Business Resources & Information 

Resources for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

last updated: 7/23/2020, 12:00 pm

The Town of Brookline recognizes the unprecedented hardship and uncertainty that Brookline’s business community is currently facing. Brookline’s Economic Development Division is working closely with state and federal officials to identify emergency assistance resources for Brookline businesses impacted by COVID-19. 

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Jump to: INFO EVENTS * FREE ADVERTISING * FUNDING/CASH FLOW * UNEMPLOYMENT * PREPARING TO RESUME FULL OPERATIONS & EVOLVING REGULATIONS

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HEADLINES

NEW! Public Health Signs for Brookline Businesses: In response to the business community’s request for signage to display in their storefronts that reinforces local and state COVID public health requirements, but in a welcoming, encouraging way to their customers, the Town of Brookline developed a set of public health signage that businesses can download, print, and display in their storefronts:

Public Health IG_Wearing a Mask_

INFORMATIONAL EVENTS

  • Brookline’s Small Business Development Committee will host the next Virtual Town Hall meeting for Brookline’s business and nonprofit community at 9 am on Thursday, July 9th. Over fifteen meetings have been held since March 19th, including updates on the Town’s response to COVID-19, available resources and support services, and the opportunity for businesses to ask questions, as well as share their experiences. These meetings have included Select Board Member Raul Fernandez and Economic Development staff Kara Brewton & Meredith Mooney. Intermittent guests have included US Congressman Joe Kennedy III and State Representative Tommy Vitolo. Thanks to Brookline Interactive Group for recording these events and technical assistance! Information about past sessions are provided below. Virtual Town Hall Meeting on Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88644465 No password required; Web ID: 215 212 200; Phone Option: 1-312-626-6799
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  • Thursday, July 16, 3-4 pm EST: Chamber Check In for businesses; hosted by Brookline Chamber of Commerce
  • Daily: Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will be hosting daily town hall meetings to provide step by step guidance on submitting a successful unemployment claim and taking participant questions. Sign-up and more information available here.
  • Ongoing

FREE ADVERTISING OPPORTUNITIES

  • Town of Brookline: #ShopBrookline Signage Program
  • Brookline Chamber of Commerce: During the COVID-19 crisis, tell the community how you’re open for business via the Chamber’s landing page.  
  • Brookline Interactive Group: So much more than our local community access channel, Brookline Interactive Group (BIG) is temporarily offering as a community messaging service to help residents know about which businesses are open, how they’re open, hours, etc. All you have to do is read their media Guidelines and then email your message!
  • Free Soofa Advertising Upgrades for Brookline Businesses and Organizations: Soofa is currently offering free membership upgrades to Brookline businesses and nonprofit organizations. Just start a chat online with a Soofa representative and tell them you’re a Brookline business or nonprofit.
  • Local Social Media Platforms: in your marketing, show customers how you are keeping your employees & customers safe! We are hearing from many residents and neighborhood associations eager to support local businesses, and learning about reopening stores through their social networks. Many customers returning to the marketplace are purchasing first from businesses that are explaining their safety protocols. Photos and videos of safe, hard-working employees of local businesses are very often reposted! 
  • MBTA Businesses Open During Construction Signage: Green Line Transformation (GLT) team has installed banners on the construction sites across the C Branch corridor to indicate that businesses are open during construction, which began on July 5 and will continue until August 1. These signs are also available for download here. GLT team would be happy to deliver printed copies to businesses as well. Contact GLT@mbta.com to request a sign.
SHOPBROOKLINE SIGNS2

FUNDING & CASH FLOW ASSISTANCE FOR BUSINESSES 

UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE & EMPLOYER OBLIGATION INFORMATION


Related Q&A from Town Hall meetings:

1) Will there be any unemployment benefits for self employed 1099 residents? 

YES! As of April 20th - the state is now offering unemployment assistance to self-employed, 1099 (independent) contractors, and workers with limited work history. If you are both self-employed and have received income from an employer, you’ll want to read this guidance document first.

2) How do I fill out, or how do I advise my employees to fill out, their Unemployment Benefits application? 

Review the COVID-19 Unemployment Handbook and other additional information provided by the Department of Unemployment  to learn more about how to apply for benefits. There are also daily webinars available to ask your questions!

RECORDINGS OF PAST WEEKLY VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MEETINGS FOR BROOKLINE BUSINESSES & NON-PROFITS

Below are recordings from previous sessions, followed by Q&A as a result of these meetings that are not already included in other topics noted above. See ’Informational Events’ section above for upcoming details. 

  • March 19th recording: Featuring Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-MA 4th District) and State Representative Tommy Vitolo (D-Brookline).
  • March 26th recording (Begins at 00:47:00): Featuring Pat Maloney, Brookline’s Director of Environmental Health, and attorneys (i.e. Julio Cortes del Olmo, Law Office of Robert Allen Jr., and Roberto Israel & Weiner) with tips and answers related to potential impacts to employee immigration proceedings, tenant-landlord negotiations, and unemployment topics.   
  • April 2nd recording: Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA 4th District) provided an update on the recently enacted coronavirus relief bill and participated in a Q&A. Additional updates and Q&A were provided by Economic Development Division staff.
  • April 9th recording: Transportation Administrator Todd Kirrane discusses measures to assist social distancing in denser commercial areas.
  • April 16th recording: State Representative Tommy Vitolo (D-Brookline), David Gladstone (Brookline Bank, Doug Murstein, CPA)
  • April 23rd recording: Economic Development staff provides updates and facilitates Q&A regarding when and how Brookline businesses will be able to safely reopen.
  • April 30th recording: Local retail broker Adam & Jim Conviser of Conviser Property Group joined us with timely information and tips for commercial tenants. Additionally, Pat Maloney, Director of Environmental Health showed us some items to think about ordering ahead of time for a safe and timely reopening.
  • May 7th recording: Pat Maloney, Director of Environmental Health demonstrates some equipment that businesses should consider acquiring to keep their employees and customers safe; ED staff previews #ShopBrookline Signage available for Brookline businesses!
  • May 14th recording: Discussions on protocols and tips for keeping employees & customers safe.
  • See recordings for weeks in between at https://brooklineinteractive.org/ 
  • June 25th recording: outdoor dining & retail spaces for customers, fond farewell again to Pat Maloney, Director of Environmental Health, summary of Small Business grant applications to date.
  • Q&A (in addition to those listed within each topic above):
    • Does the Town of Brookline currently have any financial resources to provide emergency assistance to local businesses?
      • In addition to the payment deferrals noted above, the Town expects to receive additional federal funds that will be available to some small businesses starting in May. Please make sure you are receiving Business News flashes from us; you can sign up here. Additionally, we recommend you speak with your landlord, bank, and insurance company directly to see what payment deferrals may be possible, fees waived, etc. Finally, the Brookline Community Foundation notes that anyone that lives or works in Brookline is eligible for their Emergency Safety Net Fund.
    • How should tenants approach their landlord, and do landlords have to pass on any relief they may get (such as the deferment of property tax payments)? 
      • Landlords may not know that Brookline has adopted the property tax deferred payments policy. This may be a good way to start a conversation with your landlord and compare how both of your business operations are affected.
      • Tenants should review the lease language they have. Some landlords may not agree to defer the tax payment nor automatically pass that option through to the tenant.
      • With tenants more than one place of business, prioritize – if you have a below-market rent, and you’re up for an extension, it is recommended that you extend the lease under the same terms.
      • If you have force majeure provisions, understand that the terms are expressly described within the lease. These provisions should not be invoked because someone anticipates an impact, or an additional future impact – there must be some causation that excuses the current payment due, for example.
      • Massachusetts passed legislation that provides some protections from penalties for some small business tenants that need to delay rental payments due to impacts of COVID-19. Please familiarize yourself with the details, including regulations and required documentation forms; we strongly encourage direct conversations with landlords, banks, and other financial partners as well as your attorney and accountant. 
      • We strongly advise tenants reach out directly to their landlords to develop some kind of short-term strategy. They are also advising their landlords that, in the event they are able to come up with a short-term strategy, that they put it in a written document. How long was this agreement in effect; is the rent being deferred or reduced?
      • Landlords often have provisions in their mortgage documents that they have to abide by – many times landlords cannot give rent reductions or payment deferrals unless they first notify their mortgage holder.
      • If you’re about to sign a lease, you want to see if you can delay occupancy for 90 days – both the landlord and tenant will likely want this extension. Other ideas include agreeing deferring, say, the month of April, and using the last month’s rent. Attorney Gilbert is recommending that they do not think utilizing the security deposit as part of these discussions is a good idea – there’s tough state laws about how security deposits are handled.
      • Another tip is for tenants/landlords to agree to a reduced rent now in exchange for a percentage of gross sales rent once the business is able to resume full operations, until those rental payments are paid in full. This could be a sliding scale, for example, there could be a reduced base rent that just covers utilities, and once they are up and running, the tenant could offer a percentage of gross sales that perhaps slowly increases as the business comes back on line. Again, whatever agreements parties agree to – they should be put in writing. Tenants that need to delay rent payments should also make sure they’ve documented their status to their landlord in accordance with state regulations and documents to best protect themselves. And, that written document should have a line that states that it doesn’t preclude either party from revisiting the temporary agreement should there be any legislation that is passed that impacts either party’s rights.

      • Suggestions for landlords include: don’t show rented or occupied units – show pictures instead. Pre-screen renters before you meet with them to see if they’ve traveled anywhere or show any signs of sickness. Limit exposure to other residents by restricting access as much as possible from common areas. Leave all doors open and clean all doorknobs, etc.

      • Free counseling support to troubleshooting business decisions at Boston SCORE.

Coolidge Corner_Beacon and Harvard

Opening & Running a Business

Depending on the type of business you are thinking of opening, it may be difficult to know where to start for required permits and licenses and assistance. Call Meredith Mooney at 617-264-6478 for more information.

Annual Storefront Survey

2018 Storefront Survey Presentation

Business Associations

The information below is a listing of the business associations in the Town of Brookline. We encourage you to follow the links to the corresponding websites for more information! You may also be interested to read about all Community Organizations.

Brookline Chamber of Commerce

The mission of the Brookline Chamber of Commerce is to promote and advance the continued success of Brookline as a thriving community in which to live, work, and do business. The chamber takes a leadership role in the business community for growth, advocacy, information, and networking. For more information, please visit the Brookline Chamber website, call 617-739-1330, or email Brookline Chamber.

Coolidge Corner Merchants Association

The Coolidge Corner Merchants Association’s mission is to enhance the quality of life and business atmosphere of the neighborhood and to market Coolidge Corner as a vibrant, unique, and exciting place to shop. Issues of interest to all area business owners are discussed. Agenda items may range from planning sidewalk sales to discussing town policies that affect commercial areas. Visit the Coolidge Corner Merchants Association website for more information.

Washington Square Association

The Washington Square Association (WSA) has sponsored neighborhood improvements including the installation of an 18-foot, 4-sided Victorian Clock (at the MBTA station), benches, flowering planters on sidewalks, and additional garden areas in the center of the square. The WSA welcomes business and resident members. Please email Hsiu Lan Chang or visit the WSA’s Facebook page for more information.

Wellness in the Village

Wellness in the Village is a local collaborative with the goal of connecting the wealth of health and wellness practitioners in Brookline Village to our community. Checkout the Wellness in the Village website for more information.