Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 9/14/2020 at 3:00 p.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 Montour County businesses closed on August 21st and awards have been announced. A second round is planned for early October.

The application period for non-profit organizations closed Friday, September 11th and awards will be announced soon. 

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, corlando@csgiving.org,  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 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.

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 23, 2020

Free Laser Cataract Webinar

Join Eye Care Specialists as they will be presenting a Laser Cataract Webinar on September 24th from 6pm – 7pm. The webinar is a great opportunity for patients to learn more about cataract surgery, their options and choices, and to have all of their questions answered by our cataract surgeons during the Q&A portion of the webinar.
RSVP directly via this link: https://www.icarespecialists.com/cataract-webinar/

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.

  • Tuesday, September 29th from 10 a.m.- noon at PA State Rep. David Millard Market St. Plaza 1000 Market St., Bloomsburg, PA
  • Wednesday, September 30th from 12 p.m. – 2 p.m. at LCBC Church 2421 Columbia Blvd. Central Rd & Rt. 11, Bloomsburg, PA.

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 Mission Autism Clinics

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 Mission Autism Clinics.

Mission Autism Clinics (MAC) provides evidence-based ABA therapy to children and young adults (ages 2-18 years) diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through the implementation of safe, effective, and scientific approaches, they can ameliorate the symptoms of ASD through increased communication and social skills and improvements in behavior. At MAC, they recognize how parent involvement leads to the overall success of a child and delivers family-oriented therapy with the primary goal of creating more opportunities for their clients to lead independent, happy, and fulfilling lives. 

Mission Autism Clinics will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and offer tours of their new Bloomsburg facility on Friday, September 25th. Members from the community are invited to stop by, meet with staff, and learn about the services that are offered.

Learn more about Mission Autism Clinics by visiting its website, or Facebook page.

Montour Commissioners Provide Financial Assistance to Non-profits

The Montour County Commissioners have awarded a total $135,450 in financial assistance to 21 non-profit organizations that serve the county and were negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The grants, which were capped at $15,000 per agency, were available with Block Grant funds provided through the CARES Act to reimburse organizations for program expenses. Among the recipients were the Chamber’s Foundation.

The Columbia County Commissioners are expected to announce grant awards for non-profits in early October.

 

DBI Seeking Bids for Miller Ave. Project

Downtown Bloomsburg Inc. is now accepting sealed proposals for the Miller Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project. The project consists of the construction of streetscape improvements along Miller Ave. between Main Street and the municipal parking lot. The improvements include converting the alley into a pedestrian walkway and gathering area including new paving, the placement of tables and seating and relocation of overhead utilities.

Bidding documents, sets of construction drawings, and the project manual are available at http://bidplans.larsondesigngroup.com. Contact Larson Design Group, 1000 Commerce Park Drive, Suite 201, Williamsport, PA 17701; 570-323-6603 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, with any questions pertaining to access and use of the website.

The deadline for submissions will be Monday, October 26 at 3:30 p.m. at which time the bids will be publicly opened and read aloud at Town Hall Council Chambers. The project will be completed in the first half of 2021 with funding provided by the Town’s Community Development Block Grant allocation, DBI, and the Renaissance Jamboree Committee.

Broad Coalition Including Local Chamber Urge Enactment of Safe Harbor Protections

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Last week, coalitions of statewide employer and nonprofit associations and local chambers of commerce sent letters to the Pennsylvania General Assembly urging immediate passage of targeted, temporary safe harbor protections from unwarranted lawsuits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce signed on to one of those letters organized by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business & Industry. 

Currently, employers and others are vulnerable to COVID-19 related lawsuits that are being increasingly filed by plaintiffs’ attorneys hoping to cash in on the crisis. In some cases, suits are being filed against employers who have been tasked with self-enforcing the mask-wearing policies set by the Wolf administration.

The coalition of business and community groups stressed that employers who are making the investments to follow applicable health and safety guidelines should be able to operate with confidence that they will not be targeted with frivolous legislation; while there should be robust enforcement against those who are acting irresponsibly and not abiding by the guidelines.

The local chamber letter focused on the reality that so many businesses are facing at this time: drained savings, fewer customers, additional costly regulations and other uncertainties arising from COVID-19. “We are grateful for the public support provided to employers thus far; however, the pandemic’s economic impact has been relentless and so must be the public response. We urge you to support temporary, targeted legal safe harbor for those employers and healthcare providers operating in good faith and complying with relevant requirements,” the coalition of chambers wrote.

 A key component of the PA Chamber’s “Bringing PA Back” initiative has been working to enact legislation at the state and federal level that provides the safe harbor protections businesses, nonprofits, medical professionals and others need right now. To that end, the organization has advocated strenuously for elected officials to support liability protections that will help put an end to this unscrupulous pandemic profiteering. The Columbia Montour Chamber has also expressed support for these protections at the state and federal levels.