Business Resources & Information 

Resources for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

last updated: 4/2/2020, 9:30 am

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. Economic Development staff will be regularly updating the information and resources provided below:

Tell the Community How You’re Open For Business via https://www.brooklinechamber.com/ 

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Important Updates (March 31, 2020):

  • Non-Essential Business Closure Emergency Order Extended: Earlier this week, Governor Baker announced that the emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public will be extended until May 4.
    • Last week, the Baker-Polito Administration issued a list of designated businesses and other organizations that provide essential services and workforces related to COVID-19 that shall continue to operate brick and mortar facilities during this time. Additional guidance and FAQs regarding essential businesses can be found here.

    • Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means that do not require workers, customers, or the public to enter or appear at the brick-and-mortar premises closed by the order. Business owners are allowed to access their premises to process remote orders. Brookline officials ask that you clearly post that you are closed to the public and point people to your online platforms. Additional information is available on the state’s COVID-19 Resources and Guidance for Businesses page.

  • Takeout Beer and Wine Not Yet Allowed in MA: Many restaurants and customers are excited about the Governor’s announcement about his proposed legislation, which, if passed, could permit the sale of alcohol with take-out or delivery orders - but NOT YET! This first needs to be passed by the state legislature.
  • $10,000 advances available for SBA Disaster Loan Program: Last night, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that businesses and nonprofits can receive up to a $10,000 advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). You can access these advances by applying for an EIDL and then request the advance, which may be available even if an organization’s EIDL application is declined or is still pending. The loan advance will be made available within 3 days, will not have to be repaid under any circumstances, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain distributions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent, and mortgage payments.
  • $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program expected to be up and running by April 3: On March 31, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a press release regarding the new Paycheck Protection Program established through the CARES Act, which was enacted on March 27. This program, which will be retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020 so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020, will provide small businesses job retention loans to provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed, and be administered by participating SBA 7(a) lenders, banks, or credit unions. 
    • Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA 4th District) will provide an update on this program and participate in a Q&A during tomorrow’s Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Brookline businesses and nonprofit organizations. See Upcoming Informational Events for more information.

Upcoming Informational Events:

  • 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
  • Weekly: Thursdays, 9-10 am EST: Brookline’s Small Business Development Committee will continue to host Virtual Town Hall meetings for Brookline’s business and nonprofit community at 9 am every Thursday. These meetings include 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 (i.e. recent challenges, tips, and innovations). Q&A from past sessions are provided below in the Local Resources section.
    • The next VTH will be on Thursday, April 2 from 9-10 AM EST: Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA 4th District) will provide an update on the recently enacted coronavirus relief bill and participate in a Q&A during this week’s Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Brookline businesses and nonprofit organizations.
  • Tuesday, April 7 from 10-11:30 am EST: SCORE Boston is hosting a webinar on the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application process. Presented by the SBA. Register here.
  • Thursday, April 9 at 1 pm EST: SCORE will host a webinar ’Coronavirus and Your Small Business: Live Q&A with SCORE Mentors’. Get your questions answered regarding the current crisis. Submit questions during registration and during the LIVE webinar. Register here.
  • Thursday, April 30, 3:30-5 pm EST: SCORE Boston is hosting the webinar Industry insights to help with your marketing during & after quarantine.

Emergency Assistance for Businesses:

  • Federal Resources:
    • Federal Tax Relief: On March 20th, the Internal Revenue Service announced that both the deadline for filing taxes as well as paying taxes is delayed to July 15th.
    • Paycheck Protection Program: On March 31, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued a press release regarding the new Paycheck Protection Program established through the CARES Act, which was enacted on March 27. This program, which will be retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020 so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020, will provide small businesses job retention loans to provide eight weeks of payroll and certain overhead to keep workers employed, and be administered by participating SBA 7(a) lenders, banks, or credit unions. The federal government expects to have this program up and running by April 3. Banks, lenders, and credit unions administering the program will likely need some additional time to implement the program.
      • The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act (i.e. the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) from the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship is a helpful resource regarding both the Economic Injury Disaster Loan $10,000 Loan Advance initiative (see info below) and the Paycheck Protection Program.
      • Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA 4th District) will provide an update on this program and participate in a Q&A during tomorrow’s Virtual Town Hall Meeting for Brookline businesses and nonprofit organizations. See Upcoming Informational Events for more information.
    • Small Business Administration’s Express Bridge Loan (EBL) Program: As of March 25th, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced this bridge loan program is now open to immediately assist those small businesses that already have an SBA loan with a SBA Express Lender. SBA Express Lenders are authorized to provide expedited SBA-guaranteed bridge loan financing on an emergency basis in amounts up to $25,000 for disaster-related purposes to small businesses located in disaster-declared communities while those small businesses apply for and await long-term financing (including through the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program.
    • Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program: Small businesses, private non-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Massachusetts may qualify for Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred. 
      • As of March 27th, the SBA has made the online EIDL application process easier. Download two forms, fill them out, and upload them. There is expedited processing for loans under $500,000 where the submission of current tax returns are not required for small businesses.
      • More general information available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. 
      • Terms: The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private non-profit organizations. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship. There is a 12-month deferment period for the first payment for the EIDL program.
      • EIDL Application Info and Guidance
        • Additional information about the SBA’s Disaster Loan Program for businesses impacted by COVID-19 is available in this updated March 26th SBA Disaster Loan Program Info & Application Instructions.
          • A recorded webinar about the SBA EIDL program can be viewed here.
          • See the ’Upcoming Informational Events’ section above for details about any upcoming informational webinars about this disaster loan program.
    • Forgivable Loan Advances (up to $10,000) on SBA EIDL Applications: Small businesses are encouraged to apply for EIDL and then request an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. As part of the additional assistance for small business owners and non-profit organizations provided through the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27, business and nonprofits can receive up to a $10,000 advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). This advance may be available even if an organization’s EIDL application is declined or is still pending, and applying for an advance will not impact the status of or slow the processing of an EIDL application. The loan advance will be made available within 3 days and this loan advance will not have to be repaid.
  • State Resources:
    • Unemployment Assistance
      • To assist individuals who cannot work due to the impact of COVID-19, the Baker-Polito administration has filed emergency legislation and emergency regulations that allow people impacted by COVID-19 to collect unemployment if their workplace is shut down. 
      • 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.
    • Work Share Program: A tool to help employers avoid layoffs during a downturn – read more about WorkShare.
    • Rapid Response Program: The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development works closely with companies to avert layoffs and keep a skilled workforce engaged in the existing regional economy or industry; read more about how the Rapid Response Team can help businesses.
    • State Tax Relief for Small Businesses
      • On March 19th, the Baker-Polito Administration announced administrative tax relief measures for small local businesses. For small businesses, this tax relief includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April and May so that they will instead be due on June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived. Refer to the Department of Revenue’s updates, rulings, and regulations here.
        • Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes, and business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending February 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.
      • On March 27th, the Baker-Polito Administration, Senate President Karen Spilka and House Speaker Robert DeLeo announced an agreement to extend the 2019 state individual income tax filing and payment deadline from April 15 to July 15 due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, to align with the Federal Tax Relief deadline. This income tax relief is automatic and taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms to qualify.
    • Information on Employee Rights and Employer Obligations from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office: View guidance for employers and employees during the Coronavirus Public Health Emergency from the Attorney General’s office here
    • Health Connector Enrollment Period Extended through May 25: Typically, the only time of year anyone can newly access coverage is during Open Enrollment, which runs from November through January. However, because of the public health threat created by the coronavirus and the increased public interest in prevention and treatment, the Health Connector is opening enrollment for uninsured residents through April 25. Residents who need health insurance can call (877) MA-ENROLL ((877) 623-6765) to gain access to the enrollment period, and go to MAhealthconnector.org to complete an application. Review Massachusetts Health Connector COVID-19 Information and Resources to view special enrollment deadlines and get more information.

  • Local Resources:
    • Facade Loan Program Payment Deferment: In an effort to support Brookline’s business community during this unprecedented, challenging time, the Town of Brookline is deferring all Facade Loan Program payments due through June until August 1, 2020.
    • Weekly Virtual Town Hall Meetings for Brookline Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations: See ’Upcoming Informational Events’ section above for upcoming details. All meetings include Select Board Member Raul Fernandez and Economic Development staff Kara Brewton & Meredith Mooney. 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:
      • 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.   
      • See Upcoming Information Events section above for information on the next VTH.
    • Q&A from Virtual Town Hall Meetings for Brookline Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations:
      • Will there be any unemployment benefits for self employed 1099 residents? 
        • Currently self-employed individuals and 1099 contract employees are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Federal legislation is anticipated that would permit states to offer unemployment assistance to the self-employed and 1099 contractors. The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance notes this will be "available immediately upon declaration and press release announcement." Source: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/massachusetts-covid-19-unemployment-information
      • How do I fill out, or how do I advise my employees to fill out, their Unemployment Benefits application? 
      • Does the Town have any guidance for take-out food service businesses to operate safely? 
        • We do not currently have any formal guidance beyond the MA Department of Public Health and CDC’s guidelines and directives. Brookline’s Department Public Health is working with other communities and the state to issue regional guidance, as this activity often includes people in close proximity with each other, which is contrary to the recommended social distancing protocols. Some of our restaurants are innovating by moving to only online ordering and having separated pick-up stations with customers’ names to limit person-to-person contact.
      • Should businesses that are just starting to begin construction continue plans to build out their space?
        • The Building Department is currently still processing construction permits online. For work that is outside and for spaces that are not already occupied (like new restaurants), our Building Department is still able to safely continue with necessary on-site inspections. Please start the building application process online, and your building inspector will be in touch with you to schedule any on-site meetings. Please be patient with our response time as we continue to try and remain open for business, safely.
      • Are businesses that are not yet open in Brookline eligible for the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program?
        • If you have already signed a lease, it is very likely that you are already operating as a business entity, even if you have yet to declare a specific “Doing Business As” registration with the Town of Brookline. Therefore, we recommend beginning the SBA application to the best of your ability. Even if the SBA determines after reviewing your financial and business information that you are not able to “show the ability to repay the loan”, it is very likely that gathering this information will be useful for you if and when other federal, state, or local assistance becomes available.
      • Does the Town of Brookline currently have any financial resources to provide emergency assistance to local businesses?
        • The Town does not currently have any emergency assistance financial resources for Brookline businesses. We recommend you speak with your landlord, bank, and insurance company directly to see what payment deferrals may be possible, fees waived, etc.  Our Tax Assessors’ Office is also communicating with their peers in other communities and the Massachusetts Department of Revenue to determine whether state regulations could be changed that would further help the immediate cash flow of our business community (including landlords) at this critical time.    
      • How should tenants approach their landlord, and do landlords have to pass on any relief they may get (such as the pending legislation which would allow municipalities to defer property tax payments)?
        • Tenants should review the lease language they have. If the legislation includes an interest rate for deferred tax payments, then some landlords may not agree to defer the tax payment and pass that option through to the tenant – we need to see what the actual language is that is passed. If the legislation requires that the landlord pass on the deferment to the tenant, there will likely be additional language in the legislation that also deals with the allowable timeframes for the deferment and any interest rates for a deferred payment.
        • 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 some anticipates an impact, or an additional future impact – there must be some causation that excuses the current payment due, for example.
        • 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. 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.

  • Delivery/Carry Out Only Signs:

"15-Min Delivery Only" No Parking Tow ZoneSince 5:00PM on Monday, March 16, all Brookline food establishments have been restricted to take-out and delivery operations. Many retailers have created or increased their delivery or curb-side pick-up options as well to accommodate social distancing efforts. 

To support Brookline businesses as they transition to delivery-only operations, the Town has put up “Delivery/Carry Out Only” 15-minute parking signs at various locations throughout Brookline’s commercial areas.

The locations of these 15-Minute Delivery Only signs can be found here. (Note: Many thanks to Hugh Mattison, TMM5 for creating this reference map.)

Please contact Meredith L. Mooney, Economic Development Planner, at mmooney@brooklinema.gov with any questions about this initiative or to request a sign.

Other Resources:

Stay Informed:

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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.