August 25th Information &
Resources Update
MassDOT/ MBTA Employer Panel Webinar Sept. 9th

MassDOT and the MBTA will host their first Employer Panel webinar on September 9th. The webinar will focus on the results of a July 2020 introductory Panel Survey that employers across the Commonwealth took part in. Feedback will be shared from area employers regarding:
  • Current telework policies
  • Plans and timelines for returning teleworking employees to the office
  • Concerns around transportation
  • How employers are making decisions around returning to the physical workspace

After the presentation, MBTA and MassDOT staff will hold a Question and Answer session about the data. The webinar will take place on Wednesday, September 9th, from 2:00 to 3:00 PM. Click here to register.
CHAPA to Host Virtual Event "Learning from Emergency Rental Assistance Programs During COVID-19"

CHAPA, Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP), and the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will host a free virtual session on September 15th on “Learning from Emergency Rental Assistance Programs During COVID-19." The session will include an update on the breadth of local Emergency Rental Assistance programs and discuss best practices, challenges, and more.

From CHAPA: "COVID-19 has threatened the housing stability of thousands of residents across Massachusetts. In response to the urgent housing needs of their community, many communities enacted local emergency rental assistance programs, utilizing CPA funds, Housing Trust funds, or other local resources to do so. In addition, expansions to Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and the creation of the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance program (ERMA) by the state have been critical in ensuring housing stability.

As we continue to be faced with housing challenges, what have we learned from programs that have been implemented?"

Speakers will include:
  • Stefanie Coxe, Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts
  • Kristin Haas, DHCD
  • John Hornik, Town of Amherst
  • Amy Mullen, DHCD
  • Alex Train, City of Chelsea
  • Erin Zwirko, Town of Arlington

Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program Funding Still Available

Last week, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $3.3 million in grants to address urgent food insecurity for Massachusetts residents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and make the Commonwealth’s food system more resilient. This funding is being awarded as part of the second round of the new $36 million Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program, created following recommendations from the Administration’s COVID-19 Command Center’s Food Security Task Force, which promotes ongoing efforts to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have access to healthy, local food. Applications are still being accepted through September 15th.

The goal of the Food Security Infrastructure Grant Program is to ensure that individuals and families throughout the Commonwealth have equitable access to food, especially local food. The program also seeks to ensure that farmers, fishermen and other local food producers are better connected to a strong, resilient food system to help mitigate future food supply and distribution disruption. 

Applications will continue to be evaluated on a rolling basis through September 15th, 2020. For more information:

Eligible grantees include entities that are part of the Massachusetts local food system including production, processing and distribution, the emergency food distribution network, Buy Local, community and food organizations, school meal programming, urban farms and community gardens, non-profits, and organizations that provide business planning, technical assistance and information technology services.

The second round of the grant program included 34 awards totaling $3,324,349 to fund investments in technology, equipment, increased capacity, and other assistance to help producers distribute food, especially to food insecure communities. When evaluating the applications, considerations included equity, economic impact and need, sustainability and scalability of efforts, and ability to support producer readiness to accept SNAP and HIP benefits. This round follows the first round of $2,941,838 in grants awarded last month to 26 recipients.
AIM to Host Webinar "Childcare Implications and Employee Retention in the COVID-19 Era"

Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) will host a webinar focused on what employers can do to ensure they are attracting, retaining, and acknowledging the challenges faced by working parents. As employees try to meet their new work and family obligations in these unprecedented times, the loss of childcare options and the uncertainty surrounding in-person instruction for school-aged children presents a unique set of challenges that can be tricky for employers to navigate.  

Speakers will include:
  • Colleen Ammerman, Director of the Gender Initiative at Harvard Business School
  • Sharon Woodbury, Director of Human Resources and Public Relations for the Guild of St. Agnes

The webinar will take place on Thursday, August 27th at 11:00 AM; click here to register. The event is free to AIM members and non-members alike. 
Reminder -- MetroFest: At Home Edition!
Our friends and partners at the MetroWest Visitors Bureau are excited to present a virtual version of MetroFest! All the best of MetroFest, but now the At Home Edition! The event on August 29th will include live music online, "Meet the Chefs" with area food trucks and restaurants showing how they prepare their signature dishes, and dozens of vendor and sponsor booths to visit.

This wonderful event showcases businesses, nonprofit organizations, restaurants, artists, and entertainers from across our region. Typically held in person in Framingham, with over 8,000 annual attendees, the MetroWest Visitors Bureau has worked hard to re-create this opportunity online.

The event will take place on August 29th from 11:00 AM through 1:30 PM; a full schedule is available online at registration.
Biweekly MetroWest Employer Town Hall Series

Area employers are invited to join the 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our continuing discussions, occurring every other week, surrounding critical issues business are facing. We will answer questions about the various resources that are available to companies and their workers during these difficult times.

These discussions are open to any interested party, and are held every other Wednesday at 1:00 PM via Zoom. The next session will be held on Wednesday, September 2nd; click here to sign up!

  • Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
  • Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. You may reach me directly via email at [email protected].

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership