November 18th Information &
Resources Update
Urban Agenda Grant Program Now Open for FY21

The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development (EOHED) announced this week the availability of funds for the FY21 round of the Urban Agenda Grant Program. This program seeks to build stronger urban neighborhoods and support economic growth across the Commonwealth. Eligible municipalities must meet certain household income benchmarks; the median household income must be less than 90% of the state’s average income.

As every municipality is facing ongoing economic impacts of COVID-19, this year the Urban Agenda Grant Program primarily looks to fund proposals which develop or implement COVID-19 economic recovery strategies. In their application, applicants are expected to describe challenges associated with COVID-19 faced in their municipality and what they look to do to address them. There is a total of $2,500,000 available, with individual awards up to $100,000. Projects that build or enhance collaborations with Black and Latino businesses, workers, and youth will be prioritized.  

Applications are now being accepted, and the deadline to apply is Friday, December 18th at 5:00 PM. There will be an information session held for prospective applicants on Monday, November 30th; call information will be posted to the program website when available. Due to the urgent economic needs through the winter and spring, EOHED will award projects that can be fully implemented and completed by June 30th, 2021.
DPH Releases Thanksgiving Guidance

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has released guidelines for Thanksgiving celebrations, aimed at minimizing health risks due to COVID-19 during the holiday. General guidelines for interactions with people outside your household include:  
  • Wear a mask when not eating or drinking 
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water 
  • Stay at least six feet apart from others  
  • Consider if those around you may be at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, such as older adults or those with certain medical conditions, and take extra precautions 
  • If gathering indoors, improve ventilation by opening windows and doors 

Lower-risk celebrations limit gatherings to only people you live with or a small group of individuals with whom you are in frequent contact. DPH emphasizes that the larger the gathering, the larger the risk of transmission. In addition, visits should be kept short – longer gatherings pose more risk than shorter gatherings. DPH encourages virtual holiday dinners with extended family and friends to eliminate the risk of transmission.  

Higher-risk celebrations include people who are not in your household or limited social network. These gatherings increase the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19. If you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving in this manner, it is encouraged that you follow these guidelines: 
  • Wear a mask and social distance at all times 
  • Encourage guests to bring their own food and drinks; do not share food, drink, or any utensils 
  • Wear a mask while preparing food; avoid self-serve options. Consider having one person serve all the food so multiple people are not sharing utensils 
  • Minimize contact with other people for 14 days before and after the gathering, or obtain a negative test result within 72 hours of the celebration 
  • Consider small seating table arrangements with plenty of space between seats. 
  • Open the windows to improve ventilation if gathering indoors.  

In all cases, people should avoid shaking hands and hugging people, consider verbally greeting each other instead. Also, recognize that singing, dancing, and shouting all increase the chances of COVID-19 being spread through the air.
MBTA Commuter Rail Service Cuts;
Transportation Committee Meeting December 1st

In a presentation to the Fiscal Management Control Board last week, the MBTA announced a proposed suite of service cuts and capital reallocation maneuvers to address a projected $579 million budget gap in FY22 as part of its “Forging Ahead” initiative. Proposed service reductions are likely to remain in place for several years. Click here to learn more about MBTA's "Forging Ahead" initiative

Elimination of weekend service on Commuter Rail is slated to begin in January, with other scheduling modifications targeted for May. 

Proposed Commuter Rail Service Changes:
  • Stop all weekend service (January 2021)
  • Stop all service after 9pm (May 2021)
  • Decrease peak and some midday service (May 2021)

Commuter Rail Capital Projects placed “On Pause:”
  • Franklin Double Tracking & Signal Improvement
  • Framingham/Worcester Line Track & Station Accessibility Improvements (including Third Track Feasibility)
  • Worcester Union Station – Design and Construction
  • Procurement of 181 Bi-level Coaches

The Transportation Committee of the 495/MetroWest Partnership will meet via Zoom on Tuesday, December 1st, at 8:30 AM. Click here to register. At the December 1st meeting, the Transportation Committee will hear a presentation from MBTA Assistant General Manager for Policy Laurel Paget-Seekins regarding upcoming MBTA service reductions, including reductions to Commuter Rail. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and to offer feedback on the proposed service changes. This meeting is open to all interested persons, though advance registration is required. Click here to register.
November AIM Business Confidence Survey

The Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) has opened a survey in which businesses are invited to report on their view of the economy and what can be done to improve it. This survey gives businesses the opportunity to have their concerns heard by policymakers in Boston and Washington, DC. Please note that this survey is strictly for the month of November and should not be completed more than once. The survey can be found at this link.  
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

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership