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Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

Pahk the cah and take da wada hoppah

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Pahk the cah and take da wada hoppah

Back in 2021, the City of Newton announced plans to expand its on-demand ride service called NewMo.

Originally formed to serve only seniors, the expanded service (basically a local Uber or Lyft) would now provide low-cost rides to everyone, anywhere, inside city limits.

We were super excited about this. We believed providing last-mile connections between transit stations and college campuses to hard-to-fill jobs and internships would greatly benefit our employers.

Early on NewMo’s expansion was subsidized by state and federal grants. But the long-term goal was to sign employers onto corporate memberships which would allow employees and customers free or cheap rides to the office and ultimately help pay for the system while taking more cars off our roads.

Turns out, it was a great idea launched at the wrong time: The middle of a pandemic.

The rise in remote work and office vacancies basically doomed any hope that an employer-funded NewMo system would catch on. At the same time, those state and federal grants started drying up.

Sure enough, as of Sept. 5, NewMo will no longer be available to the general public.

“I know that these changes are likely to be disruptive to residents and people who work in Newton who have come to depend on NewMo," Mayor Ruthanne Fuller announced last week. "I realize that many of you will have to use Uber, Lyft, or perhaps a taxi at a higher cost. This is really unfortunate but it is necessary.”

NewMo will continue to provide rides to seniors, individuals with disabilities, lower-income residents, and some students with high needs in select public school programs.

Pahk the cah and take da wada hoppah

If the countdown clock on their website is reliable, we’re 36 days away from the christening of the Wada Hoppah.

The planned water shuttle would ferry riders between the Galen Street Dock at Watertown Square to the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade.

It's the creation of Watertown entrepreneur Drew Rollert who tells the Watertown News he hopes the 40-minute trip will provide a stress free-way for workers to avoid traffic and decrease congestion and emissions.

(It would also be a great opportunity for tourists looking to Take a Trip Up the Charles, right?)

The specially-designed Wada Hoppah would carry 12 to 15 passengers. It would have a bathroom, be electrically powered, and be constructed to handle the shallows of the river without disrupting rowers and kayakers, writes the News' Charlie Breitrose.

A river shuttle on the Charles isn’t a new idea. Back around 1908, this similar-looking ferry ran from Watertown to Beantown.

Back then rides were 35 cents. Hopping the Hoppa will cost you about $25.

Needham refocusing approach to Castle Farm plan 

Further upstream along our favorite river, Needham’s Select Board is adopting a new strategy in its stalled effort to permanently preserve a 34 pristine acres (video) along the Charles while also making it possible for Northland Residential to develop 70-unit clustered townhouse project.

The board will now be looking for the Town Meeting’s support in October on a nonbinding resolution in support of an eventual rezoning of the 58-acre Castle Farm estate. 

Peter O’Neil at the Needham Observer explains why.

Local companies among nation’s 'fastest growing' 

Congratulations to the 11 companies inside our chamber communities that made Inc.’s just-released Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America list:

  • From Newton: Meetcaregivers, The Renaissance Network , Kanda Software and Asymmetry Group.
  • From Needham: SocialMadeSimple, First Help Financial, Magnetude Consulting and Boston Wealth Strategies
  • From Wellesley: Caskata and Gardner Resources Consulting
  • From Watertown: Focus Search Group

Worker comp claims included long COVID care 

Six percent of workers who filed workers' compensation claims for catching COVID-19 between March 2020 and September 2021 have also received care for Long COVID, reports Sam Drysdale at State House News.

Of these workers, many of them continued receiving medical care for ongoing symptoms a year after their infections while a new study shows that many long-COVID symptoms linger even after two years.

Symptoms of Long COVID include continued fatigue, fever, heart palpitations and chest pain, shortness of breath, headache, sleeping problems, depression or anxiety, change in smell or taste, and difficulty thinking or concentrating, according to the CDC.

Among all 50 states, Massachusetts was found to have the second-fewest amount of workers who filed Long COVID claims, behind Missouri.

Today's grab bag is all about making you smarter 

  • Each year, Massachusetts awards millions of dollars in grant money to businesses through the Workforce Training Fund. Learn how your company can take advantage of this funding and achieve business growth, increased productivity, and employee retention at a webinar tomorrow (Weds.) at 11 a.m. Details  

  • Grassi's Nonprofit advisors invite you to their Annual Nonprofit Virtual Symposium, on Sept 26 at 9 a.m. Tackle some of the biggest decisions facing organizations today, such as outsourcing, technology, benchmarking, and more. RSVP

  • The South Eastern Economic Development Corporation is offering free virtual small business workshops in collaboration with Rockland Trust on Sept. 5 and 7 to learn about financial and business resources and information. Register for both events here. 

  • The Massachusetts State Treasury’s Small Business Initiative team is hosting free small business webinars this fall Dates and registration

Group that connects biotechs with nonprofits picks a familiar new leader 

Dr. Yvonne Spicer

Former Framingham Mayor Dr. Yvonne Spicer is the new executive director at Life Science Cares Boston, a nonprofit that connects biopharmaceutical companies with nonprofits.

Spicer (one of our 2021 Business Leaders of Color honorees) replaces chamber friend Sarah MacDonald who founded Life Science Cares in Boston in 2016 and now heads the national organization.

Life Science Cares has worked closely with Watertown Biotechs to support STEM programming in the Watertown Public Schools. 

Still looking to fill open jobs? Hire a 'returner' 

Finally today, during the pandemic, approximately two million women left the workforce because their jobs evaporated or changed, or because of caregiving responsibilities when schools shut down and nursing homes presented danger to elderly relatives, writes Anne Stych at Bizwomen.

But the labor participation rate for women, especially mid-career women, is roaring back, Stych writes, referring to those workers -- particularly women -- who stepped away from careers during the pandemic but are now ready to reenter the working world as "returners."

The percentage of women, aged 24 to 54, who were either working or looking for work was 77.8% in June, the highest on record.
Experts recommend companies develop returner programs to encourage women to return through guided development learning. When companies eliminate hiring biases against returners and shift their hiring process to allow candidates with resume gaps and career breaks, more women will be more encouraged to rejoin the workforce, Stych adds.

That’s what you Need to Know for today unless you need a ranked list of stinging insects or movie monsters.

Come back on Friday I'll let you know if more people clicked on insects, or monsters, or instead perhaps this list of Barbie's many jobs.

Until then,

Greg Reibman (he, him)
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