Updated 1/21/2021 at 8:30 a.m. Updates in bold
With the expiration of the time-limited orders on Monday January 4th, mitigation efforts reverted to orders in place on December 11th.
– Geisinger has compiled resources and information for businesses including virus symptoms, safe practices in the workplace, and testing.
CDC guidance for wearing a mask and other safety practices, as well as identifying COVID-19 symptoms, is available here.
– The Columbia County Commissioners are offering COVID-19 Rapid Testing (15-minute results) for residents of Columbia County as well as those individuals that work in Columbia County at Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties at 6850 Lows Road, Bloomsburg.
Potential candidates will need to live or work in Columbia County and be symptomatic in order to qualify for a test. Symptoms include: fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell or body aches.
Call 570-389-5737 (Monday – Friday) between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm to make an appointment. Saturday morning appointments are also available. There are limited tests available and individuals must have an appointment. Individuals will need to answer a few questions to make sure they are eligible for this test.
Timelines and rollout details for moving to next phases are not yet available.
The new, $900 billion federal relief package passed in December renews the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL), Employee Retention Tax Credit, and SBA Loan Debt Forgiveness program. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled an updated guide with FAQs for these programs. A webinar hosted by the U.S. Chamber to provide an overview is available here. Links to these programs will be provided in the coming days as they are reactivated.
– The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides forgivable loans to small businesses, including sole proprietors and self-employed individuals, as well as some non-profit organizations, that maintain their payroll during the emergency. Organizations with less than 300 employees can apply for a “second draw” of up to $2 million. Terms of the program are expanded to allow employers to claim eligible expenses over a period of 8 to 24 weeks through March 31, 2021 and those expenses could include operations, property damage stemming from public disturbance not covered by insurance, supplier costs, and worker protection. The 60% payroll rule still applies.
Small businesses with up to 500 employees can also apply for an initial PPP loan.
Businesses in the restaurant and hospitality industries are eligible to receive loans of 3.5 times average monthly payroll, rather than 2.5 times for other businesses.
Eligible organizations apply through their banking institution.
– The updated Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program will provide priority for the $10,000 grant to small businesses with less than 300 employees, located in census tracts approved for New Market Tax Credits, that have experienced a 30% reduction in gross receipts during any 8-week period between March 2, 2020 and December 31, 2021 compared to a comparable 8-week period before March 2. If you meet this description and received a grant that is less than $10,000 you can reapply to receive the difference.
EIDL advances will not reduce PPP loan forgiveness and are not included in taxable income.
Click here for a map of census tracts approved for New Market Tax Credits.
Applications will be accepted through the U.S. Small Business Administration when the portal reopens.
Businesses needing assistance in applying for an SBA loan can contact the Small Business Development Center network.
Employee Retention Tax Credit program
The Employee Retention Tax Credit is extended through June 30, 2021. The prior credit was 50% on $10,000 in qualified wages for the whole year (or a maximum of $5,000 per employee). The new credit, beginning January 1, is 70% on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $14,000 per employee through June 30th).
The new law also expands which employers are eligible. Prior to the new law, the employee retention tax credit applied only to an employer who experienced a decline in gross receipts of more than 50% in a quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. Eligibility is expanded to include employers who experienced a decline of more than 20%.
Employers can also apply to the PPP program and take advantage of the tax credit program, provided the same wages are not used.
–The Berwick Borough Council has allocated $55,799 of Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) program funding to assist restaurants that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. SEDA-Council of Governments and The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce will be evaluating the applications on Berwick Borough’s behalf.
For businesses to be eligible for funding assistance through this program, the recipient business must meet all of the following criteria:
- Submit a fully completed BERWICK BOROUGH Small Business Support Grant Program application to Tyler Dombroski, SEDA-COG, by February 26, 2021; and
- Be a for-profit restaurant business located within the municipal limits of BERWICK BOROUGH; and
- Be an incorporated business in and/or registered to conduct business within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and
- Be negatively impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic shutdowns; and
- Be able to meet one of the national objective requirements (primarily benefit to low and moderate income persons) of the CDBG-CV program.
Grants will be evenly distributed between all successful applicants. Successful applicants will need to provide demonstrable business costs for rent/mortgage, utility, staffing salaries, inventory/supplies, and/or marketing/advertising. Grants from this program cannot cover expenses already addressed through other financial assistance programs.
– Grant programs provided by the County Commissioners for small businesses and non-profit organizations in Columbia and Montour counties are now closed.
– SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has created a loan program with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. For-profit businesses can apply for loans of at least $10,000 with an interest rate of 3.25%. Funds can be used for working capital and can be disbursed based on past working capital expenses. No payments are due in the first six months.
There is a $500 underwriting fee and a $100 filing fee.
– The Chamber’s low-interest loan program is offering loans of up to $10,000 for members at 3% interest for 30 months, with interest only payments for the first 12 months. If you are interested in the Chamber’s loan program, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber of Commerce at 570-784-2522 as funds are limited.
– The nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund was launched by business leaders throughout the Commonwealth. Forgivable loans of $3,000 are available.
Pennsylvania businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:
- Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
- Based in Pennsylvania and have been operating for at least one year;
- Owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident.
The funds dispersed to small businesses by the Pennsylvania 30 Day fund do not need to be repaid. Click here for details and to apply.
Unemployment, Benefits & HR Issues
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to individuals not eligible for regular benefits, including the self-employed and those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Click here for more information and to apply for PUA. Qualifying self-employed individuals will need to submit a copy of the Governor’s order closing businesses, available here.
The PA Department of Labor and Industry provides additional UC guidance for employers with impacted employees.
New temporary paid sick leave and Family and Medical Leave Act programs are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. The effective date of both programs is April 1 and they expire December 31. Both programs are in addition to any leave the employer already offers. Click here for a guide for employers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Click here for details from the IRS about the tax credits for paid leave.
The U.S. Department of Labor has released a required posting and FAQ regarding the FFCRA which went into effect April 1.
• Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
• Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice – Frequently Asked Questions
Small Business Recovery Program
The Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Zeigler College of Business has established a Small Business Recovery Program (SBRP) to assist local businesses in recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know these are challenging days for small businesses throughout the region, and the Zeigler College of Business wants to be a partner to help solve those problems,” said Todd Shawver, dean of the Zeigler College of Business.”
The SBRP will assist regional small business with any aspect of their business, except for financial assistance. These services can include, but are not limited to:
• Professional sales assistance
• Social media and marketing strategy
• Business strategy redevelopment
• Cost structures and monitoring
• Tax guidance
• Open to customizing services depending on business needs.
Anyone wishing to access the services of the SBRP can do so by filling out a request form.