One of the programs we're proudest of winds down

Nice to be back after a few days off. Here's the latest Need to Knows.
 
Can pop-ups help save retail?
 
Can pop-up retail stores help bring vitality to our town and village centers, while also providing a way to launch a new business?
 
Boston 25’s Bob Dumas took a look last week at the pop up trend, including an experimental program launching this summer in Newton and Needham.
 
Next Thursday (June 10) at 11 a.m. the chamber’s real estate committee will present a panel program looking at the pop-up trend.
 
Our panelists will explore why pop-up shops are moving into the mainstream, what role they play in the retail life cycle and how developers, municipalities and businesses can all benefit from this evolution.
 
 
Newton approves strict gun shop zoning 
 
Newton’s City Council has approved strict zoning rules that should make it virtually impossible for a firearm business to operate anywhere in the city.
 
The zoning rules approved in a 23-to-1 vote by councilors covers firearms dealers, gunsmiths, and gun ranges. (Globe story herePatch story here.)
 
City Councilor Leonard Gentile, the lone no vote, is still pushing for his proposed full ban; a move city lawyers believe may be unconstitutional (and some of his colleagues say they can't support because they took an oath to uphold the Constitution).
 
A public hearing on that proposal set for June 21.
 
 
Effort that helped restaurants, and those in need, nears close
 
Your chamber was super busy during the pandemic.
 
One of the initiatives we're proudest of was our program that purchased meals from our local independent restaurants and delivered them to those facing food insecurity our communities.
 
The effort was initially funded by a $175,000 state earmark secured by our state Sen. Cindy Creem who wanted to help both restaurants and residents in her district.
 
We later received a $50,000 anonymous donation that allowed us to expand further.
 
Nourishing Newton made its final delivery last week. We purchased a total of 5,180 meals ordered from 34 independently owned-operated Newton restaurants.
 
Coming out of the winter months, the program helped many establishments retain hours for staff, especially while indoor dining restrictions were still in place. 
 
Weekly meal drop offs were distributed through the Centre Street Food PantryNewton Food Pantry, the Newton Senior Center, Welcome Home, the West Suburban YMCA, Arabic Baptist and to individual households.
 
Huge thanks to our partners at the Rotary Club of Newton, in particular Sue Peghiny, Liz Tavares and Sara Pollock DeMedeiros who spent countless hours coordinating orders, volunteers and drop offs. 
 
Thanks also to Katherine Herer on the chamber team for making sure the program ran efficiently and our restaurants were paid promptly.
 
And, of course, thanks to Sen. Creem, who has secured funding to continue the program in the Senate version of next year's budget, pending action by the joint conference committee.
 
Our Wellesley program, in partnership with the Town of Wellesley, winds down next week. To date over 2,000 meals have been distributed to Wellesley residents in need while supporting 17 different Wellesley restaurants. 
 
Meal deliveries are continuing in Needham too, in partnership with the Needham Council on Aging, while the Brookline Chamber oversaw deliveries in that community.

 
Reminder COVID paid leave now state law
 
As of May 28, Massachusetts employers are required grant up to 40 hours of emergency paid leave for full time employees and prorated emergency paid leave for part time employees, for certain COVID-19 related purposes. 
 
Employers are eligible for reimbursement for the cost of providing the required paid leave through a new $75 million state fund created by the law, unless the employer is otherwise eligible for reimbursement from the federal COVID-19 emergency sick leave tax credit program established under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. 
 
Employers must make the required leave available through Sept. 30, 2021, or until the state fund is exhausted. Details here.

 
Coming and goings
 
 
 
Restaurants rebound, prices too
 
Restaurant sales in Massachusetts have increased sharply since early April and surpassed their comparable 2019 levels even before Massachusetts lifted the majority of its COVID-19 restrictions, the Federal Reserve Bank said in its latest Beige Book update.
 
Though restaurant revenues are up, so are restaurant prices.
 
The Fed said Massachusetts restaurant prices "increased sharply to cover increased labor and food costs," according to Colin A. Young at State House News.
 
Other sectors are experiencing similar issues, but the Fed said that restaurants specifically are dealing with "pronounced labor shortages."
 
 
And the rest of the economy's rebounding too
 
While we wait for latest job numbers later today, The Globe’s Larry Edelman looks at the latest economic trends. 
 
“It will take months for the outlook to get clearer — an eternity in a world that demands instant answers to even the most complex questions," he writes.
 
"In the meantime, breathe deeply and relax. Things are moving in the right direction."

 
IDG's Needham move becomes official, only with new owners
 
After a pandemic-induced delayIDG Communications will officially move to its new global HQ on Kendrick Street Needham (the former PTC campus) on June 14.
 
And a little later this year the tech/media company will have a new ownership. 
 
The Blackstone Group is slated to acquire IDG for an enterprise value of $1.3 billion from Oriental Rainbow LLC, reports Lucia Maffei at the BBJ.
 
IDG's charismatic CEO Mohamad Ali tells Maffei that he’ll be staying on and that ownership change with no impact on the management team nor the staff of over 3,000 worldwide employees, with 500 in Massachusetts.
 
"We're moving from one investor to another investor," Ali said.
 
Ali (who appeared on last fall on our 50 Most Influential Business People of Color list) also told Maffei is on a path to be "IPO-ready."
 
"This acquisition, plus the new headquarters, plus the new strategy, plus the fact that now we're a double-digit growth company, sets us up for a whole new chapter over the next five, ten, 15 years," Ali said.

 
We’re getting a new HQ too!
 
We're a lot smaller than IDG but after a year of operating virtually with a small satellite office at Staples Studio, the chamber is getting ready to move too.
 
I’ll tell you where next week.
 
 
Finally, say 'hey' to these new chamber members
 
Please join us in welcoming May's new chamber members.
 
 
Not yet a member? Add your business name to our list for June here.
 
And that’s today’s need to knows, unless you need to know about 111-year-old Austrian man who says eating brains is the secret to his longevity. And no he’s not a zombie.
 
See you Tuesday. Enjoy the weekend. Tip generously.
 
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
617-244-1688
Your chamber is here when you need us.

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