Monday April 13, 2020
Hello Chamber Members and Partners,

Here are the latest updates and resources for businesses and employees during this uncertain time.

Send us any questions or updates you may have, we are here to help provide information, connect the dots and assure those in the North Country that we will get through this together.

Onward and Be Well!
LAKE CHAMPLAIN-LAKE GEORGE INTRODUCES COVID-19 BUSINESS INTERRUPTION MICRO-LOAN PROGRAM
To help businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the Lake Champlain-Lake George Regional Planning Board recently announced a new micro-loan program. Businesses in Clinton, Essex, Hamilton Warren, and Washington counties are eligible to apply. The loan may be used for working capital purposes such as payroll, rent, utilities and monthly expenses.
Here are some quick facts about the program:
  • Loans can range from $5,000 - $25,000
  • Fixed 5% interest rate
  • First 6 months are interest only
  • Term of loans 24 – 60 months
  • Sufficient collateral is required
  • No application fee
Borrower is responsible for closing costs (flat $350 rate plus filing fees
 Loan applications and additional information can be found on the LCLGRPB website. Loans will be processed on a first come, first serve basis and are subject to availability of funds.

Businesses interested in applying for a loan should email Andrea Palmer before starting an application to check to see if they are eligible. A fact sheet on the COVID-19 Micro-Loan program is available on the North Country Chamber website
EXCELLUS BCBS: COST RELIEF AVAILABLE WITH MID-YEAR PLAN CHANGES FOR GROUPS
Excellus BCBS wants to ensure our group members that they can maintain their health insurance benefits. Excellus BCBS is allowing mid-year plan changes through June 1, 2020. Allowing for lower costs to the employer and employee plans to accommodate the COVID-19 impacts on both parties.

Groups can:
  • Allow their employees to switch to a lower cost existing plan
  • Buy down to a lower cost plan

Additionally, employees who waived coverage and now want health insurance will be able to sign up for a plan through their group during this special open enrollment throughout the pandemic.

Contact Lisa, our Director of Health Services , if you would like to take advantage of any of these options or for more information on how we can help.
A MESSAGE FROM AKWESASNE MOHAWK CASINO
Akwesasne Mohawk Casino 's General Manager Todd Papineau Wishes everyone well during this unprecedented times. And they look forward to welcoming you back to the Casino when safe.


We look forward to when they can open their doors again and welcome people back to their wonderful facility.
GOVERNOR ISSUES EXEC ORDER DIRECTING EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE EMPLOYEES MASKS
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Sunday that he will issue an Executive Order directing employers to provide essential workers with cloth or surgical masks free of charge to wear when directly interacting with the public.

The executive order will also include:
  • Expanding Eligibility for More Individuals to Conduct Antibody Tests
  • Governor Joins NGA Chair Maryland Governor Hogan in a Bipartisan Effort Calling for $500 Billion in Aid to States; Reiterates Call for the Federal Government to Repeal SALT 
QUEBEC CANCELS ALL FESTIVALS THROUGHOUT THE SUMMER
The Quebec government is asking for the cancellation of all sporting and cultural events until Aug. 31.

The directive was issued on Friday afternoon “considering the evolution of the COVID-19 situation in Quebec and the need to respect the need to engage in physical-distancing of two metres for an extended period. It is therefore with a view to protecting public health that it is considered preferable to cancel festivals and other cultural and sporting gatherings, indoor and outdoor, for the summer period.”

We in the North Country should understand that this shows the severity of the situation in Quebec and plan for how these actions could truly effect the region's 2020 tourism season.

As reported by the Montreal Gazette - full article linked here and below.
FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR NONPROFITS
The Adirondack Foundation and United Way of the Adirondack Region are partnering with Diane Leonard, President of DH Leonard Grant Consulting, to offer a free workshop that provides an overview of the FEMA and CARES Act funding.

Diane is a Grant Professional Certified and Approved Trainer of the Grant Professionals Association and is based in Clayton, NY. She and her team have worked with nonprofits all over the country securing federal, state, and regional funding for nonprofits.

She is well versed in both applying and securing these types of grants as well as the unique assets and challenges facing the North Country region during this time. 


UNPRECEDENTED SPIKE IN UNEMPLOYMENT APPLICATIONS, NYS DOL PARTNERS TO BOOST TECH CAPACITY
Facing an unprecedented spike in unemployment insurance applications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Office of Information Technology Services today announced a “Tech Surge” in partnership with Google Cloud, Deloitte, and Verizon to improve the reliability of the state’s online and telephone-based unemployment insurance application systems. The Tech Surge will include critical upgrades to the Department of Labor’s technology systems that will increase its capacity to accept and process applications, making it easier for New Yorkers to apply for benefits. 
 
Importantly, the Tech Surge will include a new, streamlined, and more reliable online application system – which will be available at  labor.ny.gov . New Yorkers are urged to use the new online system, which can handle most applications from start to finish, dramatically reducing the number of New Yorkers who must speak to a claims specialist on the phone.
 
In addition, the Department of Labor will roll out a new “call back” system, allowing their staff to proactively call New Yorkers who need to submit additional information to support their existing unemployment assistance application. This means New Yorkers who have already filed partial claims under the old system and had been told to call the hotline to finish their application should not — instead, the DOL call center will call these New Yorkers directly.

To read about all the changes and the full update, click here .
ADIRONDACK COAST BLOG: BACKYARDS AND BEYOND - SAFE OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES
Our Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau has published a feel good blog outlining some of the great trails you, your family and employees can experience during this uncertain time. Getting outside and enjoying the fresh air is not only good for you physically but mentally too!

Take a peek at our suggestions and please feel free to share some picture on the Adirondack Coast's Facebook page or by tagging #adkcoast on Instagram .
FEED OUR FRONTLINE & WIRY HOMETOWN RADIO
Hospital staff is working around the clock and risking their own health to care for our North Country residents. Restaurants are struggling to stay open, and people want to know how they can help others get through this challenging time.

Feed Our Frontline  is an initiative that brings it all together.

The  North Country Chamber of Commerce  wants to thank WIRY HOMETOWN RADIO , for their support of the project. They have dedicated airtime to helping us champion this incredible cause. Listen to the PSA they are promoting below.

If you would like to help support the health care community and local restaurants,  DONATE TODAY.
QUICK LINKS:




  • Now Hiring: Whether you are hiring or looking for work, we have a page dedicated to helping pair potential employees with employers.


  • WebinarsDid you miss one of our webinars, you can find them all here.

  • How to Help: If you are looking for a way to help the North Country, we have created an ever growing list of needs in our community. And if you are a non-profit, health care organization or a business helping those in need, email us with your needs, contact information and we will be happy to add you to our growing list.

  • SCORE: Visit Scores Coronavirus page for webinars and useful articles for small businesses.
The home page of the Chamber's website is now your go to resource for all things Coronavirus related. From information to help your business, health insurance , employee guidelines, restaurant offerings and CDC resources. We hope our website will hopefully make things a bit easier for you during this challenging time.
Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce
518.563.1000