Situation Report COVID-19 Updates | April 2, 2020
Greetings and happy Thursday. May I start with a moment of levity: I just read about another Chamber in Kansas that has named their networking e-sessions POSH: “pants optional social hour”…. Lol. You can’t make this stuff up.
 
Next week we will update our situation report schedule to M-W-F, focusing each day on a specific business type and detailing resources applicable to you.
 
Because, in the sheer volume of information, we are missing things. For example, did you realize that t he CARES Act (which was signed into law last Friday) states that “the SBA will cover all loan payments on SBA 504 loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months”? This is true for any SBA 504 borrower that is in ‘regular servicing’ (for borrowers currently in deferral, the debt relief starts after the deferment period). The law also says this relief will be available to new borrowers who take out SBA 504 loans between March 27 and September 26, 2020. The debt relief started with the April payment and continues through the September payment. Borrowers do not need to do anything to take advantage of this debt relief, it will happen automatically.

Generally speaking, how are we doing in accessing the funds we understand are available to us? Regarding the Payroll Protection Plan, as I speak to the larger lenders, they are gearing up to be ready to go live tomorrow. But they may still have to push into next week. The Treasury is assuring us that the fund will not go dry, but I can imagine $350 billion could be committed quickly, forcing Congress to approve a second fund. Time will tell.
 
Regarding Unemployment Insurance, more than 270,000 people in Minnesota have applied for unemployment since March 16 with a daily average that has yet to taper off. That's created a bottleneck as DEED tries to process payments in a timely fashion. That's something Gov. Tim Walz expressed concern about on Wednesday afternoon, doing his best to empathize with those who are anxiously awaiting their unemployment check as a way to pay the bills. How is that in context? To date, u nemployment claims have surpassed those during the Great Recession. Nationally, initial claims for unemployment insurance soared to 6.65 million for the week ending March 28, exceeding last week's shocking 3.3 million, and dwarfing the previous high of 695,000 in October 1982.

Particularly noteworthy is Medical Alley Association’s Resource Connect tool – they call it “medical matchmaking.” I find this particularly noteworthy because it capitalizes on what we all want to do – pitch in and help. Resource Connect is a portal connecting companies on both ends of the spectrum: those that have a need and those that want to get creative and help. I understand it’s gotten more than 3000 hits already, connecting – for example – companies that make air filters to help with masks, distilleries with Ecolab to use alcohol for hand sanitizer, or Boston Scientific with health facilities to repurpose ventilators. 

More locally, yesterday, Wednesday, Saint Paul’s City Council unanimously voted to approve Mayor Carter’s proposed Bridge Fund. Intended to serve families as well as micro business, this fund already has brought in partners from organizations like Securian, Ecolab Foundation, Xcel Energy, and the Knight Foundation. If your business is under $2 million in revenue and in business within Saint Paul for at least 3 months, you may be eligible. Stay tuned as PED is gearing up the application process. I’ll send updates as soon as I have a link for you.

Did you know that the Ramsey County Sheriff’s office has formed a COVID “Help Team”? The intent is to assist those in the community most at risk and vulnerable. “Coronavirus has affected all of us,” said Sheriff Bob Fletcher. “Times like this can bring a lot of uncertainty and leave people wondering where to turn for help. Our Help Team will help fill that void.” The Help Team supplements the services already provided by Ramsey County, which remains open and continues to provide services. Please visit www.ramseycounty.us/coronavirus.com for more information. For more information, please contact Roy Magnuson (651-403-9738, roy.magnuson@co.ramsey.mn.us ).

What’s Ahead
- Don’t forget to complete the Census. Remember, federal funding and fair representation in Congress depend on an accurate count.
Governor Walz 2020 State of the State will be broadcast on YouTube on Sunday, April 5 at 7:00pm.

Friday, 4/3, noon:  Tunheim is hosting a virtual discussion with DEED Commissioner Steve Grove


Visit our event calendar to find links to the events below:


Friday, 4/3, noon:  SevenHills Cleveland (benefits solutions provider) is hosting another GoToMeeting to review the Top 10 Commonly Asked Questions re COVID-19 and Impacts to your workforce (EFMLA, UI, retirement plans…).

Friday, 4/3, 1pm: The MN Black Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Legal Issues Webinar. 

Friday, 4/3, midnight deadline: Ramsey County is seeking immediate input for the development of a food and basic needs supply and distribution system that is:
  • Prepared to meet the needs for up to 300,000 people that could potentially lose regular access to meals and basic needs.
  • Informed by solutions, through consultation and collaboration with community partners and residents, on how we address loss of food security and access to basic needs in the most vulnerable communities.
  • Designed in collaboration with community partners and residents, so that resources are available to those in need throughout Ramsey County.
  • If you are part of a food or shelter organization and/or human services provider please take this survey.

Minnesota Black Business COVID-10 Impact Survey
The African American Leadership Forum (AALF), in partnership with the Minnesota Black Chambers of Commerce, Black Women's Wealth Alliance, Northside Economic Opportunity Network, Social Impact Strategies Group, Metropolitan Economic Development Association, Just Law, LLC., and the West Broadway Area Coalition is reaching out to you out of concern for the economic impacts of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) public health crisis on Black businesses across the Twin Cities and Minnesota. The purpose of this survey is to better understand what current and imminent impacts our business community is experiencing related to COVID-19, to more effectively deliver important information, supportive resources, programs and services. Take the survey here .

Ramsey County would like your help assessing household food and basic needs within our community, including food accessibility and availability during the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Ramsey County is seeking immediate input for the development of a food and basic needs supply and distribution system that is:
  • Prepared to meet the needs for up to 300,000 people that could potentially lose regular access to meals and basic needs.
  • Informed by solutions, through consultation and collaboration with community partners and residents, on how we address loss of food security and access to basic needs in the most vulnerable communities.
  • Designed in collaboration with community partners and residents, so that resources are available to those in need throughout Ramsey County.
We appreciate your time and input on the following survey. Please respond by the priority deadline on Friday, April 3 at 11:59 p.m. CST.   

New Resources
SevenHills Cleveland offers the third installment of the Top 10 Covid19 Commonly Asked Questions. Please visit our website for previous communications and a list of other resources specific to Covid19. 

Baker Tilly has built out a resource page by industry . If you are looking for specific relative to your sector, I’d recommend starting there.

DEED continues to update and improve its website and specifically for small business.

Provided by the U.S. Chamber:
  1. NEW - Guide to the Employee Retention Tax Credit  
  2. UPDATED – Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist (Paycheck Protection Program)

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued additional guidance yesterday regarding the Paycheck Protection Program. Links to the resources provided by Treasury can be found, or on their webpage .
  • A top-line overview of the program can be found here.
  • If you’re a lender, more information can be found here.
  • If you’re a borrower, more information can be found here.
  • The application for borrowers can be found here.


COVID-19 update
Confirmed cases: from 689 to 742
Cases requiring hospitalization: fr om 122 to 138
#s currently hospitalized: from 54 to 75
#s no longer needing to be isolated: f rom 342 to 373
#s tested: from 21,191 to 22,394
Total deaths: from 17 to 18
Counties represented:
Hennepin County: from 218 to 235
Ramsey County: fr om 66 to 67
Dakota County: from 48 to 52
Washington County: from 44 to 46

Lastly, we know you are receiving a lot of email, so this is the last update for the week and beginning next week, we'll send every other day.


Be well !

B Kyle
President/CEO
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce