Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 5/7/2021 at 9:00 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 Operations

Restaurant and bar operations and gathering limits were eased as of April 4, 2021. Updated guidance for these businesses can be found here.

The Wolf administration, in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, announced that mitigation orders except masking will be lifted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31 at 12:01 AM.  

This change means that on May 31st, restaurants, bars, stores, salons, gyms, theaters, event venues, nightclubs, and other businesses can open at 100% capacity, and crowd-size limits will be lifted on all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The current order requiring Pennsylvanians to wear masks will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Face coverings are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home. In accordance with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance,fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians are not required to wear a mask during certain activities.   

Current guidance for businesses and gatherings is available here

– SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, provides recommendations for developing a workplace vaccination strategy.

 


Vaccination and Testing

Vaccine Distribution

All Pennsylvania adults are now eligible to schedule vaccination appointments. Click here to find a vaccination site. 

Columbia County EMA is assisting Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties with COVID-19 vaccination appointments.  Those eligible should call 570-389-5735, Monday through Friday only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Provide name, date of birth, address and phone number.  Someone from Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties will call back to schedule an appointment. The clinic expects to experience a large volume of inquiries and asks callers to allow ample time for a call back. Callers who are not contacted within 72 hours are asked to call again. Another way to schedule an appointment time for their vaccination, patients simply need to log on to our website at svmedspec.com and click on our Covid-19 vaccination link to enter their contact information.

Individuals needing a ride to a vaccination appointment can call 1-800-632-9063 to schedule a free ride with rabbittransit.

Testing

If you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, contact your physician for a referral to a testing site.


Financial Assistance

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled an updated guide for the latest Federal programs. 

Federal programs

– 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 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.

First and Second Draw applications are being accepted by local financial institutions through May 31, 2021. Updated PPP Lender forms, guidance, and resources are available at www.sba.gov/ppp and www.treasury.gov/cares.

Click here for a list of frequently asked PPP Loan questions.

– The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides priority for the $10,000 Advance 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. The U.S. Small Business Administration is contacting organizations eligible for the EIDL Advance. 

EIDL advances will not reduce PPP loan forgiveness and are not included in taxable income.

Small businesses and nonprofit organizations may qualify for EIDL loans with a 3.75% fixed rate for companies and a 2.75% fixed rate for nonprofits. Businesses can apply directly with the SBA for EIDL loans.

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

The Employee Retention Credit is extended through December 31, 2021. The new credit, beginning January 1, is 70% on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $28,000 per employee through December 31, 2021).

The new law expands eligibility to include employers who experienced a decline of more than 20% in a qualifying quarter.

Employers can also apply to the PPP program and take advantage of the tax credit program, provided the same wages are not used.

The IRS has issued updated guidance on utilizing ERC.

The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grant program provides assistance to live venues that were harmed by COVID-19 restrictions. The SVO grant program will distribute $16 billion in funds to live venue operators, including eligible movie theaters, concert spaces, museums and performing arts organizations.

SVO grants are being administered directly by the SBA. The application portal has been reopened. Click here for program details and to apply. 

– The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) will provide $28.6 billion in grants targeting hard-hit restaurants and bars. Affected entities will be able to apply for grants based on lost gross revenue between 2019 and 2020, with maximum grant sizes totaling $5 million for restaurants and $10 million for restaurant groups.

Similar to the SVO grants, RRF grants will be administered directly by the SBA. The American Rescue Plan Act established the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) to provide funding to help restaurants and other eligible businesses keep their doors open.  Applications opened May 3rd. This program will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023.    

The Small Business Administration had released technical guidance and a sample application (see Supplemental Documents) for the RRF.

Local programs

Businesses in the hospitality industry are urged to apply as soon as possible for the COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) grants since funds may be quickly exhausted.

Businesses can apply at the Community Giving Foundation’s website at www.csgiving.org until the funds are exhausted or June 15, 2021.

Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000 and the funds will alleviate revenue losses and pay eligible operating expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible hospitality industry businesses include hotels, restaurants, bars, and taverns. These businesses must fall within eligible industry codes which include the Accommodations subsector NAICS code (721) or Food Services and Drinking Places subsector (722) found here:: https://www.naics.com/search/

Eligibility includes, but is not limited to, having fewer than 300 full-time employees; a net worth that does not exceed $15 million; a 25% reduction in gross receipts in 2020 compared to 2019; and be located within Centre, Clinton, Columbia, Juniata, Lycoming, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder, or Union counties.

Priority will be given to businesses that did not already receive COVID relief funds; that were subject to closure following the disaster emergency declared by Gov. Tom Wolf on March 6, 2020; and had more than a 50% reduction in gross receipts from March 31, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. For a full listing of eligibility requirements and prioritization guidelines, visit www.csgiving.org.

– 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 cwca@seda-cog.org.

– 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.


 

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 businesses 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


Active Shooter Preparedness Webinar

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Region 3 (DC, DE, MD, PA, VA, WV) invites you to join a two-hour security webinar to enhance awareness of and response to an active shooter event. The webinar will be held on Thursday, May 20th from 9-11 am.  Preparing employees for a potential active shooter incident is an integral component of an organization’s incident response planning. Because active shooter incidents are unpredictable and evolve quickly, preparing for and knowing what to do in an active shooter situation can be the difference between life and death. Every second counts.

THIS IS NOT A TACTICAL TRAINING COURSE

Objectives:
-Discuss the elements of active shooter incident response planning with guidance from expert instructors.
-Describe common behaviors, conditions, and situations associated with active shooter events.
-Discuss how to recognize potential workplace violence indicators.
-Provide information about best practices, communications protocols, and resources that will assist stakeholders to develop or enhance their emergency planning, preparedness, and response to active shooter incidents.

Understanding Liability and Risk Exposure:
The webinar focuses on providing awareness training that supports the development of emergency action planning capabilities. These capabilities may better position organizations in receiving important legal liability protections from the DHS Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002. To learn more about the
SAFETY Act and the types of products, services, and layered security programs that have received protections, visit
www.safetyact.gov.

Who Should Participate?
Private and public organizations
Corporate and facility security professionals
Supervisory first responders
Human resource managers
Community response officials
Health organizations
Faith-based leaders
School administrators and security officers
Homeland security representatives

DHS Resources REGISTRATION:
Products and information can be requested by contacting the Active Shooter Preparedness team at ASworkshop@cisa.dhs.gov.

For more information and resources on Active Shooter Preparedness visit: cisa.gov/active-shooter-preparedness.

Note: An email with information to connect to the webinar will be sent the day prior to the event.

Registration for this event is free.
Register here.  Registration is limited to 300 participants and will close as soon as it reaches capacity or no later than May 19, 2021 at noon.

Member News- May 5, 2021

SEDA-COG Announces New Director of Community Development

SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) is pleased to announce that Tyler Dombroski, a 7.5-year staffer, is the new director of its Community Development program.

As senior program analyst in that program, he wrote and administered many Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grants and projects, and most notably, has managed the $17 million Town of Bloomsburg Flood Mitigation Expansion project. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he has led efforts to create the CDBG‐CV Economic Development program template utilized regionwide.

Dombroski’s major goals as director this year include adapting to the region’s grant administration needs from major federal funding investments including CARES, American Rescue Plan, and the proposed American Jobs Plan; positively contributing to the region’s economic recovery; and continuing to provide strong grant administration services to SEDA-COG’s client communities. 

He also aims to continue the development of his team.

“Our department is a strong team that has faced significant adversity over the last year. I hope to continue our positive growth,” Dombroski said.

He appreciates the people, the beauty, and the culture of the region.

“Our region is comprised of salt-of-the-earth people, which is important to me. My family and friends live here and being close to them is also important to me. I think our region has a lot of natural beauty and history. I am also a big Penn State football fan, so I have to stay close to my alma mater,” Dombroski said.

SEDA-COG Executive Director Kim Wheeler said Dombroski has the leadership qualities, experience, and skills to lead the team.

“He shows a great deal of commitment and visionary outlook which will help to continue the department and agency adapt to the ever-changing work environment with the pandemic. We are very excited as Tyler has started his transition into the director role today, May 3. We look forward to the continued excellent work Tyler and his team provide to the region,” Wheeler said.

Dombroski has been mayor of Washingtonville since 2014 and was a councilman for two years prior. He has served on the Montour Area Recreation Commission since 2013, currently as chairman. He has been chairman of the Montour County Agricultural Land Preservation Board since 2016. He is vice chairman of the Washingtonville Municipal Authority and has been on the board since 2014. He serves on the boards of the Central Susquehanna Opportunities (since 2018) and the Jane E. DeLong Memorial Hall Association (since 2013).

He earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Secondary Education Social Studies in 2011, and his Master of Professional Studies in Community and Economic Development in 2014, both from Penn State.

Teri Provost had been the interim director of the program for over a year, in addition to being director of the Flood Resiliency and Housing Rehabilitation programs.

Wheeler said Provost did an excellent job providing oversight to three departments.

“We thank Teri for her oversight and commitment to not only the Community Development department but the agency over the last year-plus. Her continued hard work and dedication have helped to keep the department running smoothly. We appreciate her excellence,” Wheeler said.

SEDA-COG’s Community Development program administers 14 CDBG contracts for 28 communities. Over 35 years, the program has secured $120 billion for over 1,000 projects with its 11 dedicated staff.

As a community and economic development agency, SEDA-COG enhances the quality of life and economic advantage for residents and businesses in 11 central Pennsylvania counties through its vital partnerships and initiatives. SEDA-COG also is an advocate for the interests of its communities at the state and federal levels. For more information, visit www.seda-cog.org.


Community Giving Foundation: Danville Announces Holiday Happenings Gala

The recipient(s) of the Robert N. Pursel Award for Community Service will be honored at the 25th Annual Holiday Happenings Gala on Saturday, November 6, 2021, in the Ballroom of the Pine Barn Inn. The gathering will start at 6:00 pm.

The Holiday Happenings event will be a fun, festive evening to reconnect with your neighbors and help showcase the community service-oriented citizens we are fortunate to live with in our home town. The namesake of the Pursel Award was a shining example of duty and philanthropy, both in the military and in his involvement with many local organizations. He was the first of 24 recipients we have been privileged to honor through the years. To nominate a deserving person, couple, or organization for the Pursel Award, access the nomination form at csgiving.org/holiday-happenings.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Neighbors Helping Neighbors endowment fund of the Community Giving Foundation: Danville. This unrestricted fund supports unmet needs in the Danville community by granting to local nonprofit organizations. Save the date for an evening of celebration, socialization, and giving to benefit your community. Sponsorships and ticket information will be available at csgiving.org/holiday-happenings in the coming months.

Community Giving Foundation: Danville is an affiliate of the Community Giving Foundation, which manages nearly 300 charitable funds and makes grant investments throughout the region to improve the quality of life in the Central Susquehanna area. For more information, visit csgiving.org or call the Foundation at 570-752-3930.


SHRMA to Offer “What’s New in Unemployment Compensation!”

It’s hard to believe but this is the final program for the 2020/2021 Programming Series through SHRMA.  Despite what we all faced during this pandemic, SHRMA was still able to successfully bring meaningful programming to its membership.   The Program Committee will begin developing the 2021/2022 programming series and will determine if we remain virtual, in person or a hybrid model. 

For the May18th virtual program, we welcome Nancy Smithbauer, UC Workforce Development Representative from PA Department of Labor & Industry.  Nancy will be presenting “What’s New in Unemployment Compensation!” 

Are you wondering what is happening in the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation?  Getting questions from your workers concerning benefits and programs available?  Wondering why inquiries take so long to resolve and what UC is doing?  This presentation can help!  “What’s New” (in UC) presentation covers a bit of the past practices, the current UC situation and the initiatives being processed as we look forward to the future.  Presented by a nearly 20 year veteran in UC, you will get the information you need to better assist your workers and understand the system for considerations when faced with a reduction in your workforce.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understanding how the pandemic affected UC
  • a description of the 8 programs currently operating under the UC umbrella
  • the Benefit Modernization Project
  • the changing environment and processes of Unemployment Compensation.

Nancy Smithbauer, Workforce Development Representative for Unemployment Compensation has been employed by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry for 19 years, having been a Claims Examiner for nearly 10 of those years.

Nancy helps employers and claimants understand the Unemployment Compensation Laws and assists with navigating the process to ensure the proper application of the program. She is a member of the Rapid Response Coordination Services Team that provides information and assistance to workers in the event of a lay off or closure.

Nancy is also a “trouble shooter” for individuals and employers who are in need of assistance with their UC Claim.  Her service area spans across 15 counties. 

This session has been submitted for recertification credits with HRCI and SHRM.

The presentation slides will be available on our SHRMA website after the session concludes.

***In 2021, NON-SHRMA members will be charged a $15 per program fee for virtual programs.***

To register for the May 2021 SHRMA program, please click on the link. Login information for a Zoom session will be sent to you after registration is completed.  

Mitigation Orders to Lift on Memorial Day with Masking Remaining 

The Wolf administration, in coordination with the COVID-19 Vaccine Joint Task Force, announced that mitigation orders except masking will be lifted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31 at 12:01 AM.  

This change means that on May 31st, restaurants, bars, stores, salons, gyms, theaters, event venues, nightclubs, and other businesses can open at 100% capacity, and crowd-size limits will be lifted on all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The current order requiring Pennsylvanians to wear masks will be lifted when 70% of Pennsylvanians age 18 and older are fully vaccinated. Face coverings are required to be worn indoors and outdoors if you are away from your home. In accordance with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, fully vaccinated Pennsylvanians are not required to wear a mask during certain activities.   

Requirements such as testing and reporting ​new cases will remain in place for hospitals and long-term care facilities. Maintaining requirements for hospitals and long-term care facilities wi​ll allow Pennsylvania to continue to closely monitor COVID-19 spread while lifting other restrictions. 

The Department of Health recommends that Pennsylvanians refer to CDC guidance and recommendations regarding ongoing COVID-19 safety measures and procedures. 

These updates will not prevent municipalities and school districts from ​continuing and implementing stricter mitigation efforts.  

The governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic remains in place.  

All Pennsylvanians ages 16 and older are eligible to schedule a COVID-19 vaccine. The provider map is available on the Department of Health’s website. Pennsylvanians with questions about the vaccination process can call the Department of Health hotline at 1-877-724-3258.  

Bloomsburg Mayoral Candidates Discuss Business Issues at Forum

The two registered candidates for Bloomsburg Mayor shared their views on supporting business in the Town, flood protection, the relationship with Bloomsburg University, and other issues at a public forum held April 28th at Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble. Incumbent Mayor Bill Kreisher and Council member Justin Hummel are both registered on the Democratic ticket for the May 18th primary election. The forum was co-sponsored by The Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Bloomsburg Inc (DBI).

Both candidates identified the need to generate additional revenue for Town operations. Kreisher cited flood protection as important to preserving property values and encouraging more people to live in the Town, while Hummel indicated that flood protection for the West end is not cost-effective. Instead, the Town should work to attract more events which would generate revenue from the amusement tax. He also noted that 68% of the property tax payers in Town pay less than $1,000 a year to Bloomsburg.

When asked about the priority issues for Bloomsburg, Kreisher cited a number of priorities outlined in the Blueprint for Bloomsburg comprehensive plan adopted in 2009 including updating zoning to encourage business growth, improving relations with the University, and being more visitor friendly. Hummel called for a new comprehensive vision that includes welcoming and encouraging more events and activities.

To encourage transparency and stakeholder engagement as well as municipalities up to date related to ordinances, zoning, and infrastructure, the Chamber and DBI developed a candidate pledge (link to attached) for all Council candidates. Kreisher has signed the pledge. While Hummel stated that while he supports the items within the pledge and feels the Town is already doing them he’s “not into signing arbitrary agreements.”

The audio recording of the forum is available at columbiamontourchamber.com/audio-video/.

State System Advances Bold Initiative to Reshape Public Higher Education in Pennsylvania

From PASSHE
 
The Board of Governors for Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education approved two plans aimed at bolstering student success, expanding academic programming, exploring potential growth areas, and ensuring high-quality, postsecondary education remains viable in critical parts of the Commonwealth.
 
Known as integrations, the plans would restructure six universities into two combinations of three. The integrated institutions would be California, Clarion, and Edinboro universities in the western part of the state and Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities in the northeastern region. 
 
The vote by the Board is one step in an extensive consultation process outlined in Act 50 of 2020 before integrations could be finalized by the Board this summer. The vote now initiates a 60-day public comment period, including two public hearings.
 
“Today’s vote is the most significant reimagining of public higher education since the System was formed in 1982,” Board chair Cindy Shapira said. “We’re supporting a bold, innovative vision thanks to Chancellor Dan Greenstein, his leadership team, and the more than 1,000 students, faculty, and staff who came together in working groups to develop these plans.”
 
The plan calls for the creation of two fully accredited, degree-granting universities, each with three unique partner campuses.  While the integrated universities will be established with a single leadership team, a single faculty cohort, a single budget, and a single enrollment management, integration also supports each campus continuing to use its historic name and brand, its traditions and on-campus experiences. Because each campus will continue residential operations, each local community will continue to benefit from the positive economic impact of the institution.
 
Additionally, students at each of the partner institutions will have access to the full breadth of academic programs—majors, minors, credentialing, among others—that exist across the partner institutions, and student supports will be strengthened, drawing on the collective’s resources and expertise.
 
“Those who participated in the planning process did exactly what you’d expect of mission-driven professionals who are passionate about the role public higher education plays in transforming students’ lives. Rather than thinking about how to pour students into the mold we have developed over decades, they asked: ‘How do we build an institution that meets our students’ needs now and into the future?’ This is tremendously exciting stuff,” Greenstein said. “It is less about how to make students college-ready and focuses far more about how to make colleges ready for our students, and we are thankful to the students, faculty, staff, trustees, elected leaders, everyone who participated in the work thus far.”
 
These plans also outline new academic opportunities that the integrated entities will pursue to complement traditional, residential educational experiences. 
 
For schools in the northeast, that means bolstering workforce development, an effort that results from close consultation with major employers and represents a growth opportunity for the three campuses. For the western trio, the new integrated university will develop a world class, Pennsylvania-based online academic program to add to their on-campus offerings.
 
The plans layout how integrations can grow enrollments and dramatically expand student opportunities—doing more together than any one institution could do alone. They also show how the coming together of three campuses can leverage their combined scale and set each on a path toward financial sustainability all while preserving the positive economic impact they have in their host communities.
 
The State System will now facilitate a 60-day public comment period. Those who wish to read the plans can do so by clicking here, and to submit public comment, please see this website for more details​. Two virtual public hearings are scheduled for June 9 and 10 and more details will be forthcoming.