Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 9/29/2020 at 11:30 a.m. Updates in bold

We appreciate the ongoing support of all of our members, including our Visionary Members: Bloomsburg University, First Columbia Bank & Trust, First Keystone Community Bank, Geisinger, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, USG, & SEKISUI KYDEX

 

Business Reopening & Operating

All businesses must continue to follow CDC and Department of Health guidance for social distancing and cleaning. 

Restaurants may increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent starting September 21 if they commit to complying with all public safety guidelines and orders through a self-certification process. Click here for details.

Guidance for businesses (including restaurants) and schools is provided here. (Updated 7/15/20)

CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

A FAQ providing additional clarification on cleaning and safety is provided here.


Protection Equipment and Cleaning Supplies & Services

Hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning products, plastic barriers
(Contact individual stores for in-stock items)

  • Coles Hardware – 1089 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg
  • Commercial Stainless – 570-387-8980 (glass/plexiglass barriers only)
  • Renco Ace Hardware – 2251 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg
  • Sabo’s LLC – 1700 Orange St., Berwick, sabosllc.com
  • Staples, The Office Superstore, 1005 Scott Town Plaza, Bloomsburg
  • Wal-Mart – 100 Lunger Dr., Bloomsburg

Cleaning services

  • 3B Consultant Services – 570-799-5774
  • MaxWorx – 272-202-4435
  • Marr Development – 570-416-0570
  • ServPro of Columbia Montour & Sullivan Counties – 570-759-0966

Members that provide these products or services and are not listed should contact the Chamber.  


Financial Assistance

A webinar discussing the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Credit, and other resources is available on the Chamber’s YouTube channel.

Federal programs

The PPP program is currently closed. Another round is being considered as part of the next federal relief package. EIDL loans are being accepted and processed, though funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated. 

– The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides 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. These loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. 

  • The most up to date information, including the application and loan forgiveness forms, are available on the U.S. Treasury’s website
  • Considerations for non-profit organizations are available here.
  • A guide to PPP loan forgiveness is available here.

– The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides businesses with less than 500 employees working capital loans of up to $2 million. Click here for details about the program and to apply. 

All available funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated. Loan applications are still being accepted.

Businesses needing assistance in applying for an SBA loan can contact the Small Business Development Center network.

Columbia & Luzerne County businesses – wilkes.edu/sbdc
Montour County businesses – bucknell.edu/sbdc

Federal tax credit program

– The CARES Act also created a new employee retention tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed, or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. The Employee Retention Credit is a fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allowable qualified health plan expenses) that eligible employers pay their employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. The maximum amount of qualified wages taken into account with respect to each employee for all calendar quarters is $10,000, so that the maximum credit for an eligible employer for qualified wages paid to any employee is $5,000.

Click here for details from the IRS.

State grant program

The COVID-19 Relief Pennsylvania Statewide Small Business Assistance program provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. The second application window closed on August 28th. A third round is not anticipated.

Click here for additional details about the program.

Click here for a guide to completing the application.

Columbia County businesses should apply at reinvestment.com

Montour County businesses should apply at impactservices.org.

Local programs

The Commissioners in Columbia and Montour counties have allocated dollars from the CARES Act to provide financial assistance to small businesses and non-profit organizations. 

The application period for Columbia County businesses closed on August 10th and awards have been announced. 

The application period for non-profit organizations closed Friday, September 11th and awards have been announced. 

The first application period for Montour County businesses closed on August 21st and awards have been announced. A second round will be open October 1 through 14. Additional details are available through the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation’s website.  For questions about the grant application, contact Christine Orlando, CSCF Senior Program Officer, [email protected],  570-752-3930, ext. 2.

– 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.

For more information, visit https://seda-cog.org/covid-19/ or contact SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department at [email protected]

– 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.

Private programs

– 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.

– A growing number of companies have set up relief funds, online tools, classes, and other resources at no cost in response to the impact on small-business owners. This link contains a list that Inc. is curating and continuously updating.


Business Tax Filing Information

Business and personal tax filing information is available on the PA Department of Revenue’s website


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


Member News- September 30, 2020

Berwick Industrial Development Association (B.I.D.A.) donates to Berwick Health and Wellness Fund through the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation                                                                

The Berwick Industrial Development Association (B.I.D.A.) is committed to the economic development, growth, and sustainability of the region. Local nonprofit organizations play a vital role by providing services and resources to meet the needs of our community. B.I.D.A. made a recent donation to the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation to support the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund. 

 The Berwick Health and Wellness Fund is the original and largest component fund of the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, created through the sale of the Berwick Hospital in 1999. The Berwick Health and Wellness Fund seeks to enrich the lives of the residents of the hospital’s service area by using its investments to promote individual and community health and well-being. 

  A few of the priority areas include:    

  • Ensuring children are healthy and ready to learn when they enter school.
  • Promoting oral health for residents who lack access to regular dental care.
  • Reducing the risks of cardiovascular disease through nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco-free lifestyles.
  • Improving mental and behavioral health through community awareness, support, and treatment

B.I.D.A. is pleased to support the Berwick Health and Wellness Fund’s efforts which awards more than $1 million annually into the greater Berwick area through grants and scholarships. To learn more about the Foundation or to donate, please visit www.csgiving.org

Free Cleaning Supplies to Stay Healthy from CSO

Central Susquehanna Opportunities (CSO) knows how important it is for you and your family to stay healthy and would like to help by providing cleaning supplies. Limited supplies, first come first served.

  • Wednesday, September 30th from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at LCBC Church 2421 Columbia Blvd. Central Rd & Rt. 11, Bloomsburg, PA.
  • Tuesday, October 6th from 10 a.m.- noon at PA State Rep. David Millard Market St. Plaza 1000 Market St., Bloomsburg, PA

Bloomsburg Children’s Museum Announces Fall Programming

The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum, 2 West Seventh Street, Bloomsburg is pleased to announce its fall programming which includes clubs, programs and events for all ages. Clubs include Nerf Modification, Robotics, and Girls Who Code.

The Museum is offering a new preschool program that is free with admission and runs every-other Wednesday. Ready, Set, Grow is designed to help develop executive function skills in your preschooler to make sure they are kindergarten ready! 

Homeschool Hangouts start again in October. This popular program provides parent/child activities designed to complement concepts taught in homeschool curriculum, grades K-12.

Upcoming events at the Museum include Super Hero Saturday on October 17th and Turkey Day on November 21st. 

Discount days at the Museum are $2 Tuesday, every 3rd Tuesday of the month and Fall Fun Fridays, every Friday in October, which features free adult admission and a special fall-themed craft. 

Guest favorite Saturday art classes, Meet the Masters and Paint Me a Story return to offer art classes for PreK-12th grade students. 

Virtual offerings include PreK nature camp, Painting and Drawing Camp, and virtual field trips.

For a complete listing of all programs, visit www.The-Childrens-Museum.com or see the attached fall programs brochure.

The Bloomsburg Children’s Museum is open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The Museum will be closed from September 25th-October 5th for an annual construction and renovation period. They will re-open on Monday, October 4th. 

In order to maintain a safe public space for our guests and comply with our community standards, masks are required for entrance to the Museum.  The Children’s Museum has increased sanitation of all touchable surfaces, removed many loose exhibit pieces to reduce touchable surfaces, instituted “Discovery Bags” to still allow hands-on participation for individual learners, and increased air exchange in the Museum. 

NEPIRC to Host Free Virtual Manufacturing Day

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) will host its annual Manufacturing Day event on Friday, October 2nd, 2020. This year’s Manufacturing Day is free to all manufacturers and will be streamed virtually thanks to our partner, Coal Creative. When registering, attendees will have the option to select from a number of different sessions, each of which addresses a specific manufacturing best practice or technology.

NEPIRC’s event will feature David Beurle, CEO of Future iQ, as the keynote speaker. Mr. Beurle, a worldrenowned strategist, researcher and practitioner, pioneers and applies innovative tools and approaches that assist countries, cities, organizations, regions, tourism destinations and industries to shape their economic and community development futures. As the keynote speaker at NEPIRC’s 2019 Manufacturing Day, Mr. Beurle captivated the audience, and so NEPIRC looks forward to hosting him again in 2020.

In addition to Mr. Beurle, NEPIRC’s Manufacturing Day agenda includes the following presentations: Talent Succession Planning, presented by Leo Gilroy, Director of Strategy & Innovation, NEPIRC; Do Your Part #BECYBERSMART, presented by Marc Gonzalez, Site2; Problem Solving, presented by Gerry Giza, Director of Lean & Continuous Improvement, NEPIRC; Industry 4.0, presented by Brian Matyjevich, Lean Enterprise Consultant, NEPIRC; and ISO 9001:2015 Overview, presented by Brian Matyjevich and Ray Kryeski, Mechanical Engineer, NEPIRC. For presentation descriptions or to register, please visit the Training and Events tab on NEPIRC’s website by visiting www.nepirc.com or by calling 570.704.0018.

Each year, Manufacturing Day is recognized nationally on the first Friday of October with events taking place all month to celebrate the manufacturing industry and is contributions to local, regional and national economies. Additionally, Manufacturing Day serves to bring awareness of the industry to students, parents and educators to help bolster interest in manufacturing jobs.



 

Welcome Gray Builders

More than 420 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes Gray Builders.

Established in 1991, Gray Builders provides complete design-build solutions for commercial or residential projects. Some of the services offered include: New Construction, Remodeling, Renovations, Restoration, and Interior “Fit Outs” where an interior is completely re-configured, within the existing structure. They also have a complete wood working and paint shop, on-site, which allows for any type of custom millwork.

Learn more about Gray Builders by visiting its website, or Facebook page.

 

Tri County Lumber & Truss is SBA Eastern Pennsylvania’s 2020 Entrepreneurial Success of the Year

Forest & Field, a kitchen & bath showroom and design center, will open at the Columbia County Business Park in Lightstreet in 2021 as an expansion of Tri County Lumber & Truss.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has recognized Tri County Lumber & Truss in Berwick with its Eastern Pennsylvania Entrepreneurial Success of the Year Award for 2020. The Chamber of Commerce was part of the presentation ceremony with John Coates, Tri County President, held Tuesday, September 29th.

Tri County Lumber & Truss, formerly Fahringer Lumber, has a 30-year history in the Coates family. The business is under the management of the second-generation with John as President. During John’s tenure, he overtook the operations of a truss manufacturing plant in 2008 and in 2010 developed a Kitchen and Bath department. The business offers building materials; design and remodeling services for kitchens, baths, decks, and outdoor spaces; lumber products; contractor educational courses and events; tools and tool maintenance; and services for contractors and homeowners.

“It’s a privilege to recognize the achievements of leading Pennsylvania entrepreneurs like John,” said Steve Dixel, SBA Eastern Pennsylvania District Director. “Small businesses like Tri County Lumber & Truss, that are able to thrive, diversify, and anticipate their customer needs for the long-term, are essential to our nation’s economy. SBA, our resource partner Wilkes University Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and our lending partner SEDA-COG are proud to play a role in helping them expand and continue to succeed.”

John O. Coates has been a client of Wilkes SBDC since Spring 2017. He worked with Business Consultant Ray Haden to realize a business plan and financial projections replete with heavily researched financial assumptions for the design center construction project. The firm plans to open a 10,000 sq. ft. kitchen and bath showroom and interactive design space, called Forest & Field, in January 2021. Located at the Columbia County Business Park in Lightstreet, it will be a destination center for the region.

Coates worked with Fred Gaffney, Chamber President, to discuss options at the Business Park and consider financing options. “John has taken a very deliberate approach in utilizing resources in the region to evolve his business,” said Gaffney. “It is gratifying to see his ideas coming to fruition, as well as being recognized by the SBA.”

“One of the biggest frustrations in taking the operation to the next level is also a source of pride for Mr. Coates; specifically, in getting the expansion project absolutely right,” said Ray Haden, Business Consultant, Wilkes SBDC. “Initially, the expansion was massive, and John reflected on the purpose of the expansion – which was essentially showcasing designed kitchens and baths, appliances, window and door displays, and a working kitchen for chef demonstration. This strategy enabled a level of authenticity to realize the true needs related to the expansion and ultimately realize an expansion project that best served the operation and the local and surrounding areas.”

The Wilkes SBDC is a member of the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers’ statewide network which provides quality, no-cost, confidential business consulting and training to small business owners and entrepreneurs thinking about starting a business, contemplating expansion or change in a current business, or are developing a new product.

Tri County Lumber & Truss worked with SEDA-COG’s SBA 504 Loan Program Certified Development Company (CDC), to structure the financing package for the expansion project through an SBA 504 Loan. CDCs are nonprofit corporations promoting economic development within their community. CDCs are certified and regulated by the SBA, and work with SBA and participating lenders (typically banks) to provide financing to small businesses, which in turn, accomplishes the goal of community economic development.  The SBA 504 Loan program is a powerful economic development loan program that offers small businesses another avenue for business financing, while promoting business growth, and job creation.

“Despite its high level of visibility and ease of access, the rural location selected for the design center has been underutilized for many years,” said Tina Showers, Principal Program Analyst, SEDA-COG. “It will be in an area that has been designated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as distressed. Mr. Coates’ strategy to expand at this location exemplifies a sense of commitment and contribution to the Columbia County area. In an era where there are big box stores in almost every neighborhood, it is refreshing to see a small business not only serve the community in this capacity – but expand and grow.”

“Mr. Coates’ deliberations with the expansion project also took into consideration what would work for his employees, so they would not be overwhelmed,” adds Dorothy Lane, Director, Wilkes SBDC. “COVID-19 slowed them down for two months, but with SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan, EIDL Advance, and Paycheck Protection Program Loan, they were able to maintain payroll, prevent layoffs, and continue to purchase inventory and stay current on their existing debt.”

“It’s wonderful to be recognized as SBA’s Entrepreneurial Success of the Year,” said John O. Coates, President, Tri County Lumber & Truss. “We’re honored that Wilkes University SBDC nominated us and that SBA selected our business. The support from the SBA, Wilkes SBDC and SEDA-COG enabled us to expand and construct a state-of-the art kitchen and bath showroom and design center that will become a destination and revive the local economy with job creation and sales revenue.”

Whatever the situation, John’s contributions tend to have one thing in common: the community in which he calls home for himself, his family, and his business. He donates to the local Rocky Boxing Club and Berwick Christmas Boulevard. Mr. Coates retired as past President and Board Member of the Central Columbia School District. He is presently on the Board for Berwick Hospital and serves on the Berwick YMCA’s Fundraising Board.

SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Entrepreneurial Success of the Year award winner is selected annually from among nominees located across the 40 counties of eastern Pennsylvania. National Small Business Week recognizes the small business community’s contribution to the American economy. Learn more about National Small Business Week at https://www.sba.gov/national-small-business-week.

Round Two of Montour County Grant Program Opens October 1

Small businesses in Montour County that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are again invited to apply for up to $20,000 in financial assistance. The Montour County Commissioners are providing a second round of grants with funds provided through the CARES Act. Applications will be accepted October 1 through October 14.

Businesses that did not receive a loan or grant through the Federal Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Disaster Loan Program, or the first round of the Montour County grant program will be given priority, though all eligible businesses are encouraged to apply.

Eligibility:
-For-profit businesses or individuals operating businesses with a base location in Montour County.
-One owner per business may apply.
-Businesses that applied for and/or received grant funding through the first grant round in August are eligible to apply again in round two. Returning applicants must submit a new application for round two.

Approval requirements:
-Must be in business by March 1, 2019 and still in business on July 1, 2020
-Must intend to stay in business through, at least, July 1, 2021
-Total employees less than 100 OR an entity primarily engaged in the Tourism industry
-Business must be based in Montour County, PA
-Net profit in March 1-June 30, 2020 window must be less than net profit in March 1- June 30, 2019 window, OR, net profit in July 1-Sept. 30, 2020 window must be less than net profit in July 1- Sept. 30, 2019 window.
-Must not owe federal, state or local taxes-Must not be subject to criminal justice process as per the question in the application

Document requirements:
-Most recently filed federal tax return
-Entity documents including DBA or FBN certificate and proof of ownership
-Business license (if sole proprietor)
-Government-issued ID
-Evidence of fixed costs, including mortgage/rent/lease payments, utility costs, license fees, property tax bills, property and liability insurance bills, attest to any lost inventory

Grant applications must be completed and submitted through the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation’s website, www.csgiving.org.

The online application deadline is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, October 14. For questions about the application, contact Christine Orlando, CSCF Senior Program Officer, [email protected], 570-752-3930, extension 2.

The Commissioners previously awarded a total of $384,868 to 31 small businesses in Montour County through the first round of the program. Ken Holdren, Chair of the Board of Commissioners, expressed his appreciation to the committee that developed the program guidelines and reviewed applications. The committee was chaired by Commissioner Trevor Finn and included representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, Danville Business Alliance, DRIVE, and County Planning Commission.

State Grant Program Now Includes Digital Needs for Businesses

A state grant program that helps companies increase export sales is funding new activities because of COVID-19 travel difficulties.

The Global Access Program (GAP) is now providing grants for e-commerce, digital marketing, marketing media design, and certain certifications.

SEDA-Council of Governments’ (SEDA-COG) Export Development program assists businesses with application development, submittal, reporting, and reimbursement, among other assistance. 

Since the program began eight years ago, SEDA-COG has helped 63 companies to be awarded 103 grants totaling $371,525.

Noelle Long, director of SEDA-COG’s Export program, encouraged small- to mid-sized companies to apply for these funds.

“Businesses are having to adapt to the rapidly changing environment with the pandemic, and the GAP grant program has also adjusted to suit their needs since digital marketing is more important than ever. SEDA-COG is committed to continuing to empower businesses through this crisis and connect them with as many opportunities as possible,” Long said.

The reimbursable grants can be awarded up to $5,000. SEDA-COG’s GAP funds are available through next September.

Specifically, the grant now can be used for:

  • E-commerce and digital marketing
    • Design and development of website, with an international focus
    • Oversight and maintenance and monitoring fees for search engine optimization
    • Online market listing fees
    • E-commerce platform fees, including hosting and/or maintenance fees
    • Expenses to set up websites to accept international payments

  • Payments for Design of Marketing Media
    • Design of company digital international marketing, including social media and digital ads
    • Translation of marketing media, including audio and video
    • Google Analytics
  • Certifications: CE, CEE, GDPR, UL Canada, ATEX Testing/Certification, Japan Haz/Loc Certification, IECex Testing/Certification

The program continues to offer grants for the following activities:

  • Overseas trade mission participation (in person and virtual)
  • Overseas trade show exhibition (in person and virtual)
  • Domestic trade show exhibition (in person and virtual)
  • Foreign market sales trip
  • Subscription to U.S. Department of Commerce services
  • Compliance testing
  • Federal services that directly support exporting

GAP is administered by the Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development (OIBD). The program is funded in part through a grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For more information, visit https://dced.pa.gov/programs/global-access-program-gap/.

SEDA-COG’s Export Development team serves the businesses and communities of central Pennsylvania by encouraging and facilitating economic development through growth in world trade. It is funded by the state Department of Community & Economic Development’s Office of International Business Development and Partnerships for Regional Economic Performance.

For more information about SEDA-COG’s Export Development Program, contact Noelle Long at [email protected] or 570-524-4491.