Monday March 30, 2020
Hello Chamber Members and Partners,

Here are the latest updates and resources for businesses and employees during this uncertain time including information the Stimulus Bill, links to the New SBA Disaster Loan Portal, more clarification on what businesses are essential and non-essential and an updated link to request a essential designation and an important message from the CC Health Department to our financial institutions.

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!
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act: What You Need to Know!
* Please note that the information below is not, nor should it be construed as, legal advice. *

On Friday, March 27th the President signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. At over $2 trillion dollars, this is by far the largest aid package in response to COVID-19, and includes several provisions to help ease the financial and economic burden on small businesses, employees, and families. 

Please find our summary of the law’s provisions that will most impact our members
& business community and their employees below.

In addition to the provisions below, the CARES Act also provides additional funding for the healthcare response to COVID-19, regulatory relief for financial institutions, relief to states/local municipalities, and much more. So to read the full text of the law, click here.
  • For a full section-by-section breakdown of the law, click here.
  • For a frequently asked question (FAQ) sheet regarding all of the programs covered below, click here.
1) Paycheck Protection Program
The CARES Act created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a new program that would offer 100% federally guaranteed loans to small employers (defined below) to help provide working capital to allow businesses to keep operations running and people employed during the emergency. New Loans under this program are eligible for a forgiveness if the business maintains payroll continuity from Feb. 15, 2020 through June 30, 2020.

These loans can be accessed by existing SBA lenders and new, approved lenders brought into the program. Please check with your current financial institution (local bank or credit union) to see if they are approved lenders under the Paycheck Protection Program.
  • For a full list of member banks, click here.
  • For a full list of member credit unions, click here.
  • For more information, and to determine if the PPP is the right fit for your business, click here.


2) SBA Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Enhancements and Emergency EIDL Grants
The CARES Act expands access to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, while also giving SBA more flexibility to disperse small dollar loans.
  • To learn more about the SBA’s EIDL program or to apply, click here.

Enhanced Eligibility:
  • Expanded to include tribal businesses, cooperatives, ESOP’s, individual contractors, sole proprietors, and private nonprofits with less than 500 employees.
  • SBA has overall greater flexibility in determining borrower eligibility

Program Changes:
For loans below $200,000, the CARES Act:
  • Waives credit elsewhere requirement (the need for borrowers to prove that they cannot access credit from a traditional lender or elsewhere)
  • Waivers personal guarantee(s)
  • Waives 1-year-in-business requirement

Emergency Grants:
The CARES Act allows for entities that are eligible to apply for EIDL to request an advance in the form of an emergency grant of up to $10,000 for the purpose of maintaining payroll, providing paid sick leave, and to service other debt obligations. Applicants will not be required to repay emergency grant – even if they are ultimately denied the EIDL.
 
* IMPORTANT NOTE: Can a business get an EIDL and a Paycheck Protection Program loan?

Yes, small businesses can get both an EIDL and a Paycheck Protection Program loan as long as they don’t pay for the same expenses. However, be sure to check with your financial institution, financial advisor, or lender before taking both types of loans if you are not sure of the specifics.
3) Small Business Debt Relief
The CARES Act requires the SBA to pay all principal, interest, and fees on all existing SBA loans currently including 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, and microloan loans for six (6) months.
  • For more information, please visit the SBA website – here.
4) Tax Credits for Businesses
The CARES Act creates a 50% refundable payroll tax credit during COVID-19 crisis for businesses that either fully or partially shut down OR have a 50% decrease in receipts versus the same quarter in the previous year and continue to pay employees.
  • This refundable payroll tax credit will be based on qualified wages paid to employees during crisis, tied to number of employees.
  • Covers up to $10,000 paid per employee, including benefits, for the period 3/13/20-12/31/20.
In addition, under the CARES Act:
  • Businesses and self-employed individuals can delay their payroll tax payments. These payments, the employer share of Social Security tax owed for 2020, can instead be deferred and paid over the next two years. Fifty percent must be paid by the end of 2021 and 50% must be paid by the end of 2022.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: The ability to defer these taxes does not apply to a business that has a Paycheck Protection loan forgiven.
  • Net operating losses (NOLs) arising in FY’s ’18, ’19, and ’20 can be carried back 5 years.
  • Alternative Minimum Tax Credits that were available as refundable credits through 2021 can be claimed as a refund now.
  • Businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry, will be able to immediately write off costs associated with improving facilities, increasing cash flow.
  • The government will make a temporary exception from the excise tax normally applied to alcohol, if that alcohol was used to produce hand sanitizer in 2020.
  • Allowable deductible interest expenses are increased from 30% to 50% for 2019 and 2020.
  • IMPORTANT NOTE: Many of these changes will apply to small businesses all over the country, so it is vital to discuss with a tax professional which can apply to your business and/or situation.
5) Tools to help Workers and Small Businesses Understand the CARES Unemployment Benefits

The CARES Act has created a new program, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PAU) program for those not traditionally covered by unemployment insurance (UI), including the self-employed, independent contractors, or those with limited work history.
It also expands UI for workers affected by Coronavirus by providing an additional $600 per week for those in receipt of UI or the newly created Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) programs and provides an additional 13 weeks of UI after state UI expires.

The New York State Department of Labor has released three new informational documents to help people understand the Unemployment Benefits authorized by the CARES Act. These benefits will, for the first time, be available to people who are self-employed or independent contractors.
  • A Flow Chart showing the actions that should be taken depending on the person’s situation
  • A document that provides an overview of what benefits are available
  • A checklist to help people determine if they are eligible for Unemployment Benefits

To apply for unemployment insurance in New York State, click here.
6) Cash Rebates
The CARES Act provides direct financial support to individuals and families through tax rebate checks. This payment includes all taxpayers with work-eligible SSN, including those with low or no income.
All U.S. residents with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of up to $75,000 (individuals) and $150,000 (couples) will receive a cash rebate of $1,200 (for individuals) or $2,400 (for couples). An additional $500 will be given for each child per household.
The amount will decrease by $5 with for every $100 over the threshold, with individuals with an AGI over $99,000 completely phased out, $146,000 for head of household with at least 1 child phased out, and $198,000 for couples phased out.
Payment eligibility will be determined by individuals 2018 tax returns, however, those who did not file a tax return will be able to receive a refund check if they file a return for the 2019 tax year.

Additionally, the IRS will use SSA-1099 information from the Social Security Administration to identify seniors and individuals with disabilities who are eligible but may not file taxes. 
The payment will be distributed electronically to individuals who have an account authorized with the IRS on or after January 1, 2018 for the purpose of receiving tax refunds as a direct deposit, and by mail to all others. 

The payments will not be counted as taxable income. 
You do not need to complete any applications or take any action to receive this payment. 

The North Country Chamber of Commerce will continue to monitor this, and future, legislation. We will remain in close contact with our elected officials and if/when further information is available, the North Country Chamber of Commerce will analyze the final text of the law and will continue to distribute relevant information via our Daily Dose e-newsletter and on our website.

This full summary is available by clicking the link below.
New SBA Disaster Loan Portal Now Available!
There has been a huge amount of interest in SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program across the nation and as a result, many businesses have experienced difficulty with the online application system. This morning, a new application portal was put in place and we understand it has alleviated many of these issues.

Click here to access the new portal.

In addition to fixes in the system, they’ve also streamlined the application itself to make it simpler to use.

Stay Tuned! The North Country Chamber of Commerce staff is working with SBA to schedule a webinar shortly to continue answering questions and offer new information.
Essential Business Designation and Recent Changes
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday changes to what businesses are "Essential" and "Non-Essential" Businesses. The biggest change was that all NON ESSENTIAL Construction needed to stop immediately.

According to the  Empire State Development's  website:

"All non-essential construction must shut down except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone until it is safe to shut the site).

Essential construction may continue and includes roads, bridges, transit facilities, utilities, hospitals or health care facilities, affordable housing, and homeless shelters. At every site, if essential or emergency non-essential construction, this includes maintaining social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exit. Sites that cannot maintain distance and safety best practices must close and enforcement will be provided by the state in coordination with the city/local governments. This will include fines of up to $10,000 per violation. "

The North Country Chamber of Commerce has been advised that this does not change the status of construction related suppliers and vendors (i.e Hardware Stores, building material suppliers, etc.

If you have already received a designation, but have questions, we suggest reapplying.

If you are unsure if you are an essential businesses or what the guidelines are please check out our  website . There are also links available on  our site  to apply for an waiver that would deem you essential.
A Message from The Clinton County Health Department to our Financial Institutions
As we continue our efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our community, we are reminding all businesses that remain open to prioritize the routine disinfection of frequently touched surfaces. As part of standard infection control practices, the Clinton County Health Department (CCHD) strongly recommends that routine cleaning be rigorous and ongoing. Surfaces touched most frequently should be prioritized for routine cleaning because these surfaces can be reservoirs for germs and an exposure pathway for disease transmission to people through contact with these surfaces. 
 
The CCHD recognizes that financial institutions remaining open via drive-thru services have a unique set of surfaces that will require regular disinfection. The plastic carriers that are transported via pneumatic-tube systems between the teller and the customer must be a priority for disinfection. These pneumatic tube carriers must be disinfected between EACH customer to protect the health of the public as well as staff. Methods for disinfection can include Clorox or Lysol Wipes, or a prepared bleach solution of 5 Tablespoons per 1 gallon of warm water (or 4 teaspoons per quart of warm water). Use a washcloth or other wiping cloth that is stored directly in the bleach solution between uses.
 
In addition, the CCHD also strongly recommends that the bank tellers handling and disinfecting the plastic tubes wear protective latex or nitrile gloves to provide an additional protection barrier for the workers. In order to maintain responsive banking between customers, it is also recommended that each banking institution utilizing drive-thru banking services obtain additional pneumatic tube carriers to allow proper cleaning and disinfecting between uses without disrupting the flow of transactions.
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,  northcountrychamber.com  will hopefully make things a bit easier for you during this challenging time.
ADDITIONAL NOTES:

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


  • Webinars: Did 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.
Newspaper Chain Helps Local Businesses
 Ogden Newspapers Inc., the parent company of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and Lake Placid News, has established a $1 million fund to help local businesses get back to full strength by subsidizing local marketing efforts through matching grants.

Any business operating in the Tri-Lakes market can apply for a grant of up to $15,000.
Each applicant will receive a response to the application within to two business days.

Have Questions? We're here to help!

North Country Chamber of Commerce
518.563.1000
info@nothcountrychamber.com