Shuttered Venue Operators Grant SBA Webinar

Are you a theatrical producer, talent representative, venue promoter or do you operate a live venue, live performing arts organization, movie house or cultural institution and have been impacted by COVID-19? Register for SBA’s webinar on Thursday, January 14, at 3 p.m. ET, for a preliminary overview of the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program included in the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act. Eligible organizations with a reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have the opportunity to receive up to a $10 million grant under the program.

This webinar will provide introductory information about the grants, who can apply, how potential organizations can prepare, and additional details re: eligibility and applications.  

PPP Reopens This Week

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will reopen the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. To promote access to capital, initially only community financial institutions will be able to make First Draw PPP Loans on Monday, January 11, and Second Draw PPP Loans on Wednesday, January 13. The PPP will open to all participating lenders shortly thereafter. Updated PPP guidance outlining Program changes to enhance its effectiveness and accessibility was released on January 6 in accordance with the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act.

This round of the PPP continues to prioritize millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing up to $284 billion toward job retention and certain other expenses through March 31, 2021, and by allowing certain existing PPP borrowers to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.

“The historically successful Paycheck Protection Program served as an economic lifeline to millions of small businesses and their employees when they needed it most,” said Administrator Jovita Carranza.  “Today’s guidance builds on the success of the program and adapts to the changing needs of small business owners by providing targeted relief and a simpler forgiveness process to ensure their path to recovery.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program has successfully provided 5.2 million loans worth $525 billion to America’s small businesses, supporting more than 51 million jobs,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.  “This updated guidance enhances the PPP’s targeted relief to small businesses most impacted by COVID-19.  We are committed to implementing this round of PPP quickly to continue supporting American small businesses and their workers.”

Key PPP updates include:

  • PPP borrowers can set their PPP loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks to best meet their business needs;
  • PPP loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures;
  • The Program’s eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, among other types of organizations;
  • The PPP provides greater flexibility for seasonal employees;
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount; and
  • Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan. 

A borrower is generally eligible for a Second Draw PPP Loan if the borrower:

  • Previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will or has used the full amount only for authorized uses;
  • Has no more than 300 employees; and
  • Can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

The new guidance released includes:

For more information on SBA’s assistance to small businesses, visit sba.gov/ppp or treasury.gov/cares

Application Deadline for EIDL Extended

The SBA recently announced that the deadline to apply for a COVID-19 pandemic Economic Injury Disaster Loan has been extended to December 31, 2021.

To date, SBA has approved $197 billion in low-interest loans, which provide U.S. small businesses, non-profits, and agricultural businesses working capital funds. Economic Injury Disaster Loan applications will continue to be accepted through December 2021, pending the availability of funds.

Loans are offered at affordable terms, including a 3.75% interest rate for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations, a 30-year maturity, and an automatic deferment of one year before monthly payments begin. All eligible small businesses and nonprofits are encouraged to apply.

Learn more and apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan

Congressman Cartwright to Host Virtual Meeting for NEPA PPE Suppliers Interested in Selling to the U.S. Department of Defense

On Friday, January 29, U.S. Representative Matt Cartwright (PA-08) will host a virtual meeting for NEPA suppliers of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) interested in suppling PPE to the Department of Defense. The event will feature procurement “how to” presentations by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and Tobyhanna Army Depot.

WHAT: Virtual Meeting with Congressman Matt Cartwright on Supplying PPE to Defense Department

WHEN: January 29, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: To receive admission to the online event, send a request email to PPE.event@mail.house.gov. In the email, please fully identify the supplying entity/company AND the representative(s) from that business who would like to join the virtual event. Congressman Cartwright’s office will respond.

For more information, view the full press release here.

COVID-19 Relief Bill Update

The International Economic Development Council has outlined the important updates regarding the latest COVID-19 relief bill. Read below for details.

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) – Small Business Administration
  • Program extended until March 31, 2021
  • Tax issues resolved:
    • Gross income does not include any forgivable amount of the PPP loan
    • Deductions are allowed for deductible expenses paid for by any forgiven amount from PPP loan
  • Forgiveness simplified:
    • Loans less than $150,000 require simple certification in the form of a one-page letter from the borrower to the lender stipulating basic criteria and providing simple, high-level details
  • Eligible uses formally expanded:
    • Covered operations (software, tech, human resources, etc), covered property damage (associated with ‘disturbances’ happening during 2020), covered supplier costs (supplies, inventory, etc), covered health and safety expenses (PPE, testing, etc) were further clarified as eligible uses of PPP loans and eligible for forgiveness
    • Benefits such as life insurance, disability insurance, vision and dental were also clarified to be eligible covered expenses
  • Borrower may select their covered period end date, between eight and 24 weeks after origination
  • $284.45 billion appropriated in latest round of PPP (program total authorization rises to $806.5 billion lifetime) and includes a number of carve-outs:
    • $35 billion set aside for first-time borrowers 
    • $25 billion is set aside for smaller organizations with 10 employees or less or loans less than $250,000 in low-income areas.
    • $15 billion in guarantees for CDFI’s and MDI’s to participate in the program
  • Establishes 2nd Draw criteria:
    • Max loan amount of $2 million
    • For organizations with less than 300 employees
    • Must have used or will use the full amount of first the PPP loan
    • Must show at least a 25% reduction in revenue in the first, second, or third quarter of 2020 as compared to the same period in 2019; applications submitted on or after January 1, 2021, may use a fourth quarter 2020/2019 comparison
    • 60/40 cost allocation between payroll and non-payroll costs to receive full forgiveness remains the same for 2nd Draw
Emergency Capital Investment Program – Treasury
  • A new program serving minority depository institutions (MDIs) and community development finance institutions (CDFIs) that are depository institutions
  • $9 billion in appropriations; $4 billion set aside for institutions with less than $2 billion in assets; $2 billion set aside for institutions with less than $500 million in assets
  • Long-term, low-cost capital investments for institutions who have a plan to significantly increase lending or investment activity in LMI minority communities
Unemployment Insurance
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is extended until March 14, 2021, and the maximum number of weeks of eligibility is extended from 39 weeks to 50 weeks
  • Pandemic Emergency  Unemployment Compensation (PUEC) is extended until March 14, 2021 and the number of weeks of eligibility is extended from 13 weeks to 24 weeks
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation is reinstated at $300 per week from the week after December 26, 2020 and runs through March 14, 2021
“Stimulus” Payments
  • $600 to individuals earning $75,000 or less per year and plus an additional $600 for every dependent child; decreasing amounts for those earning $75,001 or more at a rate of -$5 for every $100 over the earning limit
Education
  • $22.7 billion for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, including $1.7 billion for HBCU’s, tribal colleges and universities, and hispanic serving institutions
Housing
  • $25 billion for rental assistance
  • Eviction moratorium extended to January 31, 2021
Transportation
  • $2 billion for aid to airports, include airport retail 
  • $10 billion for highways for states to replace lost revenues that would support maintenance, operations, personnel, etc. 
  • $14 billion for mass transit operations
What isn’t in the bill?
  • The $900 billion legislation is a drastically different bill than what has been proposed throughout the spring and summer
  • Assistance for state and local governments was completely left out
  • The bill is silent on the Economic Development Administration as it relates to COVID-19 — though for full-year appropriations the agency did see an increase from $333 million in funding to $346 million for fiscal 2021

The Chamber will continue to monitor this legislation and report back to our members as more details emerge.

Additional information on this relief package can be found through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Lackawanna County Business Relief Grant for Retail Food Services Industry

Lackawanna County recently announced a grant program available for retail food service operations, bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries.Under the program, a one-time $10,000 grant payment, subject to application approval, will be awarded.

The resources can be utilized for expenses related to mortgage interest, rent, utilities, product/vendor costs, payroll, and general operating expenses.

Applications will be processed on a first come, first served basis.

APPLY NOW

A Letter to Governor Wolf

Dear Governor Wolf:

Urgent action is needed!

The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce is the largest business association in Northeast Pennsylvania representing 1,400 plus members, a great number of which are operating in sectors that have been most dramatically disrupted by COVID-19. Restaurants, taverns, gyms, retail and others in the entertainment, travel and hospitality sectors have borne added costs related to health and safety measures, and weathered shutdowns and operating restrictions that have cost them patrons, employees and the revenue needed just to stay afloat.

While various levels of health, safety and financial assistance, and the mild summer and early fall weather were beneficial to many, the renewed restrictions announced by the Governor on December 10th represent another, perhaps fatal blow to the businesses in these sectors. Indeed, many have not made it this far, and for others this will signal the end.

While we respect the necessity of certain restrictions based on the input of health care leaders across the Commonwealth, such blanket pronouncements regarding targeted sectors fail to recognize that many affected small business owners in Lackawanna County and throughout our region have implemented safety measures and operational protocols that would allow them to remain open safely. Further, the timing of the action, with little notice, in the heart of the holiday season – which for many is their historically most profitable time will have an even more profound negative impact.

If a reversal or softening of the administrative orders is not forthcoming, then it is incumbent upon the Governor and the General Assembly to act immediately – with or without federal support, to provide these businesses and their employees with financial assistance to get them through this period.

It is past the time that all elected officials in the Commonwealth stand together for the health and safety of our citizens and the sustainability of our small business infrastructure.

The challenge ahead is one that can only be overcome with the cooperation and assistance of everyone.

Sincerely,

Patrick Fricchione, Jr.
Chair of the Board
Robert Durkin
President & CEO

A Letter to Our Congressional Delegation

Dear Senator Casey, Senator Toomey, and Congressman Cartwright:

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Government Affairs Committee of The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, we want to express our strong support for the stimulus funding package currently being considered by the bi-partisan committee of the House and Senate.

There has been much talk centered around the job growth and national trends that suggested that the economy is recovering on its own.  But recent (November) jobs numbers show a dramatic cooling in the overall recovery – and what is more these figures and trends clearly do not reflect the realities of how this pandemic is impacting small business. 

The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce is the largest business association in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Of our 1,400 plus members, the vast majority are truly small businesses, with under 10 employees. Further, a great many operate in sectors that have been most dramatically impacted by COVID-19 – restaurants, taverns, boutique retail, travel, accommodations and service sectors.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently reported that nationally:

  • Nearly three times as many small businesses reported reducing their number of paid employees (12.2%) as reported increasing employment (4.3%).
  • More than four times as many small businesses reported reducing the number of hours worked by paid employees (21.4%) as reported increasing hours (4.6%).
  • Nearly seven times as many small businesses reported decreased revenue (38%) as reported increased revenue (5.8%).

Our Chamber staff has been in constant contact with member and non-member small business owners since March, informing and assisting them with health and safety protocols, as well as federal, state and regional stimulus resources. We’ve also been listening to and voicing their needs and concerns to all relevant authorities. Based on these communications, we implore you to support a meaningful stimulus package for small business.

While we do not embrace all the elements of the proposed legislation, we recognize that compromise is necessary in a political environment. We do want to underscore that we strongly back another round of Paycheck Protection Program funding that may allow businesses a second infusion of forgivable capital. We likewise have seen first-hand the benefits of support for local governments, which have demonstrated the importance of assisting our business community. Absent such federal action, we fear the network of small businesses that make up the foundation of our local economy is at risk of collapse.

We would appreciate your timely response to this request.

Patrick Fricchione, Jr.
Chairman
Bob Durkin
President/CEO