Braintree Chamber of Commerce Responds to Town’s Call for Public Comment Regarding Draft Vision Statement for the New Master Plan
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce board of directors has responded to a call for public comment regarding a draft vision statement for Braintree’s new Master Plan. The Master Plan will guide Braintree’s development, infrastructure, and preservation activities for the next decade.
Below is the board’s letter to the Braintree Master Plan Steering Committee.
Braintree Master Plan Steering Committee
c/o Melissa M. SantucciRozzi, Planning Director
1 John F. Kennedy Memorial Drive
Braintree, MA 02184
Re: Proposed Vision Statement, Master Plan
Dear Steering Committee Members,
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce Board would like to provide business feedback and suggestions with respect to the proposed vision statement to be discussed at the next Master Plan Steering Committee Meeting on November 17, 2022. Our comments specifically address elements relating to business and commerce.
First and foremost, we would like to thank you for volunteering your time, energy, and expertise toward this important undertaking. Planning is hard work, and consensus-building is even harder. Our business community recognizes and appreciates your diligence, transparency, and conscientious approach. Further, our Board—which comprises small business owners, current residents, and business leaders with decades of personal history in our town—shares your vision of making Braintree the best it can be. We appreciate this opportunity to participate in the process.
Before our recommendations, we would like to make three general points on behalf of our business community.
#1. Braintree relies on contributions from a variety of business types and sizes.
We heartily agree with all aspects of the draft vision statement that promote thriving villages, vibrant commercial squares, and local businesses.
We also believe Braintree should recognize and support the full range of business types and sizes that together drive Braintree’s economic goals and support the town’s budgetary needs.
The fiscal health that Braintree has enjoyed historically and seeks to strengthen for the future is not the result of a single spoke on the economic wheel but rather many spokes spinning together. Supporting a wide range of businesses—including the commercial villages, commercial corridors, office and industrial parks, and the South Shore Plaza—will help Braintree achieve its goals.
#2. Braintree’s tax base draws heavily from business and multi-family housing.
As evidence of the value of Braintree’s business community, we would like to share data points regarding the town’s tax base:
#3. Braintree’s businesses operate and succeed as part of a larger ecosystem.
Braintree’s business community is a thriving ecosystem of larger and smaller businesses that complement each other, which enhances the entire town. Changes to the tenant mix can create challenges that require a shared commitment by the public sector and private sector to finding solutions.
For example, when Haemonetics vacated its space on Wood Road in 2019, local businesses felt an immediate impact through loss of retail sales, decreased hotel bookings, and fewer lunchtime diners. We are excited that Integra LifeSciences is moving its production facility to this site due to efforts by the property owner and Mayor Kokoros’s leadership, which will bring approximately 150 new jobs to town and boost the customer base of local businesses.
In business areas that rely on customer traffic, such as Braintree’s commercial villages, changes to the business mix can also present challenges. A good example is South Braintree Square. Over the years we have seen the departure of restaurants with high evening-hours traffic and their replacement with businesses that operate consistently during the day. These establishments undoubtedly provide a sought-after service, but they also heighten demand for the limited daytime parking available in the municipal lot.
Vibrant community squares require parking and accessible walkways. For possible solutions, we can look to the findings of a 2021 planning initiative known as the Rapid Recovery Plan for South Braintree Square. This plan was funded through a state grant and drafted with participation by Town of Braintree Planning Director Melissa SantucciRozzi and Assistant Director Connor Murphy, the Braintree Chamber of Commerce through its Chair, Kimberly Kroha, and Town Counsel through President and District 5 Councilor, Meredith Boericke.
The plan offered several ideas for the town to consider, including:
Without infrastructure improvements in all of our village squares, their businesses cannot maximize their potential. The number of available parking spaces in each of Braintree’s squares is a limiting factor that requires outside the box solutions.
Our Recommended Changes to the Draft Vision Statement
With the points above in mind, we suggest the following edit to core theme #2 of the draft vision statement:
In 2033, Braintree will have…
2. Economic growth policies that promote a diverse range of strong, vibrant businesses within the village squares, commercial corridors, office and industrial parks, and South Shore Plaza area.
Additionally, we suggest incorporating the following themes into the overall vision statement:
Thank you for your time and consideration. We invite any members of the Steering Committee to reach out to the Braintree Chamber at firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to any of the Board members (www.braintreechamber.com).
Please note we would like to share this letter with the community via the Braintree Chamber’s website and social media.
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
CC: Braintree Chamber of Commerce members
Mayor Charles Kokoros
Braintree Town Council members
 Source: Tax Levies by Class, data current as of 11/09/2022, MA Dept. of Revenue, Div of Local Services.
 Source: Phase 1 Existing Conditions Report (draft), September 2022, page 58
 Calculation: Assessed value of $333,835,900 for Parcel No. 2089 0 22, 250 Granite Street, in 2021 x Commercial/Industrial tax rate of $21.63/$1,000 (Braintree Assessor webpage).
 Source: Fiscal Year 2022 Expense by Category, prepared for the Braintree Master Plan Committee, available at:
 Source: Town of Braintree Local Estimated Receipts, Fiscal Year 2023 https://braintreema.gov/DocumentCenter/View/9418/6-Local-Receipts?bidId=
 Source: Phase 1 Existing Conditions Report (draft), September 2022, page 37, showing 64% of housing in 2020 as 1 unit detached housing.
 The 2021 Rapid Recovery Plan
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce participated in the Rapid Recovery Plan for South Braintree Square during the summer and fall of 2021. The Braintree Rapid Recovery Team was made up of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, MAPC (Principal Planner, Ralph Willmer), the Braintree Planning and Zoning Departments (Planning Director, Melissa Santucci-Rozzi and Zoning Planner, Connor Murphy), Braintree Chamber of Commerce (Chair, Kim Kroha), and District 5 Town Councilor (Meredith Boericke).
Contributions to the program from MAPC and subject matter experts on each identified recovery goal was funded by a state grant. The Local Rapid Recovery Planning (RRP) program is a key part of a strategy established to help communities stabilize and grow the Massachusetts economy as a result of the economic impacts brought on by COVID-19. In support of the overall recovery strategy, the Baker Administration made $9.5 million in awards for 125 communities to create Local Rapid Recovery Plans, through the MA Downtown Initiative Program. These plans address the impacts of COVID-19 on local downtowns and small businesses by partnering with Plan Facilitators and Subject Matter Experts to pursue locally-driven, actionable strategies.
Although the program did not include money for follow up work to implement the goals, there was some funding left over for a distinct project. The Braintree Chamber is excited to announce that MAPC is leading an effort by the team to create a Braintree Business Guide focused on steps for approval of new businesses in Braintree, which has been a goal of the Chamber for many years.
Please review the full final report for additional information, but key goals identified and recommendations are listed below.
There is ongoing discussion about how some of these items can actually be implemented, please let us hear from you with any ideas, comments, or questions.
A successful Fall Social!
Thank you to everyone who came out for our Fall Business Social last week!
It was a beautiful night and venue with wonderful conversation and great service by Kay’s Cans & Bottles and Fasano's Catering.
Special thanks to Town of Braintree Mayor Kokoros for sharing business updates with our members and guests and Patrick McDermott for Norfolk County Sheriff for hosting and information on the pavilion and events.
If you didn't make it, we hope to see you at our next event.
Courting life sciences, invigorating the squares: Kokoros shares vision for business in Braintree
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce welcomed Mayor Charles Kokoros to its annual address to the business community on May 4, 2021, by Zoom. The mayor discussed the budget, development plans, and master plan committee, and he took questions from members and guests via Chamber chair Kim Kroha.
-- On Braintree’s pandemic recovery: Kokoros attributes the town’s low Covid-19 case numbers to vaccinations and encouraged residents to get their shots. He looks forward to Phase 4, Step 2, of the reopening plan, which allows for indoor singing, road races, and parades, including the much-awaited return of Braintree Day on June 26.
“I’m really optimistic about where we go from here. People are ready to go out and do things and spend money.”
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce is pleased to share good news for our community. Braintree business owners with five or fewer employees may be eligible to receive up to $10,000 in Covid-19 relief, thanks to a grant secured by the Town of Braintree.
The Town was recently awarded a $320,000 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for small businesses with 1–5 employees, known as microenterprises, that are Low-Moderate Income (LMI) and have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Small businesses are always the first, and in many cases the only ones to donate to our local youth sports and many fundraisers in our community. They are always there for us, and during this time of need we must be there for them,” said Mayor Charles C. Kokoros in a statement.
“The Braintree Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the Town of Braintree and Mayor’s Office for making this grant possible,” said Kim Kroha, Esq., Chair of the Braintree Chamber of Commerce. “Receiving up to $10,000 in forgivable funds will make a big difference for eligible Braintree’s small businesses that have been hit hard by operating restrictions, changed customer patterns and increased costs.”
Here’s what you need to know about the grant ...
What is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)?
CDBG is a federally funded, competitive grant program designed to help small cities and towns meet a broad range of community development needs. This program assists municipalities in preparing for, responding to or preventing Covid-19 ramifications. The grant funds were made available through the federal CARES Act of 2020. The maximum total grant award to any small business is $10,000.
How can CDBG funds be used?
Grant funds may be used for:
The grant pre-application and qualification criteria are available online at braintreema.gov/1141/Community-Development-Block-Grant
The Town will award and disburse grants based upon eligibility criteria on a first-come, first-served basis until available funds are exhausted. If you meet the eligibility criteria, a representative from the Town will contact you via e-mail to complete a full application and submit the necessary back-up documentation.
Cusack, Collins Discuss Economy, Covid-19, Schools, Housing, Race at Braintree Chamber Forum
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce hosted a forum for the candidates for 5th Norfolk District on October 15.
State Rep. Mark Cusack (D) and challenger Frank Collins (R) are vying to represent Braintree and portions of Holbrook and Randolph in the state’s legislature.
Braintree Chamber Chair Kim Kroha queried the candidates on their views regarding economic recovery, revenue sources, reopening public schools, housing and racial equality.
Here is the recap from the Braintree Patch:
Cusack, Collins Talk Coronavirus, Schools In State Rep. Debate
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Braintree business update: Get ready for cool-weather dining and “shop local MA”
Extended outdoor dining and other COVID-19 recovery matters were on the agenda for the Braintree Chamber of Commerce business update meeting held September 14.
As a liaison between business leaders and government, the Chamber is hosting these business meetings for its members as well as the general public.
Chamber Chair Kim Kroha led the Q&A with Mayor Charles Kokoros, State Rep. Mark Cusack, Margaret Laforest of the Mass. Office of Business Development, and South Shore Chamber head Peter Forman.
Here’s the recap:
Outdoor dining to continue through cool weather
Braintree restaurants are free to offer expanded outdoor dining through the fall and winter (for 60 days after the end of the state of emergency), according to a recent announcement by Gov. Charlie Baker.
“We’re seeing a lot of resiliency and people determined to make it through. A lot of businesses have adjusted by lowering expenses,” said Peter Forman, president and CEO of the South Shore Chamber of Commerce. “But we’re concerned about lingering unemployment and what early next year is going to look like.”
The mayor said Braintree restaurants continue to struggle and are worried about surviving through the winter without additional state or federal aid. “The landlords can only wait so long before people have to move out and close their business,” the mayor said. The mayor conveyed his support for local restaurants and is committed to working with the those and other Braintree businesses in any way possible.
Braintree recovery: Mayor Kokoros’ COVID-19 story; more money available for small businesses
The Braintree Chamber of Commerce hosted its fifth COVID-19 recovery meeting with local officials via a video conference on June 29.
In addition to town and state updates, participants heard about grants available for workforce training, worksite safety improvement, and economic relief.
Led by Braintree Chamber chair Kim Kroha, these recovery meetings are open to anyone in Braintree’s business community as well as Chamber members. Here’s the recap:
Mayor Kokoros shares experience with COVID-19, urges mask-wearing
Mayor Charles Kokoros reported he is back in good health after suffering from COVID-19 earlier this month. He said the illness is “an absolutely terrible thing to go through” and the experience reaffirmed his confidence in Braintree’s early and strict interventions to contain the spread.
The mayor said he contracted the virus through a family member and was likely contagious at work for a few days before developing symptoms. However, none of his colleagues tested positive, which he attributes to his diligent mask-wearing.
“The masks make a difference. It’s the only way we’re going to stop spreading this virus,” he said.
UPDATED July 1, 2020 Here’s your one-stop list of restaurants opening up for outdoor and indoor dining, along with curbside pickup, takeout and delivery. Bookmark this page and check back for updates! Look for these emojis, ☀️ and 🌧️, to see who is offering outdoor and indoor dining.
Braintree restaurants reopen for indoor and outdoor dining
It's time to eat out again in Braintree!
Restaurants must adhere to Massachusetts safety standards and Braintree’s phase 2 reopening requirements.
The hours of operation listed below can change at any time and only reflect the latest available information. Email your updates to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support recovery the Braintree Chamber of Commerce is pleased to include non-members as well as Chamber members on this page.
In the Braintree Chamber of Commerce’s fourth COVID-19 update, local business leaders learned about recent improvements to the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as phase 2 reopenings facilitated by the mayor’s office.
The June 8 video conference was led by Chamber Chair Kim Kroha of Baker, Braverman & Barbadoro, P.C. Here’s the recap:
PPP loan program updates
On June 5, the president signed into law the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Flexibility Act, which addresses problems with the original PPP loans for small business owners.
Representatives from the Massachusetts District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Bob Nelson and Susan Lourie, led a discussion of the PPP Flexibility Act and other PPP loan information. Margaret Laforest from the Massachusetts Economic Development Office provided additional information on PPP and reopening.
Applications: Assistance funds are still available, and new PPP applications must be approved by June 30. SBA has guidance for calculating maximum loan amounts.
Repayment: The PPP Flexibility Act answered many questions of small businesses related to repayment requirements.
Employment issues: Businesses will not be penalized if former employees decline offers to come back to work, or if businesses are unable to find qualified employees.
For more information, or if you have questions: Contact your local SBA partners for free consultations, and sign up for SBA email notifications on PPP and other programs.