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Formerly the Newton-Needham Chamber

Home for the holidays

Shop like jobs depend on it.
 
Because they do.
 
That was the message delivered by Gov. Charlie Baker and others yesterday as the governor returned home to Needham to kick off the holiday shopping season.
 
“There are tremendous opportunities for people to shop local, to eat local, to dine local, to buy local and to recognize, understand that when you shop, eat, dine local, you’re supporting your neighbors, your colleagues, and your friends and folks who are a part of the communities that you live and you work in,” Baker said.
 
Baker, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, Housing and Economic Development Sect. Mike Kennealy visited both Needham Music and Michelson's Shoes on Great Plain Ave.



Baker also took time to reminisce about the ice cream shop that once stood at the location of Dedham Savings and the still-in-operation 
Mobil station where he worked as a teen pumping gas.
 
“For us here in Massachusetts, it’s a big way to say thank you to all of those retailers and restaurant operators and hospitality managers who have really sucked it up and made it possible for all of us to continue to be able to buy the goods and services and supports that we need through what we would all agree has been a very difficult period," Baker added.
 
Retailers looking for holiday bump
 
Retailers Association of Massachusetts President Jon Hurst was also in Needham with Baker yesterday.
 
He used the occasion to release RAM’s annual sales forecast and talk about some of the challenges facing merchants heading into the holidays.
 
Not surprisingly, Hurst said the top-3 concerns of merchants heading into the holidays are inflation, inventory delays and staffing shortages.
 
RAM is projecting a 6% bump in holiday spending statewide this holiday season, an improvement over the typical 3 to 4 percent projections, but below national expectations, reports Grant Welker at the BBJ. 
 
Last year, Massachusetts retailers saw a 9% increase due to pent-up demand after the pandemic closed businesses and slowed sales in the spring.
 
“We are asking Massachusetts’ holiday shoppers to remember that where they invest their dollars makes a big difference in the local economy,” said Hurst.
 
The Needham event also provided a platform for us to promote the just-launched Needham Holiday Passport Program, our partnership with the town and local merchants to support local retailers and restaurants.
 
I understand some stores ran out of passports this weekend. Don't worry. We're printing more.
 
 
Say goodbye to virtual notarizations and some remote meetings rules
 
More of those emergency rules that were put in place during the pandemic are expiring -- including provisions that allowed for virtual notarization -- will expire on Dec. 15.
 
Also expiring on that same date are measures allowing for remote proceedings of public corporations and charitable and nonprofit corporations (where not prohibited by internal bylaws). This provision had allowed annual and special shareholder meetings to be conducted entirely by means of remote communication.
 
For charitable and nonprofit corporations it relaxed requirements for notice and procedures for appointment of directors and conduct of meetings of boards of directors and for conducting meetings by remote means and permitting remote participation and voting by board members.
 
If there's a good argument for not making all these rules permanent, I've yet to hear it.
 
What else you need to know

  • Twenty-seven Watertown businesses are collaborating on Shop Watertown Week, starting Saturday. It’s organized by our friends at the Watertown Business Coalition.
  • Wellesley is offering free 2-hour parking at all bagged street meters now through Dec. Please remember to look for bags designating specific meters. Fees WILL be charged in all municipal parking lots, and at 4-hour, and 10-hour street meters. Attendants will ticket cars after 2 hours.
  • The Village Bank is springing for free parking in Newton on Small Business Saturday (Nov. 27) as part of an initiative to encourage patronage of Newton-based businesses.
 
Training grants available
 
Are you looking to launch a training program for your employers? Are you a trainer who works with employers? 
 
The Commonwealth Corporation’s Express Program Grant. The program will now reimburse 100% of the training per individual ($3000/per person/per course) for businesses with 100 employees or less. Companies may apply for and receive more than one Express Program grant at a time, up to a total of $30,000 in new grant funds per calendar year. Details.
 
Trainers go here to become a registered vendor.
 
Hammond Pond Parkway to become multimodal
 
The $6.5 million Hammond Pond Parkway reconstruction project has taken significant steps forward, reports Julie Cohen at Wicked Local.
 
The 1-mile project aims make the roadway safer for cars, bikes and pedestrians by making the following changes, among others:
  • Creating a 12-foot-wide shared-use path
  • Providing two travel lanes from Beacon Street to the Shoppes at Chestnut Hill driveway
  • Maintaining the existing travel lane configuration from the Shoppes driveway to Route 9
  • Providing improved access to adjacent conservation areas
  • Constructing a landscaped buffer between the roadway and shared-use path with extensive plantings
As part of the project, parking for Boston College sporting events will no longer be allowed between Beacon Street and the former location of Congregation Mishkan Tefila.
 
Is your business looking to step up your DEI efforts in 2022? 
 
The chamber is forming an affinity group for owners and managers looking to explore ways to make their workplaces more diverse, equitable and inclusive.
 
This group will get together monthly to discuss best practices and challenges relative to hiring, staff development, purchasing, customer service or other matters through a DEI commitment.
 
It's open to chamber member owners and managers at businesses or nonprofits with ten or more FTEs. Contact Tiffany Chen if you meet that criteria and are interested in learning more.

End of an era for one of our landmark businesses
 
After 90 years in operation, Muzi Motors is officially closing its Ford and Chevy dealerships along I-95 one week from today (Nov. 30), according to a note on their website.
 
The adjacent Wash World is already closed and there's already been a liquidation sale.
 
The Muzi story dates back to 1926 when John Muzi, an Italian stone cutter, emigrated to the US to make a fresh start away from Mussolini's fascists. The business John started a decade later -- first as a gas station near Echo Bridge -- has been family-run ever since.
 
Though good times and bad, the Muzi and Cammarano family has been there for Needham, providing jobs and careers for many. They’ve given back generously to the community too, both financially and through community service.
 
“It’s been an honor to serve this wonderful community,” reads the message on the Muzi site. “Thank you to all our customers for your support and patronage.”
 
The family is reportedly close to closing the sale on the property which (along with the adjacent parcel where WCVB is located) was rezoned in May by Needham Town Meeting to allow for lab use, commercial office space, small retail and housing.
 
We look forward to sharing the news about the new owner as soon as it’s public.
 
That’s today’s need to knows unless you need to know about the wallet that was lost in 1964 that just turned up in a former Newton elementary school.
 
Have a fantastic Thanksgiving friends. Be back one week from today.
 
Greg Reibman (he, him)
President
Charles River Regional Chamber
617.244.1688
 
P.S. Looking for a way to support the chamber’s advocacy and programming but you don’t work locally - or perhaps you’re retired - but want to stay connected with the business community in your own backyard? Learn about becoming a Charles River Chamber Citizen Member here.

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