But Harvard Business School research suggests that many companies fail to promote a key draw for many prospective employees today, particularly young people: the diverse, inclusive workplaces they’ve worked hard to develop.
Plus, studies suggest that companies with initiatives around diversity, equity, and inclusion tend to perform better than more homogenous peers—and talent is drawn to organizations that are likely to succeed.
New funding source may help small employers and startups
Small businesses and entrepreneurs will soon have access to a new pool of seed funding, the Baker administration announced this week.
Nearly $169 million in federal funds designed to promote the growth of smaller employers, particularly those owned and controlled by people from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds, are being funneled through three quasi-public agencies, reports State House News’ Chris Lisinski.
Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation will launch a new Community Loan Fund Guarantee, which will guarantee up to 50 percent of a principal loan amount originating with a bank or nonprofit community lender up to an average of $250,000, and will bulk up its existing commercial lending program that offers direct loans to small business borrowers.
MassDevelopment will offer loans that can be used for real estate and equipment improvements.
MassVentures will provide capital investments through its Deep Tech Diversity Venture Fund to startups through its fields such as advanced manufacturing and materials, robotics, and synthetic biology.
Watertown close to charging developers affordable housing linkage fees
Both the House and Senate approved a request by the City of Watertown yesterday that would tack a linkage fee onto large commercial developments to fund or create affordable housing.
The measure would allow the city to impose a fee of up to $18 per square foot (with an exemption on the first 30,000 sf) on nonresidential developments that require zoning relief. The rate can be adjusted every five years.
Some developers look favorably on linkage fees because they can provide predictability in terms of givebacks, rather than the random way communities and abutters make requests now. (Plus, developers recognize the need for housing to provide employees to attract tenants.)
But community members who’ve grown accustomed to getting a developer to fund a myriad of pet projects may be disappointed with the arrangement.
The bill now awaits the governor's signature. It would then go back to the city council to set the actual rates, terms, and timelines.
A correction and clarification re commuter rail stations
The Legislature did indeed include $85 million in a transportation bond bill, secured by Sen. Cindy Creem andsigned by Baker in August. I'm sorry I missed that.
However, bonding only authorizes the state to borrow the money. It doesn’t provide the actual dollars, which Baker was ready to allocate in full in May, and that U.S. Rep. Jake Auchincloss says Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told him would be viewed much more favorably to secure federal matching funds.
But that still leaves the project woefully short of its $170 million price tag.
Wellesley again opts to give businesses a break on taxes
All four chamber communities have now set their fiscal 2023 property tax rates.
Wellesley’s Select Board, once again, voted this week to maintain its single tax rate policy. That means both residential and commercial property owners pay the same rate, as opposed to communities that shift a higher percentage onto the backs of businesses.
That's been the policy in Needham which also held its tax rate hearing this week and will again charge commercial owners 175% more than residents.
As I wrote last week, the Newton City Council set the rate at 174% after turning down a suggestion by Mayor Ruthanne Fuller to give commercial owners a modest break this year, recognizing that many businesses "suffered during the pandemic."
Watertown City Council set its commercial shift at 150%, the highest it could go under an obscure tax law that the city is asking Beacon Hill to revise. If approved, commercial tax bills in Watertown will likely increase dramatically one year from now.
The chamber is grateful to Wellesley for recognizing the benefits of moderating the tax burden on commercial owners, especially during these financially challenging times.
Healthcare workers eligible for loan repayments
Massachusetts primary care and behavioral health workers can now apply for loan repayment awards ranging from $12,500 to $300,000, reports Alison Kuznitz at MassLive.
Up to 2,000 loan repayment awards will be distributed to eligible healthcare workers who commit to staying at their current job or another eligible institution for four to five years.
The awards can cover government loans made by federal, state, county, or city agencies, as well as commercial loans from banks, credit unions, savings and loan associations, insurance companies, schools, and other financial or credit institutions. Apply here.
Even more need to knows
The average price of gasoline in the U.S. is lower than it was a year ago, after many months of elevated prices marked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Whether or not you think that’s good news depends on if you worry that low prices indicate a drop in consumption and a looming economic slowdown.
Mass Save’s commercial incentives have been revamped to provide extensive financial support for the creation of net zero/low energy buildings.
Bertucci's has filed for bankruptcy for a second time and has closed several Massachusetts and New Hampshire locations. However, both the Newton and Needham locations remain open. (WCVB)
Celebrate the holidays with performers and more at the Linden Square Courtyard on Sunday (Dec. 11) from 10 a.m. to noon. (Note we had the incorrect hours in Tuesday's newsletter.)
Allen Center in West Newton will present awesome Newton folk singer Catie Curtis in concert Friday, Dec. 16, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets.
The Town of Needham is conducting a parking study focused on Needham Center and Needham Heights. Take it here.
The Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network provides free, confidential, one-to-one business assistance and free and low-cost training to prospective and existing small businesses. Details
That’s a lot of toys!
Thanks to everyone who joined the chamber’s Young Professionals Group Wednesday for another successful holiday gift drive.
Together, we raised $500+ in cash donations and collected sacks full of toys.
If you missed it, it’s not too late to help. You can still donate online or stop by Henry Bear's Park or Just Next Door Cards & Gifts to purchase a toy for the gift drive before it ends on Monday (Dec. 12). Find out how here.
Finally, this morning, as you're pulling your holiday gift list or celebrations together, don't forget to check out the unique offerings from our local retailers, restaurants, and cultural attractions in Newton, Needham, Wellesley & Watertown.