclub@gmail.com by 10 p.m. on July 3.
 
More DEI resources
 
With the help from our Diversity and Inclusivity Committee, we recently launched a page of Diversity & Inclusion Resources.
 
And if you missed it, I urge you to find time to watch Wednesday’s “How to create an inclusive economy in Massachusetts” webinar with panelists, Colette Phillips (CPC Global), Darryl Settles (Catalyst Ventures), and Quincy Miller (Eastern Bank). Here's links to some of the resources our panelists referred to during the discussion.
Obligatory pre-weekend PPP update
 
New Paycheck Protection Program guidance released this week declares that recipients can apply for loan forgiveness early but that doing so could cost them money. The latest in a seemingly-endless array of interim final rules addresses a number of issues related to the PPP. Learn the latest here.
 
And a reminder: The SBA deadline to apply for PPP is next Tuesday (June 30). Your favorite chamber president shares what he knows about the program here.
 
Hands off this stuff
 
The FDA is advising consumers to not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol (wood alcohol), a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. A list of the company’s products is here.
 
This survey could matter
 
The MassINC Polling Group is conducting a statewide survey about how the coronavirus has impacted small businesses. This survey is for small businesses with 500 employees or less and should take less than 10 minutes to complete.
 
Policy makers and the media tend to pay attention to MassINC surveys, so responding can be really useful. Take the survey here.
 
Take good care this weekend. Wear a face mask. And if you dine locally, leave a GIANT tip.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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