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Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

Here's what you need to know today

Need to Knows Graphic

Here's what you need to know today

If it’s Friday it must be time for another episode in our four-part mini-series designed to promote visiting our Charles River Chamber communities.

We launched two weeks ago, exploring old and new attractions that make Watertown special.

Last Friday, we visited shops and restaurants that are help spark a Wellesley Square renaissance.

In today’s penultimate episode, we "Get to Know Needham", with a focus on family-friendly places to explore in Needham Centre.

Our “Get To Know” videos were funded by Meet Boston! and the Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism and created by the Emmy Award-winning team at Another Age Productions.

In next week's season finale we’ll go shopping across Newton.

But today, enjoy "Get to Know Needham."

Get to know Needham 
Please share this video in your e-newsletters, embed it on your website, post it on your social media feeds and anywhere else you can think of.

Big news in the banking world, part one

There's big news in our banking solar system, particularly the announcement Eastern Bank is acquiring Cambridge Trust, while Eastern is also selling off its insurance division.

Eastern already had deep roots in our communities then grew deeper when it acquired Century Bank in 2021. And Cambridge Trust's market share here was enhanced following its 2020 merger with Wellesley Bank.

Pending approval, the combined company is expected to have approximately $27.1 billion in total assets and make Eastern the largest bank-owned independent investment advisor in the state..

Eastern Bank CEO Bob Rivers told the BBJ’s Meera Raman the merger would not alter the bank’s progressive stances on community issues. Rivers noted Cambridge Trust under CEO Denis Sheahan (who is staying on) shared many similar values and commitments through its own foundation.

Both institutions and their leadership have been longtime allies, financial supporters, and friends of our chamber.

Wait, here's more big news in banking 

In addition to the Eastern's Cambridge Trust acquisition, Fidelity Bank has reached an agreement to merge its mutual holding companies with Cape Cod 5 under one multi-bank holding company.

Once approved, both banks will continue to operate independently as two separate financial institutions maintaining their respective names and brands, including its Needham branch on Chestnut Street which opened in 2020.

As part of the partnership agreement, Fidelity Bank will form a $5 million charitable foundation, providing increased and ongoing support to non-profit organizations, causes and events in their market areas. 

Cape Cod 5 has an established foundation that will continue separately.

Free COVID tests are back, Paxlovid also available 

The feds are once again offering to send up to four free COVID-19 rapid tests per household to anyone who requests them by mail starting Monday (Sept. 25) at

The government is also recommending that you don’t throw away unused tests even if their expiration date indicates that they’ve expired. Go here to see if your older tests are still valid.

Massachusetts also continues to offer free Paxlovid and a free telehealth consultation for many adults with COVID-19. Fill out this form, or call 833-450-3461 to see if you qualify.

Friday grab bag 

  • 574 days after it was first proposed, Beacon Hill lawmakers have at long last reached an agreement on a tax relief bill, although as of early this morning no details were available. (State House News)

  • In late October Needham Town Meeting will consider whether or not to join Watertown, Newton, Wellesley and other communities and adopt the state’s Opt-in Specialized Energy Code. Learn more at an informational session on Wednesday (Sept. 27) at 4 p.m. for developers, commercial property owners, real estate professionals and residents.

  • Latina Restaurant in Needham Center could be converted into The Common Room, a sports bar by new group of owners seeking approval for the change. (Needham Observer)

  • The Needham Bank Great Hall Concert Series is celebrating its 10th season of bringing exceptional performers to the beautiful concert space returns with pop/jazz singer Ann Hampton Calloway on Saturday (Sept. 23)
  • Fingers crossed the weather holds up for Watertown’s Faire on the Square tomorrow Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Saltonstall Park. I'm going either way.

We're hiring! 

The chamber is looking for an ambitious team-player to join our organization in an exciting new role, Public Policy & Government Relations Manager.

This position will support activities related to public policy, government engagement, communications and advocacy in Newton, Needham, Watertown and Wellesley. Learn more.

Biotech leaving Watertown

Lyndra Therapeutics is cutting nearly one-third of its staff and moving out of its headquarters at 65 Grove Street in Watertown and consolidating operations in Lexington.

Spokesperson Mike Kuczkowski tells the BBJ the headquarters relocation is tied to decisions to outsource commercial manufacturing and plans to partner on all future products.

Administration heeds call for more temp work permits 

Some 470,000 Venezuelan migrants in the U.S. will soon be able to seek 18-month work permits, the Biden administration announced this week.

That something Gov. Maura Healey, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and other northern state and city leaders have been seeking as a way to help migrate migrants currently straining the state’s shelter system into self-sufficiency.

It also aligns with a position our chamber and 20 other state business organizations supported in a letter this week.

The Healey administration praised the move yesterday but noted that the largest share of refugees in Massachusetts are from Haiti, not Venezuela, and called on the administration to expand the program to include Haiti.

And it sure could help and not just to alleviate our shelter crisis.

There are about 22,000 people are currently housed in Massachusetts' shelter system.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts has 92,049 workers available for 243,000 vacant jobs, according to the U.S. Chamber.

That’s 47 available workers for every 100 open jobs.

Why shouldn't people live here too? 


Finally this morning, this picture of Auburndale is a good example of how a proposal now being shaped by the Newton City Council can help revitalize village centers and help our local business thrive by allowing housing above our cherished merchants.

Yes, we should all be deeply concerned about the possible displacement of existing businesses during development. But it’s a balancing act that deserves our support, given the dire shortage of housing across our region and the proven benefits of having more customers living in walking distance of our small businesses and transit. 

Learn more here and here.

There will be a public hearing on the proposal on Tuesday (Sept. 26) at 7pm in person at Newton City Hall and via Zoom.

That's what you need to know for today, unless you need to know the ridiculous amount Bob Ross’ very first TV painting of happy little trees is expected to sell for at auction.

Have a great weekend. (There will be no newsletter on Tuesday.)
Greg Reibman (he, him)

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