June COVID-19 Updates

06.24.2020

COVID-19 Business Recovery Resources Webinar
Recovery resources and funding for Vermont businesses are changing on an almost daily basis. To help businesses through this maze of information, ACEDC and the Addison County Chamber have brought together local and state experts to explain the status and breadth of funding programs and other resources. Please join us and bring your questions. We are allowing for a generous Q&A time so that you can better understand the programs that are available.

DATE: Monday, June 29th

TIME: 9:00-11:00am

LOCATION: Zoom Webinar

COST: No Charge

REGISTER or Email Rob Carter

Business Recovery Resource Panel includes:
Rob Carter, President, Addison County Chamber of Commerce
Fred Kenney, Addison County Economic Development Corporation
Joan Goldstein, Commissioner of Department of Economic Development
Craig Bolio, Commissioner of Department of Taxes
Darcy Carter, Director, Vermont District Office, SBA
Michael Corbett, Senior Lending Officer, VEDA
Sarah Kearns, Addison County Business Advisor, VtSBDC

Vermont Legislature Working on Second COVID-19 Relief Bill
On June 12, the Vermont Legislature approved a package (S. 350) of COVID-19 relief totaling $90 million from the Federal CARES Act funds allocated to the State, with $70 million for grants targeted to businesses that have suffered a loss of 75% or more in any one month and $23 million for housing.

The Department of Taxes ($50 million) and the Agency of Commerce ($20 million) will administer the grants to businesses. To be eligible for either program, the business must:

  • Have experienced a 75% or more significant reduction in total sales/revenues in any one month from March 1, 2020 - September 1, 2020, compared to the same one-month period in 2019;

  • Be domiciled or have its primary place of business in Vermont;

  • Have one or more non-owner employees in Vermont;

  • Be organized as a private for-profit or nonprofit business;

  • Have been in operation before February 15, 2020;

  • Be open for business at the time of application or closed due to COVID-19 but have a good-faith plan to reopen;

  • Be compliant with State and federal employment and labor laws.

To be eligible for the funds administered by the Tax Department, a business must collect and submit sales & use and/or meals & rooms taxes and be registered on myVTax.Vermont.gov. Businesses that may be eligible for this program that are not yet registered on the myTax site, should register now. For more details on the Tax Department program, click here.  Businesses that do not collect and submit trust taxes (S&U/M&R) to the state, but have suffered a 75% or more loss will apply to the Agency of Commerce program.

This week, the House passed H.966, which includes another $84.7 million for businesses. The majority of these funds will be available by application to the Tax Department or the Agency of Commerce programs outlined above. A major difference is (as passed by the House) that this second tranche of funds will be available to businesses that have had a 50% or greater loss of sales (for the Tax Department program) or revenue (for the Agency of Commerce program). H.966 is expected to be passed by the Senate by the end of this week. Funding amounts and eligibility requirements are subject to change until final passage.  

None of these State relief programs are ready for applications yet. Watch our updates for further announcements and the application portal links. 

Another Step in Opening the Economy
On June 19, Governor Scott announced that effective June 26, event, arts, culture and entertainment venues, as well as restaurants can expand capacity for events and dining to 50% of approved occupancy size or one person per 100 square feet of customer facing space. This change will allow for indoor events of up to 75 people and outdoor organized events of up to 150 people. ACCD has also updated its Drive-in Operation guidance (Section 5.2) to make clear firework displays can move forward as drive-in viewing events.  

Agricultural Relief
The Vermont Legislature and Congress have passed bills containing assistance for agricultural businesses. Click here for links to the various programs underway. 

EIDL Reopened; PPP Set to Close
On June 15, the SBA announced the reopening of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) application portal to small businesses that have not yet applied. If your business or non-profit has financial needs, review the details on this program on our Resource page and consider applying on the SBA website. This program provides a cash advance equal to $1,000 per employee, followed by a loan. The Advance does not have to be repaid, but the loan is not forgivable and must be repaid.  Funds are still available from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP), which offers forgivable loans for businesses whose staff remain employed or will be brought back to work. However, the window of opportunity to apply closes June 30. Application for a PPP loan is made through your lender or VEDA.

Middlebury College Announces Plans for the Fall Semester
On June 22, Middlebury College President Laurie Patton announced that that the College will be welcoming students back to campus this Fall. You can read President Patton's letter here, and for more information, you can find initial FAQs about the College's plans here.

 

06.16.2020

SBA Reopens Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Portal to All Small Businesses
On June 15, the SBA announced the reopening of the EIDL application portal to small businesses that have not yet applied. If your business or non-profit has financial needs, review the details on this program on our Resource page and consider applying on the SBA website. This program provides a cash advance equal to $1,000 per employee, followed by a loan. The Advance does not have to be repaid, but the loan is not forgivable and must be repaid. 

Vermont Legislature passes $90 million COVID-19 relief package

On June 12, the Vermont Legislature approved a package of COVID-19 relief totaling $90 million from the Federal CARES Act funds allocated to the State, with $70 million for grants targeted to businesses that have suffered a loss of 75% or more in any one month and $23 million for housing.

The Department of Taxes ($50 million) and the Agency of Commerce ($20 million) will administer the grants to businesses. To be eligible for either program, the business must:

  • Have experienced a 75% or more significant reduction in total sales/revenues in any one month from March 1, 2020 - September 1, 2020, compared to the same one-month period in 2019;

  • Be domiciled or have its primary place of business in Vermont;

  • Have one or more employees in Vermont;

  • Be organized as a private for-profit or nonprofit business;

  • Have been in operation before February 15, 2020;

  • Be open for business at the time of application or closed due to COVID-19 but have a good-faith plan to reopen;

  • Be compliant with State and federal employment and labor laws.

Businesses will be eligible to apply for the grants available through application to the Department of Taxes if they are a vendor registered to collect sales and use taxes or meals and rooms taxes and that files its sales and use or meals and rooms taxes on a monthly or quarterly basis. 

Other businesses meeting the eligibility requirements will apply for grants through a system established by the Vermont Agency of Commerce.

Grants may be used to assist a business in addressing the costs of business interruption due to COVID-19. The agencies are required to devise formulas to determine the grant amounts, maximum grant levels, and adjustments due to receipt of other financial assistance. The method to ensure equitable distribution by geography, and business size, type, and sector, standards to ensure the grants are based on "need" and have a "meaningful impact" and that grants comply with requirements of the CARES Act. 

We will provide another update when the grant programs are ready, and applications are available within 15 days. 

The funds for housing will be administered through the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, providing grants to nonprofit housing partners and service organizations for housing and facilities necessary to provide safe shelter and assistance for persons who are or are at risk of experiencing homelessness. 

Free Architectural Consultations for Businesses
Vermont Integrated Architecture, PC (VIA) of Middlebury is now offering complimentary one-hour architectural consultations for Addison County businesses to assist with:

- Reopening/Re-organizing per COVID-19

- Navigating code requirements

- Planning for energy efficiency/carbon reduction

- Space organization for new business ventures

No obligation to continue with a project or to hire VIA for a future project.

Email Gwen@vermontintegratedarchitecture.com with a description of your project and to schedule your consultation.

 

06.08.2020

Governor Scott Continues to Open the Economy
Governor Phil Scott today announced the resumption of limited indoor seating at restaurants and bars and a data-driven approach to allow travel to and from designated areas without a 14-day quarantine requirement. The Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) has issued health and safety requirements and procedures to allow limited indoor dining at restaurants and bars beginning on June 8. Occupancy is limited to 25% of legal capacity with distance requirements between tables. Other measures include reservation or call-ahead seating, disposable menus, no bar seating, and more. The Governor’s order, signed Friday, also allows municipalities to enact more strict local guidance for restaurants and bars to address a localized outbreak of COVID-19. Effective today, the Governor has also authorized interstate travel to and from New England and New York counties with 400 or fewer active COVID-19 cases per million without quarantine requirements. A map of the approved counties will be updated weekly and posted on ACCD’s website. Vermonters planning to travel to other states should understand that each state may have its own quarantine policy and they should be familiar with, and respect, the quarantine policies of those states.  Visitors will be required to register with Sara Alert for daily reminders from the Vermont Department of Health and must attest to meeting the travel requirements. Lodging occupancy limits will be increased to 50% or 25 total guests and staff, whichever is greater, and health, spacing, group size, and hygiene requirements remain in place. Dining operations at lodging properties must remain at 25% capacity, per existing restaurant guidance. Governor Scott also reported that, if the positive trends continue, quarantine requirements will be further eased in the coming weeks. “This first phase will still only be a small portion of our northeastern region but it’s the first step in this process and—in the coming weeks—we expect to further reduce quarantine requirements to get this important sector of our economy moving again, in a safe manner,” said Governor Scott.

To view the Addendum 17 to Executive Order 01-20, visit https://governor.vermont.gov/content/addendum-17-executive-order-01-20

For ACCD’s specific safety guidelines and protocols for indoor dining and lodging, as well as additional resources, visit accd.vermont.gov.

Congress Passes Welcome Changes to the Payroll Protection Program
On June 4, Congress passed the PPP Flexibility Act, and it is expected that the President will sign it in the next few days. The bill has key significant changes to the forgiveness portion of the PPP:

  • Maturity Period. The minimum maturity is 5 years, instead of 2 years. This applies only to loans made after the bill is signed into law.
  • Covered Period. The bill changes the “covered period” from the 8 week period beginning on the disbursement of the loan to the earlier of (i) the 24 weeks after the origination of the loan or (ii) December 31, 2020. However, the bill allows borrowers who have already received their loans to maintain the original 8 week period if they so choose. While a borrower cannot recalculate the amount it is entitled to borrow, this lengthens the time that it has to spend the amount borrowed and still receive forgiveness. It is unclear whether you can change your covered period if you have already filed for forgiveness.
  • Employee Rehiring Date. The bill changes the date by which employees that were laid off from February 15 – April 26, 2020, must be rehired by in order to achieve maximum forgiveness from June 30 to December 31, 2020. This allows companies significantly more time to ramp up their business.
  • Exemption Based on Employee Availability. Under the new changes, loan forgiveness will not be impacted by a reduction in FTEs in the following circumstances:
    • The borrower can document (i) an inability to rehire individuals who were employees of the borrower on February 15, 2020, and (ii) an inability to hire qualified employees for unfilled positions on or before December 31, 2020, or
    • The borrower can document an inability to return to the same level of business activity as it was operating at prior to February 15, 2020, due to compliance with requirements established or guidance issued by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration during the period beginning on March 1, 2020, and ending December 31, 2020, related to the maintenance of standards for sanitation, social distancing, or any other worker or customer safety requirement related to COVID–19.
    • Payroll to Nonpayroll Cost Ratio. To receive loan forgiveness, borrowers must use at least 60% of the loan amount for payroll and 40% for nonpayroll. The prior ratio had been 75% for payroll and 25% for non-payroll. It is unclear if you can take advantage of this change if you have already filed for forgiveness. This new ratio applies over the new extended period.
  • Extended Deferral Period. Payment of principal, interest and fees are deferred until forgiveness is remitted to the lender, only if the borrower applies for forgiveness within 10 months after the last day of the covered period.
  • Employer Payroll Taxes. The subsection of the CARES Act that prevents a taxpayer from delaying employer payroll taxes if the taxpayer has indebtedness forgiven under the PPP was stricken. This means that PPP borrowers can take advantage of delayed employer payroll taxes even if they are seeking forgiveness.

See the full bill text HERE.

Additional guidance from the US Treasury Department/SBA is expected soon.

Free PPP Forgiveness and PPP/EIDL Webinars 
The SBA Vermont District Office is hosting a free daily webinar from 9 to 10 a.m. Monday to Friday to discuss Paycheck Protection Program forgiveness and other changes. To join the webinar, visit https://meet.lync.com/sba123/sbmazza/SFFM2N9R. To join by phone, call (202) 765-1264 and when prompted enter the code 237511921#. Upon joining the call, mute the phone to cut down on the background noise, and please do not place the call on hold as the hold music will be heard over the presenter. For more information, email susan.mazza@sba.gov

The SBA Vermont District Office is also hosting a free webinar from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays to discuss the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance, and any pertinent updates. Previously a daily webinar, it will now be held twice a week.  To join the webinar, visit https://meet.lync.com/sba123/sbmazza/6F6N4YK6. To join by phone, call (202) 765-1264 and when prompted enter the code 470177937#. Upon joining the call, mute the phone to cut down on the background noise, and please do not place the call on hold as the hold music will be heard over the presenter. For more information, email brian.declue@sba.gov or chris.herriman@sba.gov.

Applied for EIDL? Check your spam folder!
We have been informed that the emails regarding EIDL second step (once you have received the advance) to “Create your SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Portal Account” may be landing in your SPAM folder. You need to check your SPAM folder frequently. This portal is what allows you to take the next step in the loan process and if you are considering the loan this is the only access.  

For Food and Accommodation Services, Retail, and Agriculture ONLY:
The relief package proposed by governor Scott is NOT YET open (it is still in the legislative process and how the programs will be delivered is a work in progress), but there is a step that you should take now to make sure you can access the grant money more easily as soon as it is available from the Restart Vermont Emergency Action Grants.

In PREPARATION make sure that your online account with the Vermont Department of Taxes is set up. If you have an account there is no action you need to take now. If you DO NOT HAVE an on-line account you should take the time to set it up now. Here is the link: https://myvtax.vermont.gov/_/#2. Again this is a PREP STEP and NOT THE APPLICATION PROCESS for accessing the grant monies. So do your due diligence now.

Click here to see May Updates