July 17th Information & Resources Update
Vacant Storefronts Program Webinar

The Massachusetts Office of Business Development (MOBD) will be holding a webinar to increase awareness of the Massachusetts Vacant Storefronts Program (MVSP). This program first became available through the Economic Development Incentive Program (EDIP) in 2019, and can be used to help municipalities in their efforts to revitalize their downtowns and commercial areas.
Municipalities may apply to the Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (EACC) to designate an area as a Certified Vacant Storefront District. After the district is certified, businesses or individuals may apply to the EACC for refundable EDIP tax credits for leasing and occupying a vacant storefront in that district, subject to a commitment of local matching funds.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, July 30th, at 10:00 AM.

Click here to register via Eventbrite. Webinar dial-in information will be provided in a confirmation email upon completing registration.
Legislature Passes COVID-19 Spending Bill

Both chambers of the state legislature have now passed H.4808, An Act Making Appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2020 to Authorize Certain COVID-19 Spending in Anticipation of Federal Reimbursement, a COVID-19 response spending bill. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature or veto. 

The legislation carries an emergency preamble, meaning if signed by the Governor, it will take effect immediately.

The legislation appropriates $1.1 billion of fiscal year 2020 direct appropriations related to the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic, including among other items:
  • $350 million for personal protective equipment
  • $139 million for rate add-ons for congregate care and essential human service providers
  • $93 million for incentive pay for state employees at 24-hour facilities
  • $85 million for field hospitals and shelters
  • $81 million for child care providers, including emergency child care for essential workers, parent fee coverage, and reopening subsidies
  • $44 million for the Community Tracing Collaborative
  • $13.5 million for local housing authorities and the state shelter system
  • $30 million for community health centers
  • $15 million for essential behavioral services, including children’s mental health and trauma services
  • $15 million for elder services and home care workforce supports
  • $20 million to address racial disparities in health care
  • $20 million for the Residential Assistance to Families in Transitions (RAFT)
  • $1.5 million for housing consumer education centers
  • $5.8 million for the Home and Healthy for Good program
  • $1 million for unaccompanied homeless youth
  • $12.3 million for the early intervention program
  • $10 million for small business assistance grants to businesses injured by COVID-19
  • $10 million for worker supports for individuals impacted by COVID-19
  • $10 million for grants to community foundations for direct economic supports to vulnerable populations
  • $9 million for emergency food assistance
  • $5.5 million for summer jobs
  • $5 million for election supports necessary due to COVID-19/ expanded vote by mail operations
  • $400,000 for community health center technical assistance
  • $250,000 for Project Bread’s food source hotline
  • $235,000 for the Health Care For All hotline

The legislation further, among other measures:

  • Establishes a non-budgeted special revenue funds for monies received from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.

  • Establishes Juneteenth Independence Day as a state holiday.

MBTA Commuter Roundtable

As companies transition employees back to working on-site, the MBTA’s Employer Services team is interested in hearing from commuters through a Roundtable discussion taking place virtually on July 23rd. Deputy Director of Fare Products & Strategy Brendan Fogerty and MBTA Senior Manager of Sales Transformation Carmel Levy will give updates from the T and engage in conversation with the group on how best to meet needs around commuter transportation. This session is open to all commuters currently using or interested in using public transportation. 

Discussion topics will include:
  • How and when will you be returning to work?
  • What are your transportation needs?
  • Status of MBTA’s timeline for resuming full service
  • The impact of COVID on operations
  • Fare products and commuter tools currently available from the MBTA 

This webinar is hosted by MBTA and TransAction Associates. 

The webinar will take place on Thursday, July 23rd, at 12:00 PM. Click here to register.
Please note that the representatives joining from the MBTA do not work in the areas of service planning or operations. While they will be able to hear feedback about your needs with respect to MBTA service, the best way to submit feedback about any items outside of fare products and strategies is to contact MBTA Customer Support online at this link.
Regional Transit Authorities Seeking Rider & Community Feedback

Our Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) are currently updating their Regional Transit Plans, and seeking feedback from riders and community members within their service areas. Community feedback is essential for successful RTA services.

Please take a moment to complete the appropriate RTA survey for your region below; click the hyperlink over each RTA to access their respective survey.

Complimentary Headshots for Unemployed Residents Being Taken in Natick Next Week

A national effort to provide free headshots to unemployed individuals currently in the job market will include an all-day session in Natick next week.

Westborough photographer Nicole Connolly will be producing the complimentary headshots on Wednesday, July 22 from 10:00 AM through 7:00 PM at at the Natick Mall. Complimentary headshots are open to anyone currently unemployed; interested participants are asked to visit HeadshotBooker.com for details and schedule a time to be photographed. More than 200 photographers will participate across all 50 states, creating pop-up studios nationwide. Headshots will be provided to participants on site through event photo sharing platform SpotMyPhotos.

The base price for a high quality, professional headshot starts around $250, which equates to more than $2.5 million in collective services these photographers will provide through this initiative.

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 July 22nd; 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