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Newton, Needham, Watertown, Wellesley

The workforce is here, we just need to let them work

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The workforce is here, we just need to let them work

Our chamber signed onto a letter this week to the Biden administration expressing “strong support” of efforts by Gov. Maura Healey urging swift federal action on the processing of work authorizations for migrants and allowing for provisional work authorization while the administrative process unfolds.
The letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is signed by 21 Massachusetts business associations – representing more than 10,000 businesses collectively employing more than 1,000,000 people – concerned about the “economic and humanitarian” crisis facing the Commonwealth.
“While the unemployment rate remains low in Massachusetts, employers continue to look for workers and cite the inability to find talent to fill open jobs as a top concern for economic growth and competitiveness,” we wrote in our letter,
“It is critical to these families, our communities, and our economy that these migrants are allowed to work as quickly as possible,” the letter adds.

Newton to ban black plastic and some other to-go containers 

Beginning in March of 2024, the use of black plastic take-out containers (4 oz or larger) and paper-lined containers with polyethylene or other petroleum-based plastic will be banned in Newton. 

In addition, restaurants will no longer be allowed to automatically include pl,astic cutlery or other single-use accessories in takeout orders placed online, by phone, or in person.  And single use accessories can no longer be prepackaged in sets.

Full-service restaurants will also be required to use only reusable plates, cups and cutlery for dine-in customers.

The new rules are part of an amended ordinance passed by the Newton City Council, 22-0, last night. 

Black plastic take containers are harmful to both the environment and to public health. That's why the chamber and many of our restaurants agreed to support the black plastic ban. (However, we also requested the delay to March in order for restaurants to have time to use any existing stock and identify new suppliers.)

So what's allowed? White and clear plastic containers and compostable containers will still be permitted for to-go orders.

What's not not being banned 

The final amended ordinance passed by the council last night did not include proposed bans on the sale of plastic water bottles, helium balloons, plastic floss sticks, plastic ear swabs and cosmetics containing plastic glitter, that were all part of an earlier draft.

The chamber, many of our restaurants, some other businesses and industry groups, raised concerns about several of those items and appreciate that they were withdrawn from the final version.

We acknowledge that single-use plastics and their byproducts are devastating to our waterways and our communities. They're a health risk to humans, to animals and to our future. We get it. We live here too.

But we were concerned about the economic impact the proposed bans would have on many of our smallest businesses. Many of these products should be regulated state-wide, not one community at a time.

Rather than, for example, banning water bottles in Newton, we could solve a huge litter problem by adding water and juice containers (both are highly recyclable) to the state’s bottle deposit bill, something we (and these kids) support. Banning the sale of plastic glitter from local stores would only send shoppers to the next town over or to Amazon.

We appreciate that Mayor Fuller, the City Council and the Plastic Reduction Task Force (led by Councilor Vicki Danberg, member Alan Gordon and our friends at Green Newton) listened to our businesses and scaled back the proposal.

Healey to undertake her own effort to curtail plastic water bottles 

As noted above, the fairest and most effective way to curtail the scourge of
water bottles and other plastic items is on the state level, rather than risk having our businesses lose sales to stores in neighboring towns.

That’s why our chamber testified on Beacon Hill in May in support of Sen.Cindy Creem's expanded water bill.

On Thursday, Gov. Maura Healey will take a step that’s in her power when she signs a first-in-the nation executive order this week that will prohibit state agencies from buying single-use plastic bottles effective immediately.

Today's grab bag 

  • More than 700 new businesses were registered on Yelp across the Boston metro area in July 2023, per the company, up 21.5% year over year. (Axios Boston)

  • Anyone who misses the chamber's Spring Seasoning event may want to head to Arsenal Yards tomorrow tomorrow (Weds) from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m for the annual Stick a Fork in it Food Festival. Sample menus from 10 restaurants plus live music and the Mighty Squirrel Biergarten. Benefits the Watertown Community Foundation

  • Small businesses looking to increase export sales of goods and services may be eligible to apply for a grant through the Massachusetts STEP Grant Program Deadline Sept. 30.

  • Needham businesses, nonprofits and residents interested in free Narcan and free training should contact Needham Public Health department (781) 455-7940 or email

  • Boston College High is renaming its McElroy Hall citing Rev. John McElroy’s, S.J., historical ties to slavery. However Boston College has no plans to rename McElroy Commons, also dedicated to John McElroy. (BC Heights)

  • We're looking forward to the annual Faire on the Square this Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Saltonstall Park in Watertown. This year’s event is dedicated to Faire founder Michael Donham.

If you lived here, you could walk to the Great Wok 

Developer Encore Properties was scheduled to preview plans last night to develop 34 condos along Rte. 9 east (near the Great Wok restaurant) that would replace commercial and residential properties the developer describes as having fallen into disrepair, according to the Swellesley Report.

These condos would be close by the 17 rental units recently built on Burke Lane and now marketed as Cedar Place.  

An October event you really shouldn't miss

Authors and Innovators logo

Finally today, I’ve long been a big fan of the annual Authors & Innovators Business Ideas Festival, curated by attorney Larry Gennari and his Needham-based firm Gennari|Aronson LLP. 

Each year, Gennari (yes the same guy who writes a books column for the BBJ) channels his passion for entrepreneurship, collaboration and reading into a series of compelling conversations with some fascinating business book authors.

We’re not talking about your run-of-the mill how-to type books. These are business leaders with real world, often cutting-edge, insights. 
So we were thrilled when Gennari|Aronson asked the chamber to partner with them on the 2023  Authors & Innovators Business Ideas Festival.

It runs from Oct. 23-26, with events taking place at the Mosesian Center in Watertown and Wellesley Books, with some virtual options and programs too. 

This three-day festival is jam-packed with insights, idea exchange and thoughtful, intelligent conversation. You will learn from business book authors, innovators, and top business minds as we engage in discussions on a variety of topics.

The lineup is here All events are free but capacity is limited. RSVP here.

That's what you need to know for today -- International Talk Like a Pirate Day -- unless you need to know where you can buy a 150 million year-old dinosaur skeleton.

Ahoy, mateys! Be back Friday.
Greg Reibman (he, him)
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