Business Resources & Information
Resources for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
last updated: 1/5/22
What's to stay informed on Brookline business-related updates:
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UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE & EMPLOYER OBLIGATION INFORMATION
- Visit the state’s Information on Unemployment and Coronavirus/COVID-19 and Essential FAQs for detailed information and instructions on how to access unemployment benefits. Updated Unemployment Guide for Employers and Workers.
- Employee Rights and Employer Obligations beyond unemployment insurance, from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office
- Health Connector: a marketplace for Massachusetts residents and small businesses to come together and easily find, compare, and enroll in affordable health insurance.
- Training & MassHire Career Centers; MassHire Boston Career Center’s Webinars and Hiring Now Page
- Massachusetts Workers Emergency Relief Funds (Compiled by Massachusetts Jobs with Justice)
- Local emergency funding for anyone that works in Brookline
RECORDINGS OF PAST WEEKLY VIRTUAL TOWN HALL MEETINGS FOR BROOKLINE BUSINESSES & NON-PROFITS
Brookline’s Small Business Development Committee hosted dozens of Virtual Town Hall meetings for Brookline’s business and nonprofit community from March 2020-July 2021, 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! 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.
- 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.
- May 21st recording: perhaps missing; see https://brooklineinteractive.org/
- May 28th recording: Margaret LaForest, MA Office of Business Development speaks on Governor's reopening phased plan & state resources
- June 4th recording: state legislature update with State Representative Tommy Vitolo (D-Brookline) including restaurant and delivery legislation
- June 11th recording: review with businesses of first week after Phase Two business open
- June 18th recording: Todd Kirrane, Transportation Administrator presents streamlined permitting process for outdoor seating including parking spaces
- 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.
- July 9th recording: announcement of Town's welcoming public health signs for Brookline business' use & Health Inspector Abbie Atkins answers questions about state guidelines with new phase of reopening for gyms, theaters, and other indoor gatherings
- July 23rd recording: Erin Gallentine, Director of Parks & Open space introduces opportunities for businesses to hold outdoor fitness classes in parks and other open spaces; Anne Sudduth shares resources from the Climate is Everybody's Business project, including up to 100% payment of energy efficiency upgrades through the end of August via massaves
- August 6th recording: Dr. Swannie Jett, Public Health Director gives an update on COVID-19 in the community and best practices for businesses; preliminary financial data on COVID-19 impact to Brookline businesses as well as increase in pedestrian counts in commercial areas over the summer
- September recording
- November meeting (recording may be missing)
- October recording
- December recording
- January 2021 recording
- February 2021 recording
- March 2021 recording
- April 2021 recording
- May 2021 recording
- 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 and the now closed small business grant program noted above, 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 adopted the property tax deferred payments policy for Fiscal Year 2020, and any future allowance by the state legislature will immediately be considered by the Select Board. 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.
- Does the Town of Brookline currently have any financial resources to provide emergency assistance to local businesses?
- January 4th, 2022 recording: Pat Maloney, Interim Health Commissioner, and other Town public health staff provide an update on the Town's response to COVID-19 pandemic and its specific impact on the local business community, including discussion of regional vaccine requirements for activities like indoor dining initiated by the City of Boston.
- Small Business Data Tool
- Small Business Administration - Boston Region
- Storefront Facade Loan Program
- Doing Business for the Town: Current Bid & Contract Opportunities
- Massachusetts Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit Resource
- Small Business Development Committee @(Model.BulletStyle == CivicPlus.Entities.Modules.Layout.Enums.BulletStyle.Decimal ? "ol" : "ul")>
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.
- Business Certificates (DBA License)
- Guide to Opening a Food Establishment (PDF)
- Food Vendors License (PDF) (selling food, no seats)
- Common Victualler License (PDF) (restaurants with seats)
- All Select Board Licensing (initial permitting)
- Online Select Board License Renewals
- Tax Assessors Contacts & Database
- Personal Property Tax Questions & Answers
Annual Storefront Survey
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.