Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 10/16/2020 at 4:00 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.

Amended guidelines for gathering limits allow for occupancy limits to determine the number of people permitted both inside and outside for events or gatherings.

View the governor’s amended order here.
View the secretary’s amended order here.
View FAQs about the amended orders on safe gatherings.

Restaurants may increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent 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 9/23/20)

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

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.

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

The second round of grant funding for Montour County businesses closed on October 14th and awards will be announced soon. Details are available through the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation’s website.  

Columbia County businesses can apply for a second round of grant funding through November 9th.  Additional details are also 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.


 

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


2021 Health Insurance Enrollment Webinars

My Benefit Advisor provides the information you need to make smart decisions with your health insurance plans. Enrollment for 2021 is here, making this the perfect opportunity to explore plan options and learn more about the latest laws, carrier news, and how the MBA program can benefit you.

To help aid in learning more about options, My Benefit Advisor will be hosting a series of Health Insurance webinars next week.  Some of the topics include:
 
• Local, Regional, & National Healthcare Trends
• Consulting Solutions for Modern Healthcare Cost Drivers
• My Benefit Advisor Overview

Register for any of the dates and times below:

About My Benefit Advisor
My Benefit Advisor (MBA) is an employee benefits consulting firm designed to guide employers through the complexity of planning, communicating and managing a successful employee benefits program. Client relationships are driven exclusively through a select group of associations and brokers.

To learn more about My Benefit Advisor, visit www.mybenefitadvisor.com.

Member News- October 21, 2020

Telephone town hall for solar farm project this Thursday

Talen Energy is partnering with Pattern Energy to develop a 1,000 solar farm in northern Montour County. A telephone town hall will be held Thursday, October 22nd at 7 p.m. to provide an overview of the project and answer questions. Information is available at montoursolar.com.

Your Neighbors: LGBTQ in Central and Northeast Pennsylvania

A community panel discussion on living in Pennsylvania as a member of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community will be hosted on Zoom the evening of October 22, 2020.

This event is made possible through a confluence of organizations concerned for the cultivation and growth of the LGBTQ community in Pennsylvania.

It is through sharing our experiences that we hope to show our similarities, provide insight into our struggles, and help inspire understanding.

All those who would like to learn more about the lives of LGBTQ people in Central and Northeast Pennsylvania, and how to support them, are invited to attend this event.

Spellbinding Social Media Strategies Webinar

On October 27th from 9-11 am the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center will be hosting a webinar on social media strategies. 

Social media isn’t just for social media sake, it’s a low cost high impact marketing option for small businesses if you know how to use it. Using it isn’t complicated and there are ways to get a big bang for a few bucks.

Topics covered will include:
*Understanding the Algorithms
*Tag you’re it: how many hashtags should you use and how do you choose?
*Cross-posting: do you post the same thing everywhere?
*Video killed the radio: why you need video content
 
Register here
 
Creating Effective Job Postings & Ads
 
Join PA Careerlink and Press Enterprise on Tuesday, October 27th from 10-11 am as they partner together for a virtual webinar on how to create effective job posting and ads.  
 
Register here to receive the Zoom link. 

 

 

 

Civil, Social, Human Services and Healthcare Expo at Bloomsburg University

Bloomsburg University will be holding an expo to help connect employers with students interested in careers in the Social, Health, and Human Services & Non-Profit career fields on October 28 & 29 from 2-5 p.m. Recommended employers include: Health Care Providers, Non-Profit Organizations, Government Agencies and Residential Treatment Facilities. Primary student attendees are those majoring in Nursing, Allied Health Sciences, Exercise Science, Communication Studies, Languages & Cultures, Social Work, Sociology, and Psychology.

The standard registration fee includes your participation on both dates of the expo and our Fall Finale Bonus Expo in November. 

Upon registration, we will review the details you submitted for approval. At our fair, you’ll be able to engage with students in a variety of formats, including:

  • Video, audio, and chat communication with students
  • Group meetings with up to fifty students
  • 1:1 meetings scheduled in advance or after a group session
  • Share documentation with students ahead of time and have access to students who register to attend one of your sessions, resumes and contact information.

 Note: During registration, you’ll be asked to share the number of representatives who plan to attend the fair—up to 15 representatives per employer are able to participate in the fair. Each representative you register will be able to create their own unique schedule to engage with students. To learn more about these features check out this Handshake-hosted training webinar.

Employers are invited to discuss job shadowing, internship or employment opportunities with freshmen through graduate students and alumni. All expos are open and promoted to students from all majors and class years.

Although recruiting at Bloomsburg may look a little different this Fall, we are available to assist with all of your recruitment needs! Please review the toolkits provided by Handshake which will answer many of the questions you may have about participating in virtual events.

 If you have any remaining questions after reviewing the toolkits or need help registering for the event in Handshake, please contact our team at hireahusky@bloomu.edu.

Veterans Day Dinner Celebration with Geisinger

Geisinger thanks all of our veterans for their service to our country, and hopes you’ll join them for an appreciation dinner for U.S. veterans. Pick up your complimentary dinner via a drive-through arrangement on Thursday, November 12th. 

Reservations are required by Thursday, November 5th. Servings are limited, so reserve your meal today.

Complimentary for all U.S. veterans and one guest. You must wear a mask when picking up your meal.

To make a reservation at Geisinger-Bloomsburg, call 866-462-5127 or visit go.geisinger.org/VetsDinner/GBH.

To make a reservation at Geisinger-Danville, call 866-578-3427 or visit go.geisinger.org/VetsDinner/GMC.

To make a reservation at Geisinger-Shamokin, call 866-278-9806 or visit go.geisinger.org/VetsDinner/GSACH.

 

Welcome Neighborhood Advisors Insurance Agency

More than 425 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 Neighborhood Advisors Insurance Agency

Located on Market Street in Bloomsburg, Neighborhood Advisors is a local independent insurance agency specializing in automobile insurance, home insurance, flood insurance, landlord insurance, business and workers compensation insurance. The agency provides insurances from many companies and provides serves the Columbia and Montour area. 

For more information on Neighborhood Advisors Insurance Agency visit its website, Facebook page or call 570-784-1673.

 

 

New Program to Help Individuals Build Employment Skills

Adults and out of school youth who would like to improve their chances of getting a job can take advantage of a new, free program. The Chamber’s Foundation is partnering with Columbia-Montour Area Vocational-Technical School (CMAVTS) to help people strengthen skills needed to pursue and start employment. Skills That Pay is a new program is being made possible with funding provided by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Columbia County Commissioners through the CARES Act.

The program will help individuals develop a portfolio useful in pursuing employment, entering military service or college. Participants will cover the following topics over four, three-hour sessions:

  • Explore your value system to determine how it affects your job performance
  • Demonstrate communication skills
  • Demonstrate proper grooming and dress for success
  • Work as part of a team
  • Identify and describe safety practices and procedures
  • Evaluate employer – employee relations
  • Write an effective cover letter
  • Prepare an effective resume
  • Complete application forms
  • Participate in a mock job interview

Sessions will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on November 9, 11, 16 and 18 at CMAVTS, 5050 Sweppenheiser Drive, Bloomsburg.

Upon successful completion of the ten modules, participants will be awarded a certificate of completion and have the opportunity to interview with local employers, including Bloomsburg Carpet, Design Group, Dyco, and Great Dane. A goal is for every graduate to be offered at least one job opportunity.

Additional information and the registration form is at www.skillsthatpay.org or by contacting Jeffrey Emanuel, director of The Foundation at foundation@columbiamontourchamber.com or 570-784-2522.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

From Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)

Did you know there are an estimated 4.8 billion internet users or 62% of the world’s population?

This year’s theme is Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart. The idea is for each of us to take ownership of the role we play in making cyberspace safer and more secure. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility.

Is there anyone that is safe from a cyberattack?
NO! Computer systems and mobile technologies are vulnerable regardless of whether they are part of a large corporation, small business, or belong to a home user.

Can children be victims of cybercrime?
Every age group is vulnerable to cyberbullying, but teenagers and young adults are common victims. Cyberbullying is a very common problem in schools. The internet is fairly anonymous, so it is appealing for bullies because it is difficult to trace. That is how rumors, threats, and photos can be disseminated on the internet very quickly.

How can we protect children during COVID-19?
Schools, communities, families and caregivers have experienced a disruption to their sense of security, structure and routine due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With many schools across Pennsylvania moving to a virtual or a hybrid model, more children are learning from home. Creating a safe, virtual learning environment is vital to protecting children.

It’s not just children at risk.
With the increased use of computers, tablets, and smartphones by older adults, they are also more vulnerable to online scams and fraud.

Whether using technology in public or at home, protect yourself and loved ones by following these tips to, “Do Your Part” and #BeCyberSmart:

  1. Secure your Wi-Fi network. Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals. Change the factory-set default password and username.  
  2. Enable stronger authentication. Add an extra layer of security by using a multi-factor authentication.
  3. Keep a clean machine. Make sure software is up-to-date and install updates for apps on your device’s operating system.
  4. Know your apps. Review and understand the details of an app before downloading and installing it. Also, check to make sure the vendor or creator of the app is reputable.
  5. Consider what you share. Limit the amount of personal information you share about yourself online.

Learn More
To learn more about cybersecurity and what you can do to prevent it and report it, visit these resources: