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SPRINGFIELD REGIONAL CHAMBER UPDATES

Message from the president

August 7, 2020
The Governor today announced that the Commonwealth has indefinitely paused progressing to step 2 of Phase 3 (VIGILANT). This updates comes as a consequence of an uptick in positive COVID-19 cases and escalation in noncompliance with the state guidance.
Sadly, the businesses that were waiting to be allowed to reopen in Phase 3 must now wait until the public health data warrants a change.
The Baker Administration has also decreased the size limit on outdoor gatherings from 100 people to 50. Size limits on indoor gatherings remain unchanged: based on square footage and capped at 25 people. These rules not only apply to businesses but also to gatherings on private property.
Guidance for restaurants has also been updated. The new guidance further defines “restaurants” and requires them to follow the Indoor and Outdoor Events guidance, including the capacity limitations.
These changes become effective on August 11.
Furthermore, the Governor has announced new state and local police enforcement efforts to ensure compliance, including significant fines for violations. A new COVID-19 enforcement and intervention team will be deployed into key communities determined as high risk. The communities will be announced next week and will be determined based on public health data.
This is all troubling news for our businesses and our recovering economy. While the Governor recognized the hard work and efforts of most, he acknowledged that the spread of the virus cannot be contained without everyone’s commitment.
For the sake of all of our businesses, please follow the sector-specific guidelines, travel only when necessary, socially distance, follow good hygiene, and wear a mask. Our economy is counting on all of us to pull together for the common good.
Nancy Creed
President
August 5, 2020
On Friday, both the House and the Senate agreed to extend their formal sessions. According to the joint rules governing the Legislature’s work, formal sessions end on July 31. Given COVID-19 and the significant pieces of legislation before them, both chambers agreed to suspend the rule and to continue to hold formal sessions through the end of the year. With proposed bills on economic development, health care, police reform, climate change, and transportation infrastructure still on the table, this is welcome news. These major pieces of legislation are critical to our continued path towards recovery. Each chamber has put forth their legislation, and conference committees have been set to find common ground.
The Legislature and the Administration also agreed to fund local aid and school aid at FY20 levels for FY21 and to provide an additional $107 million in school aid to cover inflation and enrollment factors. With municipalities across the state facing uncertainty about their own budgets and what state supports will be provided, this commitment will allow local governments to continue to deliver the essential services that drive our economy.
When it comes to COVID-19, the Governor has made it clear that if our positive infection rate continues to rise as a result of noncompliance with the health guidelines, we may see changes to size gatherings or additional restrictions placed on businesses. Stay well. #MaskUpMA.
Nancy Creed
President
July 30, 2020
Today, the Governor announced significant progress in the state’s efforts to find a vaccine. The Governor announced that Pfizer, Inc. in Andover has reached the final stage in its work to manufacture a vaccine and has launched an experimental testing program of 30,000 individuals with testing sites to be located in the Commonwealth. Since the Governor has said that we must wait for COVID-19 treatment before moving into Phase 4, this is welcome news.
As a reminder, the Commonwealth’s new travel order will take effect Saturday along with updated workplace standards and sector-specific protocols. Please be sure to review your specific sector should any changes be required.
As we continue to monitor COVID-19 adjustments and our reopening progress, we are closely following the latest legislation coming out of both the Massachusetts House and Senate. Both chambers have passed economic development and health care bills. As there are differences in each chamber’s proposed bills, they will need to find common ground to create final pieces of legislation. Your chamber is taking a deep dive into both bills and weighing in where needed.
As the weekend comes upon us, remember to stay safe and stay well and wear a mask. Our economy is counting on it.
Nancy Creed
President
July 27, 2020
Yesterday, Governor Baker announced 8 additional communities to serve as test sites as part of the Administration’s Stop the Spread Initiative: Agawam, Brockton, Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, Methuen, New Bedford, Randolph, Revere, Springfield, Taunton, and Worcester. Through August 14, asymptomatic individuals can be tested free of charge to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These communities have been identified because cases and positive test rates far exceed the statewide average there, and the volume of testing being conducted has declined significantly over recent months.
As well, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced a delay in the reopening of schools to provide a 10-day period for districts to prepare for reopening school buildings. School districts must begin providing instruction to students by September 16, but can apply for a waiver if they cannot meet that requirement.
And your Chamber is making plans of its own for the fall. Planning is underway to bring you valuable virtual information and, using your feedback, the content you want. Stay tuned as we fine tune our programming for the months ahead.
While we are hopeful that we can resume in-person programming at some point in 2021, we must all remain vigilant over the coming months to make this possible. Continue to follow the guidelines, social distance where possible, wear a mask, and please continue to support your Chamber and your business community. We must all work together to stay safe and stay well.
Nancy Creed
President
July 23, 2020
Yesterday, Governor Baker released the first round of grant funding to support food security efforts across the Commonwealth. 26 food sourcing organizations were awarded funding to provide access to fresh, local ingredients. Organizations in our region receiving funding include area schools, Red Apple Farm, Stone Soup, Chestnut Lot Farm, Pioneer Valley Growers Association, Clarkdale Fruit Farms, and Harvest Farm. Rich in agriculture, western Massachusetts was well positioned to receive funding. This is not only welcome assistance for our residents needing access to food, but welcome support for our struggling farmers.
The Administration also announced a new online platform to link food system channels and connect businesses with these local systems. MassGrown Exchange, which will be fully operational on July 29, is open to businesses looking to sell and purchase Massachusetts products and services. Sellers and buyers include farmers, fishers, wholesale specialty food producers, service and equipment providers, restaurants, retail outlets, grocery stores, and more. This is but another way to support our local economy.
We continue to watch activities on the federal level as Congress continues to negotiate the next stimulus package. Another extension of the Payroll Protection Program, liability protections for businesses, state and local aid and return-to-work incentives could be part of the Senate proposal. Time will tell.
In the meantime, continue to stay safe and stay well. And if you have a moment and think our value warrants it, the Springfield RegionalChamber would kindly ask for your vote in this year's Reader Raves Poll. We could all use something to rave about.
Nancy Creed
President
July 21, 2020
Yesterday, the Springfield Regional Chamber hosted Assistant Majority Leader Joseph Wagner for a virtual House Town Hall. Leader Wagner provided his insights into the activities of the House over the last few months and what we can expect over the remaining days of the legislative session. He discussed the challenges businesses are facing as a result of COVID-19, including childcare, transportation, and liability protections. With just 10 days left in the session, he was cautiously optimistic that we could see a final economic development bill, police reform legislation, and transportation bonding, but noted that the Legislature’s number one priority was the state budget. With an estimated $6-8 billion deficit, he suggested that, without significant federal support, the state may not likely see the same level of funding for services in the upcoming budget. Leader Wagner also teased a potential bill coming out on Friday so stay tuned.
While Representative Carlos Gonzalez was scheduled to join the event to provide an overview of the priorities of the Black and Latino Legislative Caucus, of which he chairs, Rep. Gonzalez got called into an unexpected caucus meeting and was unable to attend our Town Hall. We are hopeful to reschedule.
Last night, the Governor signed legislation allowing restaurants to sell mixed drinks to go with their takeout and delivery orders. With a projected 25% of restaurants closing as a result of COVID-19, this will provide some much needed revenue.
While businesses across the region continue to face workforce challenges heightened by the pandemic, your Chamber has joined forces with chambers across the Commonwealth to form the Massachusetts Businesses Coalition on Skills to develop policy solutions for filling current and future skills gaps.
The Massachusetts Cannabis Commission revised its draft regulations and issued a “save the date” for a virtual hearing on August 3. Among the changes: retail and packaging disclosures about vape products, licensing flexibility for delivery licenses; ability to add new groups to the Social Equity Program; patient expansion for medical marijuana caregivers; and bankruptcy regulations.
Lastly, we have been notified that the Massachusetts Department of Paid and Family Leave will be issuing its final regulations with an advance copy. Among the issues clarified: intermittent leave, the use of telehealth, covered individuals who are unemployed, retaliation, and the waiting period. Beginning January 1, 2021, employers will be required to provide paid family leave benefits for employees bonding with a new child, managing family affairs when a family member is on active duty in the armed forces, to care for a family member who is a covered service member, and paid medical leave benefits will be available for serious personal health conditions. Full benefits take effect July 1, 2021.
So while COVID-19 may be top of mind, there is plenty of other business challenges needed to be addressed, and we will continue to work on these and all the issues that matter most to you and our economy. Stay safe and stay well.
July 16, 2020
Today, the Governor announced an additional $20 million in community development block grants funded through the CARES Act for eligible communities. This additional support will help our small businesses, especially our micro-businesses (less than 5 employees) which have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. This is welcome news and much needed support.
Yesterday, we hosted nearly all of our region’s Senate delegation at a virtual Town Hall to hear directly from our legislators as to what is happening on Beacon Hill. Senators Comerford, Hinds, Lesser, Velis, and Welch joined nearly 100 Springfield Regional Chamber members to provide legislative updates as to the issues that they are working on. They discussed the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget and the overall economy; legislation moving through the process including the transportation bond bill, regional ballot initiatives, funding for higher education, and an economic development bill. They addressed the challenges impacting our business community – from liability to unemployment insurance, childcare to financial support. It was clear from their comments that they understand the business community’s challenges, are listening to our concerns, and are responding to our needs. We are at a critical point in our legislative process with COVID-19 impacting every aspect of our lives, but we are encouraged by these signs.
On Monday, July 20 at noon, we will host a House Town Hall. Assistant Majority Leader Joseph Wagner, the dean of our regional delegation and the highest position of power in our region, will join Representative Carlos Gonzalez as chair of the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus to provide their take on Beacon Hill. Engagement in the legislative process has an impact, and I encourage you to participate.
In the meantime, please continue to remain vigilant. Follow the guidelines. Socially distance. Wear a mask. Stay safe and stay well.
Nancy Creed
President
July 14, 2020
Yesterday, the Governor commended the continued efforts of businesses and residents alike to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He noted that the state remains at a low 7-day rolling average of under 2 percent. To continue that low rate, the Administration launched a new compliance Web portal which will allow residents to report non-compliance of the safety protocols in an effort to promote accountability

 

While Boston entered its Phase 3 (VIGILANT) yesterday, Massachusetts state courthouses took a step forward with the physical reopening of state courthouses and court facilities. While most business will continue to be conducted virtually, entry will be allowed for those attending in-person proceedings; conducting business with a clerk’s, register’s, or recorder’s office; meeting with probation officials, and conducting business at other open offices in the courthouses. COVID-19 screening, including screening questions and a temperature check, will be completed prior to anyone entering a courthouse, and face masks and social distancing will also be required.

 

In another step to “normalcy,” the Massachusetts Department of Public Health rescinded its ban on reusable bags at grocery stores – a step that was implemented at the start of the pandemic. Shoppers may now bring their own bags when they shop.

 

We continue to follow COVID-19 related legislation and were pleased to see the Senate pass its version of a new restaurant relief bill which would allow restaurants and bars the ability to sell “to-go” mixed drinks in addition to beer and wine. The House passed a slightly different version. The House and Senate will now come together to find common ground – which, if passed, would be additional support for this struggling sector.

 

We also breathed a sigh of relief for our nonprofit sector. Both Congress and the Senate passed the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act of 2020. The CARES Act included a provision that guaranteed the federal government would cover 50-percent of the unemployment benefit costs that self-insured nonprofits are required to pay to their state. However, the Department of Labor issued guidelines in April that said self-insured nonprofits must first pay the state the full amount owed before receiving a reimbursement – putting a significant financial burden on these nonprofits. The bill clarifies the intent of the CARES Act that the federal government would cover the nonprofit percentage upfront prior to their payment to the state. The bill will now go to the President for signature, and it is expected to be signed.

 

And while our focus may still be on COVID-19, we continue to cement our stand against racism and racial inequality, joining forces with our statewide partners to commit ourselves to this fight.

 

While Phase 3 will be with us for some time, we must remain vigilant and stay safe, stay well, wear a mask, and shop local.

 

Nancy Creed
President
July 9, 2020
Yesterday, Governor Baker announced a new testing initiative to reduce the prevalence of COVID-19 in communities that are above the state average in total cases and positive test rate, and have experienced a decline in testing levels since April. The initiative will provide free testing sites in Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, and New Bedford. These communities make up approximately 9% of the Commonwealth’s population, but have seen 27% of the Commonwealth’s positive tests in the last two weeks.
The statewide positive test rate over the past two weeks is approximately 2%, but in these eight communities, 8% of tests have been positive. Despite the continued elevated spread in these communities, total testing in these communities has declined 39% since the end of April, and the total cases as a percentage of population for these communities is nearly double the state average.
While these sites may be in these eight communities, the sites are open to all residents of the Commonwealth. The Governor noted that this new testing initiative could expand to other communities should the public health data warrant.
Continue to remain vigilant, wear a mask, and stay safe and well – the public health data demonstrates that our efforts in western Massachusetts are working.
Nancy Creed
President
July 7, 2020

On Saturday, while many were enjoying Independence Day celebrations, President Trump signed legislation extending the deadline for applications for the Payroll Protection Program through August 8. While more than $500 billion in loans were issued, approximately $130 billion in funding remains available. On Monday, the Small Business Administration reopened its application process. With the July 15 federal tax deadline looming, employers should speak with their tax professional about the Employee Retention Tax Credit and its interplay with the PPP program.

Yesterday, the Commonwealth officially entered Phase 3 (VIGILANT) further opening up the economy. Also on Monday, Governor Baker signed legislation expanding mail-in and early voting for the fall. The legislation will allow any voter to cast a ballot by mail without the need to qualify for an absentee ballot. All residents of the Commonwealth will receive a mail-in ballot for the primary election and another for the general election. The new law also allows for early voting for both the primary and the general elections. August 22-28 will be the early voting period for the September primary with October 17-30 for the November general election. While the public health data continues its positive trend, this new law is aimed at not only ensuring maximum participation in the voting process but to minimize the COVID-19 risks.

The Administration also issued new guidance to expand testing of asymptomatic individuals at the discretion of an individual’s health professional. With more than 1 million tests administered to date, Massachusetts remains at the forefront in its testing capacity, its contact tracing program, and -- most importantly -- its low positivity rate.

Continue to follow the public health guidelines, and we can continue to remain a leader.

Stay safe and stay well.

Nancy Creed
President

June 30, 2020
Today, Governor Baker amended the travel advisory for the Commonwealth, effective July 1, 2020. The advisory, which directs travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days, now exempts Massachusetts residents returning home as well as travelers from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, and New Jersey. With the holiday weekend approaching, this is good news for our hospitality, lodging, and tourism sectors. I encourage you to check out our region’s Convention and Visitors Bureau to enjoy what western Massachusetts has to offer or visit the web sites of the chambers of commerce and visitors bureaus where you may be headed.
The Administration also announced the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance program, a $20 million fund to support emergency housing for families in need. Eligible low-income families struggling to pay their rent or mortgage can apply for assistance through Wayfinders in Springfield, Berkshire Housing Development Corporation in Pittsfield, and Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority in Turners Falls.
In addition to housing assistance, a new round of collaborative workspace grants is available. Established co-working spaces can receive up to $100,000 to purchase equipment or make improvements necessary to support the COVID-19 sector-specific safety protocols, allowing them to continue to fuel our innovation economy. Applications must be submitted by August 10, 2020.
As we await word as to the next phase of our reopening, continue to stay safe and well, and welcome visitors to our region and our Commonwealth.
Stay safe and stay well.
Nancy Creed
President
June 25, 2020
Today, the Commonwealth took another step towards reopening. The Administration issued its initial guidance for the safe return of our students to school this fall and the safety protocols required. Face coverings, socially distancing, smaller class sizes, and lunch in the classroom will become the norm. School districts will be required to draft three options for their reopening to include a mix of in-person and remote learning, exclusive remote learning, or a full-scale return to school. In the coming weeks, additional guidance will be provided to schools and districts.
We recognize and appreciate the challenges our teachers, school districts, and educational leadership faced to quickly employ remote learning. We understand the hurdles our employees faced while juggling the needs of working, parenting, and teaching. We appreciate the challenges our employers faced when balancing the needs of their employees with the needs of the business.
The disruption caused by the pandemic and the pivot to digital learning further illuminated our region’s digital equity gaps, achievement gaps, and disparities across the region and the Commonwealth. Reopening our school systems will make significant progress on our journey to COVID-19 recovery, but we will need to work together so that our student population can get back on track without leaving a generation of students behind.
We continue to hear of new grant opportunities for our small businesses. Some of the Springfield neighborhood councils are stepping up grant programs for businesses within those councils' geographic footprints. I encourage Springfield-based businesses to reach out to your neighborhood council to discover what opportunities may be available.
To better support the positive trajectory of our economic path, we want to be sure that we are developing economic recovery programs and policies that are informed by the real needs of our business community. And so, we have partnered with MassINC Polling Group and organizations across the state to conduct an important statewide survey about how the coronavirus has impacted small businesses in Massachusetts. We’re asking for your input to ensure our work is informed by your current needs.
The survey is targeting small businesses with 500 or fewer employees and is available in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Mandarin. It should take less than 10 minutes of your time and will be open through July 6.
Today, we will join some of the nation’s top business leaders to discuss closing the opportunity gaps in four critical areas: education, employment, entrepreneurship, and the criminal justice system. We all must work together, not only regionally, or even statewide, but on a national basis to move all parts of our community and economy forward.
Stay safe and stay well.
Nancy Creed
President

Quickly Evolving News

June 23, 2020
A Message from the President
Yesterday was an exciting day for our business community with many businesses coming back online for the first time along with our restaurant community being able to expand to indoor dining. The Administration will now monitor the next two weeks of public health data to make its determination as to when Phase 3 (VIGILANT) will begin. We can all support the reopening efforts by continuing to wear a mask, socially distance, and follow sector-specific guidelines.
The Administration also announced a tax-free holiday on the weekend of August 29 and 30. Retail items of up to $2,500, purchased in Massachusetts for personal use on these two days, will be exempt from sales tax.
The deadline is fast approaching for businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. All applications for the Program must be submitted by June 30.
The SBA has posted a new streamlined process to apply for the forgiveness of the PPP loan along with an EZ version for eligible businesses. To be eligible for the EZ version, businesses must be:
  • Self-employed and have no employees; OR
  • Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
  • Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.
Continue to visit our Online Resource Center for additional information about funding programs, reopening support, and more.
Stay safe, stay well, and stay cool.
Nancy Creed
President
June 12, 2020
Today, your Chamber held its annual meeting – for the first time, virtually. Typically, this in-person meeting doubles as a grand celebration of our collective success. But, clearly, nothing is typical anymore. While anything pre COVID-19 seems like a distant blur, it is important that we still remember what we have accomplished together to drive the economic vitality of our region.
As your Board Chair Mark French remarked, coming into this pandemic, we were well positioned to weather the economic impact of COVID-19, due in part to adding 61 new members. We completed our second year of our three-year strategic plan, accomplishing more than 80% of our identified tactics; graduated our second cohort of RiseUp Springfield, our small business development program; held our first-ever cannabis conference to support this new economy, and launched a new website, which, now more than ever, will be critical to our members for accessing valuable information.
And then came COVID-19.
Within three days of the Commonwealth formulating a Command Center, your Chamber moved to remote operations without any glitches. We pivoted the Leadership Institute class of 2020 to an entirely online program; hosted more than 10 virtual events; developed a COVID-19 communications plan with over 50 valuable outreach messages while initiating a Good Newssection to market member businesses. We initiated relevant polling questions to attain the pulse of the business community, which has been used by all media outlets; connected members with more than 1.5 million pieces of PPE; met with the Baker/Polito Administration on a weekly basis; was the only area chamber that presented to the Reopening Advisory Board; launched a Spanish-language section of the website; developed a comprehensive Guide for Reopening, saving members thousands of dollars in time, energy, and consulting fees; identified more than 100 resources for businesses; completed more than 1,500 outreach calls and emails to members to check-in and offer assistance where possible; advocated for legislation supporting local businesses through this crisis, and participated in every single press conference held by Governor Baker all in just 12 weeks' time.
But our work is not done.
Today, the Baker/Polito Administration announced a new municipal grant program to support the efforts of municipalities in creating safe outdoor dining and commerce spaces for our struggling restaurant and retail sectors.
The Federal Reserve has expanded its Main Street Lending Program to make it possible for more small and midsize businesses to receive financial loan support.
National Grid and Eversource have doubled their incentives on energy efficiency programs, agreeing to pay up to 100% of these programs for small businesses.
Statewide workforce training fund grants are available to help employers and employees adapt to the new workplace.
And we have partnered with MassInc. to survey businesses on commuting and remote work to ensure that the Commonwealth develops strategic and smart transportation policies for our region moving forward. I encourage you to lend your voice to this process.
We may have a ways to go, but we will continue to be there alongside you.
Congratulations to our newly-elected Board of Directors, and thank you to all of our members. I am humbled by your continued support of our work.
Nancy Creed
President
June 6, 2020
Today was a great day for our business community, our visitors and our Commonwealth.
The Governor announced the onset of Phase 2 (CAUTIOUS).
As of Monday, June 8, restaurant, lodging, retail, childcare, summer camps and more will reopen under the new guidance required for each industry sector.
As well, preventative health care services may resume and sector-specific protocols for close contact personal services such as nail salons, massage therapy, personal training and other sectors not otherwise addressed in Phase 2, have been issued. These sectors, along with indoor dining, will be allowed to reopen later in the phase. The public health data will continue to guide when we take the next step in Phase 2.
Springfield has released its notice, application, and guidelines for restaurants interested in providing outdoor dining to customers. While the permitting process may take some time, Mayor Sarno has committed his administration to expedite the process as best it can while maintaining the safety of all involved. Applications and supporting documentation should be emailed. If a restaurant does not have access to email, an appointment may be made to drop off the application by calling the Licensing Department at (413) 787-6140.
We also learned of two new grant opportunities. The Red Backpack Fund will provide grants up to $5,000 for support majority-women owned and led businesses and nonprofits. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, in partnership with MassDevelopment, has launched a new grant program for state and municipal agencies that coordinate transportation services; regional transit authorities, and Health and Human Services Transportation providers
MassMutual, in partnership with Western New England University, joined the COVID Relief Coalition to provide free legal support to small business and nonprofits.
And Peter Pan buses are hitting the road again.
Continue to stay safe and stay well. Continue to follow the guidance so that we can continue to make progress.
While we still have a ways to go, today was a great day.
June 4, 2020
Last night, the Payroll Protection Flexibility Act was passed. The Act, which will now go to the President for signature, makes changes to the original PPP program by:
  • Extending the eight-week loan term, now allowing borrowers 24 weeks to use the PPP funding in order to be eligible for loan forgiveness
  • Lowering the threshold of the required loan forgiveness payroll percentage from a 75/25 ratio to 60% or more of payroll and up to 40% on other costs.
  • Extending the covered period from June 30 to December 31
  • Extending the loan repayment period from two years to five years
  • Allowing borrowers whose loan is forgiven to be able to defer payroll taxes
This much-needed flexibility is a welcome relief to our small business community who continues to be challenged by COVID-19.
We took another step yesterday towards our reopening with Governor Baker releasing guidance for outdoor sports, and indoor facilities for sports camps to open in Phase 2 (CAUTIOUS). This will be welcome news for the youth of our region and this sector of our economy. Guidance was also released for golf facilities to expand their operations in Phase 2. On Saturday, Governor Baker is expected to announce when this next phase will begin.
Your Chamber is working with the City of Springfield for restaurants to reopen in Phase 2 for outdoor dining. We expect the City to finalize its application process no later than tomorrow, June 5. In an effort to streamline the process, applications will be submitted to the City’s Licensing Commission via email. The Commission will then convene all appropriate City departments in an effort to quickly move an application through the process. Applicants will not need to apply through the state’s Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission; no public hearings will be required, and most fees will be waived.
While the City is still finalizing the application details, applicants will be required to provide a layout of the proposed outdoor space, note what safety barriers will be used to keep patrons safe if the outdoor dining will use on-street parking, sidewalks, etc., and include letters of support from landlords and neighboring businesses should the space needed be on properties not in direct control by the restaurant or spill out onto adjacent properties. If restaurants are proposing street closures, there will be an additional step in the process to work through those details. Restaurants which are currently licensed for outdoor dining/alcohol consumption will still need to apply as the permit will cover the new COVID-19 restrictions. We will post more information and the link to the application in our Resource Center once it is available.
When we met about this virtually yesterday, I was encouraged to see our City leaders working side by side with our restaurant community - committed to a successful reopening. It was clear that we are all working together.
Continue to stay safe and stay well.

A Brief Pause for In-Person Programming

All around us, our region is taking action to minimize the spread of COVID-19. In congruence with the guidance of Governor Baker as well as the actions of other chambers and organizations, the Springfield Regional Chamber will pause in-person programming until May 1, at which point we will determine next steps.

We intend to reschedule our current events, including Fire & Ice, the Mayors' Forum and our Beacon Hill Summit, when it is safe to do so. Just like you, we are taking this situation seriously and day-by-day.

BUSINESS DOESN'T STOP... AND NEITHER DO WE

Business hasn't stopped, and your Chamber hasn't either. Our legislative advocacy work in Boston continues. Board and Committee meetings will continue virtually. And our staff will continue to work, be it in the office or from home, to serve our members during this challenging time.

A NEW STRATEGY

New developments call for a new strategy. To that end, we're refocusing some of our resources to support digital member and community engagement.

Be on the lookout for webinars, our regular newsletters, as well as exciting member stories and engagement opportunities on our social platforms. We will continue to build community and support commerce, even "from home.”

REFUNDS

We will be processing refunds for anyone who has already purchased admission to events previously scheduled in the near future: Multi-Chamber Speed Networking Breakfast, Mayor's Forum 2020, Fire & Ice, Beacon Hill Summit 2020.

Thank you for your patience and support, and please reach out to us with questions or concerns.