To keep our members up-to-date on available resources and the Chamber response to Covid-19, for the foreseeable future the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce will issue daily emails at noon. These emails will contain a variety of information from local, state, and federal loans to the offerings of local businesses and best practices during this uncertain time.


#43  |   Friday, May 29, 2020    |    Reopening Guidelines, Control Template, Posters, PPP Forgiveness Application

 

#43   |  Friday, May 29, 2020

Massachusetts Reopening Guidelines

VIEW WEBPAGE

Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards

Mass. DPH and COVID-19 Command Center issued mandatory workplace safety standards that apply universally to all workplaces open in Phase 1, and are applicable to all sectors and industries. These safety standards also have additional sector-specific safety protocols and recommended best practices.

COVID-19 Control Plan Template

All Massachusetts businesses must develop a written control plan outlining how its workplace will comply with the mandatory safety standards for operation in the COVID-19 reopening period. This template may be filled out to meet that requirement. Control plans do not need to be submitted for approval but must be kept on premise and made available in the case of an inspection or outbreak. All individually listed businesses must complete a control plan, even if the business is part of a larger corporation or entity.  VIEW | DOWNLOAD THE TEMPLATE

Required Workplace Posters

Customer facing businesses are required to print, sign, and post signage that is visible to workers and visitors. These posters describe the rules for maintaining social distancing, hygiene protocols, and cleaning and disinfecting.

DOWNLOAD | Compliance Attestation Poster         DOWNLOAD | Employer Poster             DOWNLOAD | Worker Poster

All of these documents can also be found in different languages here.

Deadline Today…Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses

The State Treasurer’s Economic Empowerment Grant applications are due today. Funding decisions will be made by June 12. 

VIEW & COMPLETE THE LOAN FORGIVENESS APPLICATION

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS

Supporting Behavioral Health Needs in the Community and Workplace during COVID19

Wednesday, June 3, 10 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Recalls, Refusals, and the Future of Unemployment

Wednesday, June 3, 2 pm

Financial risk of COVID-19 Unemployment charges, Tracking & protesting charges, Best practices for implementing your recall process to limit UI liability, “Good cause” for refusing to return

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

ONLINE | What your Business Needs to Know about Phishing and Other Social Engineering Attacks & How to Prevent Becoming a Victim

Tuesday, June 16, 8:30 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by TD Bank


#42  |   Wednesday, May 27, 2020    |    PPP Forgiveness Application, Members Doing Good, Empowerment Grants, Events

 

#42   |  Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Deadline is Friday for Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses

The State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment is funding the Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses to support the needs of Massachusetts small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant application period will close on May 29. Funding decisions will be made by June 12.  Submit an application.

Chamber Members Doing Good

Clinton Savings Bank

Thanks to Clinton Savings Bank who donated $20,000 to five local food pantries, providing healthy food to residents and those on the frontline of COVID-19. The donations were organized by the bank’s donation and charitable contributions committee.

Contributions to the Worcester Together Fund

These Chamber members made donations of $10,000 to the fund: Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, Imperial Distributors, Industrial Packaging, Mercantile Center

PPP Loan Forgiveness 

The small business administration released the paycheck protection program loan forgiveness application. The SBA will not except these loan forgiveness applications unless it is received by an approved lender.

VIEW & COMPLETE THE LOAN FORGIVENESS APPLICATION

STAY TUNED for the Chamber’s upcoming webinars on how to ensure that you are correctly filing for loan forgiveness. INFO TO COME SOON.

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS

Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis – Excel Tools and Strategies

Thursday, May 28, 10 am

Better understand how to manage your business’ cash flow during a crisis. Get the most out of the economic and Excel tools that are available to you today.

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Supporting Behavioral Health Needs in the Community and Workplace during COVID19

Wednesday, June 3, 10 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Recalls, Refusals, and the Future of Unemployment

Wednesday, June 3, 2 pm

Financial risk of COVID-19 Unemployment charges, Tracking & protesting charges, Best practices for implementing your recall process to limit UI liability, “Good cause” for refusing to return

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

ONLINE | What your Business Needs to Know about Phishing and Other Social Engineering Attacks & How to Prevent Becoming a Victim

Tuesday, June 16, 8:30 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by TD Bank


#41  |   Friday, May 22, 2020    |    PPP Forgiveness Application, MassHire, Events

 

#41   |  Friday, May 22, 2020

Career Recovery Resources

MassHire is offering career recovery resources through virtual services that includes a virtual job fair, job listings, free training, and many other resources for job seekers.

VIEW THEIR LATEST COMMUNICATION

PPP Loan Forgiveness

This week the small business administration released the paycheck protection program loan forgiveness application.

If you qualified for the paycheck protection program loan — and qualify for the forgiveness — you must apply through this application and submit it through your lender.

The SBA will not except these loan forgiveness applications unless it is received by an approved lender.

VIEW & COMPLETE THE LOAN FORGIVENESS APPLICATION

STAY TUNED for the Chamber’s upcoming webinars on how to ensure that you are correctly filing for loan forgiveness. INFO TO COME SOON.

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS

Operations: Practical and Legal Challenges of Reopening

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am

A review of the practical steps required for a safe work space including PPE materials, hand sanitizer, cleaning solutions, and other office supplies. Documenting the return to work, employee policy, guests/customers policy, posters, CDC announcements, temperature checks, employee questionnaires, staggered shifts, leave issues and a refusal of employees to return to work will be discussed.

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis – Excel Tools and Strategies

Thursday, May 28, 10 am

Better understand how to manage your business’ cash flow during a crisis. Get the most out of the economic and Excel tools that are available to you today.

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Supporting Behavioral Health Needs in the Community and Workplace during COVID19

Wednesday, June 3, 10 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Recalls, Refusals, and the Future of Unemployment

Wednesday, June 3, 2 pm

Financial risk of COVID-19 Unemployment charges, Tracking & protesting charges, Best practices for implementing your recall process to limit UI liability, “Good cause” for refusing to return

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

ONLINE | What your Business Needs to Know about Phishing and Other Social Engineering Attacks & How to Prevent Becoming a Victim

Tuesday, June 16, 8:30 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by TD Bank


#40  |   Wednesday, May 20, 2020    |    PPP Forgiveness Application, LISC Grants Deadline Today, FB Live Chamber 360 Pivot, Events

 

#40   |  Wednesday, May 20, 2020

PPP Loan Forgiveness

This week the small business administration released the paycheck protection program loan forgiveness application.

If you qualified for the paycheck protection program loan — and qualify for the forgiveness — you must apply through this application and submit it through your lender.

The SBA will not except these loan forgiveness applications unless it is received by an approved lender.

VIEW & COMPLETE THE LOAN FORGIVENESS APPLICATION

LISC Small Business Relief Grants

DEADLINE TODAY | Wednesday, May 20 at 11:59 pm

Small businesses and enterprises affected by COVID-19 — especially those in underserved communities, including entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses that often lack access to flexible, affordable capital — are eligible to apply for this grant.

MORE INFO, APPLY

Facebook Live

Watch the Chamber’s first Facebook Live event – today’s ribbon cutting for the new Bean Counter Bakery on Grove St. in Worcester.

It’s pinned to the top of our Facebook page!

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS

Operations: Practical and Legal Challenges of Reopening

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am

A review of the practical steps required for a safe work space including PPE materials, hand sanitizer, cleaning solutions, and other office supplies. Documenting the return to work, employee policy, guests/customers policy, posters, CDC announcements, temperature checks, employee questionnaires, staggered shifts, leave issues and a refusal of employees to return to work will be discussed.

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis – Excel Tools and Strategies

Thursday, May 28, 10 am

Better understand how to manage your business’ cash flow during a crisis. Get the most out of the economic and Excel tools that are available to you today.

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Supporting Behavioral Health Needs in the Community and Workplace during COVID19

Wednesday, June 3, 10 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

Recalls, Refusals, and the Future of Unemployment

Wednesday, June 3, 2 pm

Financial risk of COVID-19 Unemployment charges, Tracking & protesting charges, Best practices for implementing your recall process to limit UI liability, “Good cause” for refusing to return

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by Fallon Health

ONLINE | What your Business Needs to Know about Phishing and Other Social Engineering Attacks & How to Prevent Becoming a Victim

Tuesday, June 16, 8:30 am

REGISTER   |   Sponsored by TD Bank


#39  |   Monday, May 18, 2020    |    Mass. Reopening Plan, LISC Grants, Events

 

#39   |  Monday, May 18, 2020

Baker Announces “Phased Re-opening Plan”

Manufacturing, construction companies, and houses of worship can resume operations with restrictions, capacity limitations, and staggered start times today, May 18. Businesses that were deemed essential will have until May 25 to comply with safety standards aimed at limiting the spread of the virus.

MAY 25, 2020

• Offices*, labs, personal services like hair salons by appointment), pet grooming, and car washes can also open with some restrictions.
• Activities and outdoor locations like beaches, parks, drive-in theaters, some athletic fields and courts, most fishing, hunting, and boating will be accessible on May 25, Memorial Day.
• Other health care providers who attest to specific public health/safety standards can provide high priority preventative care, pediatric care and treatment for high risk patients
• Retail remote fulfilment and curbside pickup
• *Office spaces in Boston can open on June 1 with a 25 percent limit on the number of people who can show up to work.

Restaurants and lodging will receive the go-ahead to open with restrictions and some capacity limitations once phase two of the reopening plan launches. Additional personal services like nail salons and day spas are also included in phase two.

When Phase III arrives, residents can expect bars, casinos, and all other business activities to resume with restrictions and capacity limitations. Large venues and nightclubs will remain closed during phase three.

During Phase IV, the state plans to enter into a “new normal” with full resumption of activities and business operations.

VIEW THE PHASED REOPENING PLAN   |   Reopening Massachusetts |  Mandatory standards for workplace

LISC Small Business Relief Grants

Application period for round 3 is now open. Before applying, please review the grant information and FAQ here.

Applications must be submitted by Wednesday, May 20 at 11:59 pm.

Who is eligible?

Small businesses and enterprises affected by COVID-19 across the country, especially those in underserved communities, including entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses that often lack access to flexible, affordable capital.

Applications will be reviewed based on criteria designed to prioritize particularly challenged businesses, and the final grantees will be randomly selected from the top scoring applicants.

MORE INFO, APPLY

Good News!

Member business, the Bean Counter Bakery & Cafe will celebrate their grand opening on Wed., May 20 at their new location on 270 Grove Street.

Upcoming Webinars

sponsored by


Tax Impacts of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, May 19, 10 am     REGISTER

Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis

Tuesday, May 26, 10 am    REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Resuming Operations: Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Tax Impacts of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Wednesday, June 3, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Recalls, Refusals, and the Future of Employment

Wednesday, June 3, 2 pm   REGISTRATION OPEN SOON


#38  |   Wednesday, May 13, 2020    |    HEROES Act, Members Doing Good

 

#38   |  Wednesday, May 13, 2020

“HEROES” Act Proposed as the Second-round of the Stimulus Relief Package

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives unveiled the latest COVID-19 relief program: The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act or the “HEROES” Act. It is anticipated that the vote will occur as early as this Friday, May 15.

This new $3 trillion bill includes assistance to state and local governments, hazard pay for frontline health care workers, forgiveness of student debt and bolstering Medicaid and Medicare. 

The bill also includes provisions to assist farmers, protect renters and homeowners from evictions and foreclosures, and extend family and medical leave provisions previously approved by Congress. The legislation would also provide relief for essential workers, such as aviation, rail and Amtrak workers, as well as extend work visas for immigrants.

For unemployed workers, it would continue the $600-per-week boost through January. The federal benefit currently extends through the end of July. The Chamber will continue to monitor this bill and provide updates as this bill makes its way through the House and Senate. 

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

WPI

At WPI, a team from Innovation and Entrepreneurship has been using a prototyping lab to create more than 550 NIH-approved shields to be donated. The multidisciplinary team innovating in the face of a global challenge plans to continue making shields as long as needed. READ MORE

Wells Fargo
Worcester State University
Unum

Thank you to these three Chamber members who each donated $5,000 to the Worcester Together Fund along with various other ways in which they are supporting the community.

Upcoming Webinars

sponsored by


Tax Impacts of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, May 19, 10 am     REGISTER

Mental Health and COVID-19: How it Affects Your Family, Staff, and You

Wednesday, May 20, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis

Tuesday, May 26, 10 am    REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Resuming Operations: Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON


#37  |   Monday, May 11, 2020    |    Agricultural Loans, WPS Statement, Members Doing Good, Grants, PPP, Webinars

 

#37   |  Monday, May 11, 2020

SBA Slashes Disaster-loan Limit from $2 Million to $150,000

D ue to limitations in funding availability, and the unprecedented submission of applications already received, new eligibility requirements for Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance are now in place. Only agricultural business applications will be accepted.

Please note that applicants must apply through the SBA directly not through a lender.

Chamber Supports Accountability for Teachers and Students in Worcester Public School System During Remote Learning Environment

On behalf of our members, and the broader business community, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce has long been involved in educational issues at all levels of government. Because of its importance to economic development and employer workforce needs, the Chamber recently came out in support of Worcester Public School Superintendent Binienda’s efforts to facilitate student engagement in a remote learning environment.

See the full statement made by the Chamber’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Alex Guardiola.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Thanks to these members who donated $10,000 each to the Worcester Together Fund supporting those affected by COVID-19.

Assumption College
Bay State Savings Bank
Bowditch & Dewey Fund

Kudos to these individuals (who are part of member companies) and who donated $5,000 each to the Worcester Together Fund supporting those affected by COVID-19.

J. Christopher & Catherine Collins
Howard and Carolyn Stempler
Kevin Condron

The Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses

Grants are still available through the State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment MORE INFO | APPLICATION

PPP Applications Still Available

Contact your current lender or to find a lender CLICK HERE.

Applications Have Closed for Worcester’s Small Business Resiliency Program

The COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Grant program to award up to $5,000 to business affected by the coronavirus has ended its acceptance of applications.

Upcoming Webinars

sponsored by

Returning to Work During COVID-19: Occupational Health Guidelines and Best Practices for Cleaning & Disinfection

Tuesday, May 12, 2 pm    REGISTER

Contract Essentials During COVID-19: Managing Existing and Future Contracts

Wednesday, May 13, 10 am    REGISTER

Tax Impacts of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, May 19, 10 am     REGISTER

Mental Health and COVID-19: How it Affects Your Family, Staff, and You

Wednesday, May 20, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis

Tuesday, May 26, 10 am    REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Resuming Operations: Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON


#36  |   Friday, May 8, 2020    |    Leadership Worcester, PPP, Grants Mask Requirements

 

#36 |  Friday, May 8, 2020

 

Eversource Offers Businesses a Payment Plan to Ease Financial Obligations

Eversource is offering special, extended payment arrangement for business customers. On any past-due amount, with $0 down payment, businesses will have 12 months to pay. They will also connect businesses with state and federal assistance programs for which your business may be eligible.    MORE INFO | ENROLL

Worcester Public Schools

Night Life Continuing Education  |  Career Technical Training and Lifelong Learning

Free online courses for workforce success are offered through the Worcester Public School continuing education program. Having the right skills and knowing how to utilize them is vital for job seekers and those currently employed, both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Leverage these courses to help enter the workforce or advance your career.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THESE FREE ONLINE COURSES

WEB DESIGN COURSES

Creating Web Pages
Creating WordPress Web Sites

BUSINESS AND ORGANIZATIONAL MANAGEMENT COURSES

Fundamental of Management and Supervision
Keys to Effective Communication
Managing Customer Service

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COURSES

Individual Excellence
Personal Finance
Twelve Steps to a Successful Job Search

DIGITAL MARKETING COURSES

Marketing Your Business of the Internet
Small Business Marketing on a Shoestring

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms out there.

If you plan on sending flowers this year, please patronize one of our member florists listed below.

FLOWER SHOPS

Holmes-Shusas Florist  |  508-853-2550

Flowers from the Heart  |  508-917-8421

The Harmonious Soul   |   508-269-4972

Posies ‘N Presents  |  508-581-4164

Douglas Flower Shoppe    |   508-476-5959

Dove Tales Floral Studio    |   508-928-0170


Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Bartholomew & Company | Fallon Health

Fletcher Tilton | Tufts Health Plan Foundation

Thank you to these generous Chamber members who each donated $50,000+ to the Worcester Together Fund.

The Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses

Grants are still available through the State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment MORE INFO | APPLICATION

PPP Applications Still Available

Contact your current lender or to find a lender CLICK HERE.

Upcoming Webinars

sponsored by

Returning to Work During COVID-19: Occupational Health Guidelines and Best Practices for Cleaning & Disinfection

Tuesday, May 12, 2 pm    REGISTER

Contract Essentials During COVID-19: Managing Existing and Future Contracts

Wednesday, May 13, 10 am    REGISTER


Tax Impacts of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, May 19, 10 am     REGISTER

Mental Health and COVID-19: How it Affects Your Family, Staff, and You

Wednesday, May 20, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON



Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis

Tuesday, May 26, 10 am    REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Resuming Operations: Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON


#35  |   Thursday, May 7, 2020    |   Fallon Health Steps up to Sponsor Webinars for Businesses

 

#35 |  Thursday, May 7, 2020

Longtime Chamber Supporter, Fallon Health Makes Continued COVID-19 Webinars Possible Through Additional Funding

The Chamber is pleased to announce that  Fallon Health  is now sponsoring our COVID-19-related webinars. Many of these virtual offerings are designed specifically to help businesses navigate the multiple issues they are facing because of the COVID-19 crisis. The information that we provide through this new programming is critical support for these businesses, many of whom are small and have increasingly limited resources.

On behalf of the entire business community, we thank Fallon Health for their support of the Chamber during this crisis and for helping to take care of our community during this pandemic.

Upcoming Webinars

sponsored by

Returning to Work During COVID-19: Occupational Health Guidelines and Best Practices for Cleaning & Disinfection

Tuesday, May 12, 2 pm    REGISTER

Contract Essentials During COVID-19: Managing Existing and Future Contracts

Wednesday, May 13, 10 am    REGISTER


Tax Impacts of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, May 19, 10 am     REGISTER

Mental Health and COVID-19: How it Affects Your Family, Staff, and You

Wednesday, May 20, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON



Managing Your Business’ Cash Flow During a Crisis

Tuesday, May 26, 10 am    REGISTRATION OPEN SOON

Resuming Operations: Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am     REGISTRATION OPEN SOON


#34  |   Wednesday, May 6, 2020    |    2 New Grants Available

 

#34 |  Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Beginning Today, Face Coverings are Now Required When in Public

Governor Baker has issued an order effective today Wednesday, May 6 requiring face masks or cloth face coverings in public places where social distancing is not possible. This applies to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Exceptions include children under the age of 2 and those unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a medical condition. Read the order and get tips here:  Department of Public Health Guidance. Make your own: Instructions to make your own face covering.

Massachusetts Clarifies Rules for Nonessential Businesses, Allows Some Remote Sales Staff

The Baker-Polito administration updated its guidance on Monday to allow certain nonessential retail businesses, from flower shops to car dealerships, to bring back employees for remote sales only . 

In addition, the new guidance opens the door for book shops, jewelers, sporting goods stores, video game stores, and other shuttered retailers to bring back between three and seven employees depending on the size of their facility, as long as they adhere to certain social distancing and sanitation rules.

While the essential services list has not changed since March 31, the administration has updated its Frequently Asked Questions page to make additional clarifications. VIEW FAQs

Last Day for Small Business Resiliency Program

The City of Worcester has established the COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Grant to assist in the stabilization of existing small businesses within the City of Worcester that have had significant business disruption due to the impact of COVID-19. These grant funds will assist small business in the City of Worcester to cover wages, rent, loss of inventory, and other fixed costs. Grants are capped at $5,000 per business. Please use this  application   and send to  development@worcesterm.gov.

Empowerment Grant for Small Busnesses

The State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment is funding the Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses to support the needs of Massachusetts small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant application priod opened Monday and will close on May 29.  Fundig decisions will be made by June 12. Submit an application.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Fairlawn Foundation Fund

Fallon/OrNda Community Health Fund

Fletcher Foundation

Thanks to these three charitable organizations who had a

large and positive impact on the community with each donating 

$100,000 to the Worcester Together Fund.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Bank of America

Locally, Chamber member Bank of America has donated $100,000 to the Worcester Together Fund. Thank you!

Hanover Insurance Group

This avid community supporter has stepped up again to donate $100,000 to the Worcester Together Fund.

George F. & Sybil H. Fuller Foundation

Thank you to this long-time Chamber supporter who donated $50,000 to the Worcester Together Fund.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Sincere appreciation to BC/BC of Mass for their donation of $50,000 to the Worcester Together Fund.


#33  |   Tuesday, May 5, 2020    |    2 New Grants Available, Behavioral Health Webinars, Leadership Worcester, Members Doing Good

 

#33 |  Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses

To support the needs of Massachusetts small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The State Treasurer’s Office of Economic Empowerment is funding the Empowerment Grant for Small Businesses to support the needs of Massachusetts small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant application period opened Monday and will close on May 29. Funding decisions will be made by June 12.

The grant will be awarded to small businesses in Gateway Cities across the state. The goal of the program is to stabilize and support the well-being of small businesses by providing access to capital and building financial empowerment through one or more trainings. Grants of up to $2,500 are available and will empower small business owners to support business continuity and foster ingenuity .

Applicants are eligible if they are:

• considered a small business,
• have been in operation for at least one year,
• and are registered in Massachusetts.

Preference will be given to those that operate in a Gateway City. Minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and/or immigrant-owned small businesses are encouraged to apply.   MORE INFO | APPLICATION

SBA Announces Grants, Loans Available to Farms, Agricultural Businesses

Farms and other agricultural employers can start applying for grants and low-interest, long-term loans through the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

Agribusinesses are eligible for grants of up to $10,000 under the EIDL Advance program and loans up to $2 million under the EIDL program.  

Eligible agricultural businesses include businesses in the:

• legal production of food and fiber,
• ranching, raising of livestock,
• aquaculture and other agriculture-related industries,
• and have 500 or fewer employees.

The SBA started accepting new EIDL applications May 4 on a limited basis only. For agribusinesses that have already submitted an EIDL loan application through the portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process those applications without requiring applicants to re-apply. All other applications will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Apply for EIDL loans on the SBA website (not through your lender).

Free Behavioral Health Resources for Chamber Members

Check out this important Workforce Webinar Series and receive additional access to mental health resources to support your employees during COVID-19. Sessions take place every Thursday in May (7, 14, 21, 28) at 1:30 and focus on anxiety and depression, uncertainty, psychological safety, and how to help your team. MORE INFO OR TO REGISTER

Leadership Worcester

Now more than ever we recognize that strong local leadership matters as it relates to the health and economic well being of our community. 

We must continue to build the next generation of Central Massachusetts leaders. Please consider nominating an employee for this important program, or if you are interest yourself, please consider applying. It will help you, and your organization, to develop the leaders we need. 

Learn more about the program and apply by the May 29 deadline.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Bank of America

Locally, Chamber member Bank of America has donated $100,000 to the Worcester Together Fund. Thank you!

Hanover Insurance Group

This avid community supporter has stepped up again to donate $100,000 to the Worcester Together Fund.

George F. & Sybil H. Fuller Foundation

Thank you to this long-time Chamber supporter who donated $50,000 to the Worcester Together Fund.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts

Sincere appreciation to BC/BC of Mass for their donation of $50,000 to the Worcester Together Fund.


#32  |   Monday, May 4, 2020    |    Grants for Worcester Businesses, Advisory Board Input, Members Doing Good

 

#32 |  Monday, May 4, 2020

Funding Still Available through Chamber Microloan Program Partnership

Worcester Regional and North Central Chamber Emergency Loans

REMINDER | Applications are due by  Wednesday, May 6 at 11:59 pm for the Second Round of Small Business Resiliency Grants for Worcester Businesses

If you are a small, Worcester-base business, grants for $5,000 will continue to be accepted until 11:59 pm Wednesday. 

For more info, or to apply, visit the city’s website.

Do You Have Advisory Board Input?

Send us your suggestions.

Business owners understand their industries better than anyone.

As the Advisory Board continues to discuss reopening businesses, we want to be sure that you have input into the policies and procedures that come out of this group. The Chamber is facilitating input from members to the board.

Submit your ideas about safe, responsible reopening plans to  David Sullivan,  the Chamber’s Economic Development Fellow.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Lake Pharma

Vaccines, tests, and treatments for COVID-19 are all being developed in Worcester by Chamber member, Lake Pharma. The robust amount of work being conducted right here in Worcester should be a point of pride and gratitude for the city. Out hats are off to the dedicated scientists who are battling this disease on all three fronts in just one, very important and highly motivated company.   READ MORE

Worker’s Credit Union

Thanks to member, Workers Credit Union, who donated more than $31,000 to area organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of their donation is supporting the recovery fund, Making Opportunity Count, part of the North Central Mass Development Corp. with additional donations to organizations providing food support among other coronavirus responses.   READ MORE


#31  |   Friday, May 1, 2020    |    Grants for Worcester Businesses,

 

#31 |  Friday, May 1, 2020

Funding Still Available through Chamber Microloan Program Partnership

Worcester Regional and North Central Chamber Emergency Loans

Emergency loans of up to $20,000 for small businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus are offered through the North Central Massachusetts Development Corp.

Applicants must be a Central Massachusetts business and must complete the loan application package and provide a complete copy of the last two years of both personal and business tax returns (federal only). If the 2019 tax returns have not yet been filed, a 2019 profit and loss statement must be included.

Loans have a 5% interest rate over a 48-month term with payments deferred for six months. There are no early repayment penalties. Due to high demand, please apply as early as possible.

The NCMDC continues to offer its regular loans of up to $150,000, although those take longer to approve, and include additional assistance from chaber staff and consultants. LOAN INFO

For more information please contact: info@worcesterchamber.org

Please note, that this is not a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan and this emergency loan is not related to the SBA EIDL Program

REMINDER | APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED BEGINNING TODAY FOR

Second Round of Small Business Resiliency Grants for Worcester Businesses

The second round of the City’s COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Grant Program launched today. For more info, or to apply, visit the city’s website.

Applications are due by Wednesday, May 6 at 11:59 pm. Grants for this second round are capped at $5,000 per business due to limited funding. The City expects to award up to 160 businesses a total of $800,000.

Voice of Business Broadcast

The Chamber’s radio show, the Voice of Business, is an hour-long weekly broadcast on WCRN 830 AM airing on Wednesdays from 9 – 10 am.

The show, sponsored by Worcester Regional Airport and Fidelity Bank, is hosted by the various Chamber staffers is also available as a podcast on SoundCloud. 

During the pandemic, the show often features guests who have a role in combating COVID-19. The interview format features guests from a variety of industries and backgrounds on topics of interest to the business community. The show keeps listeners up-to-date on the latest trends in business, local projects, legislation, higher education, events and other relevant discussions affecting the region’s business climate. To inquire about being a guest on the show, contact Virgina Parent.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

The Guru Tax & Financial Services

Kudos to Chamber member, and board treasurer, Satya Mitra from The Guru Tax & Financial Series, who with his wife Sheema, donated $30,000 to the City of Worcester’s homeless shelter project, $1,000 each to the WSU student emergency fund, Girls, Inc., and $1,560 to Open Sky Community Services, through their Joy Guru Humanitarian Services charitable organization. READ MORE

AbbVie

AbbVie, a biotech company and Chamber member, with a research facility in Worcester, donated $15,000 locally to the Worcester Together Fund. Nationally, the company is supporting clinical research on COVID-19 


#30  |   Thursday, April 30, 2020    |    Grants for Worcester Businesses Available Fri., May 1

 

#30 |  Friday, April 30, 2020

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR WORCESTER BUSINESSES

Worcester to Open Second Round of Small Business Resiliency Grants Tomorrow  |  Fri., May 1 at 8:30 AM

The second round of the City’s COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Grant Program will launch  tomorrow, Friday, May 1 at 8:30 am.  The application form and instructions will be available tomorrow on the City’s website.

Applications are due by  Wednesday, May 6 at 11:59 pm.

Grants for this second round are capped at $5,000 per business due to limited funding. The City expects to award up to 160 businesses a total of $800,000.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA are similar to the first round with a couple of additions:

• Have a physical establishment occupying commercial space within the City of Worcester.
• The business owner must be low- to moderate-income as defined by HUD.
• Have experienced a loss of revenue of 50% or more due to COVID-19.
• 
Businesses that have less than $2,000,000 in average gross annual revenues.
• Businesses that have not been approved for funding through other grant or forgive-able loan programs related to COVID-19 relief.
• The business must be in good standing with no outstanding tax liens or legal judgements. 

Applicants needing translation assistance have a number of options. The Economic Development office has staff that are fluent in Spanish, Vietnamese, Albanian and Portuguese. Additional translation assistance will be made available upon request.

SEMINAR IN SPANISH

The City is also working with the Latin American Business Organization (LABO) and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce to provide an instructional webinar in Spanish on Monday, May 4   at 11 am.

Information about the webinar will be posted with the application information on the City’s website.

For questions and information, please contact the City’s Economic Development office via email at development@worcesterma.gov

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#29  |   Wednesday, April 29, 2020    |    Stay at Home Extended, Advisory Board Input, Notarization, PPP Forgiveness, Good Deeds

 

#29 |  Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Stay at Home Order Extended to May 18, Advisory Board Announced, Opportunity for Input

Yesterday, April 28, Governor Baker and his administration announced the extension of the Non-Essential business closures from May 4 to May 18.He also announced the creation of the “Reopening Advisory Board” chaired by Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.

Businesses and organizations that are not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations through remote means. The order also extends the existing ban on gatherings of more than 10 people until May 18.

We want to hear from you. Send us your suggestions.

As the Advisory Board begins to discuss reopening businesses, it is imperative that we obtain feedback from our members as well as our broader business community on the kinds of precautionary plans that are being implemented in your industries so that we can forward to the advisory board.

With the importance of proper social distancing, preemptive protocols and responsible practices must be implemented to ensure the safe opening of all our businesses.

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is asking that you please submit your ideas about safe, responsible reopening plans to David Sullivan, the Chamber’s Economic Development Fellow.

READ MORE about the extension announcement.

Massachusetts Allows Virtual Notarization

New Law Allows Continuation of Business Requiring Notarization

On April 27, 2020, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law an emergency measure to authorize Massachusetts notaries public to use real-time electronic video conferencing to perform “an acknowledgement, affirmation or other notarial act” during the COVID-19 crisis.

The principal signing the document, witnesses, and notary public need not be in each other’s physical presence; however, in addition to the audio and video recording (retained for 10 years):

• The notary public must observe each principal’s execution of a document
• The notary public and each principal must be physically located in Massachusetts
• The principal must deliver the executed document to the notary public

With respect to any document “involving a mortgage or other conveyance of title to real estate,” the notary public and each principal are both required to engage in a second video conference during which each principal verifies that the document received by the notary public is the same document executed during the initial video conference.

The principal must make disclosure of any person present in the room and make that person viewable to the notary public.

The notary public must provide an affidavit that must be retained for 10 years.

PPP FORGIVENESS: The Clarity & Confidence Businesses Need Right Now

Prepared by Fidelity Bank

Local business is the lifeblood of our communities. And, as part of their LifeDesign banking approach, Fidelity Bank focuses on the health and well-being of our area businesses, their employees, and our communities.

To aid their clients, and all small businesses, in planning for the proceeds of the Paycheck Protection Program relief loans, their CARES Act Support Team has developed a set ofPPP Loan Forgiveness FAQs . Their intent is to help bring clarity so that businesses can make informed decisions with confidence during this difficult time. Review thePPP Loan Forgiveness FAQs

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

FLEXcon

Kudos to Chamber member FLEXcon who donated $50,000 to the Worcester Together Fund supporting those most affected. The company is also making face shields that are available for purchase.READ MORE

Novo Nordisk

Ongoing health issues still require treatment and thanks to member Novo Nordisk, diabetes patients are eligible for free insulin for 90 days if they have lost health insurance due to job loss from the pandemic. READ MORE

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS

Gratis Seminario: Web de Recursos para Pequeñas Empresas

Wednesday, April 29, 3 – 5 pm  |  REGISTER

Virtual Business After Hours with Dr. Eric Dickson, UMassMemorial and Carolyn Jackson, Saint Vincent

Thursday, April 30, 5 pm  |  REGISTER

Strategy for COVID-19 Financial Relief: Restructuring Your Business Loans

Thursday, May 7, 10 am  |  REGISTER

Tax Impacts of the COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

Tuesday, May 19, 10 am  |  REGISTER

Resuming Operations: Legal Considerations and Best Practices

Wednesday, May 27, 10 am  |  REGISTER

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#28  |   Monday, April 27, 2020    |    PPP Loan applications open today, Tech for Schools, Good Deeds

 

#28 |  Monday, April 27, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE

PPP Applications Resumes Today at 10:30 am

The SBA will resume accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 10:30 am.

Please contact your current lender or to find a lender CLICK HERE.

Got Technology You’re Not Using?

Schools need: Chromebooks, newer iPads, laptops

With remote learning becoming the new norm, Worcester Public Schools are in need of Chromebooks and newer iPads for students and laptops for staff.

Please make an appointment to drop off your donation. Email Sarah Kyriazis or call/text 508-769-7820.

Today is Takeout Day in Worcester

In a show of support, and to help Worcester restaurants, the Worcester City Council voted to make today “takeout day” in Worcester. The goal is to encourage more people to order takeout from restaurants, boost their sales, and help them to stay afloat until the stay at home order is lifted. So, why not try something new today and, before you dive in, be sure to take a photo and share it with the Chamber on social media using the hashtag #TakeOutDay. Here’s a list of OPEN RESTAURANTS.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Advantage Truck Group and Worcester Railers

Chamber members Advantage Truck and the Worcester Railers are partnering on Food for Frontliners. They will donate food and gift cards purchased from local restaurants to area food pantries, healthcare facilities, and fire and police departments. Donations totaling more than $10,000 will be made each Monday through the end of May. Today’s lunch donation will go to healthcare workers and cleaning staff at UMass Memorial in Worcester.
READ MORE

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS

LIVE – Rapid Recovery – 5 Things You Need to Know this Week

Tuesday, April 28, 10 am

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Gratis Seminario: Web de Recursos para Pequeñas Empresas

Wednesday, April 29, 3 – 5 pm  |  REGISTER

Virtual Business After Hours with Dr. Eric Dickson, UMassMemorial and Carolyn Jackson, Saint Vincent

Thursday, April 30, 5 pm  |  REGISTER

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#27  |   Sunday, April 26, 2020    |    PPP Loan applications open Mon., April 27 at 10:30 am

 

#27 |  Sunday, April 26, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE

PPP Applications Resume Tomorrow, Monday, April 27, 2020 

The SBA will resume accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 10:30 am.

Please contact your current lender or to find a lender CLICK HERE.

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS

LIVE – Rapid Recovery – 5 Things You Need to Know this Week

Tuesday, April 28, 10 am

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Gratis Seminario: Web de Recursos para Pequeñas Empresas

Wednesday, April 29, 3 – 5 pm  |  REGISTER

Virtual Business After Hours with Dr. Eric Dickson, UMassMemorial and Carolyn Jackson, Saint Vincent

Thursday, April 30, 5 pm  |  REGISTER

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#26  |   Friday, April 24, 2020    |    More PPP loans coming soon, MEGA 1310 and WCCTV offer biz  announcements, Free Software License, Webinars

 

#26 |  Friday, April 24, 2020

Payroll Protection Program

U.S. House of Representatives approves $480 billion package to help small businesses and hospitals, expand Covid-19 testing

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to approve a $484 billion package to deliver aid to small businesses and hospitals and expand Covid-19 testing, the latest attempt by lawmakers to blunt the devastating impact of the pandemic.

The measure passed the Senate earlier this week and will now go to the president, where it is anticipated to be signed today. It will add an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. There is also $60 billion for the economic disaster injury loan fund.

The legislation also provides $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers for coronavirus expenses and lost revenue and $25 billion to facilitate and expand Covid-19 testing.

We urge small businesses who are interested in applying to contact their current lenders as soon as possible so that they can begin to gather the required documents.

Microloan Program Gets More Funding

Worcester Regional Chamber is partnering with North County Chamber to offer additional emergency $20K loans

In partnership with the Worcester Regional Chamber, the North Central Mass. Chamber announced Monday evening that it would provide emergency loans of up to $20,000 for small businesses negatively impacted by the coronavirus.

The loans, offered through its financing arm the North Central Massachusetts Development Corp., are meant to be in lieu of high-interest credit cards or expensive and unregulated online lenders. The NCMDC continues to offer its regular loans of up to $150,000, although those take longer to approve.

To qualify for the emergency loan, available to businesses throughout Central Massachusetts, a businesses must be able to provide two years of tax returns and demonstrate a direct financial impact of coronavirus on the business.

Businesses qualifying for the NCMDC loan are eligible to receive additional assistance from chamber staff and consultants.

For more information please contact: info@worcesterchamber.org

Client Requests, Staff Inspiration Result in FREE Offer to Business

Have a Message? MEGA has the Airwaves

Chamber member Gois Broadcasting, operator of Latin music station MEGA 1310, has been making special announcements related to COVID-19 for their customers. In a gesture of support for the entire business community, the station is now extending that to all Worcester businesses.

According to president Ivon Gois, “If we can give information to the community and help businesses at the same time I think we’ve accomplished something. Together we can make a real difference and we’d be happy to do our part.” Chamber members (and non members) who would like to make an announcement during this crisis can contact them with details.

Interested businesses should reach out to Kendall Westbrook at Kendall@GoisBroadcasting.com with their announcement.

FREE Announcements from Worcester’s Public Access Station Available

Public Service Announcements Aim to Help

WCCA TV, Worcester’s public access TV station, is offering free TV exposure to help Worcester businesses and other organizations who are especially challenged during the pandemic.

This public service is being offered to help businesses get the word out about whether they plan to re-open, if they are still operating, and other messages of interest to the community during the pandemic.

Episodes can run 3 to 25 minutes and will help get the word out on cable, online and on social media. Taping can take place safely live in the studio or via Skype or Zoom. Free on a limited basis and for a limited time.

For details or to schedule a time, contact Mauro DePasquale, Executive Director atmauro@wccatv.comor 508-755-1880, ext. 111.

Developers Can Access Software Licenses to Fight COVID-19

Generous Move by Member Aids Coronavirus Fight

Chamber member Alpha Software Corporationis helping software developers build and deploy apps to help during the pandemic. The company is providing complimentary licenses to its mobile and web app development platform, as well as training resources to qualifying developers and organizations.

“This is a devastating crisis, and we are looking to make a meaningful contribution in the battle against this virus,” said Richard Rabins, CEO. “With a development and deployment platform that can build web and offline-capable mobile apps in hours, Alpha Software offers the fastest method to get secure and scale-able industrial strength apps built and deployed globally, making it a valuable weapon in the war against aids COVID-19.”

Developers can contact Alpha Software to inquire about complimentary software licenses to produce COVID-19 related apps.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

AlphaGraphics

Thanks to member AlphaGraphics who printed up signs for Main Street businesses to help us express our gratitude to all of those frontline workers who are fighting the COVID-19 battle. ABOUT THEM



Worcester Red Sox

The WooSox donated 250 clear ponchos to be used as PPE if necessary and their WooSox Foundation pledged a donation of $10,000 to “Worcester Together” to help those impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and to aid charities in the longterm recovery of the city from this pandemic. SEE PHOTOS

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#25  |   Wednesday, April 22, 2020    |    Second phase of bill Passes Senate, Waits for House, Virtual Notarization, Members Doing Good, Webinar

 

#25 |  Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Senate Approves $480 Billion Package to Help Small Businesses and Hospitals

The Senate passed a roughly $480 billion relief package late yesterday afternoon that includes hundreds of billions of dollars in new funding for small businesses hurt by the coronavirus outbreak along with other priorities like money for hospitals and expanded Covid-19 testing.

The package was passed by a voice vote, meaning most senators would not need to return to Washington, DC, during the pandemic.

The total price tag of the bill is approximately $484 billion, which amounts to the latest unprecedented effort by Washington to prop up the economy on the heels of the $2 trillion rescue package, the $192 billion relief measure and another $8.3 billion plan Congress approved last month.

It must now be approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. If is passed the House, the bill will then move to the White House to be signed by the president.

Virtual Notarization Bill Suddenly on the Move

The process of getting documents notarized – an essential aspect of many business transactions – could be in for a major overhaul to take into account social distancing in the COVID-19 era.

A Massachusetts Senate committee was voting overnight on a bill that would enable notaries public to “perform an acknowledgement, affirmation or other notarial act” by using real-time electronic video conferencing.

The bill includes a series of stipulations that must be met to ensure a notarization is valid and effective. According to a bill summary, notaries would:

• Have to observe each principal’s execution of a document;
• The notary and each principal would take an oath swearing they are physically in Massachusetts;
• Each principal would provide the notary public with satisfactory evidence of identity; and
• A principal would have the executed document delivered to the notary public by delivery service, courier or other means.

In its current form, the terms of the special law will be repealed three business days after the governor terminates the COVID-19 state of emergency, which was declared on March 10

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good

Cornerstone Bank
Member Cornerstone Bank has made donations of $15,000 to Harrington Healthcare for PPE, $5,000 to the Railers Small Business Power Play, and $2,000 to a food pantry.

READ MORE



Webster Five
Our gratitude is extended to Webster Five who has generously donated $50,000 to the Worcester Together Fund providing much needed relief for our neighbors in the city.READ MORE
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FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Our routines have changed dramatically, our work environments look nothing like they did a month ago, and our companies have had to make some of the toughest decisions in their history.

How leaders handle this crisis determines our future.In this webinar, thoughtful leadership, accountability, and the necessary steps to keep the engines running will be reviewed.

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#24  |   Tuesday, April 21, 2020    |    LISC Grant Program, Members Doing Good, Webinars

 

#24 |  Tuesday, April 21, 2020

LISC announces the “LISC Small Business Recovery Grant Program for Massachusetts”

LISC will provide grants to hard-hit small businesses in Massachusetts to weather the immediate financial impact of closures and social distancing measures required to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

LISC will offer grants of up to $10,000 to address immediate financial peril, limit layoffs, avoid gaps in employee benefits or insurance, mitigate economic instability and increase the likelihood of business survival. Launched with seed funding provided by Citizens, the Small Business Recovery Grant Program is part of the LISC Rapid Relief & Resiliency Fund for Massachusetts.

Applications will close on Friday, April 24 at noon, 12 pm. More information.

Chamber Members Continue to Do Good


Polar Beverages

Kudos to Polar Beverages for giving away $2,500 a day to restaurant workers who use Instagram to list best item on their menus. As part of the #PolarTips campaign, a $500 tip is given to servers, chefs, hosts, dishwashers, hosts, bartenders or anyone in the restaurant industry.

READ MORE



Wachusett Brewing, Atlas Distributing

Speaking of beverages, Wachusett Brewing and Atlas Distributing released a new beer to raise money to support three COVID-19 response funds, operation by various United Ways, in the communities where the two companies operate.

READ MORE

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Country Bank

Thank you to Country Bank who bought 500 room nights at the Southbridge Hotel and Conference Center and donated $10,000 to help offset the costs for all officers, firefighters and health care workers who are staying there.

READ MORE



Chip Norton, Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center

In a generous move, Chip Norton has provided rooms at a reduced cost for emergency responders at the 203-room Southbridge Hotel. It has also provided a paycheck for some hotel workers

READ MORE

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UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS | April 22 to April 29

Sales and Leadership in the Era of Crisis

SPONSORED BY

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Selling During Uncertainty

Wed., April 22, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Designed for business owners, sales leaders, and sales professionals, this webinar will focus on what it takes for you and your team’s sales to be successful during turbulent times.

You will learn:

Behavior and conversation mapping processes
Remote work environment tips for success
How to stay relevant and have meaningful and purposeful conversations

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Our routines have changed dramatically, our work environments look nothing like they did a month ago, and our companies have had to make some of the toughest decisions in their history.

How leaders handle this crisis determines our future.In this webinar, thoughtful leadership, accountability, and the necessary steps to keep the engines running will be reviewed.

REGISTER – April 29

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST

 


#23  |   Monday, April 20, 2020    |    Patriots Day, Manufacturing Emerg. Response, CARES Act Apps Open, POW, Members Doing Good, Webinars

 

#23 |  Monday, April 20, 2020

HAPPY PATRIOTS DAY

Today we commemorate the 245th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. LEARN MORE

Take a virtual look at Worcester’s revolutionaries. 

Virtual programs will be shared on Minute Man’s Facebook page.

TOMORROW: Attend the Power of Women Webinar

Tues., Apr 21  | 12 to 1 PM

REGISTER | LEARN MORE

Join Power of Women’s ZOOM Webinar to hear from Nikki Bell, Chief Executive Officer of Living In Freedom Together-LIFT Inc., a non-profit organization serving victims and survivors of the sex trade. 

Nikki herself is a survivor of prostitution and utilized her life experience to create an organization that not only helps women to exit the sex trade but also provides employment and economic opportunities to survivors.

SPONSORED BY: JP MorganChase & Co Women on the Move, Clark University  

Baker-Polito Administration Launches Manufacturing Emergency Response Team

Supporting PPE Supply Production

The Baker-Polito Administration announced $10 million in funding to support a new initiative enabling manufacturers to pivot production operations to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) and other critical devices, such as ventilators, sanitizers, and thermometers.

Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT)

The M-ERT is a coordinated response by the administration and leading academic and industry stakeholders to support the Commonwealth’s manufacturers in their efforts to produce much-needed supplies for front-line workers and the health care system.

Companies can apply for grants through an  online form  for equipment, materials, supplies, workforce training and other needs. A review committee will process applications based on criteria including production timeline and recommend grant awards.

Non-Traditional Employee Unemployment Filing Begins Today under the CARES Act

Self-employed people, contract workers, and other g ig workers will have access to begin filing for unemployment benefits starting today, April 20. Under the f ederal CARES Act response to the coronavirus pandemic, t he state has expanded the unemployment insurance program to workers not previously eligible in the traditional program.

The new unemployment program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to those who are unable to work due to COVID-19, but are not eligible for regular or extended unemployment benefits. This includes self-employed workers, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and those with a limited work history. Learn more and apply: www.mass.gov/pua.

Chamber Members Continue to Step Up to Support Community

In a generous move, Chamber member Good Chemistry has donated $50,000 to the Worcester Together COVID-19 relief fund. Stating that this pandemic is reminiscent of the AIDS crisis, founder Matthew Huron noted that when times are difficult it is important to contribute even in the face of your own adversity. The company also donated N95 masks that are part of its inventory.


#22  |   Friday, April 17, 2020    |    Leadership Worcester, PPP, Grants Mask Requirements

 

#22 |  Friday, April 17, 2020

Paycheck Protection Program: Lapse in Appropriations

The U.S. Small Business Administration has announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will not be accepting any more applications for the $349 billion program.

The agency reported that they approved more than 1.6 million PPP loans totaling more than $339 billion in partnership with over 4,900 lending institutions.

There are currently negotiations at the federal level to re-capitalize the program.  If, and when this program is re-funded, the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce will make an immediate announcement notifying businesses about when and how to apply.

Public-facing Mask Requirements Expanded PATRONS OF AREA BUSINESSES MUST ALSO WEAR FACE COVERINGS

Worcester City Manager Edward Augustus announced yesterday the expansion of an order signed this earlier this week requiring public-facing business employees to wear face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The expanded language now requires people shopping at essential businesses to cover their nose and mouth with a mask, or scarf at minimum.

Further, he advised customers to enter stores knowing exactly what they need to purchase and to get in and out as quickly as possible.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce to Give $5,000 Grants to Small Businesses

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a fund to provide assistance to small businesses in the form of $5,000 grants.  

The Save Small Business Fund — in collaboration with Vistaprint and with support from Merck, S&P Global Foundation, and Travelers — will include contributions from corporations and philanthropies. The grant is expected to address small businesses’ immediate needs such as closures and job loss and will support their long-term recovery.

Applications for the Chamber’s fund will open on April 20, 2020.

In order to qualify a business must:

• Employ between 3 and 20 people
• Be located in an economically vulnerable community
• Have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic

MORE INFO AND APPLY

Leadership Worcester

Now more than ever we recognize that strong local leadership matters as it relates to the health and economic well being of our community.

Whether it is in city or town government or our health care facilities, we are proud that Leadership Worcester graduates have had a positive and profound impact as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

One such leader is Dr. Patrick Lowe, a recent graduate of UMassMedical school who immediately entered the front line in the medical fight against this viral enemy. Another, Ariel Lim, in the city’s economic development office, who, with her colleagues, worked tirelessly to create and administer a micro-grant program to help Worcester businesses who are in peril. Another graduate of the program, Neil Rogers and other food service workers in the Worcester Public Schools, have created feeding centers throughout the city to ensure that children have access to healthy meals during this crisis.

These are just a few of the graduates making a difference in our community…and in their workplaces. They, and many others like them, participated in the 10-month Leadership Worcester program.

We must continue to build the next generation of Central Massachusetts leaders. Please consider nominating an employee for this important program, or if you are interest yourself, please consider applying. It will help you, and your organization, to develop the leaders we need.

Learn more about the program and apply by the May 29 deadline.


#20  |   Monday, April 13, 2020    |    Special Edition Emails Now M-W-F, SBA Loans Processed, Worcester Together, Events

 

#20 |  Monday, April 13, 2020

SPECIAL EDITION EMAILS TO PUBLISH ON MON., WED. FRI.

During the past several weeks, the Chamber has worked hard to prepare daily emails to keep members updated. As we adapt to our new normal, information is coming in at a less rapid pace. Beginning this week, emails will be sent on Mon., Wed., and Fri. Rest assured, should any new information need to be communicated immediately, the Chamber will make sure that you receive notification as soon as possible.

SBA LOAN APPLICATIONS BEING PROCESSED, FUNDS EXPECTED IN COMING WEEKS

The PPP authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone. Loans will be forgiven as long as:

• The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8-week period after the loan is made; and

• Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 annually per employee. Due to the likely high utilization rate, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.

Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.

Where can I apply?

Applications are available through any existing SBA lender or federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and participating Farm Credit System institution. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. Consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. See a list of SBA lenders.

What do I need to apply? 

You will need to complete the Paycheck Protection Program loan application and submit the application with the required documentation to an approved lender by June 30, 2020. Click  HERE  for the application.

What can I use these loans for?  

• Payroll costs, including benefits;
• Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
• Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
• Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Emergency Advance

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000.

This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available following a successful application. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

The SBA implemented a $1,000 cap per employee on the advance, up to a maximum of $10,000. So, a business with three employees, for example, would be eligible to receive $3,000 up front.

Eligibility  

The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan provides vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is for any small business with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.

To apply for a COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and loan advance, click  here.

WORCESTER TOGETHER FUND

Seeded with $475,000 from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation in support of organizations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the Worcester Together fund is nearing $4 million in donations from the community.  THANK YOU! 

 

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS | April 22 to April 29

Sales and Leadership in the Era of Crisis

SPONSORED BY

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Selling During Uncertainty

Wed., April 22, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Designed for business owners, sales leaders, and sales professionals, this webinar will focus on what it takes for you and your team’s sales to be successful during turbulent times.

You will learn:

Behavior and conversation mapping processes
Remote work environment tips for success
How to stay relevant and have meaningful and purposeful conversations

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Our routines have changed dramatically, our work environments look nothing like they did a month ago, and our companies have had to make some of the toughest decisions in their history.

How leaders handle this crisis determines our future.In this webinar, thoughtful leadership, accountability, and the necessary steps to keep the engines running will be reviewed.

REGISTER – April 29

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST

ZOOM CALL WITH CONGRESS MCGOVERN   |   WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 at 12 NOONREGISTER

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS | April 22 to April 29

Sales and Leadership in the Era of Crisis

SPONSORED BY

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Selling During Uncertainty

Wed., April 22, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Designed for business owners, sales leaders, and sales professionals, this webinar will focus on what it takes for you and your team’s sales to be successful during turbulent times.

You will learn:

Behavior and conversation mapping processes
Remote work environment tips for success
How to stay relevant and have meaningful and purposeful conversations

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Our routines have changed dramatically, our work environments look nothing like they did a month ago, and our companies have had to make some of the toughest decisions in their history.

How leaders handle this crisis determines our future.In this webinar, thoughtful leadership, accountability, and the necessary steps to keep the engines running will be reviewed.

REGISTER – April 29

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST

 


#19  |   Friday, April 10, 2020    |    PPP loans now available to independent contractors, Healthcare workers needed, Call with McGovern, Webinars

 

#19 |  Friday, April 10, 2020

TODAY MARKS THE FIRST DAY SELF-EMPLOYED, INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS CAN APPLY FOR PPP LOANS

PPP OPENED TO ADDITIONAL EMPLOYMENT CATEGORIES

Today, Friday, April 10 marks the first day independent contractors and self-employed workers can apply for forgivable loans through the Payroll Protection Program – a $349 million segment of the $2 trillion federal CARES Act. Independent contractors receiving 1099-MISC forms and self-employed individuals are eligible to apply for these, potentially 100 percent, forgivable loans.

REQUIREMENT: You must have been in operation on Feb. 15, 2020, your business must have been harmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and you must submit required documentation along with your loan application.

WHAT DO I NEED TO APPLY? Once you know with which lender you will apply, complete the PPP application and submit with the required documentation to an approved lender by June 30, 2020.

WHERE CAN I APPLY? Existing SBA lenders and any federally-insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or Farm Credit System institution is eligible to make PPP loans. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once approved and enrolled in the program. Consult your local lender to determine if it is participating. Visit the SBA’s website for a list of eligible lenders .

A number of Chamber member financial institutions are handling U.S. Small Business Administration PPP loan applications. The Chamber has reached out to each of these members to determine availability and have learned that many are prioritizing applications from their existing customers. We recommend you contact your existing bank to determine if they are participating as lenders in the new PPP.

If you would like specific contact information for one of the banks/credit unions accepting new members, we would be happy to make an introduction. Please contact Karen Pelletier, executive vice president, via email.

FOR ASSISTANCE |  In addition, the  Center for Women and Enterprise,  the  MA Small Business Development Center Network, and  MassDevelopment  can aid in the application for PPP loans as well as the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

DETAILS & FORGIVENESS:

• The maximum loan size is up to 2.5 times a contractor’s average monthly 1099-MISC or net self-employment income for the past 12 months
• All amounts spent on the following list of items during the first eight weeks of the loan term are 100 percent forgivable: (a) to replace your 1099-MISC income or your net self-employment income, (b) interest on mortgages, (c) business rent, and (d) business utilities. Note, if more than 25 percent of this amount is used for interest on mortgages, business rent, or business utilities not all of the amount spent may be forgivable.
• The interest rate is fixed at 1 percent and the loan term is 2 years
• Loan payments will be deferred for six months
• No collateral or personal guarantees are required
• Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees for the loans.

FOR WHAT CAN I USE THESE LOANS?  You should use the proceeds from these loans on your:

• Replacement for your normal 1099-MISC or net self-employment income (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee)
• Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before Feb. 15, 2020
• Rent, under lease agreements in force before Feb. 15, 2020
• Utilities, for which service began before Feb. 15, 2020

NOTE: A previous version of the PPP application guidelines included language precluding companies from calculating compensation figures which reflected independent contractor fees as well as independent contractors and the self-employed themselves from applying for the loan program. Those provisions were lifted today.

HOW TO: APPLY FOR HEALTH CARE JOBS AT TEMPORARY COVID-19 TREATMENT SITES

You can make a difference by providing aid and comfort to those in need.

There are employment opportunities for a variety of roles at temporary care sites across the state. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts needs health care and human services professionals to staff temporary health care sites popping up in response to the volume of COVID-19 patients.

Massachusetts’ Health and Human Services Sec. Marylou Sudders announced a new job board  hosting applications for COVID-19 temporary care sites including field hospitals and dedicated skilled nursing facilities. Positions include health care and human services roles including respiratory therapists, nursing aides, and housekeepers.

Other, non-health-care-related job opportunities available during, and as a result of, the COVID-19 pandemic can be accessed on the MassHire job board. This resource is designed for both employers and workers.

Seeded with $475,000 from the Greater Worcester Community Foundation in support of organizations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, the Worcester Together fund is nearing $4 million in donations from the community.

JOIN US FOR A CONVERSATION WITH CONGRESSMAN JIM MCGOVERN

The Chamber has arranged a Zoom conference call with Congressman McGovern on Wednesday, April 15 during which he will discuss recently passed legislation as well as what can be expected in the near future.

This is an opportunity for our members to provide feedback to Congressman McGovern and help guide future legislation. Although we have expanded our usual bandwidth, the conference has a capacity of 300 participants. Therefore, if you are interested, we urge you to register as soon as possible and to dial in as near as possible to the scheduled time ro prevent being locked out of the call due to capacity.

ZOOM CALL WITH CONGRESS MCGOVERN   |   WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 at 12 NOON

REGISTER

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS | April 22 to April 29

Sales and Leadership in the Era of Crisis

SPONSORED BY

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Selling During Uncertainty

Wed., April 22, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Designed for business owners, sales leaders, and sales professionals, this webinar will focus on what it takes for you and your team’s sales to be successful during turbulent times.

You will learn:

Behavior and conversation mapping processes
Remote work environment tips for success
How to stay relevant and have meaningful and purposeful conversations

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Our routines have changed dramatically, our work environments look nothing like they did a month ago, and our companies have had to make some of the toughest decisions in their history.

How leaders handle this crisis determines our future.In this webinar, thoughtful leadership, accountability, and the necessary steps to keep the engines running will be reviewed.

REGISTER – April 29

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#18  |   Thursday, April 9, 2020    |    Conversation with Congressman Jim McGovern – Wed., April 15, Free Webinars: Sales & Leadership

 

#18 |  Thursday, April 9, 2020

JOIN US FOR A CONVERSATION WITH CONGRESSMAN JIM MCGOVERN


JOIN US FOR A CONVERSATION WITH CONGRESSMAN JIM MCGOVERN

The Chamber has arranged a Zoom conference call with Congressman McGovern on Wednesday, April 15 during which he will discuss recently passed legislation as well as what can be expected in the near future.

This is an opportunity for our members to provide feedback to Congressman McGovern and help guide future legislation. Although we have expanded our usual bandwidth, the conference has a capacity of 300 participants. Therefore, if you are interested, we urge you to register as soon as possible and to dial in as near as possible to the scheduled time ro prevent being locked out of the call due to capacity.

ZOOM CALL WITH CONGRESS MCGOVERN   |   WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15 at 12 NOON

REGISTER

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS | April 22 to April 29

Sales and Leadership in the Era of Crisis

SPONSORED BY

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Selling During Uncertainty

Wed., April 22, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Designed for business owners, sales leaders, and sales professionals, this webinar will focus on what it takes for you and your team’s sales to be successful during turbulent times.

You will learn:

Behavior and conversation mapping processes
Remote work environment tips for success
How to stay relevant and have meaningful and purposeful conversations

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Our routines have changed dramatically, our work environments look nothing like they did a month ago, and our companies have had to make some of the toughest decisions in their history.

How leaders handle this crisis determines our future.In this webinar, thoughtful leadership, accountability, and the necessary steps to keep the engines running will be reviewed.

REGISTER – April 29

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#17  |  Wednesday, April 8, 2020     |     Legislation pending to permit digital notarizations, Free Webinars: Sales & Leadership

 

#17 |  Wednesday, April 8, 2020

LEGISLATION PENDING to assist with Notarizations and Signatures during the Coronavirus Pandemic

One of many business interactions severely hindered by COVID-19 is contractual relationships. Consenting parties to a new contract may agree that a PDF signature page sent by email suffices in these uncertain times, but what about statutory requirements which must be satisfied? Generally, real estate deeds and mortgages must be notarized to be accepted for recording and for title companies to insure them. In addition, a will or trust agreement drawn up during the pandemic may need to be notarized to take effect. Usual notary requirements include being physically with the notary. But, how does that work with social distancing?

The answer is REMOTE NOTARIZATION.

As of this week, there are two bills being concurrently filed by both the State House of Representatives and the State Senate to address this matter. Senate Bill 2882 and House Bill 4999 are designed to allow attorneys and notaries to accomplish these transactions remotely.

Please note, these bills are currently on the respective floors and we hope to receive more clarity in the coming days. For questions, please contact Alex Guardiola, the Chamber’s director of government affairs and public policy, via email.

UPCOMING CHAMBER EVENTS | April 22 to April 29

Sales and Leadership in the Era of Crisis

SPONSORED BY

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Selling During Uncertainty

Wed., April 22, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Designed for business owners, sales leaders, and sales professionals, this webinar will focus on what it takes for you and your team’s sales to be successful during turbulent times.

You will learn:

Behavior and conversation mapping processes
Remote work environment tips for success
How to stay relevant and have meaningful and purposeful conversations

FREE WEBINAR   |   How To Succeed with Leading During Uncertainty

Wed., April 29, 8:30 am – 9:30 am   |   REGISTER

Our routines have changed dramatically, our work environments look nothing like they did a month ago, and our companies have had to make some of the toughest decisions in their history.

How leaders handle this crisis determines our future.In this webinar, thoughtful leadership, accountability, and the necessary steps to keep the engines running will be reviewed.

REGISTER – April 29

DURING THIS CRISIS, WEBINARS ARE OPEN TO ALL AT NO COST


#16  |  Tuesday, April 7, 2020     |     .Take out alcohol now permitted,  Electronic signatures allowed

 

#16 |  Tuesday, April 7, 2020

IT’S 5 O’CLOCK WITH EVERY TAKE OUT ORDER

TAKE OUT BEER, WINE SALES ALLOWED BY LAW

One provision of last Friday’s HB 4598 bill includes a regulation allowing restaurants with current liquor licenses to sell beer and wine with takeout orders during the social distancing restrictions of COVID-19. Banned from on-premises consumption, this act restores a crucial source of revenue to restaurants and other food establishments.

Lasting the length of the state of emergency declared by Gov. Baker last month, each order is restricted to 192 ounces of malt beverage (equivalent to 12 pints) and 1.5 liters of wine (2 standard-size bottles) per transaction.

Over the past weeks, the Chamber and Discover Central Mass have compiled a list of restaurants and their COVID-19 status . Start here next time you’re craving food cooked by … someone other than you!

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Order Authorizes Use of Electronic Signatures

In light of the ongoing and urgent public health concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, issued the following order regarding e-signatures:

Effective Tuesday, April 7 (today) and until further order of the court:

• In all courts and case types, whenever an attorney or self-represented party is required to sign a document to be served on another party or filed with the court, the attorney or self-represented party may electronically sign, unless the court specifically orders otherwise.

• The electronic signature can take the form of either a scan of the attorney’s or self-represented party’s handwritten signature, an electronically inserted image intended to substitute for a signature, or a “/s/ name of signatory” block.

• The electronic signature shall have the same force and effect as if the attorney or self-represented party had affixed her or his original signature to a paper copy of the document so signed.

• If the documents include an affidavit signed under the pains of perjury, but the party making service has been unable to secure the affiant’s original handwritten signature, or a scanned or photographed copy thereof, due to constraints arising from the coronavirus pandemic, the affidavit may still be served and filed with the court if the affiant has signed the affidavit electronically. Thereafter, steps must be taken to secure the affidavit bearing the affiant’s original handwritten signature as soon as practical.

• If a party has a good faith basis to believe that an electronic signature was not authorized by the attorney, self-represented party, or other person whose signature it purports to be, a challenge may be raised promptly by way of motion. If the motion has merit, the court may, among other things, strike the challenged document and/or direct that it be served or filed again with an original handwritten signature.

TOMORROW   |   FREE WEBINAR TO GET UP AND RUNNING

Easy-To-Use and Affordable Tools to Help You Conduct Business Virtually

As more and more businesses are encouraging employees to work remotely, many of them have realized that they don’t have the technology in place to accomplish this quickly or productively.

Join us for this informational webinar, led by Cinch IT’s Rick Porter and InThink’s Kham Inthirath who will review easy-to-use and affordable online meeting platforms including Microsoft Office 365, Zoom, Trello, Google Hangouts, Free-ConferenceCall.com, Skype, Slack, and other popular options.  REGISTER

WHAT YOU NEED TO PARTICIPATE:  Computer with a speaker or a telephone, Internet Connection, A link to the webinar (provided in your registration confirmation)

SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY

The City of Worcester has partnered with the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Mass. to aid in local relief efforts of the COVID-19 crisis.

A id includes immediate basic needs to be administered by United Way of Central MA and long-term recovery efforts funded by the GWCF . To contribute, please visit links above.

Or, text “ WORCESTERCOVID19 “ to 243725, click on the link you receive and follow the instructions to donate by check or credit card.


#15  |  Monday, April 6, 2020     |     PPP Lenders, Mass. Legislation Assists Municipalities & Others, WBRA, Webinars, Survey

 

#15 |  Monday, April 6, 2020

FINDING A BANK TO FULFILL YOUR BUSINESS’ PAYROLL PROTECTION PROGRAM LOAN

LOCAL, CHAMBER OPTIONS

A number of Chamber member financial institutions are handling U.S. Small Business Administration PPP loan applications. The Chamber has reached out to each of these members to determine availability and have learned that many are prioritizing applications from their existing customers. We recommend you contact your existing bank to determine if they are pa rticipating as lenders in the new PPP.

If you would like specific contact information for one of the banks/credit unions accepting new members, we would be happy to make an introduction. Please contact Karen Pelletier, executive vice president, via email.

FOR ASSISTANCE  |  In addition, the Center for Women and Enterprise , the MA Small Business Development Center Network , and MassDevelopment can aid in the application for PPP loans as well as the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

SBA Loan Process: Paycheck Protection Program

Loan Information

• The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll.

• The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities.

• Businesses can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any participating federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution. Other regulated lenders will be available once approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

• Lenders began processing loan applications on April 3, 2020. The PPP will be available through June 30, 2020. Find a lender.

Who Can Apply

• Small business with fewer than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organization or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by coronavirus/COVID-19

• Businesses in certain industries may have more than 500 employees if they meet the SBA’s size standards for those industries

• Small businesses in the hospitality and food industry with more than one location could also be eligible if their individual locations employ less than 500 workers

Loan Details and Forgiveness

• Loans will be fully forgiven if the funds are used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (at least 75 percent of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll)

• Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels

• Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease

• Loan payments will also be deferred for six months

• No collateral or personal guarantees are required

• Neither the government nor lenders will charge fees

• This loan has a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of 1 percent

Massachusetts Legislature Passes Bill to Provide Immediate Relief to Municipalities and Others During the Ongoing COVID-19 Crisis

On Friday April 3, 2020, the House and Senate passed a bill to provide necessary relief to municipalities, taxpayers, restaurants, and state authorities impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and the resulting state of emergency.

The bipartisan legislation includes:

• An extension of the state income tax filing deadline for residents

• Addresses disruptions in municipal tax collections and permitting

• Allows licensed restaurants to sell certain alcoholic beverages with food take-out and delivery orders, among other provisions.

The major provisions of the bill are as follows:

Tax Deadline Extension

The bill extends the 2019 state individual income tax filing and payment deadline to July 15 and is consistent with the new federal deadline.

Restaurant Service

Restaurants and other establishments licensed to sell alcohol for on-premises consumption may now sell wine and beer with food takeout and delivery – restoring a crucial source of revenue.

Municipal Governance

This legislation:

• Allows extensions for property tax exemption and deferrals from April 1 to June 1, 2020

• Modifies the permitting process to ensure flexibility for applicants and status hearing processes

• Allows annual town meetings to be delayed beyond June 30, 2020

• Enables a town moderator, or person designated as such, to reschedule town meetings for up to 30 days, and to do so multiple times if needed

• Permits municipalities to utilize retired employees and lifts pension-related hour restrictions for employees who return to work as it relates to COVID-19 response

• Prohibits essential services, provided by the city or town, from being terminated as a result of a missed or late payment

• Makes adjustments to the budgeting process enabling municipalities to meet fiduciary responsibilities and provide residential resources.

What does this mean for the City of Worcester?

The city manager is the designated chief executive officer of the City of Worcester pursuant to the city charter.

Section 10 of Chapter 53 of the Acts of 2020 allows the chief executive officer of a city: (i) to extend the date of excise tax due dates/date of interest accrual from May 1 to June 1, 2020; (ii) to extend the dates of real estate bills due from May 1 to a date not later than June 1, 2020; and (iii) to extend the dates for certain tax abatements until not later than June 1, 2020. The Act makes the extensions applicable only if City Hall is closed on a due date because of the COVID-19 or the governor’s emergency order.

Section 11 of the Act authorizes the chief executive officer of a city to waive the payment of interest and other penalties on late payment that were due on or after March 10, 2020 but on or before June 30, 2020 for any excise, tax, betterment assessment or apportionment thereof, water rate or annual sewer use or other charge added to a tax.

WBRA Remains Ready to Aid Businesses during COVID-19 Pandemic

The Worcester Business Resource Alliance, of which the Chamber is a member, is a collection of organizations which provides valuable information, training opportunities, events, funding, and other resources to small businesses and entrepreneurs. With the exception of the Worcester Public Library (which was ordered to close) these organizations continue to offer services with a current focus on helping businesses to survive the COVID-19 crisis. For information on participating organizations, and how to reach them, visit the WBRA website.

FREE Webinar

Payroll Protection Program and other aspects of the CARES Act

Presented by the SBA

Tuesday, April 7, 2020   |    2 – 3:00 PM    |    REGISTER

In partnership with North Central MA, Marlborough, Blackstone Valley, Corridor Nine, and Assabet Valley Chambers of Commerce

FREE Webinar: Easy-To-Use, Affordable Tools to Conduct Business Virtually

Wednesday, April 8 from 10 to 11 AM

As more businesses are encouraging employees to work remotely, many have realized they don’t have the technology in place to accomplish this quickly or productively.

Join us for this informational webinar which will review various easy-to-use and affordable online meeting platforms including Microsoft Office 365, Zoom, Slack, Trello Google Hangouts, Skype, FreeConferenceCall, and others. REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

Please take this less-than-five-minute survey about how we, your local Chamber of Commerce, can best serve you and your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 


#14  |  Friday, April 3, 2020     |     U.S. Census, Worcester Together, WEBINAR: Payroll Protection, New App, Support for Restaurants

 

#14 |  Friday, April 3, 2020

HELP SHAPE WORCESTER’S COVID-19 RELIEF, FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS 2020 FORMS

YOUR VOICE MATTERS

Once every 10 years, the federal government conducts a count of the people living in the United States. You should have received a letter in your mail with instructions on how to begin the questionnaire. Navigate online to www.census.gov for more information, ways in which to fill out the questionnaire, review the questions, language support, and FAQs.

The Census Bureau is required by law to protect your information. It is not permitted to publicly release your information in a way that could identify you or your household. It’s simple and easy and will make a difference.

Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to join the list.

SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY

The City of Worcester has partnered with the Greater Worcester Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Mass. to aid in local relief efforts of the COVID-19 crisis. Aid includes immediate basic needs to be administered by United Way of Central MA and long-term recovery efforts funded by the GWCF. To contribute, please visit links above.

Or, text “ WORCESTERCOVID19 “ to 243725, click on the link you receive and follow the instructions to donate by check or credit card.

FREE Webinar

Payroll Protection Program and other aspects of the CARES Act

Presented by the SBA

Tuesday, April 7, 2020   |    2 – 3:00 PM    |    REGISTER

In partnership with North Central MA, Marlborough, Blackstone Valley, Corridor Nine, and Assabet Valley Chambers of Commerce

MEMBER SOFTWARE FIRM AIDS COVID-19 TRIAGE EFFORT WITH FREE APP

On Monday, Burlington-based AlphaSoftware released a free COVID-19 symptoms triage app to the public. It provides users three summaries:

• Your risk of getting the virus
• Your likelihood of having the virus based on your symptoms
• Whether what you have is a mild or severe case of COVID-19, and recommended next steps based on all of the above findings.

Accessible here the Alpha COVID-19 app does not provide medical advice but is intended for information purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

LOCAL MEDIA SUPPORTS RESTAURANTS

MassLive is asking businesses impacted by the pandemic to contact the media outlet and receive 50,000 free display advertisement impressions on MassLive.com. Any additional impressions can be paid through trade of gift cards that we will be distributing to charities, first responders others affected in this crisis.   MORE INFORMATION

FARES WAIVED

After driver protests fed by COVID-19 fears, the Worcester Regional Transit Authority now requires all passengers to board buses at the rear door. Because fares are collected at a console adjacent to the front door, as a result, for the next 30 days the WRTA has chosen to waive fares for riders . The policy was announced Tuesday.

Cleaning and IT Companies to Assist Your Business

Let the professional cleaners do it. Navigate to this Chamber page for a list of member cleaning companies able to disinfect your space or provide best practices for a hygienic office or home environment.


Looking to transition your operation a virtual platform? We’ve compiled a list of member IT companies which can do just that. They can also teach you the best tools to communicate remotely and remain flexible.

When’s the last time you gave blood?

Hospitals across Central Mass are in dire need of blood, platelet, and plasma donations. If you are able, please consider donating during this uncertain time via the local Red Cross. Start the process online atredcrossblood.orgby typing in your zip code and reviewing eligibility requirements.

FREE Webinar: #3 Running Your Business in Quarantine:

A Survival Guide | Friday, April 3 from 2 to 3 PM

Join Kham Inthirath, CEO of InThink Agency, for a free webinar for all businesses to help them get up and running during this difficult time, tune in to learn from InThink Agency CEO, Kham Inthirath. During this hour-long webinar he discusses how to leverage chatbots in sales and marketing strategies. REGISTER   What is conversational marketing?

• Drift Chatbot Uses
• Tips & Tricks
• Rapid Response Business Plans and Why You Need One

Watch the Chamber’s webinar on how to get up and running in a virtual work setting.

When’s the last time you gave blood?

Hospitals across Central Mass are in dire need of blood, platelet, and plasma donations. If you are able, please consider donating during this uncertain time via the local Red Cross. Start the process online at redcrossblood.org by typing in your zip code and reviewing eligibility requirements.

FREE Webinar: Easy-To-Use, Affordable Tools to Conduct Business Virtually

Wednesday, April 8 from 10 to 11 AM

As more businesses are encouraging employees to work remotely, many have realized they don’t have the technology in place to accomplish this quickly or productively.

Join us for this informational webinar which will review various easy-to-use and affordable online meeting platforms including Microsoft Office 365, Zoom, Slack, Trello Google Hangouts, Skype, FreeConferenceCall, and others. REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

Please take this less-than-five-minute survey about how we, your local Chamber of Commerce, can best serve you and your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.


#13  |   Thursday, April 2, 2020     |     Closures Extended, Includes Construction, Paycheck Protection Loan Processing, WRTA Waives Fares

#13 |  Thursday, April 2, 2020

BAKER-POLITO ADMINISTRATION EXTENDS NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS CLOSURES TO CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

NON-ESSENTIAL BUSINESS CLOSURES EXTENDED TO MAY 4

As of this week, Gov. Baker’s emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “ COVID-19 Essential Services ” has been extended to include non-essential construction. Work on housing, transportation, telecommunications, or health care projects will continue.

Under these new qualifications, workers such as plumbers, electricians, exterminators, builders, contractors, HVAC technicians, landscapers, inspectors, and other service providers who provide services necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences, businesses, and buildings such as hospitals, health care facilities, senior living facilities, and any temporary construction required to support COVID-19 response have been deemed by the Baker-Polito administration as essential.

The Telegram & Gazette has compiled a list of many construction projects which were either underway or planned prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Worcester and where they stand as of April.

This order also prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people until May 4.

Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here to join the list.

LENDERS TO BEGIN PROCESSING PPP LOANS

Commencing Friday, April 3 (TOMORROW) , lenders can begin processing loans submitted via the Paycheck Protection Program. Applications can be submitted to any participating Small Business Administration lender, federally-insured depository institution, federally-insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. Consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.

Many local banks have been deputized as Small Business Administration lenders to help administer this federal program. Please contact your bank for more information. If you are in need of a bank, please reach out to the Chamber. We would be happy to put you in touch with one of our member financial institutions.

Applications for PPP funding can be downloaded from the SBA website. 

FARES WAIVED

After driver protests fed by COVID-19 fears, the Worcester Regional Transit Authority now requires all passengers to board buses at the rear door. Because fares are collected at a console adjacent to the front door, as a result, for the next 30 days the WRTA has chosen to waive fares for riders . The policy was announced Tuesday.

Cleaning and IT Companies to Assist Your Business

Let the professional cleaners do it. Navigate to this Chamber page for a list of member cleaning companies able to disinfect your space or provide best practices for a hygienic office or home environment.


Looking to transition your operation a virtual platform? We’ve compiled a list of member IT companies which can do just that. They can also teach you the best tools to communicate remotely and remain flexible.

When’s the last time you gave blood?

Hospitals across Central Mass are in dire need of blood, platelet, and plasma donations. If you are able, please consider donating during this uncertain time via the local Red Cross. Start the process online at redcrossblood.org by typing in your zip code and reviewing eligibility requirements.

FREE Webinar: #3 Running Your Business in Quarantine:

A Survival Guide | Friday, April 3 from 2 to 3 PM

Join Kham Inthirath, CEO of InThink Agency, for a free webinar for all businesses to help them get up and running during this difficult time, tune in to learn from InThink Agency CEO, Kham Inthirath. During this hour-long webinar he discusses how to leverage chatbots in sales and marketing strategies. REGISTER   What is conversational marketing?

• Drift Chatbot Uses
• Tips & Tricks
• Rapid Response Business Plans and Why You Need One

Watch the Chamber’s webinar on how to get up and running in a virtual work setting.

When’s the last time you gave blood?

Hospitals across Central Mass are in dire need of blood, platelet, and plasma donations. If you are able, please consider donating during this uncertain time via the local Red Cross. Start the process online at redcrossblood.org by typing in your zip code and reviewing eligibility requirements.

FREE Webinar: Easy-To-Use, Affordable Tools to Conduct Business Virtually

Wednesday, April 8 from 10 to 11 AM

As more businesses are encouraging employees to work remotely, many have realized they don’t have the technology in place to accomplish this quickly or productively.

Join us for this informational webinar which will review various easy-to-use and affordable online meeting platforms including Microsoft Office 365, Zoom, Slack, Trello Google Hangouts, Skype, FreeConferenceCall, and others. REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

Please take this less-than-five-minute survey about how we, your local Chamber of Commerce, can best serve you and your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.


#12  |   Wednesday, April 1, 2020     |     Stay-at-Home Advisory Extended, IT & Cleaning Companies, Free Webinar, Survey, Families First Act

#12    |  Wednesday, April 1, 2020

GOV. BAKER EXTENDS STAY-AT-HOME ADVISORY, REDEFINES LIST OF “ESSENTIAL” BUSINESSES

STATE’S STAY-AT-HOME ADVISORY EXTENDED THROUGH MAY 4

On Tuesday, Gov. Charlie Baker extended his emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations which do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical facilities to workers, customers, and the public through May 4. Businesses are encouraged to continue operations remotely.

The Commonwealth’s administration also updated the “COVID-19 Essential Services” list, which is based on updated federal guidance. The new list goes into effect on April 1 (TODAY) at noon.

• These businesses will not receive a designation or certification from the Commonwealth specific to their individual company as an “Essential Services” business, but they may continue operating.

• Essential services businesses are urged to follow social distancing protocols in accordance with the MA Dept. of Public Health.

• Restaurants, bars, and other establishments which sell food and beverages are encouraged to continue to offer take away and delivery options if they follow the social distancing protocols set forth in MA DPH guidance. On-premises consumption of food or drink remains prohibited.

• Workers at hotels, motels, inns, and other lodgings providing overnight accommodation are considered essential but only to the degree those lodgings accommodate the COVID-19 Essential Workforce, other workers responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency, and vulnerable populations.

Businesses and organizations not on the list of essential services are encouraged to continue operations remotely in a way that does not require workers, customers, or the public to be at a brick-and-mortar premises.

If the function of your business is not listed, but you believe that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you may request designation as such. Requests should only be made if the business entity is not included in the categorization listed above.

Are you a small business owner? A comprehensive list of FAQs, please reference the federal government’s Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act included in Tuesday’s email.

Want to  receive our daily email? Sign up here.

Cleaning and IT Companies to Assist Your Business

Let the professional cleaners do it. Navigate to this Chamber page for a list of member cleaning companies able to disinfect your space or provide best practices for a hygienic office or home environment.


Looking to transition your operation a virtual platform? We’ve compiled a list of member IT companies which can do just that. They can also teach you the best tools to communicate remotely and remain flexible.

FREE Webinar: NEW Federal Employment Act

Thursday, April 2 from 10 to 11 AM

Join us to learn about the new federal coronavirus employment act, including the Emergency Sick Leave Law, the Emergency FMLA Amendment, and the Payroll Protection Act. 

Employers with under 500 employees may receive a refundable credit for up to 80 hours of sick leave paid to employees under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and a refundable child care leave credit for up to 10 weeks under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act. Under the Payroll Act the SBA will pay off loans for up to 8 weeks for payrolls. Presenters: Attorney D. Moschos,  Labor and Employment, Mirick O’Connell, Attorney Kimberly Rozak, Labor and Employment, Mirick O’Connell. Register for the Webinar

Watch last week’s Chamber webinar on how to get up and running in a virtual work setting.

Please take this less-than-five-minute survey about how we, your local Chamber of Commerce, can best serve you and your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

#3  Operations during Quarantine

IMPORTANT INFORMATION  |  ICYMI: Listen to a recording of the Chamber’s Human Resources Roundtable from Monday, March 30.

Families First Coronavirus Service Resource Toolkit | A guide to taking advantage of federal benefits </details>


#11  |   Tuesday, March 31, 2020     |      Small Business Q&A, Cleaning & IT Companies, Blood Donations Needed, Webinars

#11  |  Tuesday, March 31, 2020

AN ABBREVIATED Q&A WITH THE U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON SMALL BUSINESS & ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Q: WHAT TYPES OF BUSINESSES AND ENTITIES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR A PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM LOAN?

A: There are a few qualifications:

• Businesses and entities must have been in operation on Feb. 15, 2020

• Small businesses, as well as any business, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, 501(c)(19) veterans organization, or tribal business with fewer than 500 employees, or the applicable size for the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry as provided by SBA if higher, are eligible

• Individuals who operate a sole proprietorship or an independent contractor and eligible self-employed individuals

• Any business employing not more than 500 employees per physical location of the business concern and is assigned a NAICS code beginning with 72, for which the affiliation rules are waived, are eligible

• Affiliation rules are also waived for any business concern operating as a franchise and is assigned a franchise identifier code by the SBA, and company that receives funding through a Small Business Investment Company.

Q: WHAT TYPES OF NONPROFITS ARE ELIGIBLE?

A: In general, 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(19) nonprofits with 500 employees or fewer, are eligible.

Q: WHAT COSTS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR PAYROLL?

A: A number of costs are eligible:

• Compensation (salary, wage, commission, or similar compensation, payment of cash tip or equivalent)

• Payment for vacation, parental, family, medical, or sick leave

• Allowance for dismissal or separation

• Payment required for the provisions of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums

• Payment of any retirement benefit

• Payment of state or local tax assessed on the business

Q: HOW IS THE FORGIVENESS AMOUNT CALCULATED?

A: Forgiveness, on a covered loan, is equal to the sum of the following payroll costs incurred during the covered eight-week period and compared to the previous year or time period and proportionate to maintaining employees and wages (excluding compensation over $100,000). The algorithm is as follows:

• Payroll costs + any payment of interest on any covered mortgage obligation (not including any prepayment or payment of principal on a covered mortgage obligation) + any payment on any covered rent obligation + any covered utility payment + payment of state and local tax assessed on the compensation of employees

Q: WHICH SBA LOANS ARE ELIGIBLE FOR DEBT RELIEF UNDER THIS PROGRAM?

A: Seven(a) loans not made under the Paycheck Protection Program, 504 loans, and micro-loans are eligible for debt relief under this program. Disaster loans are not eligible (see pg. 7 for more information on these).

Read the complete interview at the Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act. Keep up-to-date with the availability of these programs by staying in touch with the local Small Business Administration district office.

Cleaning and IT Companies to Assist Your Business

Let the professional cleaners do it. Navigate to this Chamber page for a list of member cleaning companies able to disinfect your space or provide best practices for a hygienic office or home environment.


Looking to transition your operation a virtual platform? We’ve compiled a list of member IT companies which can do just that. They can also teach you the best tools to communicate remotely and remain flexible.

When’s the last time you gave blood?

Hospitals across Central Mass are in dire need of blood, platelet, and plasma donations. If you are able, please consider donating during this uncertain time via the local Red Cross. Start the process online at redcrossblood.org by typing in your zip code and reviewing eligibility requirements.

FREE Webinar: Easy-To-Use, Affordable Tools to Conduct Business Virtually

Wednesday, April 1 from 10 to 11 AM

As more businesses are encouraging employees to work remotely, many have realized they don’t have the technology in place to accomplish this quickly or productively.

Join us for this informational webinar which will review various easy-to-use and affordable online meeting platforms including Microsoft Office 365, Zoom, Slack, Trello Google Hangouts, Skype, FreeConferenceCall, and others. REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

FREE Webinar: NEW Federal Employment Act

Thursday, April 2 from 10 to 11 AM

Join us to learn about the new federal coronavirus employment act, including the Emergency Sick Leave Law, the Emergency FMLA Amendment, and the Payroll Protection Act. 

Employers with under 500 employees may receive a refundable credit for up to 80 hours of sick leave paid to employees under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and a refundable child care leave credit for up to 10 weeks under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act. Under the Payroll Act the SBA will pay off loans for up to 8 weeks for payrolls. Presenters: Attorney D. Moschos,  Labor and Employment, Mirick O’Connell, Attorney Kimberly Rozak, Labor and Employment, Mirick O’Connell. Register for the Webinar

Watch last week’s Chamber webinar on how to get up and running in a virtual work setting.

Please take this less-than-five-minute survey about how we, your local Chamber of Commerce, can best serve you and your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch last week’s Chamber webinar on how to get up and running in a virtual work setting.

Families First Coronavirus Service Resource Toolkit | A guide to taking advantage of federal benefits


#10  |   Monday, March 30, 2020     |      Federal Act Details, April Events go Online, Legal Webinar for Employers, Recorded IT Webinar Available

 

#10  |  Monday, March 30, 2020

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PASSES SWEEPING CARES ACT

WHAT IS THE PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM?

Over the weekend, the federal government put into action a $2 trillion stimulus bill to aid the economy given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Title one, the Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed, provides relief for small businesses and their employees adversely impacted by COVID-19.

The cornerstone is the Paycheck Protection Program – an emergency lending program administered by the Small Business Administration. At $349 billion in new lending capacity, it will provide loans to borrowers at this time of economic uncertainty. The fund, which accounts for the vast majority of the small business assistance provided in the legislation, is intended to accomplish two fundamental goals:

• Help small businesses cover their near-term operating expenses during the worst of the crisis
• Provide a strong incentive for employers to retain their employees. 

HOW DOES IT WORK?

• In short, it is intended as a partial revenue replacement program to allow deeply affected businesses to hibernate through a period of severe disruption without making drastic changes to their footprint.

• It targets businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, tribal businesses, and veteran organizations with 500 employees or less as eligible for federally-insured, partially-forgivable loans to cover short-term operating expenses during the economic crisis. 

• The maximum loan is equivalent to 250 percent of the employer’s average monthly payroll costs or $10 million, whichever is less. Payroll costs are defined broadly to include wages, salaries, retirement contributions, healthcare benefits, covered leave, and other expenses.

• The program includes a number of generous features for borrowers, including six to 12 months of deferred repayment, fee waivers, and streamlined application requirements. 

Borrowers are eligible for loan forgiveness equivalent to the sum spent on covered expenses during the eight-week period after the loan is originated. Covered expenses include: the bulk of a typical business’ fixed operating costs such as payroll, rent, utilities, and mortgage interest obligations. However, to qualify for forgiveness, employers must maintain their pre-crisis level of full-time equivalent employees or face a reduction in forgiveness proportional to the reduction in headcount. Since many businesses have already been forced to make staffing reductions in response to vanishing customers and lost revenues, the legislation includes a clause that allows them to qualify for loan forgiveness if they have re-hired back to pre-crisis levels by June 30, 2020.

Congress made the terms generous and the barriers to entry low in an effort to ensure resources would be made available as quickly as possible. Borrowers do not need to demonstrate actual economic harm in order to qualify. Instead, they simply need to make a series of good faith certifications, principally that current economic conditions necessitate the loan to support ongoing business operations, and that the funds will be used to maintain payroll and address other covered expenses.

While this streamlined approach will certainly make it easier for vulnerable businesses to receive support on an expedited basis, it may also lead some otherwise healthy businesses to take advantage of the program at the expense of those whose survival depends upon it.

CHANGES TO THE CHAMBER’S UPCOMING EVENTS CALENDAR | April & May

April events scheduled by the Chamber are being transitioned to webinars and / or being postponed to a later date. There will be NO in-person events and some events may be cancelled. Please check our events calendar for updated information about all events as well as new events added to assist our members during this pandemic.

Worcester Women’s Leadership Conference Rescheduled

The Chamber, our planning committee, and presenting sponsors, UMass Memorial Health Care and Fallon Health, are pleased to inform you that the conference has been rescheduled to Monday, Nov. 16, 2020.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Employment Legal Issues in a COVID-19 Remote World | Monday, March 30 from 2 to 3 PM

Please join us for a Human Resources Roundtable webinar with Robert Young  of Bowditch & Dewey, LLP on Monday, March 30 from 2 to 3 PM. He will discuss legal implications from the coronavirus for employers including leaves of absence, sick time, and paid medical leave; crisis communication plans; and work-from-home policies. Register for the Webinar

FREE Webinar: NEW Federal Employment Act | Thursday, April 2 from 10 to 11 AM

Join us to learn about the new federal coronavirus employment act, including the Emergency Sick Leave Law, the Emergency FMLA Amendment, and the Payroll Protection Act. 

Employers with under 500 employees may receive a refundable credit for up to 80 hours of sick leave paid to employees under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and a refundable child care leave credit for up to 10 weeks under the Emergency FMLA Expansion Act. Under the Payroll Act the SBA will pay off loans for up to 8 weeks for payrolls. Presenters: Attorney D. Moschos,  Labor and Employment, Mirick O’Connell, Attorney Kimberly Rozak, Labor and Employment, Mirick O’Connell. Register for the Webinar

Watch last week’s Chamber webinar on how to get up and running in a virtual work setting.

Please take this less-than-five-minute survey about how we, your local Chamber of Commerce, can best serve you and your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 


#9  |   Friday, March 27, 2020     |      What’s Inside the Stimulus Package?, Legal Seminars

 

#9  |  Friday, March 27, 2020

WHAT’S INSIDE THE $2 TRILLION FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE?

EXPECTED TO BE PASSED OVER THE WEEKEND, MONDAY

The U.S. Senate passed a roughly $2 trillion coronavirus response bill intended to expedite relief across the nation’s economy. This is the third such aid package from Congress and is meant to keep businesses and individuals afloat during this unprecedented time.

It is anticipated the U.S. House of Representatives will vote today (Friday) or tomorrow on this bill. If passed, it will go to the president for his signature.

Small Business Benefits

The bill includes:

• $10 billion for emergency micro-grants of up to $10,000 for small businesses;

• $350 billion forgivable loan program through the U.S. Small Business Administration for companies with 500 or fewer employees;

• $17 billion to cover six months of payments for small businesses already accessing SBA loans;

• Changes to rules for expenses and deductions meant to make it easier for companies to keep employees on the payroll and stay open in the near-term.

The bill establishes a fully refundable tax credit for businesses of all sizes that are closed or distressed to help them keep workers on the payroll. The goal is to get those employees re-hired or put on paid furlough to ensure they have jobs to which they may return. The credit covers up to 50 percent of payroll on the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, for each employee.  

For employers with more than 100 full-time employees, the credit is for wages paid to employees when they are not providing services because of the coronavirus. Eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees could use the deduction even if they aren’t closed.

The SBA will deputize local banks to help administer these SBA funds to local businesses. Eligible and interested companies should contact their current local bank to inquire as to how they can apply for the low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

More information will be provided from the Chamber in the days to come as this bill makes its way through the House of Representatives.

Employment Legal Issues in a COVID-19 Remote World
Monday, March 30 from 2 to 3 PM

Please join us for a Human Resources Roundtable webinar with Robert Young  of Bowditch & Dewey, LLP on Monday, March 30 from 2 to 3 PM. He will discuss legal implications from the coronavirus for employers including leaves of absence, sick time, and paid medical leave; crisis communication plans; and work-from-home policies. Attendees are welcome to submit questions in advance for our speakers, who will address submitted questions during the webinar.   Register for the Webinar    Email the Chamber Your Question 

ICYMI: As of Friday morning, Gov. Baker has postponed the state’s individual income tax filing and payment deadline to JULY 15, 2020. Read More 

WE WANT YOUR INPUT

Let us know what webinars you are looking for and we’ll do our best to provide them to you! EMAIL YOUR SUGGESTIONS

Please take this less-than-five-minute survey about how we, your local Chamber of Commerce, can best serve you and your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.


#8  |   Thursday, March 26, 2020     |      City of Worcester Grant Deadline, Ban on Reusable Bags, HR Webinar, Call for 3D Printers

 

#8  |  Thursday, March 26, 2020

FRIDAY, MARCH 27 : DEADLINE FOR CITY OF WORCESTER’S $10,000 MICRO-GRANTS

Announced last week, the City of Worcester has allocated $500,000 in micro-grants to small business owners negatively impacted by the pandemic. The deadline for these grant applications is TOMORROW, Friday, March 27.

PDF grant applications are available on the city’s COVID-19 website – worcesterma.gov/coronavirus. We encourage you to submit yours – the sooner the better. But first, be sure to check the eligibility requirements.

TEMPORARY NOTICE: DO NOT bring your reusable bags to the grocery store or pharmacy

To block the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Baker has put in place a temporary mandate blocking customers from bringing reusable bags to grocery stores and pharmacies in favor of plastic bags supplied by the stores. Lifting the ban on plastic bags, no charge will be levied for the bags you need to package your shopping. And, please adhere to social distancing guidelines as well as store hours for older shoppers.

COVID-19-RELATED BUSINESS WEBINARS

WEBINAR: Unemployment in Uncertain Times | UTCA Office Hours  

Do you have questions about how unemployment will impact your business during this state of emergency? Join Chamber member UTCA’s virtual Office Hours tomorrow, Friday, March 27 from 1:30 to 2 PM. The agenda will include p roperly messaging and executing your workforce reductions, communicating the UI process and expectations to your employees, and what to expect as emergency legislation looms on state and federal levels. REGISTER

Running Your Business in Quarantine: A Survival Guide | InThink Webinar Series  

Join CEO, Kham Inthirath, as he discusses how your business can strategically position itself in the wake of COVID-19. Session 2 is tomorrow, Friday, March 27 from 2 to 3 PM. For those of you who joined last week, this will be a deeper dive into some of the strategies and resources we previously shared. For those who are new, we’ll share examples and actionable takeaways to help your business during this uncertain time. REGISTER

WATCH THE FIRST WEBINAR HERE

WE WANT YOUR INPUT   |    Let us know what webinars you are looking for and we’ll do our best to provide them to you!
EMAIL YOUR SUGGESTIONS

CALLING ALL 3D PRINTER OWNERS

At a time when N-95 masks are hard to come by, when worn with a surgical mask, plastic face shields are helpful and reusable personal protective equipment. However, these are also few and far between at hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities. We are enacting a CALL TO ACTION for anyone who owns a 3D printer to help increase the supply of face shields in Central Mass. Some of our health care members suggested this Prusa pattern and this Forbes article if you’d like to know more.

If you own a 3D printer, please consider taking time to produce face shields from this pattern. Once completed, please drop them at your closest long-term care facility and pat yourself on the back.


#7  |   Wednesday, March 25, 2020     |      Info for Employers, Employees, & FAQs, Hot Deals Help Members, T&G Supports Businesses, Webinar

 

#7  |  Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A GUIDE TO THE FAMILIES FIRST CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE ACT STRAIGHT FROM CONGRESSMAN McGOVERN

On Tuesday evening, th e U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division published its first round of implementation guidance pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The guidance addresses questions including:

• How does an employer count its number of employees to determine coverage?
• How can small businesses obtain an exemption?
• How does an employer count hours for part-time employees?
• How does an employer calculate wages employees are entitled to under the FFCRA?

Below, broken down by category, are the guides published by the WHD to answer the above questions:

Guide for EMPLOYERS   |   Guide for EMPLOYEES   |   FFCRA: FAQs


If you’re business is offering a COVID-19-related promotion, submit it to HOT DEALS

Members, please add your promotion by logging onto your ChamberMaster account and navigating to Hot Deals. The Chamber will promote this page over the coming weeks.  SEE CURRENT HOT DEALS


Local Newspaper Provides Two Opportunities to Aid Business Community

FREE advertising available to businesses impacted by COVID-19

The Telegram & Gazette, a Gannett Media company, is offering free print and digital advertising packages to local businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Visit NECustomerAssistance.com for more information.

Support local businesses by purchasing gift cards!

The cash will help companies meet their immediate needs and allow you to enjoy their services again at a later date. The Telegram & Gazette put together a list of Worcester County businesses for which this opportunity is available.


WEBINAR  |  Running Your Business in Quarantine: A Survival Guide

InThink Webinar Series   |   Join CEO, Kham Inthirath, as he discusses how your business can strategically position itself in the wake of COVID-19. Session 2 is this  Friday, March 27 from 2 – 3 pm. Webinar agenda:

•  Crisis Messaging (Internal + External)
•  Loom & Zoom + How to Leverage Them for Your Business
•  Rapid Response Business Plan + Why You Need One
•  Q&A

For those of you who joined last week, this will be a deeper dive into some of the strategies and resources we previously shared. For those of you who are new, we’ll share examples and actionable takeaways to help your business during this uncertain time. REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR HERE!  


#6  |   Tuesday, March 24, 2020     |      Chamber Launches Survey, Health Care Benefits & COVID-19, Restaurant List

 

#6  |  Tuesday, March 24, 2020

LET US KNOW YOUR BIGGEST COVID-19 CONCERNS VIA A SHORT SURVEY

DEVELOPING OUR NEXT STEPS VIA COMMUNITY INPUT

We at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and Discover Central Mass are concerned about our businesses and organizations as we are all navigating uncharted waters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Our goal with this questionnaire is to better understand your business needs so that we can properly advocate on your behalf to federal, state, and local officials. We are communicating regularly with these leaders as we seek to craft solutions that will assist businesses, save jobs, and help those who have been adversely impacted by this crisis – from both a health and economic perspective.

Please take a few minutes to let us know how best we can support you.

Thank you — Worcester Chamber & Discover Central Mass

COVID-19 and your Company’s Health Insurance Plan, Benefits

A message from Christine Cassidy, Chief Communications Officer; Fallon Health

The Massachusetts Division of Insurance has issued guidance to health plans regarding COVID-19. Based on this guidance, health plans are doing the following for commercial members:

Members can utilize telehealth vehicles, including telephonic visits with in-network providers and services like Teladoc, to seek medically-necessary screening, evaluation, diagnosis, and/or treatment for COVID-19 with no cost-sharing for the member.

Health services not related to COVID-19, that are clinically-appropriate to be provided via telehealth and that are provided by in-network providers, will be covered at the same cost-sharing as an in-person service.

Health plan insurers are also:

• relaxing administrative procedures, such as prior authorizations and out-of-network requirements, for medically-necessary care related to COVID-19 as dictated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• covering medically necessary coronavirus testing and counseling for members who meet DPH and CDC guidelines, with no cost-sharing
• waiving copayments for medically-appropriate coronavirus treatment in accordance with the CDC and DPH guidelines

If you have questions about your own plan coverage, please visit your plan’s website for more information.

Additionally, all plans should also have a hot line that you can call with questions specific to COVID-19.

RESTAURANT LIST 

The Chamber is working in tandem with Discover Central Massachusetts , our hospitality partner, to bring you a list of restaurants which have remained open to varying extents.


#5  |   Monday, March 23, 2020     |      Non-Essential Business to Close, List: Essential Services, SBA Loan Modification, Child Care, Jobs & Workers

 

#5  |  Monday, March 23, 2020

Governor Baker Orders All Non-Essential Businesses to Cease In Person Operation

Two Week Stay at Home Advisory

Governor Baker issued an emergency order requiring all businesses and organizations that do not provide “COVID-19 Essential Services” to close their physical workplaces and facilities to workers, customers and the public as of Tuesday, March 24 at noon until Tuesday, April 7 at noon.

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 two-week time period. This list is based on federal guidance and amended to reflect the needs of Massachusetts’ unique economy. SEE THE LIST.

READ MORE

SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION MODIFIES LOAN REPAYMENT TERMS

In light of the pandemic, the U.S. Small Business Administration made an adjustment to the terms of its Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program – disaster-related loans of up to $2 million paid back over as long as 30 years . Moving forward,  EIDL loans will defer payments for the first year (12 months) of the loan . This is a change from the initial loan structure, which allowed payment deferral for four months.

REGISTER FOR LOAN WEBINAR ON 3/24/2020

Learn more about EIDL loans and how to apply for these financial supports in an SBA Skype session on Tuesday, March 24 at 2:30 PM EST.

Register through the Chamber

CHILD CARE FACILITIES SHUTDOWN  

Under an executive order issued last week, Gov. Charlie Baker required all early education centers and family child care providers to close, starting today; Monday, March 23 ; in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The MA Dept. of Early Education and Care issued procedures designed to open exempt emergency child care programs to meet the needs of families of emergency personnel, medical staff, and others critical to fighting COVID-19.

The MA Dept. of Early Education and Care put procedures in place to quickly review applications for emergency programs, and to conduct expedited background checks for teachers and staff. However, these resources should be utilized as a last resort. Additional details can be found on the state’s Exempt Emergency Child Care Program website.

Looking for a job? Looking for workers?

The MassHire Central Region Workforce Board and Career Centers, together with the City of Worcester, United Way of Central MA, Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, YOU, Inc., and other local community partners, have created an online directory to match job seekers with local employers that have critical hiring needs at this trying time. Please see the two links below and click the one that best fits your situation.

Employers in need of workers

Job seekers, additional COVID-19 resources

The Chamber is working in tandem with Discover Central Massachusetts , our hospitality partner, to bring you a list of restaurants which have remained open to varying extents.


#4  |   Friday, March 20, 2020     |      City of Worcester Micro-Grants, Call for Medical Supplies, Webinars, Restaurant List

 

#4 | Friday, March 20, 2020

$10,000 MICRO-GRANTS NOW AVAILABLE TO WORCESTER BUSINESSES; SUPPLIES REQUESTED TO AID FIRST RESPONDERS

BLOCK GRANTS

The City of Worcester has made available $500,000 in Community Development Block Grants to be distributed in $10,000 micro-grants to businesses. Applications for the grants will be available starting Monday, March 23 on the city’s website. Please see the eligibility requirements below:

• Business owners must have low to moderate-income status

• The businesses must be in Worcester

• Businesses have to experience a loss of 50 percent or more due to COVID-19 since March 10

• A business must have less than $2 million in gross receipts

CALL FOR MEDICAL SUPPLIES

If you are a life sciences or health care organization, please consider donating any medical supplies you have in stock to the MA Life Sciences Emergency Supply Hub . Created to help best arm first responders combatting the spread of COVID-19, the Supply Hub is asking for everything from N95/N99 masks to ventilators to stretchers, lab supplies, and even the volunteered time of medical professionals.

Organized as a joint collaboration between Massachusetts Biotechnology Council , Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council, and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals, the Supply Hub is requesting those with materials to give fill out this survey .

If you are a health care professional in need of supplies or expertise, please email supplyhub@massbio.org and your request will be shared with the MA Dept. of Health.

TWO SEMINARS

WEBINAR JUST ADDED! THIS WEEK: Friday, March 20.  REGISTER

Chamber member, InThink is presenting a FREE webinar TODAY ( FRIDAY, MARCH 20 ) from 2 to 3 PM: Running Your Business in Quarantine: A Survival Guide


Common concerns that will be addressed:

• How will my business survive?

• How do I manage my team remotely?

• How do we communicate COVID-19 messaging to our clients?

• Humanizing virtual culture, sales, marketing, and customer experience

• What is going to be our new business strategy?


Join CEO, Kham Inthirath, as he discusses this agenda:

• The importance of Marketing to Protect your Business 

• Best Practices and Tools: Virtual Sales, Marketing, Operations

• A Rapid Response Business Plan and Why You Need One 

• Q&A


LEARN HOW TO GET YOUR BUSINESS ONLINE WITH THIS FREE SEMINAR

Register for Wednesday’s Webinar


The Chamber is working with Discover Central Mass, our hospitality partner to bring you a list of open restaurants.

This weekend, if you have the resources to do so, please support small businesses as you stock your pantry and fill your bellies. Worcester, and the surrounding communities, are full of shops that sell everything from the essentials – bread, milk, toilet paper – to exciting extras!

SEE THE RESTAURANT LIST HERE


#3  |   Thursday, March 19, 2020     |      Federal & State Small Business Loans

 

#3 | Thursday, March 19, 2020

WEDNESDAY EVENING BROUGHT FEDERAL, STATE RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

On Wednesday evening, as part of a wide-sweeping relief package, the federal government allocated $300 billion in small business loans. These funds will be allocated to each of the 50 states to administer as they fit in support of small businesses during this time of need.

Below is a summary of federal and state business-related legislation put in place in the last 24 hours to help ease this economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

FEDERAL

Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act

• The revised bill provides that private-sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and covered public-sector employers, must provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected FMLA leave for “a qualifying need related to a public health emergency” to employees who have been on the payroll for 30 calendar days. 

• This “qualifying need” is limited to circumstances where an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for a minor child if the child’s school or place of child care has been closed or is unavailable due to a public health emergency. 

• This is a dramatic scaling back from the prior iteration of the bill, which would have provided extended FMLA for a far broader range of COVID-19-related reasons.

To read a more in-depth explanation of the federal legislation passed Wednesday, please visit our website. The bill, in its entirety, can be read online.

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS

Administrative Tax Relief Measures

• This tax relief for small, local businesses includes postponing the collection of regular sales tax, meals tax, and room occupancy taxes that would be due in March, April, and May postponing their due date to June 20. Additionally, all penalties and interest that would otherwise apply will be waived.

• Businesses that paid less than $150,000 in regular sales plus meals taxes in the year ending Feb. 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief for sales and meals taxes.

• Business that paid less than $150,000 in room occupancy taxes in the year ending Feb. 29, 2020 will be eligible for relief with respect to room occupancy taxes.

• These administrative relief measures which are expected to be finalized before Friday, March 20, 2020.

• The state is providing unemployment assistance to workers impacted by COVID-19 by waiving the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits allowing new claims to be paid more quickly.

REGISTER TO LEARN HOW TO DO BUSINESS VIRTUALLY

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#2  |   Wednesday, March 18, 2020     |      Famiiles First Act: Paid Family, Medical, Sick Leave, Unemployment Insurance, Food Assistance

 

#2  | Wednesday, March 18, 2020

CONGRESS IS VOTING ON A BILL TO SUPPORT EMPLOYEES, EMPLOYERS IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19

Here’s a detailed look at the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. Extended supports in this bill include Paid Family and Medical Leave Act support, paid sick leave, unemployment insurance, and food assistance.

The bill is currently on the Senate floor. We anticipate some amendments to the House version. We will let you know what the final version of the bill contains once the Senate takes its vote.

PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

•  The bill provides 12 weeks of job-protected paid PFMLA benefits — of which the first 14 days may be unpaid — for employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees. Below is a breakdown of the provisions:

•  Employees may use accrued personal or sick leave during the first 14 days, but employers may not require employees to do so.

•  The leave benefit covers employees who have been working for at least 30 calendar days.

•  Among other uses, employees may use the leave to respond to quarantine requirements or recommendations, to care for family members who are responding to quarantine requirements or recommendations, and to care for a child whose school has been closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

•  After the first 14 days, employers must compensate employees in an amount that is not less than two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. These pay requirements apply to only the COVID-19-related leave reasons listed above.

•  The provisions will go into effect 15 days after the date of enactment and will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

PAID SICK LEAVE

•  Employers with fewer than 500 employees will be required to provide full-time employees two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave for specific circumstances related to COVID-19 (e.g., self-isolating, doctors’ visits, etc.).

•  Part-time employees are entitled to the number of hours of paid sick time equal to the number of hours they work, on average, over a two-week period.

•  Employers must compensate employees for any paid sick time they take at their regular rates of pay.

•  Employers will be required to post a notice informing employees of their rights to leave.

•  As currently drafted, the bill expressly provides that it does not preempt existing state or local paid sick leave entitlements.

•  The provisions will go into effect 15 days after the date of enactment and will expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

•  The bill provides $1 billion in emergency unemployment insurance relief to the states: $500 million for costs associated with increased administration of each state’s UI program and $500 million held in reserve to assist states with a 10 percent increase in unemployment.

•  Besides the necessary increase in unemployment, in order to receive a portion of this grant money, states must temporarily relax certain UI eligibility requirements, such as waiting periods and work search requirements.

FOOD ASSISTANCE

•  The bill includes more than $1 billion to provide nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women and mothers with young children, help stock food banks, and provide meals to seniors. It also protects students’ access to school meals in the event of school closures.

•  The bill contains $500 million to provide access, through the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children to nutritious foods to low-income pregnant women or mothers with young children who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the COVID-19 emergency.

•  It provides $400 million to assist local food banks, The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), to meet increased demand for low-income Americans during the emergency. Of that total, $300 million is for the purchase of nutritious foods and $100 million is to support the storage and distribution of the food.

•  The legislation also includes a general provision that allows the Department of Agriculture to approve state plans to provide emergency Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) food assistance to households with children who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals if not for their schools being closed due to the COVID-19 emergency. In order to be eligible, the child’s school must be closed for no less than 5 consecutive days.

•  In order to be activated, the bill must first be passed by the U.S. Senate then signed by President Trump. Voting by the Senate will occur today. We will update you as to key elements of this bill as it continues through the course.


#1  |   Tuesday, March 17, 2020     |      Loans: Recovery, Emergency, Disaster

 

#1  | Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Small Business Recovery Loan Fund

• The Baker-Polito Administration announced a $10 Million Small Business Recovery Loan Fund which will provide emergency capital up to $75,000 to Massachusetts-based businesses impacted by COVID-19 with fewer than 50 full- and part-time employees, including nonprofits.

• Loans are immediately available to eligible businesses with no payments due for the first six months. Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation has capitalized the fund and will be its administrator.

• To apply, complete the application on empoweringsmallbusiness.org and email it to MGCC with the subject line “2020 Small Business Recovery Loan Fund.”

Emergency Loans

• The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce partners with the North Central Massachusetts Chamber on microloans and is now offering emergency loans of up to $20,000 to small businesses negatively impacted by Covid-19.

• The loans, offered through its financing arm the North Central Massachusetts Development Corp. are in lieu of high-interest credit cards or expensive and unregulated online lenders.

• The NCMDC still offers its regular loans of up to $150,000, although those take longer to approve.

• To qualify for the emergency loan, businesses must be provide two years of tax returns and demonstrate a direct financial impact of coronavirus on the business.

• To inquire about a loan, please contact Sandie Cataldo or Brendan Hannen at the North Central Chamber.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

• Administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program offers up to $2 million in low-interest loans to small businesses and nonprofits which have been severely impacted by Covid-19.

• At an interest rate of 3.75 percent (small businesses) and 2.75 percent (nonprofits) loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills which cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact.

• For more information on these loans, please visit the U.S. SBA website.

As always, we are here to help. For now, the Chamber’s offices remain open. If you would like to speak to someone, please call 508.753.2924 or email info@worcesterchamber.org and we will put you in touch with the most appropriate staff member regarding your request.