On June 29, Mayor Shaunna O’Connell announced that ten businesses impacted by Covid-19 are receiving grants to help offset their losses and increased expenses for operating during the pandemic.
“Our unemployment rate has now reached over 21 percent. We need to put people back to work. To help businesses survive this shutdown, we established a sustainability fund and today we are starting to issue the grants to our local businesses. I am glad to announce that we are now handing out grants across Taunton. This money will help revive our local economy,” said O’Connell.
The Mayor’s office collaborated with Neighborhood Corp, a local non-profit, to privately raise funds to create the Taunton Small Business Sustainability Fund. The funds are to help struggling local businesses and organizations. Bristol County Savings Bank donated $50,000, the Taunton Development Corporation donated $25,000 and the Crescent Credit Union contributed $2,500. “We are grateful for the generosity of these donors. They are truly invested in seeing our community succeed,” said O’Connell.
Donations to the fund can be made through the City of Taunton website under the “Small Business Grants” box. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis subject to availability of funds.
Businesses receiving the assistance from O’Connell include:
Open Door Yoga Studio, Acadia Seafood & Bar, Taunton Eagles Soccer Club, Platinum City Gaming, Tux Towne, Energy No Limit, Silver City Dance Center, Upside Down Escape Games, Girls Inc., and Our Daily Bread.
“Mayor O’Connell has been focused on helping the business community throughout the shutdown. She has taken action and shown true leadership in getting us through these challenging times,” said business owner Jose Bejarano of Tux Towne.
“I am so glad so many people came together to support our local businesses that create the majority of new jobs. They are the lifeblood of our local community,” said O’Connell. “Together, we can rebuild our robust economy.”
The Mayor is also urging people to shop locally.
“Now more than ever before, we should shop at our local stores. They were hit hard by the pandemic,” urged O’Connell, who has been a longtime supporter of small business.
On Friday, June 19, the Baker-Polito Administration announced that Step Two of Phase II of the Commonwealth’s four-phase reopening plan, Reopening Massachusetts, was to begin on Monday, June 22 to allow additional industries to resume operations under sector-specific guidelines.
Businesses and sectors set to begin operating in Step Two of Phase II are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards. Read the press release.
Taunton Mayor Shaunna O’Connell embraced the reopening of restaurants on June 8. Taunton City Hall is working to help these restaurants as smoothly and safely as possible by helping them expand and create outdoor dining opportunities.
“We have been working since the beginning of the pandemic to find ways to support our small business community and will continue to explore new ideas to help our fellow Tauntonians during these uncertain and unprecedented times. We want our local restaurants to be successful in their reopening so we are working with them to create outdoor dining,” said O’Connell.
O’Connell’s Open For Business Task Force has worked hard to expedite the process of providing more outdoor options for restaurants throughout Taunton. The law department, Licensing Commission, City Planner, and Councilor Coute worked in a coordinated effort to quickly create the guidelines and application as allowed by the Baker Administration.
Restaurant owners are encouraged to contact City Hall to receive assistance. City staff members are available and are ready to assist all applicants with reviewing and approving outdoor expansion plans.
“I am excited that we have reached a point in confronting this pandemic where restaurants can reopen. I look forward to dining out once again in Taunton with my family,” said O’Connell. “As I promised when running for Mayor, City Hall is to be a helping hand not a hindrance. We will work hand in hand with restaurants to get the outdoor space they need.”
Questions in advance of completing the application should be directed to the following individuals, depending on the nature of the question:
Liquor licensing: Design of outdoor spaces:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Use of public parking lots: License Commission firstname.lastname@example.org
Review of site plans on private lots, ADA questions for city sidewalks and streets: Kevin Scanlon, email@example.com
Questions regarding the use of tents: Robert Pirozzi, firstname.lastname@example.org
COVID 19 requirements: Please refer to the reopening Massachusetts guidance pertaining to outdoor dining at https://www.mass.gov/info-details/safety-standards-and-checklist-restaurants . If you still have questions or concerns, please contact email@example.com
Read the Retail Business Safety
Standards & Checklist here.
The Baker-Polito Administration announced on Saturday, June 6 that Phase II of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan will begin on Monday, June 8.
Businesses and sectors set to begin opening in Phase II are subject to compliance with all mandatory safety standards.
On May 18, the Administration released a four-phased plan to reopen the economy based on public health data, spending at least three weeks in each phase. Key public health data, such as new cases and hospitalizations, has been closely monitored and seen a significant decline allowing for Phase II to begin on June 8th.
Read the entire press release.
On June 1, Gov. Charlie Baker released workplace safety standards for retail businesses in advance of the state's initiation of Phase 2 to allow businesses time to prepare to operate in compliance with these mandatory health and safety standards. These workplace safety standards and the expanded opportunity they provide for in-store browsing and transactions will not be effective until Phase 2 of the Re-Opening Plan commences.
Gov. Baker will initiate Phase 2 of the Re-Opening Plan by formal Executive Order and only following a careful review of public health data. These standards apply, until rescinded or amended by the state, to all retail businesses except for farmers’ markets, which shall continue to be governed by Department of Public Health Guidance. These standards supersede and replace existing Department of Public Health guidance governing grocery stores and pharmacies.
Retail businesses that have been defined as providing Essential Services pursuant to COVID-19 Order No. 13 will be required to comply with these sector-specific safety protocols within one week of the date that retail businesses are authorized to open pursuant to the Governor’s Phase 2 reopening Order.
Due to the nationwide shortage of personal protective equipment, first responders have been making due with limited supplies through the majority of this pandemic. As a result, Mechanics Cooperative Bank has made a direct effort on their behalf with the donation of 2,000 KN95 masks to the Taunton Police and Taunton Fire Departments. First responders such as police and fire are often put in harm’s way and must be trained to deal with a wide array of potential medical emergencies including contagion.
President and CEO of Mechanics Cooperative Bank, Joseph T. Baptista Jr. commented “As a business member of the Taunton community, Mechanics Cooperative Bank is proud to do our part in support of our local first responders and those on the front line facing this pandemic on a daily basis. It’s important that our police and fire departments have the proper personal protective equipment needed to keep themselves, and our community safe, and we are happy to be in a position to help. This is what community banking is all about. Thank you to both the Taunton Police and Fire Departments for all that you do for our community.”
Due to the high level of uncertainty associated with these positions proper face masks are the first step in personal protection. Even with such preparation, first responders face unique risks of being the first people to aid those with unknown circumstances.
Lieutenant Eric Nichols of the Taunton Police Department said “These masks are extremely helpful and will add to our ongoing internal effort to protect our Officers and our residents when they are in need of our support – something we take very seriously. We appreciate the support of Mechanics Cooperative Bank and their thoughtfulness to help make our City safer.”
The KN95 masks, valued at over $5,000 were delivered on May, 27 by President and CEO of Mechanics Cooperative Bank, Joseph T. Baptista Jr. KN95 is an industrial manufacturing standard that requires specific materials and manufacturing processes to significantly increase their effectiveness.
Chief Timothy Bradshaw commented “We appreciate the support from Mechanics Cooperative Bank and their President, Joseph Baptista. The Fire Department is not often thought of as first responders however we go on serval calls daily that require proper personal protection equipment for direct interaction with those in need. We can’t say thank you enough – these masks will help.”
About Mechanics Cooperative Bank
With total assets over $600 million, Mechanics Cooperative Bank offers a wide variety of personal and business deposit and loan products. As a Massachusetts co-operative bank, 100% of customers’ deposits are always fully insured. Established in 1877, Mechanics Cooperative Bank is Massachusetts’ second-oldest co-operative bank with eight conveniently located branches in Bridgewater, Taunton, North Dighton, Somerset, Swansea, Fall River and Westport. For more information, call 1-888-MECHANICS (632-4264) or visit Mechanics-Coop.com. Member FDIC. Member DIF. Equal Housing Lender.
The City of Taunton has established a Small Business Recovery Grant Program to assist in the stabilization of existing small businesses which have undergone significant business disruption due to COVID-19. This program is for eligible applicants that can demonstrate hardship induced by COVID-19 and meet U.S. Housing and Urban Development requirements of income eligibility and job retention. The City of Taunton, Office of Economic and Community Development will accept pre-applications starting May 29, 2020 and they must be submitted by 12:00 Noon on Friday, June 12, 2020. Eligible Grantees will be selected by a lottery to be held on June 15, 2020.
The Bank is proud to announce that the Bridgewater Savings Charitable Foundation, along with the Bank’s Board of Directors and Employees, joined forces to donate $30,000 to local food pantries to assist those in need.
The idea was simple, the Charitable Foundation would match donations made by the Board of Directors and Employees, hoping to provide much needed relief for our local food pantries who are having a difficult time meeting the record demand created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As one unified bank, we came together to support our communities during these challenging times. The funds will be distributed to food pantries within our markets and local pantries in the employee’s hometown.
“I am truly grateful for the support and generosity the Bank received from our Board of Directors and Employees,” said Peter Dello Russo, Bridgewater Savings Bank President and CEO, “It has never been more important to support the organizations that are providing aid to our neighbors in need. Together, we can make a difference!”
Bridgewater Savings Bank has been serving the Metro South communities since 1872. We are a full-service independent community bank offering commercial and residential loans as well as business and personal banking services with the most up-to-date technologies. Dedicated to cultivating the financial well-being of our community, we strive to deliver unique personalized service for each of our customers. It’s what we call “Uncommon Banking”. Bridgewater Savings is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and a member of the Depositors Insurance Fund (DIF). Bridgewater Savings is an Equal Housing Lender.
On May 19, The Massachusetts Business Alliance for Educaiton (MBAE) sent a letter to legislators in support of amendments #68, #73, and #95 to House Bill 4708. H.4708 is a more than $1 billion information technology bond bill that the House will consider during its session tomorrow, May 20. You can read our letter by clicking here.
We applaud the effort of the House to address some of the impacts and challenges that come with the delivery of remote learning to students through this bill. We believe that the three amendments, offered by House Education Chair Alice Peisch, will enhance and expand existing public school district efforts to invest in equitable access to broadband and remote learning.
Please consider contacting your legislators in support of these amendments and alerting public school stakeholders to the opportunity they present. We are happy to assist with outreach and provide more information.
Here’s a bit more detail on the relevant portions of H.4708 and the proposed amendments:
On May 18, Mayor Shaunna O’Connell announced that Taunton will be ready for the phased reopening of the Commonwealth.
“I know that this pandemic has been a terrible burden on families with the loss of life and loss of income. To help, we have been working around the clock at city hall to help area businesses with a safe reopening. Our goal is to keep people healthy while getting them back to work,” said O’Connell. “Now that Gov. Baker has released the details of the plan, we will be working to implement them as quickly and safely as possible.”
Governor Charlie Baker formally announced his reopening plan May 18. Manufacturing, construction, and places of worship are the first to be able to open, but there will be restrictions to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. There are new requirements for essential businesses already operating. On May 25, laboratories, offices, car washes, hair salons, pet grooming and some outdoor recreational facilities can re-open. Healthcare providers can provide high-priority preventative care. Salons and pet grooming will be by appointment only and most city buildings will remain by appointment only at this point. The continuation of remote work is strongly encouraged. Emergency childcare facilities that have been operating may be used to meet the needs of people with no alternative for care.
The stay at home advisory is now a “safer at home advisory.” Safety precautions such as wearing masks, social distancing, hand washing, limited outings, and no gatherings over 10 people are still in place. People are encouraged to stay home unless they need to make an essential trip to a newly opened facility.
“I am urging my fellow Tauntonians to use social distancing, wash their hands and wear their masks to stop the spread so the state will continue with the next phase of reopening. Also, I am encouraging everyone to help our businesses get back on their feet by shopping locally. They need our support to survive and to help rehire area residents. Let’s help our neighbors by shopping locally as much as possible,” said O’Connell.
Phase one will last for at least three weeks. Links to information released by the state regarding the phased reopening plan have been posted on the City of Taunton website. Residents can also call the COVID-19 hotline at 774.406.5898 with questions.
O’Connell is working with the Board of Health on implementing the new restrictions. Her office is available to help any business with questions. “We want to be a resource for businesses as they work to reopen, not a heavy-handed enforcer. Together we can keep Taunton safe, healthy, and thriving once again,” said O’Connell.