This merger unites the best of the best

Newton native JC Monahan has been in our family’s kitchen and TV room for years. She’s also been the emcee at three of our large annual chamber breakfasts -- more than any one else in my time here.
But today, the former NECN meteorologist, host of Chronicle on WCVB-TV, and current NBC 10 anchor is in our hearts after she wrote a courageous essay for Boston Magazine. 
I won’t say more just read it.
This merger unites the best of the best
Century Bank has agreed to merge with Eastern Bank, a “blockbuster” deal that brings together two of the largest Boston-area community banks.
It also brings together two chamber member businesses that I’ve come to know well and admire.
Century’s Linda Sloane Kay is chair of our board of directors and has been the chamber’s essential guide, anchor and superhero as we’ve navigated this pandemic. Her dad, Marshall Sloane founded Century in 1969, and was as well known for his philanthropic spirit as his banking savvy until he passed in 2019, leaving the bank in Linda’s and her brother’s Barry’s capable hands.
Meanwhile Eastern’s CEO Bob Rivers and President Quincy Miller have set the bar this past year -- and really for many years -- for what civic leadership means, particularly in the realm of diversity, equity and inclusion. They’ve the very definition of a business that walks the walk.
Assuming the deal is approved by regulators at the end of this year, Century branches will assume the Eastern Bank name. (BBJGlobe)
Gyms organize in search of support
As part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic package, restaurants organized to get their own dedicated relief fund.
But one segment that suffered significantly but did not do particularly well in the federal stimulus bill were fitness facilities, yoga studios and other health clubs.
Like other segments, gyms, bowling alleys and other exercise venues were hurt by shutdowns, capacity limits and understandably reluctant clients. Owners of those venues tuned to the PPP for help. But the PPP mainly covers salaries, while rent and insurance are big cost centers for these businesses.
So fitness owners are doing something most aren’t used to: They’re organizing, the Wall Street Journal reports.
They’re reorienting from local politics, where they are used to weighing in on rules and regulations, to federal, where they think they have the best chance of securing coronavirus relief.
About 75 Republicans and Democrats have co-sponsored House legislation to provide up to $30 billion in aid to their struggling industry.
“The pandemic for businesses like mine is not even close to being over yet,” said one operator. “The restaurant industry and some industries as impacted as us have gotten more public attention, which is great for them. We have gotten less, and I’m not really sure why.”
PPP running on E
Procrastinators beware: The Paycheck Protection Program may soon run out of money.
Congress recently extended the application deadline to May 31. They even added another $7.25 billion to the PPP, bringing the total to nearly $292 million, as part of that fed relief package approved last month.
But as of Monday, the SBA said it has approved nearly 4 million PPP loans worth about $224 billion, leaving about $68 billion, reports MSNBC.
“This program actually is not going to, you know, continue on until May [31], as the money’s going to run out,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of “I don’t think anybody knew that the money would run out until the SBA made that announcement.”
Don’t be a vaccine appointment hog
Have you received your vaccine or secured an appointment yet?
If so, pharmacies and other health officials have a request for you: Cancel any other appointments you’ve booked.  
Not canceling is forcing providers to find last-minute replacements so doses aren’t wasted.
More than 2.5 million people, or roughly 36 percent of the Massachusetts residents have now had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, nearly half of new COVID infections nationwide are concentrated in just five states: New York, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Yesterday, Gov. Charlie Baker deflected any attempts to discuss launching a vaccine passport program in the Commonwealth, insisting his focus was on getting millions more Bay State residents vaccinated first, reports Matt Murphy at State House News.
He said there would be "plenty of time to talk about some of this other stuff."
One more vaccine related-item: Yesterday I included a nonworking link to story asking Should I laminate my COVID vaccine card? Now you have the right link.
Nope, not 'our' news
Over the past week or so, a handful of our members have reported receiving email blasts under the name “Chamber News,” using a return email address
Please note, these emails or that email address are not associated with the chamber in any way. If you do receive one, we hope you will unsubscribe.
More importantly, please know, none of the content was from the chamber.
Chamber helps secure vax for 120 food workers
I'm really proud of today's final item...
Thanks to an introduction from Newton Mayor Fuller, Newton Public Health Commissioners Youngblood and Walsh to the Holtzman Medical Group, your chamber has secured COVID-19 vaccine shots for 120 local restaurant and food service workers at the Holtzman clinic on the UMass Mount Ida campus in Newton.
Restaurant workers (including servers, runners, bussers, etc.) are the only frontline workers who routinely come in contact with customers not required to always be wearing a mask in public.
Many also have language barriers and need assistance and assurance with the process.
We gave priority to employees who work locally but live in communities of color and low-income communities and other impacted populations that face many barriers to vaccine acceptance and access, as well as to older adults and adults with specified medical conditions.
Thanks also to a team of volunteers from Newton Neighbors Helping Newton Neighbors for helping with registration.
We will notify our members, and others in the food industry, if additional slots become available or if we are able to extend this opportunity other frontline workers.
Whew, that's a lot for today. See you Friday.
President, Newton-Needham Regional Chamber
Your chamber is here when you need us.
P.S. Congratulations to the honorees at our fourth annual Needham Night Celebration last night and thanks to everyone who joined us via zoom. Here's a short video celebrating our honorees and some other special people who helped get us through this unforgettable year.


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