Chamber News

August 11, 2020 Likes Comments

Your morning updates return

We're back.

It would be nice to be able to say I’m returning from a week off full of optimism that the economy is turning a corner as the pandemic wanes and schools reopen, just as we all hoped it would by now.
Instead, well, you know.
The Washington Post says the economy is on the verge of a “lost year”, noting that polls show the public is growing more pessimistic about how the nation has handled this pandemic, while cellphone data shows that people avoid restaurants, stores and entertainment following reports of local virus spikes.
And, as our friends at Graffito note, everyone is very nervous about the fall and winter.
But I did enjoy a week of avoiding cable TV news; reading anything that had to do with the PPP; and working on my face mask tan line.
And we have some good news today (and the obligatory PPP news too). So let’s get started.
Needham hires economic development pro
Needham just made a great hire.
The town has hired Amy Haelsen to be its new Economic Development Manager, a job that has been vacant for nearly a year, following the departure of Devra Bailin who left to take a similar position in Newton
Haelsen comes to Needham from Dedham, where she served as the executive director of the Dedham Square Circle – Downtown Revitalization Group since 2007 and worked with business, community groups, elected officials and others to that have helped revitalize Dedham Square.
At Dedham Square Circle, Haelsen planned and managed many annual community events and promotions and founded and managed the Dedham Farmer’s Market. She also developed a regional branding campaign.
Haelsen previously held development and communications roles with Make-A-Wish of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
I’ve been a big admirer of the work Haelsen did in Dedham and always thought her marketing of Dedham Square was a model Needham could learn a lot from.
And here's a true story: Many years ago, I tried to recruit Amy to be president of the Newton-Needham Chamber before I took the job.
I’m really looking forward to working with her.
New platform markets locally sourced food
The state launched an online marketing platform yesterday that aims to connect farmers, fishers, chefs, institutions, food banks, buyers and more. Originally initiated in response to the COVID-19 health crisis and its impact on the food system, the MassGrown Exchange is a long-term solution to meet the needs and match surplus within the Massachusetts food system.
  • Looking to buy produce, seafood and other locally sourced products (including a Newton-made chutney)? Go here.
  • Do you grow or make a products that you’re looking to market? Register your business here to get started.
  • There’s also a MassGrown Map which lists locations of CSA farms, greenhouses, and farmers markets that are open for business, including those offering curbside pickup, deliveries and mail order.
50 is the new 100
Effective today (Aug. 11) the state cap on outdoor gatherings has been reduced from 100 to 50. The inside gathering limit will remain at 25 people. This applies to both public and private spaces.
Gov. Charlie Baker has also indefinitely postponed Step 2 of Phase III of the reopening plan and made one change to the restaurant protocols: Alcoholic beverages may now only be served for on-site consumption if accompanied by orders for food prepared on-site.
The guv also announced a targeted cross-agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team that will be responsible for ramping up enforcement statewide and coordinating local intervention efforts at the local level in higher risk COVID-19 communities.
And the Mass Restaurant Association is warning its members that “operators can expect more enforcement of all existing restaurant guidelines, including mask regulations.
"The ABCC has increased staff and will be conducting frequent compliance checks, in addition to state and local police. These agencies have the ability to issue cease and desist orders if operators are not complying with regulations.”
How is business?
The Retailers Association of Mass (RAM) is looking to create snapshot of how retail, restaurant and other local business are doing more than four months into the crisis and over half way through 2020. Take a few minutes to complete their survey.
Minding Your PPPs and Qs

The SBA officially opened its Paycheck Protection Plan forgiveness portal yesterday. But many lenders aren’t going to be in a hurry to start processing your application. That is because -- as with all things PPP – the rules keep shifting and, yes, Congress can’t agree on how to proceed.
Automatic loan forgiveness for smaller loans is just one of the many changes Congress is contemplating for the PPP, which includes different streamlined loan forgiveness rules depending on the size of the loan, the ability for some small businesses to draw extra money on their first PPP loans and the ability to get an expanded set of costs forgiven, among others,” The BBJ reports.
Still, PPP recipients won’t be able to wait indefinitely, as Chamber member Lori Yarvis at Archstone Law Group noted in a recent client update:
  • The deadline for a borrower to submit their forgiveness application to their lender remains 10 months after the covered period chosen by the borrower (either eight weeks or 24 weeks after disbursement of the PPP loan),
  • If a borrower submits a forgiveness application within the 10 months, the borrower can continue to defer payments of the PPP loan until the SBA either forgives some or all of the loan or denies it. After the 10 months expire, if no forgiveness application has been submitted, the funds become a loan that must be repaid.
One more important PPP note
Oh, and then there’s the still unanswered question about whether or not you can take a tax deduction for the wages or rent you pay with PPP money.
Back in April the IRS ruled out taking tax deduction for wages and rent paid with forgivable PPP loans, saying it is a double dip. But some lawmakers say it should be tax deductible. Forbes columnist Robert W. Wood has more.
Help us identify our region’s most influential business people of color
Finally, a reminder to submit your nominations for the Newton-Needham MetroWest 50 Most Influential Business People of Color and help us spread the word about this important project.
Please share this page on your social media pages, company newsletters and with friends and colleagues.
That’s also where you can submit your own nominations.
And a reminder, the City of Newton is featuring a virtual conversation tomorrow (Weds Aug. 12 at 6:30 p.m.) with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Register for “Overdue: Confronting Race & Racism in Newton” here.
Be back tomorrow!
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.


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