Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 6/02/2020 at 8:30 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, Geisinger, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, USG, & SEKISUI KYDEX

 

Business Reopening & Operating

Montour County moved from the yellow to green phase on May 29th. Columbia County moved from the red to yellow phase on May 22nd.

These changes lift the stay at home order for individuals and allows more businesses to resume operations, with safety protocols in place.  Businesses that remain closed under the yellow phase include indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, personal care services (salons, barber shops, spas), entertainment, indoor malls, and restaurants and bars for dine-in.

Updated guidance for yellow and green phase operations is below. (Updated 5/27/20)

Guidance for general business operations in the green phase is provided here.

A FAQ issued by the Wolf Administration provides additional guidance for business operations.

Specific guidance for restaurants and bars is provided here.

Specific guidance for the summer recreation industry is provided here.

Specific guidance for the construction industry is provided here.

A required notification poster for employees is provided here.

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
  • Wal-Mart – 100 Lunger Drive, 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 loan programs

PPP and EIDL loans are being processed. Local financial institutions are still accepting PPP applications. The EIDL application portal has been reopened for agricultural businesses only including those engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).

– 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 and application form are available on the U.S. Treasury’s website
  • Considerations for non-profit organizations are available here.

Applications can be submitted to approved lenders. Contact your commercial lender or banking institution for specific application requirements.

The SBA has provided information regarding how to apply for loan forgiveness. 

  • The loan forgiveness application is available here.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides a guide to help borrowers understand the process by which their loan forgiveness amount will be calculated and the overall approach of the forgiveness process. A webinar is also available on YouTube.

– 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 basic details about the program. 

Applicants can obtain up to a $10,000 advance on EIDLs. The advance is available as part of the full application and will be transferred into the account provided after the application is submitted. The amount of each advance will be determined by the number of the applicant’s pre-disaster (i.e., as of January 31, 2020) employees. The advance will provide $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000.

Click here for additional information about the advance.

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 programs

– 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

– 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 limited pool of funds available so interested businesses should apply now as soon as possible.

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.

– The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation has activated its Disaster Relief Fund to support 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Lower-Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties. The Foundation is specifically interested in helping front-line organizations maintain their operations and respond to increased demand from clients during this critical time.

A second grant round will be announced on June 1, 2020.

Donations to the Fund can be made online at csgiving.org/disaster-relief or mailed to Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, Attn: Disaster Relief Fund, 725 West Front Street, Berwick, PA 18603.

Private programs

Employees of bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs might be eligible for a grant through the Restaurant Strong Fund, a partnership between the Greg Hill Foundation and Sam Adams. To learn more and apply, visit: restaurantstrong.org/apply-for-grant

– 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 Deadlines Extended

In addition to extending tax filing and payment deadlines for individuals, the Commonwealth has also extended a number of business tax deadlines, including moving the due date for corporations with tax returns due in May to August 14, 2020 and removing the requirement for some businesses to make prepayments of Sales and Use Tax for April, May and June 2020.

Full details are 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 is establishing 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 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.

“This will be a fabulous learning opportunity for our students, under the supervision of our amazing faculty,” said Shawver. “It will provide the subject matter expertise necessary to provide guidance for our small business and assist them in recovering from this negative economic impact.”

Anyone wishing to access the services of the SBRP can do so by filling out a request form that can be found here


DRIVE Expands Wireless Network in Montour County

DRIVE, an economic development council of governments serving Columbia and Montour Counties announces an expansion of its wireless broadband network in Montour County.

The original pilot project launched in 2019 to reach underserved areas of the county as well as to create a wide area network for Montour County owned offices. Jennifer Wakeman, executive director, says new technology was deployed to reach further into Anthony and Derry Townships. “CBRS, or Citizen Band Radio Service, is a non-line of sight technology that reduces the effect of trees and other obstructions.”

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, more residents began working from home and found their service to be inadequate. Wakeman says DRIVE moved quickly to deploy CBRS. “We had been exploring the availability and cost to add CBRS to our network prior to the coronavirus outbreak. With the jump in remote workers in early March, we reached out to our contractor, Conxx and they were able to bring CBRS online in three weeks.”

Geisinger supplied $300,000 in a forgivable loan for the original project and agreed that unused funds could be utilized for this expansion. “We were thrilled that Geisinger stepped up to the plate to help us reach more users in Montour County,” says Wakeman.

CBRS could allow for network expansion into more rural, forested areas of Columbia County according to Wakeman. “We learned a lot with our initial build out and are constantly looking at options to expand our service into underserved areas in Columbia County.”

The fixed base wireless network can provide fiber speeds to areas that do not currently have adequate access to broadband service. Additional information about the DRIVE Network and how to get service can be found online.

Central Susquehanna Community Foundation Announces Grant Opportunities for Disaster Relief

In response to the heightened needs of area nonprofit organizations and its mission to enhance the quality of life in the region, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation is pleased to announce a second grantround available for Disaster Relief Funding. Established in 2011, the purpose of the Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund is to support nonprofit organizations affected by disasters in Lower-Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties. The grantround is designed as a flexible response to provide relief for a variety of unexpected costs. The Foundation is specifically interested in helping organizations maintain their operations and respond to increased demand from clients during this critical time.

While many CSCF funds have contributed to these Disaster Relief efforts, the grantround can create an even bigger impact with contributions from community members. To join the Foundation in this initiative, visit here to make a secure online donation.

Grant requests ranging from $500-10,000 are currently being accepted. Additional funding may be considered on an individual basis. This is the second grantround from the Disaster Relief Fund in 2020. The grant application has been updated. If your organization applied in the first grantround in April and wishes to apply again, you must submit a new application for this grantround.

Only 501(c)(3) nonprofit and government organizations are eligible to apply and the requested funding must be invested within the CSCF service area of Lower-Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties. Individuals are not eligible to apply. To discuss your organization’s eligibility, please contact the Foundation.

Grant applications must be completed and submitted through a web-based program. Interested applicants can access the grantround guidelines and applications by visiting www.csgiving.org.

Grant requests must be submitted online by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

For grant-related questions, please contact Christine Orlando, CSCF Senior Program Officer, at 570-752-3930 ext. 2, or corlando@csgiving.org.

Child Care and the Workforce to be Discussed at Upcoming Online Summit

In Pennsylvania and across the country, child care is identified as one of the top barriers to employment. In the changing landscape of workforce development, businesses want to better understand how child care affects their bottom line and Pennsylvania’s edge in the national and global marketplace. The effects of COVID-19 mitigation mandates have created new challenges for an already economically fragile childcare system.  As childcare and the workforce struggle to regain their interdependent stability, public and private actions are imperative.

The Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission in partnership with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation will be discussing these issues at the 2020 Early Learning Economic Summit. The event will be held via webinar from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 8th. The Summit offers a shared learning opportunity for business leaders and policy makers to:

  • Learn recent Pennsylvania research on child care’s economic implications
  • Understand the challenges working and recently furloughed families face 
  • Explore concrete recommendations designed for public-private action
  • Discover private-sector, best practices supporting the childcare system
  • Acquire tools for business assessment of workforce child care needs

Click here to view the agenda and here to register.

“What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” Announces 3rd Annual Statewide Awards

On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, the “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” (WSCM) student video program will conclude its seventh season with the “Best of PA” Statewide Awards Event. Due to the unprecedented challenges presented by social distancing, this year’s event will stream ‘live from home’ on YouTube, and will include 22 teams competing for first, second and third place awards.

A five judge panel, representing eastern, central and western Pennsylvania, viewed 22 entries, representing 13 regional contests across Pennsylvania, to select the statewide award recipients.

“We are so proud of the students and so excited we will still be able to celebrate the Best of PA videos, even with all that is going on,” said Karen Buck, Manager of Workforce Initiatives Manufacturers Resource Center (MRC). “The continued success of the What’s So Cool program validates its value to both STEM and STEAM education and really highlights the necessity for these initiatives, both statewide and nationwide, to help plan for a robust economic future.”

The “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” Student Video Contest, which originated in the Lehigh Valley and is the brainchild of MRC, has garnered over 3,000,000 combined votes by the public during regional online voting dates since its inception in 2013, and more than 50% of Pennsylvania school districts have participated in the program.

The WSCM Student Video Contest gives students the opportunity to interact with local manufacturers as they gain new perspectives about careers and technology, record their
experiences and present them in an educational and “cool” way through documentary video production. The “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” program includes a Pennsylvania Department of Education approved lesson plan that is in use across the Commonwealth. The contest was created to generate excitement that draws students toward considering manufacturing career paths to create a 21st century workforce.

This season’s original 16 participating regional contests in Pennsylvania were Berks Schuylkill, Central Susquehanna, Chester Delaware, Lehigh Valley, North Central, Northeast, Northern Tier, Northwest, Philadelphia Region, Pittsburgh Central, Pittsburgh East, Pittsburgh North, Pittsburgh South, PA Forest & Oil, South Central, and West Central.

Funding for the regional pilot contests is provided by the PA Department of Community & Economic Development. Funding for the statewide Awards show is provided by Platinum Sponsor: Nestlé Waters North America, Gold Sponsors: PA Manufacturing Extension Partnership and RETTEW, and Silver Sponsors: Catalyst Connection, MANTEC and Chester County Economic Development Council. Regional Program Partners: Catalyst Connection, Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit, Chester County Economic Development Council, Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center, Innovative Manufacturers’ Center, Manufacturers Resource Center, MANTEC, North Central Workforce Development Board, Northern Tier Regional Planning & Development Commission, Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center, NWIRC, and The Foundation of The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce.

For more information regarding the “What’s So Cool About Manufacturing?” Student Video Contest please visit: WhatsSoCool.org/BestofPA, www.WhatsSoCool.org, or follow on Twitter.

Member News- May 27, 2020

  • Geisinger will be hosting Back to Business Town Hall- part two, on June 4th from 11 am-12 pm.  This event will feature Dr. Stanley Martin, Infectious Diseases; Allison Hess, VP, Health & Wellness; Brion Lieberman, VP, Human Resources.  Register for the event here. 
    This Virtual Meeting will be taped and added to their business resources landing page. On the landing page is a place for businesses to submit questions. The email will go to Geisinger’s Community Wellness staff and they will respond.  Any questions that they answer will be published to the page.
  • The Bloomsburg Area Community Foundation announces grant opportunities for local nonprofit organizations serving the greater Bloomsburg area. Grants will be awarded from the Bloomsburg Area Community Foundation Fund and the Hartman/Robbins/Stroup Fund. This competitive grant round begins now and will continue into July. Approximately $10,000 is available.  Only 501(c)(3) nonprofit and governmental organizations are eligible to apply and 100% of requested funding from the above noted funds must be invested within Bloomsburg and surrounding areas. Individuals are not eligible to apply.  Grant applications must be completed and submitted through a web-based program. Prior to beginning the grant application process, applicants are encouraged to watch a short tutorial. Interested applicants can find the tutorial and instructions for completing grant application online by visiting csgiving.org, clicking on “Receive” and then “Apply for a Grant”. Look for information under the heading “Bloomsburg Area Community Foundation”.  Grant requests must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. on May 28, 2020. 
  • The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation announces their new online donation platform has officially launched. This update will enhance the overall donor experience and better connect people to funds that support causes that they care about in the community. As usual, other forms of donations will still be accepted via mail or by stopping by the Foundation office. Much work has been put into this new system, and they look forward to the efficiencies and functionality it will bring to donors, fundholders, and staff! Visit csgiving.org and click on the donate leaf to view the new page. Please contact Katie or Kara with any questions.