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Some worrisome news this morning

Some worrisome news this morning

We’re waking up to some news that could potentially be devastating for businesses statewide.

A routine audit has found that Massachusetts mistakenly used about $2.5 billion in federal money to fund jobless benefits during the pandemic -- payments that should have been made by the state, reports Larry Edelman and Jon Chesto at the Globe.

Employers are already paying additional fees into the UI trust fund to cover $2.7 billion in bonds sold by the state last year (to cover UI costs for those left (to no fault of our businesses) jobless during the pandemic.

If repaying the feds were to fall to employers in this instance too, the impact on employers and workers could be significant. 

$2.1 million awarded to Watertown biotechs 

Seven Watertown-based biotechs were awarded a combined $2.1 million in tax incentives this week to help create local jobs, spark cutting edge research and help the life science sector remain competitive.

The funds -- part of a larger $24.4 million program announced by the Healey administration and the Mass. Life Sciences Center -- are expected to incentivize the creation of 145 new jobs in Watertown. 

The largest award, $750,000, went to Tome Biosciences to spark the creation of 50 new jobs, followed by Affini-T Therapeutics ($375,000 and 25 jobs) and Lyra Therapeutics ($300,000 and 25 jobs). See the full list here.

"We value you as partners here in Massachusetts, and we want to see you grow," Gov. Maura Healey said. "We pride ourselves in being the global epicenter for life sciences," adding that her administration is committed to "retaining that title" and "lengthening that lead."
. while life science sector projects continued growth

This week's announcement precedes next week’s mega BIO International Convention in Boston and the release of a MassBioEd report showing that Massachusetts is outpacing the nation in life science job growth.

MassBioEd estimates job in life sciences jobs will increase 32% -- or 6,600 openings in key roles -- over the next decade, notes WBUR’s Zeninor Enwemeka.

However, as with other sectors, filling those jobs is challenging.

The industry needs "more production from our higher education institutions," and "nontraditional paths into the industry," says MassBioEd CEO Sunny Schwartz.

"I think there's a perception in the life sciences that everyone has a Ph.D. who works in this industry, and that is simply not true," said Schwartz. Only 19% of industry jobs require a Ph.D., and 10% do not require a bachelor's degree.

All of Needham waits to see what happens to Harvey’s 

The closure of Harvey's Hardware left a giant void in Needham Center, not just for customers who valued the 60-year-old family business’ deep inventory and unparcelled customer service, but for other downtown businesses that benefited from Harvey's foot traffic.
A year and a half after an electrical fire led to Harvey’s closing, the new Needham Observer looks at what might be in store for the prime downtown corner location (broker Adam Conviser says it won’t be a bank) and why it’s taking so long.

Interested? The leasing listing is here.

...but this should help build Needham foot traffic

The Observer also has a story about the French Press' Bakery & Cafe's plans to offer 22 outdoor seats and six additional tables within a roofed, heated structure for year round use in Needham Center.

French Press recently qualified for matching funds through the Biz-M-Power grant program thanks to a successful crowd-funding campaign.

BTW, If I'm not mistaken today is the (highly recommended) buttermilk fried chicken sandwich day at the Press.

Good news for the state's smallest nonprofits
Nonprofits in Massachusetts with gross revenues of $25,000 or less will no longer be required to to file an annual Form 990 with the attorney general, the BBJ’s Jenny Hellwig reports.

Previously, only nonprofits with revenues of $5,000 or less were exempt.

Federally, the IRS requires nonprofits to file 990s if they have gross receipts of $200,000 or more, or total assets of $500,000 or more.

The change is expected to impact more than 3,000 nonprofits and charities across the state, according to Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

Friday grab bag

  • Goodby to Park 9. Beacon Capital Partners is looking to reposition its properties both sides Rte. 9 at I-95 in Wellesley as Wellesley Gateway North and Wellesley Gateway South (Swellesley Report).

  • Journalists still employed by Gannett (the publisher that pulled the plug on Newton TAB, Needham Times and Watertown Press last March and made the Wellesley Townsman irrelevant too) will walk off the job next week to protest the leadership of the CEO Mike Reed. Don't know who Reed is? Read this.

Wegmans leaving Natick

Wegmans will close its store at the Natick Mall this summer, with an exact date to be determined.

"Unfortunately, with this non-traditional location we are unable to attract enough customers for our business model to work," the company said in a statement.

The store’s 365 employees (142 full-time and 223 part-time) will be offered position at other area Wegmans’ locations.

Get up to speed on changes to Mount Auburn Street

Learn about planned changes to Mount Auburn Street in Watertown -- including to traffic signal layouts, utility upgrades/modifications, and site grading to ensure the roadway and sidewalk improvements -- on June 20 at the Perkins School for the Blind.

Stop by any time between 4 and 7 p.m. p.m. to review the final roadway design plans for the corridor and share input on the landscaping and streetscape concepts for the placemaking. Details.

Delivery apps takes big bite out of restaurant profits
Finally, meal delivery services offered by DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats may be convenient.

But they also take a significant bite out earnings from local restaurants. 

Just how much varies widely. And trying to decipher how much by looking at your receipt isn't easy because the app companies aren’t exactly transparent about who receives what share of the bill.

But the Washington Post (free link) has just published a good explainer. They asked a team of reporters to order the same meal from the three apps companies and also directly from the restaurant.

When ordered directly from the restaurant for pickup, the restauranter received nearly the full $22.22 paid by the customer (minus credit card fees)

But even though the restaurant charged $28.38 for the same meal on Uber Eats, the business only received $14.48 back.

That was, at least in the Post’s example, better than how much they received from GrubHub (cost: $31.23, payout to restaurant: $12.47) or DoorDash ($24.63 and $10.59).

“If the delivery companies didn’t exist, customers would go back to ordering straight from me over the phone or from my website, and I would actually be able to make money on the orders again,” the restaurant operator told the Post.
“[But] If I decide to not use them anymore,” he said, “it would be shooting myself in the foot.”

The Post article also breaks down how difficult it can be for drivers to make money, given the wear and tear on their cars and gas prices.

Bottom line? If your schedule and circumstances allow, order your take out directly from the restaurant or its website and pick it up yourself.

Looking for some great local restaurant suggestions? We can help.

That’s Need to Know for today -- National Gun Violence Day -- unless you need to know how to hire a pop star for your private party.

Dine and shop locally, okay?
Greg Reibman (he, him)
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