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.


#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

For the full message, please visit our website.


#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.