Covid – Business

While you are dealing with needs of your family and your employees, you are also naturally concerned about the future of your business, and so are we. To help you navigate these uncertain times, we have assembled an evolving list of resources for the immediate and future needs of your business.

 

Funding

SBA Disaster Loans

  • Up to $2 million in assistance
  • Can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue
  • Interest is 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits
  • To apply for the SBA’s Economic Injury loan and grant programs, visit the SBA website

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn
  • Provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses and nonprofits
  • Loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward
  • Learn more and apply here

CEI Fast-Track Microloans

  • Up to $25,000 for existing and start-up businesses
  • Decisions will typically be made within three business days
  • The initial requirement is a 2-page application and impact data survey from all owners with a 20% or greater share of the business
  • Details here.

Unemployment Options for Businesses

Temporary or Permanent Employee Layoffs

  • New legislation benefits individuals laid off due to COVID-19
  • Unemployment waiting period waived
  • Benefits paid under these provisions will not affect the employer’s experience rating record
  • Employees not required to seek alternative employment (in the case of temporary layoff)
  • Regional Career Centers to provide online and phone services for finding new jobs (in the case of permanent layoff)
  • Employers (business owners) are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits if they are a documented employee who gets paid wages and the business has contributed to the unemployment compensation fund on their behalf
  • Employers may continue to pay healthcare costs for laid-off employees and not impact eligibility to collect unemployment benefits
  • Unemployment claims can be filed online
  • For more information: view fact sheet (as of March 19, 2020), visit the Maine.gov Unemployment page, or submit questions to Maine Department of Labor staff.

Workshare Program

  • Unemployment option that helps businesses retain their workforce during a temporary slowdown in work
  • Allows employers to voluntarily reduce the hours of staff in lieu of layoffs
  • Employees of the business are allowed to collect a partial unemployment benefit to help them offset the loss of income
  • Learn more here or contact regional Career Center.

Think Local…
The “Chamber family” stands ready to help Maine businesses of all sizes and sectors as they work their way through this unpredictable landscape in the days, months and weeks ahead. Please reach out to us or the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for assistance, direction, brainstorming, and connection. We’re all in this together, and we’re here to help!

We are surveying member businesses for feedback on how best to support you. We will be offering virtual events for members, sharing their video-conferencing capabilities with members at no charge, and holding social media contests to help support local businesses. Us and many Chambers across the state are also encouraging individuals to support local and small businesses in a variety of ways including:

  • Encouraging Mainers to use delivery, take-out and curbside services at their local businesses.
  • Paying vendors such as caterers now for events that have been postponed due to the virus.
  • Buying gift cards to retailers, restaurants, shops, and movie, concert and theatre venues.
  • Purchasing class passes for fitness studios, gyms and more.
  • Purchasing merchandise online from retailers, breweries, restaurants, etc., including shirts, hats, books, signs, and more.

Federal Emergency Funding…
At the federal level, Congress and the Trump administration are taking actions to blunt the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s economy. Rescue proposals are nearing a trillion dollars in aid. Among federal legislation being considered is Sen. Susan Collins’ “Keeping Workers Paid and Employed Act,” which would provide cash-flow assistance quickly to employers. This cash-flow assistance could be as much as the employer needs to stay in operation without lay-offs. Funds are required to be used to pay employees.

Federal Small Business Assistance Loans…
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Governor Janet Mills’ application for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help Maine businesses overcome any temporary loss of revenue due to the novel coronavirus. Maine is one of the first states in the country to be approved, and Maine small business owners can now begin applying for these loans.

The deadline to apply for assistance is December 16, 2020. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155. (Source: U.S. SBA)

Maine Small Business Assistance Loans…
Governor Mills also has directed the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to examine additional ways the state can support Maine’s small businesses, including working with the Finance Authority of Maine and other potential lending partners. Sole proprietors can now apply for FAME loans up to $5,000 with 3 chances to apply for a total of $15,000. Follow Maine DECD on Twitter at @MEDECD or email Business.answers@maine.gov with specific business-related questions.

State Emergency Funding and the State’s Supplemental Budget…
Coming soon…

From the Maine Department of Labor…
The Maine Department of Labor is extremely concerned about the significant impact COVID-19 is having on Maine businesses and workers. Among the information the department has provided, please see these links related to the workplace below:

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Resources and Information…
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has created business guides, which are based on information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to assist employers and employees in preparing for and addressing the impacts of the coronavirus.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Quick Take outlines the Coronavirus’ Economic Impact rather succinctly. For shareable social graphics on how to keep families, schools, and businesses safe, and what to do if you get sick, visit www.uschamber.com/coronavirus-response-toolkit.

Unemployment Assistance…
Legislation was passed to make our Unemployment Insurance system more flexible for both employees and employers. The Maine Department of Labor also has a webpage dedicated to COVID-19 response information.

  • For employees: The usual one week waiting period for eligibility will be waived in the event of a Covid-19 related layoff.
  • For employers: Layoffs associated with Covid-19 will not count against an employer’s experience rating for UI tax purposes.

FAQs for Employers:

Q. Will my experience rating record be affected if any of my employees receive unemployment benefits because of COVID-19?
A. If an individual receives unemployment benefits due solely to COVID-19, benefits paid to the worker would not be charged against the experience rating record of the employer.

Q. If I have to temporarily close part or all of my business operations due to the COVID-19 virus and lay off my employees, will they have to look for other work while they are collecting unemployment benefits?
A. No. As long as you plan to return them to their jobs when you resume operations, and provided they remain able and available to work for you and provide you with current contact information by which to reach them, they will not have to seek other work.

Q. Can an employer who needs to temporarily lay off employees because of COVID -19 continue to pay health insurance premiums for the employee during the layoff period or will that negatively impact the employees’ unemployment benefits?
A. Continuing to provide health insurance will not impact your employee’s ability to receive unemployment benefits.

Q. What is Work Share?
A. WorkShare is an unemployment option that helps businesses retain their workforce during a temporary slowdown in work. The program allows employers to voluntarily reduce the hours of staff in lieu of layoffs. Employees of the business are allowed to collect a partial unemployment benefit to help them offset the loss of income. See https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/workshare/ for more information.

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