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After so much grief, it's nice to see this getting some accolades

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After so much grief, it's nice to see this getting some accolades

It took Northland three years to get its mixed use development project on Needham Street approved by the Newton City Council.

Then the company spent a half year defending its vision all over again when some unhappy types forced a ballot referendum. (Turned out the majority of Newton voters resoundingly supported it!)

So it's nice to see the project now getting accolades.

“The 800-unit apartment complex getting underway in Newton Upper Falls will be one of a kind,” writes Aruni Soni in the Globenoting Northland's ground-breaking approach to sustainability.

The 13-building, all-electric housing project is being constructed under the “passive house” building standard. Considered by experts to “represent a massive step forward in green building” it's the largest project of its kind in the nation.

report published this week by the Passive House Network says Northland’s building will cut energy utility costs for residents by 50 to 70 percent compared with the average cost of utilities for new residents.

“In fact, tenants will most likely not have any heating or cooling bills at all,” Soni writes.

White House tips its hat to MassBay cyber program 

The Biden administration just gave a shout out to MassBay Community College’s cybersecurity program for its role in a “first-of-its-kind comprehensive approach aimed at addressing both immediate and long-term cyber workforce needs.”
The White House announcement highlighted the Wellesley Hills school's cybersecurity curriculum -- the only associate degree in cybersecurity being offered in Massachusetts -- and praised MassBay for plans to increase its cybersecurity faculty.

“The mention of MassBay’s cybersecurity agenda by the White House is an exciting reminder that what we are doing here at MassBay is a national priority,” said MassBay President David Podell.

MassBay is now planning on expanding the program, not just for college and high school students, but also for employees from businesses, municipalities, school systems, and non-profit organizations, notes Chitra Javdekar, the school’s dean of STEM.

Fall classes at begin Sept. 5. Applications are now being accepted. 

Needham tech company goes public 

Shark Ninja

SharkNinja began trading on the New York Stock Exchange Monday, after completing its previously announced separation from parent company JS Global Lifestyle Company Limited, the BBJ’s Lucia Maffei reports.

The Needham-based household appliance producer is listed under the ticker symbol "SN."

SharkNinja's name combines its "Shark" brand, which groups vacuums, mops and air purifiers, and its "Ninja" brand for blenders, coffee makers, electric kettles and other kitchen appliances. (We have a bunch of their stuff in our house.)

CEO Mark Barrocas tells Maffei he hopes to add about 100 employees to its 1,000 workers based in Massachusetts by the end of this year. Openings are across engineering and product development, but include marketing and finance roles.

SharkNinja currently employs approximately 700 engineers.

Allurion Technologies, a Natick-based maker of swallowable gastric balloons, also went public on the New York Stock Exchange this week, Axios reports.

Things aren't as rosy at these two area employers 

  • Newton-based Karyopharm Therapeutics Inc. is laying off 20% of its workforce, as it awaits Phase 3 trial results on several of its drugs under development. The Wells Ave-located life science company had 385 employees as of February, according to Rowan Walrath at the BBJ.
  • And the BBJ’s Maffei reports Tripadvisor is making some staff cuts “after a period of ramping up hiring after its headcount was decimated as a result of the pandemic's impact on the travel industry.” Tripadvisor ended ended 2022 with about 3,100 employees, up 15%  compared to 2021. 

Might Brookline and Newton both be left out of electrification pilot program?

It appears Brookline is about to dip below the 40B affordable housing threshold this fall, which would allow housing developers to once again by-step zoning rules, according to the Brookline News.

Might this also impact the town’s ability to participate in the 10 Communities electrification pilot program?

The same requirement could also prevent Newton from participating unless the city can meet its 40B threshold.

Friday's grab bag 

  • It's so impressive how the folks at Moldova Restaurant in Nonantum continue to adapt. They’re now open for coffee from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekdays with free wifi, breakfast items and specialty coffees. 

  • Watertown’s first annual State of the City address with Council President Mark Sideris and City Manager George Proakis takes place Wednesday, (Aug. 9) at 6 p.m. at the Watertown Free Public Library. The now-annual event is required as part of the voter approved changes to the city charter.

  • An income-restricted affordable condominium is up for resale at 6 Yurick Road as part of the High Rock Homes Development in Needham. Details,

  • Balance a lemon on your head during the next two weeks, and Northwestern Mutual will donate $10 toward childhood cancer research.

  • Babson College’s Undergraduate Student Resource Fair on Sept. 8 offers a chance for local businesses to gain exposure to undergraduate students as well as advertise for any job openings. Bring samples, marketing materials, discounts and anything else you think would attract students to your table. Sign up for a table or email Kate Deeb with questions.

  • Register here for Wellesley’s next Building Energy Roundtable, Sept. 13 at 11 a.mon Zoom.

  • Blackbird Doughnuts is planning to open at Arsenal Yards in Watertown later this fall, with the shop joining other locations, including Newton Centre. Let's hope it's open in time for their cider donuts! (Boston Restaurant Talk)

  • The annual sales tax holiday is next weekend: Aug. 12 and 13. Retail items up to $2,500, purchased in Massachusetts for personal use will be exempt from sales tax. FAQ’s

Ballot question seeks to end Newton parking ban

Organizers hoping to eliminate Newton’s overnight parking ban are continuing to collect signatures.
So far, they've gathered about 25% of the 10,000 needed signatures to place a binding question that seeks to repeal the ordinance onto the November ballot, according to Fig City News.

Charles River improves, but faces climate challenges 

Charles River Report Card 2023

Finally today, the Charles River received its report card yesterday and it did quite well along our communities!

The quality of the river adjacent to Wellesley and Needham earned an "A" while the section that flows through Newton scored an "A-minus" in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s annual Charles River Report Card. 

Conditions deteriorate to a "B" along most of Watertown into Boston, with the Muddy River earning a "C."

“More urbanized, paved areas consistently see lower grades due to stormwater pollution while greener, more forested areas of the watershed are swimmable on most days,” the report notes.

Yes, swimmable.

“While the grades show vast improvements from 1995, progress has largely stalled. Increased precipitation, drought, and heat from climate change make combined-sewer overflows, stormwater pollution, low water levels, and toxic cyanobacteria blooms routine, inhibiting safe recreation.”

Heavy precipitation in the summer of 2021, lead to the discharge of over 126 million gallons of sewage and stormwater into the Charles. 

Then along came the drought of 2022 which caused several sections of our favorite river to run nearly dry, with observed water levels under half a foot in Needham, Newton, Waltham and other communities.

And that, my friends, is what you need to know today -- happy International Beer Day -- unless you need to know why you shouldn't be a jerk at work (but shouldn't be too nice either).

The chamber office will be closed Monday, so we can all attend our annual golf tournament at Wellesley Golf Club in support of Mass. Adoption Resource Exchange.

There will be no Tuesday newsletter. But I'll be in touch later in the week.

Greg Reibman (he, him)
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