The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed last night by the U.S. Senate offers $2.2 trillion in assistance to help individuals and businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to direct payments to most Americans that are expected to start within the next three weeks, the legislation provides $350 billion in aid to small businesses, as well as $500 billion in loans and other assistance to large companies and besieged states and cities.
It is important to note that the CARES Act has not yet been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives nor signed into law. Final action on the bill is expected tomorrow. We will update this article should any changes be made in the content.
Below are highlights of the legislation that impact businesses and individuals.
‘Recovery Rebates’ for Individuals
Depending on income level, taxpayers will receive a one-time “recovery rebate,” which is an advance refund of a 2020 tax credit. Individuals will receive $1,200 ($2,400 for joint filers) plus $500 for each qualifying child age 16 or under. The recovery rebate payments will be reduced and phased out for taxpayers with adjusted gross income of more than $150,000 (for joint filers), $112,500 (for heads of household) and $75,000 for other individuals.
The recovery rebate checks will be based on the adjusted gross income shown on your 2019 tax returns, or your 2018 tax returns if you have not yet filed for 2019. For Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns, the IRS will determine your eligibility for a recovery rebate based on your Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement.
The credit is not available to individuals who can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, or estates and trusts. Taxpayers will reduce the amount of the credit available on their 2020 tax return by the amount of the advance refund payment they receive. (continue reading)
The Neponset River Regional Chamber ushered in the new year with its 126th Annual Meeting last week at the Four Points Sheraton in Norwood.
Rob Ferrini, McGowanPRO, (in the photo) was elected as the new chair of the board replacing Alisia St. Florian, Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, who was recognized for her leadership during the Chamber's 125th Anniversary year.
In her remarks, Alisia thanked the board and the membership for their support throughout the year. She also welcomed 4 new members to the board of directors. (more about them below)
Finally, we recognized several members for reaching milestones as members of the Chamber and presented our awards to the following members:
· Small Business of the Year: LAUNCH
· Large Business of the Year: Castle Island Brewing
· Business Person of the Year: Matt McKee, Matt McKee Photography
· Paul Smith Volunteer of the Year: Katherine Touafek, School to Careers
Congratulations to Rob Ferrini and our award winners and thanks to all who joined last week.
President and CEO
Welcome to 2020!
All of us here at the world headquarters of the Neponset River Regional Chamber are looking forward to a strong year.
However, a quick look back reminds us that we have just completed our 125th year working for local business. We held a wonderful celebration event at the Paul Revere Heritage Site in Canton on a sunny September evening. We are grateful to all who came out to support us that night as guests, volunteers and sponsors.
In the coming year we are planning some tweaks to our programming in order to ensure that our events are meaningful and relevant to your business. For instance, we'll be adding an educational twist to our Morning and Noon Networking meetings. A monthly guest speaker will share information on topics important to your success.
Our Young Professionals are planning a dynamic panel presentation of young entrepreneurs to share their stories and inspire others to greater heights.
We also hope that you will find ways to engage (or re-engage) with us throughout the year. In addition to attending our networking and after hours events, we have a host of committees, alliances and referral groups to which you could belong. It's a great way to expand your network and learn new things. Read more about these opportunities here.
Finally, we do want to add that like any business, we do need to review our fee structure from time to time. Having recently done so, it has been decided that member dues will increase 5% in 2020. The previous two increases were in 2010 and 2016.
This decision was not made lightly and it was done recognizing that we continue to offer programming, opportunities for involvement and advocacy that supports your business to the best of our ability.
Again, we look forward to a successful year ahead and wish you a happy and healthy new year!
President and CEO
By Francis M. Walley III, CIC, CPCU | F. M. Walley Insurance, A Division of C&S Insurance
Each new year brings forth new resolutions. Most often, these are the goals we set for self-improvement and personal health. But as 2019 draws to a close and we open the door to a brand-new decade, I’d like to urge fellow Chamber members to focus on the wellbeing of their businesses. Specifically, I’d like to remind people about the coverage gaps that often exist in the areas of cyber liability and employment practices liability.
If you don’t know very much about these growing business risks, you’re not alone. Without totally boring you, here’s a quick look at both issues:
These days, cyber liability events can come in many different forms: phishing scams, malware attacks, a company-use cell phone lost or stolen at the airport. And the targets aren’t just mega corporations any more—far from it. According to a 2018 report, 58% of all cyber attacks targeted small businesses. Which begs the question:
What would happen if someone gained access to all your clients’ contact details and payment information? What is someone shut down your operating system for ransom? Between the cost of the business interruption itself and the cost of your legal fees, potential fines and penalties, forensic investigation, required customer notification and credit reparation services… experts estimate that recovery from even a “small” business data breach can cost between $36,000 and $50,000.
The good news is that cyber liability insurance can help you offset these costs, and protect your business from being victimized in the first place.
Employment Practices Liability
Now let’s talk about what’s happening inside your organization. You probably have insurance to protect your business in the event of a fire, right? But did you know: in today’s work environment, you’re more likely to be sued by an employee than experience a fire? It’s true. Employee lawsuits are on the rise. In 2015, in Massachusetts alone, small companies (those employing between six and fourteen workers) paid more than $1,400,000 in compensation for claimants’ lost wages and emotional distress.
The most common claims? Discrimination. Discrimination can mean denying a promotion, withholding a job offer, or firing an employee on the basis of race, religion, age, sex (including pregnancy), disability, citizenship, marital status, arrest record, gender identity, or military service. What’s more, in Massachusetts, you (the business owner) can be held liable for discriminatory actions made by your managers or supervisors.
For these reasons and many more, we believe it’s worth asking your agent for an EPLI (employment practices liability insurance) quote. EPLI helps companies pay to defend employee allegations (which can be pretty steep, even if you’re 100% in the right) and also address any settlements awarded.
Bottom line: we know there’s a lot of catch-up work to do after the year-end holiday break. And maybe your insurance program isn’t exactly top of mind this January. But if you have a free moment—in the coming weeks—we’re always here to help you review and reassess your Massachusetts business insurance program.
Meanwhile, we wish you all the best for a happy and prosperous new year. Cheers!
I write as I approach the end of my tenure as Chair of the Neponset River Regional Chamber to share some thoughts and reflections on what I have learned over the past year.
While attending a conference this past month on the state of education, I listened to Author Grant Lichtman present his new book, Thrive: How Schools Will Win the Education Revolution. Mr. Lichtman referred to Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter’s 8 Steps to Change which are as follows:
• Step One: Create Urgency
• Step Two: Form a Powerful Coalition
• Step Three: Create a Vision for Change
• Step Four: Communicate the Vision
• Step Five: Remove Obstacles
• Step Six: Create Short-Term Wins
• Step Seven: Build on the Change
• Step Eight: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
I realized later, as I reflected on what I had heard, that we can use these principles to guide us as we recognize and accept our changing business landscape and the inevitable ways that these changes impact us as a Chamber, and call on us to make appropriate adjustments. So, while change is never easy, it is our challenge at this point in time and one that I think these guiding principles will help us to achieve.
Mr. Lichtman concluded his talk by saying that to be successful in this era of competition and competing demands, the key is to make your product irresistible. I am confident that we can achieve this goal. So, while I end my time as Chair with much work still to be done, I invite you all to participate with your time, talent and treasure as we shepherd our Neponset River Regional Chamber to becoming simply irresistible in the eyes of our business community.
Alisia St. Florian
Chair of the Board
Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane, LLC
It's hard to believe how quickly another year is racing by. With that in mind I want to remind our members of a few items to consider before the holiday rush takes our mind off of business and on to celebrations with family and friends.
It's that time of year to think about those businesses and individuals whose contributions to the Chamber and the community deserve recognition. Our Annual Meeting will take place on Friday, January 31st at the Four Points Sheraton in Norwood (mark your calendar).
As always we will be presenting four awards based on your recommendations: Small Business of the Year; Large Business of the Year; Business Person of the Year and the Paul Smith Award for Outstanding Volunteerism.
Please take a moment to consider whom you think might be a worthy recipient and submit a nomination for them. The form is easy to complete and can be downloaded here.
You can view a list of previous winner's here.
Our partners at Chamber PG are beginning their work on the annual printed Membership Directory and Community Guide. If you haven't been contacted yet about placing an ad in the guide, you will be soon. Or you could reach out to Kenneth Leonard at email@example.com. The guide is distributed to all members and also to area hotels, town halls and libraries.
You should also have received an email recently asking you to update your contact information so that it is correctly displayed in the guide. Please click the link to your member portal to ensure that your listing is up to date. Or you could login from the Chamber homepage by clicking the "Member Login" button.
President and CEO
The school buses are rolling again and so is the Chamber's Education and Business Committee.
Last spring we asked members to participate in a survey of Massachusetts businesses to provide information about the business community’s views on education, workforce and skill.
The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, Associated Industries of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Business Roundtable sponsored the survey and the MassINC Polling Group, prepared the report.
Thank you to those who participated from our Chamber. The results of the survey are in and we wanted share them with you.
Here are some of the key findings:
• Employers are struggling fill positions in their companies, in part because of fierce competition in a hot economy, and in part because candidates lack the skills needed for open jobs.
• Education matters to the business climate. “Access to a talented workforce” is the single most important factor in evaluating the state’s business climate.
• Employers continue to see a gap between the overall performance of schools and the job the schools are doing preparing students for the workforce.
• Business leaders want to focus their advocacy on improving the applied skills taught to students, hiring better teachers, increasing hands-on and vocational/technical education, and forging business partnerships with schools.
Read the full report here
The Chamber along other business groups throughout the state will be using results in our engagement with the legislature on a variety of issues including education funding reform, increasing student access to in-demand industry skills, and expanding opportunities for students to earn credentials and benefit from work-based learning opportunities.
The Chamber's Education and Business Committee meets next on Tuesday, September 10th at 8:30 am at the Chamber office. All are welcome.
President and CEO
The Chamber held its 125th Anniversary Celebration on September 19th at the Paul Revere Heritage Site in Canton. Fittingly, 125 guests turned out on a beautiful late summer evening to enjoy the festivities.
Current members, new members and some old friends we haven't seen in years, all assembled to commemorate the milestone occasion. A delicious menu was prepared by Northern Spy restaurant, who will soon be opening their new location within Paul Revere's original copper rolling mill on the site.
A pictorial timeline was on display highlighting notable events and people in the Chamber's history. A video loop was played that also chronicled the Chamber's history and featured interviews with current and past leaders of the organization.
All of this while guests enjoyed music from the Canton High School Jazz Combo.
There are many people to thank after an event such as this. Namely our 125th Anniversary Planning Committee, our sponsors, the Paul Revere Heritage Commission, Northern Spy Restaraunt, the Town of Canton, Norwood Video, Matt McKee Photography, Rob Peters Entertainment and the Canton High School Music Department.
To view our program and all of our sponsors, click here.
On behalf the Chamber board and staff, thanks to all who made the evening so special.
President and CEO
The Neponset River Regional Chamber was recently approved to join the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities
and the World Health Organization Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities.
Wow, what does that mean? Basically, we will be leading an effort to empower each of the communities in our region to achieve recognition as an "Age Friendly Community". As our population ages, there are a number of ways that communities and businesses can adapt their way of doing things to accommodate an older population.
The Chamber's Elder Care Alliance has recognized that it has a unique opportunity to positively impact the communities where its members both live and work. The Alliance, has for a decade provided information and education on aging, and access to supports and services, including their recently completed "Aging with Dignity" video series.
The Town of Norwood has agreed to partner with the Chamber as the first community to move forward on this initiative (Dedham and Stoughton have already become "Age Friendly" on their own). Over time, with help from the members of the Elder Care Alliance, we hope to include all of our towns.
In the coming months the Chamber will engage with various stakeholders within the town of Norwood and local businesses to begin identifying the best ways to address the 8 areas of focus that define an age-friendly community as outlined by AARP.
The Chamber sees this opportunity as the next step in changing the landscape, and to provide a level of connection between the business community, municipal leaders and older adults that has not yet been developed.
We are excited by the possibilities with our communities and members to advance the overall livability and health of our communities. To our knowledge we are the first Chamber in the country to lead such an effort.
To learn more or to find out how you can participate, contact Elder Care Alliance chairperson, Sheryl Leary or myself .
President and CEO
The NRRC is growing and we need your help. As a member, you know the value of a strong Chamber to serve as the voice of business and to provide a network through which you can grow your business.
We are asking chamber members to reach out to their non-member colleagues and business associates and invite them learn about the benefits of membership.
Please bring a non-member business to our informational breakfast on June 14 where they can learn about the benefits of membership.
There is no obligation to join, however a number of incentives will offered to those that choose to join.
If you bring a prospect and they join you will receive $125 in Chamber Bucks!
Light breakfast and coffee will be available.
FREE admission for members bringing a non-member.
Thank you for helping our Chamber grow into our next 125 years.
President and CEO