July 2020
Bay County Updates
Social Districts:

The Bay Area Chamber of Commerce joined numerous chambers throughout Michigan in advocating for social district legislation. This new law, which took effect in early July, further assists our bars and restaurants as they continue to have 50 percent seating capacity limits by expanding outdoor seating areas. This enables patrons to safely social distance outdoors while dining and drinking from open containers outdoors within an area defined by the municipality. Bay City is currently taking full advantage of this change in both the Downtown and the Midland Street Business Districts.


Bay City Public School Millage Proposal:

The Bay City Public School Millage, seeking $28.4 million over 17 years, will be on the ballot on August 4, 2020. This proposal represents an extension of the current millage rate and the funding will be used for building improvements, technology and upgrades for buses, athletic fields and facilities. BCPS Superintendent Stephen Bigelow joined our July Eye Opener Breakfast us to provide additional details. If you were unable to join us, you can see his full presentation here.


Mask Letter:

Given the Governor’s recent orders requiring the use of masks indoors, Bay Area Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Ryan Tarrant recently joined the leaders of Bay Future, Inc. and the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance to encourage the use of masks. While it may be inconvenient, wearing a mask to limit the spread of COVID-19 is the best way for us to keep our businesses open and avoid another shutdown. You can read the full letter here.

Saginaw County Updates
Chamber Endorsements - The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors recently interviewed candidates for Saginaw County Clerk and Saginaw County Register of Deeds. Normally, we do not endorse in a Primary Election; however, these two races have no candidate running in the General Election. The Primary Election will pick the winner.

Both of these countywide seats are important. The Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce works with these offices frequently so have made the decision to endorse in the August 4th Primary.

We urge you to vote on August 4th and support the following candidates as well as voting YES for the renewal of the Castle Museum Millage. Experience matters in this election!

Endorsments:
  • Castle Museum - YES
  • Mike Hanley – Saginaw County Clerk - YES
  • Katie Albosta-Kelly – Saginaw County Register of Deeds - YES
Diversity & Inclusion - In an effort to continue supporting better race relations in Saginaw County, the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce is working with a core group of diverse community leaders to explore the formation of a Diversity & Inclusion Council. You’ll be hearing a lot more as this effort progresses.
Mask Up Michigan - Saginaw County and Michigan cannot afford to see another potential shut down of our businesses and schools because of an increase in COVID-19. Therefore, we are supporting Mask Up Michigan to encourage everyone to wear a mask in public.We know that masks dramatically reduce the risk of being exposed to or spreading the virus.

In addition, the Governor’s Executive Order requires that businesses deny entrance to any individuals not wearing a mask (unless there is a specific medical condition that prohibits the use of a mask).

Let's be considerate of one another.
Ryan Tarrant, President/CEO
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce
989-893-4567
Veronica Horn, President/CEO
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce
989-752-7161
STATE GOVERNMENT UPDATES
$8.55 Million in COVID-10 Workplace Safety Grants Will Help Employers Protect Workers
As Reported by the Michigan Department of Labor & Economic Opportunity

With employers across the state working to keep their employees, customers and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Michigan has launched the Michigan COVID-19 Safety Grant Program. These grants will provide small businesses matching funds of – up to $10,000 – to decrease the risk of COVID-19 spread through safety and health-related equipment purchased and training in response to COVID-19.

The initial grant application window will be open from Monday, July 27 through Friday, August 7, 2020, with awards given shortly thereafter. Grant applications received after August 7, 2020 will be held pending a potential second phase, if funds remain available.

Examples of how grant funding may be utilized:
  • Purchasing engineering controls and other supplies/materials such as sneeze guards, physical barriers, face coverings and hand washing/hygiene stations. 
  • Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including gowns, gloves and eye protection. 



FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES
Michigan Business Organizations Unite Behind One Michigan with Letter to Congress in Support of Federal Financial Relief for Michigan and Other States

The following letter was signed by leaders of statewide business organizations and regional Chambers of Commerce from every corner of Michigan in collective support for liability protection and state and local budget support in stimulus discussions. The letter was dated July 20, 2020.

To Michigan’s Congressional Delegation:
Thank you for your important public service on behalf of Michigan and our nation at this critical
time. We appreciate and acknowledge that the Congress and the President came together in record time
and with record levels of financial support to respond to the impact of the COVID crisis. The resources
provided by the Federal Government have been instrumental in sustaining many during this difficult time.
Of course, further action at the local, state and national levels will be necessary.

Representing a collective of Michigan’s key business representatives, we come together to urge
Michigan’s Congressional delegation to unify behind smart compromise Federal legislation to provide
financial relief to Michigan, and other states, to address tax revenue loss due exclusively to the COVID
crisis. This bi-partisan action will serve as a significant enabler in businesses bringing back employees,
help struggling families with needed services and to speed economic revival across Michigan.

Federal Recovery Aid to State and Local Governments

The CARES Act provided $150 billion to assist state and local governments with direct COVIDrelated
expenses, and this financial support has been instrumental in helping to minimize state budget cuts
for the current fiscal year. Looking forward, however, the combined $5 to $6 billion net loss in state
revenue over fiscal years 2020 and 2021, entirely caused by the pandemic, will force the most extreme
reductions in public services at the moment our citizens need assistance the most. Michigan, has been a
leader in fiscal responsibility for the last decade, balancing budgets and paying down debt. We unite in
the request that Michigan’s Congressional delegation work to secure additional appropriations to support
state and local governments, consistent with Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Jerome Powell’s call for
additional Congressional action to aid our economic recovery.

Collectively, we urge compromise and prompt action. We agree that any such support from
Congress must be sufficient to address the pressing needs of the public and based on a multi-factor
formula that considers a state’s population and level of COVID impact. While we advocate for the
greatest level of flexibility, we agree the purpose of these funds are to provide necessary and direct public
services to help our citizens deal with the impact of the COVID crisis in their communities and
households. We also believe the formula should reward states, like Michigan, that have effectively
managed their pension obligations and debt.

Liability Protection for Businesses Operating in Good Faith

In addition to Federal assistance to help address the significant budget imbalance left by tax
revenue losses due to the COVID crisis, we also urge a bi-partisan compromise that will help ensure
businesses are able to safely bring back their employees through careful liability protection for
businesses. While a statewide poll by the Detroit Regional Chamber found that 77% of voters “trust their
employer to keep them safe,” employee and employers alike are nervous about resuming operations.
Business owners fear that if they can survive idling their business in order to help flatten the curve of the
virus, they will not be able to survive legal action resulting from an infected employee – even if they
follow all national, state, local and industry guidelines.

While businesses that act with negligence, ignorance or malice should be offered no protections,
businesses that operate in good faith need liability protection in order to welcome their employees and
customers.

We urge you to find a reasonable compromise that balances protections for employers and
employees as well as recognizes the unchartered health, economic and legal landscape the COVID crisis
has forced upon us.
__________________

The last decade has demonstrated Michigan’s bi-partisan record of sound fiscal management.
The State has frequently completed budgets early, has paid down long-term debt, reduced pension
obligations and built-up a rainy-day fund that has helped address the current year’s shortfall. After a
decade of cost-saving reform, balancing Michigan’s budget without further damaging our already
devastated economy will be impossible without a Federal partnership.
Thank you for your partnership in serving the citizens of Michigan.

The letter was signed by the following and distributed to the entire Michigan Congressional Delegation.
Rich Studley, President and CEO, Michigan Chamber of Commerce
Doug Rothwell, President and CEO, Business Leaders for Michigan
Brian Calley, President, Small Business Association of Michigan
Sandy K. Baruah, President and CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber
John Walsh, President and CEO, Michigan Manufacturing Association
Rick Baker, President and CEO, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Stacie Bytwork, Chairperson, Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance
Warren Call, President and CEO, Traverse Connect
Tim Daman, President and CEO, Lansing Regional Chamber
Tim Herman, President and CEO, Flint and Genesee Chamber of Commerce
Veronica Horn, President and CEO, Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce
Diane Keller, President and CEO, Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber
Ron Kitchens, Senior Partner, Southwest Michigan First
Tony Stamas, President and CEO, Midland Business Alliance
Ryan Tarrant, President and CEO, Bay Area Chamber of Commerce
Labor Department Requests Information on Paid Leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
As Reported by the SBA Office of Advocacy

On July 16 and 17, the Department of Labor (DOL) released two Requests for Information (RFI) seeking feedback and data from stakeholders, such as small businesses, regarding their experience with paid leave and the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). Please note that these are two separate requests, and two separate dockets.

Paid Leave: For purposes of this information collection, paid leave refers to paid family and medical leave to care for family members or for one’s own health. The RFI seeks feedback on a variety of topics, such as how requirements for paid leave would economically impact small businesses, small non-profits, or small governmental jurisdictions with a population of under 50,000. What are the costs and benefits, and are there alternatives that would minimize these impacts?   Comments to DOL are due on September 14, 2020.


Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA): The FMLA entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons. Covered employers include private sector employers with 50 or more employees in certain circumstances. DOL is seeking feedback on the definition of a serious health condition, leave taken in an intermittent basis, employee notice for leave, and health care certifications. The RFI also seeks information regarding specific challenges and best practices that employers experience in administering FMLA leave.  Comments to DOL are due by September 15, 2020.

SBA Disaster Loan Relief Now Available for Flooding and Severe Storms
As Reported by the Michigan SBDC

The Presidential disaster declaration has been approved for several counties in Michigan affected by severe storms and flooding on May 16-22, 2020. Businesses and residents in the declared area can now apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The disaster declaration covers Arenac, Gladwin, Iosco, Midland and Saginaw counties in Michigan which are eligible for both Physical and Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the SBA.

Small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations in the following adjacent counties are eligible to apply only for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Alcona, Bay, Clare, Genesee, Gratiot, Isabella, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Roscommon, Shiawassee and Tuscola in Michigan.

On behalf of our members, the Bay Area and Saginaw County Chambers of Commerce will continue to monitor public policy that impacts our region, our communities and most importantly, your business!