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Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

It's time to regain that momentum

It's time to regain that momentum

In advance of the long Memorial Day weekend, the chamber’s twice-weekly newsletter has landed in your inbox one day early.

A reminder that this newsletter, along with our advocacy for the economic and cultural vitality of our communities, is only possible due to the financial support of our members and annual partners.

If your business or nonprofit is not listed here, please consider joining today.

If you appreciate this newsletter and our advocacy but you don’t work locally, or perhaps you’re retired, here's how you support our work too.

Many thanks to all our members and citizen members!  

Regaining our DEI momentum amidst a rise in hate

Today (May 25) marks the three year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.

We all remember that video. We also all remember how employers across our region and across the nation stood up in the aftermath and pledged to support diversity, equity and inclusion in their workplace.

But this week, the ADL released an alarming report that found Massachusetts had the nation’s second-highest rate of white supremacist propaganda in the nation last year.

Clearly it's time to ask ourselves, what happened to those commitments? How can we, employers and employees, reengage?

And what’s the cost of turning away from those commitments in terms of hiring, retaining talent, growing your customer base and overall success?

Please join Colette Phillips and me June 7 at noon for a panel discussion featuring honorees from our recent Most Influential Business Leaders of Color list who have a professional and personal expertise in the DEI space.

We’ll ask them for their insights and suggestions and answer your questions.

Register here.

Small business owners bring concerns to Beacon Hill

Small business owners from our chamber -- and from other chambers and business associations across the state – met with lawmakers yesterday to share concerns about yet another possible minimum wage hike and rising health insurance costs at the annual Small Business Day on Beacon Hill.

Among their worries: Just months after the minimum wage rose to $15 an hour (now the nation’s third highest) labor groups have begun a push for a starting wage of $20.

That doesn't sit well with Steve Clark, president and CEO of the Mass. Restaurant Association, who noted that profitability for restaurants is down in the aftermath of the pandemic, with the biggest impacts stemming from inflation and labor costs,

Clark said lifting the minimum wage by $1 per hour can translate into a $1,000 increase per employee, which sparks a cascading effect for all workers throughout the industry, writes State House News’ Alison Kuznitz.

Raising the minimum wage could also make it harder for businesses to hire teenagers for their first job, or for nonprofits that use a lot of teens for day camps and other programs.

Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst also noted that small businesses “are paying a lot more for less [health insurance] coverage than those that employ at larger levels, whether they be big businesses or governments themselves." 

Also on the agenda yesterday: The soaring cost of energy, the unfair burden placed on business owners to cover unemployment insurance debt accumulated during the pandemic and credit card fees.

Oh, and yes, everyone is on edge about the debt limit stalemate.

Sorry. We just sold out!

Our Spring Business Breakfast, June 2 at the Needham Sheraton with Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, Congressman Jake Auchincloss and and honoring Cabot's Joe Prestejohn is sold out.

But we've started a wait list.

Nonprofit will help underserved populations enter the life science sector

MassBio is launching a nonprofit to develop new training pathways and create employer connections for underrepresented populations and individuals traditionally left out of the life sciences.


Bioversity will train high school graduates or GED holders in the technical and soft skills necessary to enter and succeed in entry-level positions in scientific operations roles such as facilities management, lab operations, supply chain and procurement and biomanufacturing.

The nonprofit will operate a training center at the former Boston Globe site in Dorchester being redeveloped by Beacon Capital.

Grab bag

  • Mass Save’s commercial incentives have been revamped to provide extensive financial support for the creation of Net Zero/Low Energy buildings.

  • The investigation that lead the state’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission to shut down alcohol delivery through Gopuff originated in Newton. The Needham Street store also lost its retail licence. (BostInno

  • Newton PorchFest, an afternoon of free music performed outside on people's front lawns, driveways and front porches, is set for June 3 from noon - 6 p.m. in Auburndale, Newton Lower Falls, and Waban.

  • Needham Farmers Market opens for the season at Greene’s Field on Sunday, June 11, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. Featuring fresh and local food, music, artists and a community table.

  • MassHire’s next virtual Multi-Industry Job Fair happens June 22. Open to employers with multiple, immediate openings. Employers register here by June 21.

Senate supports exploring variable rate tolls

The state Senate is once again supporting an effort to explore variable pricing on tolls roads as a way to mitigate congestion.

It's an idea our chamber has long supported.

Lawmakers twice approved creation of a commission to study congestion pricing.

But it never became law in large part due to their procrastination, according to Chris Lisinski at State House News.

One measure died when Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed it after the term ended. Then last summer Baker proposed changing the membership of the panel but lawmakers never took up his amendment.

Greater Boston is the largest US metro not using dynamic tolls to reduce highway congestion.

Little enthusiasm seen for wider sidewalks, outdoor dining, in Wellesley Square

Finally today, the Wellesley Select Board seemed cool this week to a proposal that would allow for wider sidewalks, planters and more outdoor seating and dining in exchange for removing 17 parking spaces along one side Central Street (from Cross to Abbott).

Support was also mixed for a second idea that would add back up to eight parking spaces and return the parklet that proved to be popular last year next to the former Gap.

As with many ideas that involve removing parking in favor of placemaking, merchants along Central are united in opposing the idea, according to our friends at the Wellesley Square Merchants Association.

It's understandable. Our businesses don’t want to lose customers who use those spaces. The unknown is whether or not streetscape enhancements would make Wellesley Square more enticing to new customers, younger customers and future generations.

It all reminds me of one my favorite videos about efforts to change a rotary in the U.K. It was an idea everyone thought was a terrible mistake, until they didn't.

That’s what you need to know for today, unless you want to spend your Memorial Day weekend following sharks from the comfort of your laptop.

Our gratitude to those who gave their lives defending our nation.

Greg Reibman (he, him)


Charles River Regional Chamber


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