January 14, 2021 – PPP First and Second Draw information

Good afternoon:  The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 7 a.m. MDT. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.

Earlier this week, SBA granted dedicated PPP access to Community Financial Institutions (CFIs) which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reach underserved and minority small businesses.

On January 15, the SBA will continue its emphasis on reaching smaller lenders and businesses by opening to approximately 5,000 more lenders, including community banks, credit unions and farm credit institutions.  Moreover, the agency also plans to have dedicated service hours for these smaller lenders after the portal fully re-opens next week.

First Draw PPP Loans are for those borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020. The first round of the PPP, which ran from March to August 2020, helped 5.2 million small businesses keep 51 million American workers employed.  A revised application can be found here.

Second Draw PPP Loans are for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less, that previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will use or have used the full amount only for authorized uses, and that can demonstrate at least a 25-percent reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a Second Draw PPP loan is $2 million.  An overview of the program can be found here.

January 11, 2021 – Restaurant Recovery Fund

Good evening:  Empire State Development has now opened the application portal for the “Raising the Bar” Restaurant Recovery Fund to assist restaurants in New York State during the COVID-19 pandemic.  A presentation on the fund can be found here.

Please take note that the log in and eligibility takes approximately 3-5 minutes. Emails have begun flowing back to eligible applicants typically within minutes. For the applicants that have already received eligibility emails, they are able to log in and complete their applications.

Please visit https://esd.ny.gov/raising-nys-bar-restaurant-recovery-fund for more information.

January 8, 2021 – Additional PPP guidance from SBA

Good afternoon:  Additional information was released this morning regarding the Paycheck Protection Program.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Treasury Department, announced today that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will re-open 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.

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, direct 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.

January 7, 2021 – New PPP guidance released

Good evening:  The Small Business Administration released three documents concerning the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”).  Summaries of the information will be forwarded when they are available.

  1. PPP as Amended by the Economic Aid Act – guidance about the changes made to the PPP under the second stimulus package.
  2. PPP Second Draw Loans – guidance on the second round of PPP financing.
  3. Accessing Capital for Minority, Underserved, Veteran, and Women-owned Businesses – targeted guidance for specific business owners.

In addition, the Internal Revenue Service in conjunction with the Treasury Department just released guidance on the deduction of certain PPP-related expenses.  Read more about that here.

January 5, 2021 – Restaurant Recovery Fund

Today, Empire State Development (ESD) announced the more than $3 million “Raising the Bar” Restaurant Recovery Fund to assist restaurants in New York State during the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant funding has been made possible through financial donations led by Diageo North America and supported by Coastal Pacific Wine & Spirits (a division of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits) and will be implemented by the non-profit National Development Council (NDC). The “Raising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund” will help eligible restaurants adjust their operations to the impacts of COVID-19 and adherence to New York State’s public health and safety measures during the winter months when outdoor dining is limited.

Grant funding can be used for COVID-19-related improvements and equipment that will allow the business to comply with social distancing guidelines, expand take-out/delivery operations, or accommodate outdoor dining such as plexiglass barriers/partitions, signage promoting social distancing and hygiene protocols, heaters, heat lamps, weatherization upgrades and insulated delivery bags;  improvements that will allow the business to continue operating through the winter months such as filtration system upgrades and food heaters to maintain temperature for to-go orders and purchasing PPE and sanitation supplies necessitated by the pandemic; and COVID-19 related business improvements like patio heaters or contactless technology.  Qualifying purchases and expenditures must be from September 1, 2020 onwards to be eligible. Initial round of grants are up to $5,000. 

Eligible businesses consist of New York State restaurants that have no more than $3 million in 2019​ revenue ​and are engaged in providing food services and meals prepared on-premises to patrons who traditionally order and are served while seated, including certain on-premises food and drinking establishments licensed through the State Liquor Authority (SLA) and which need funding to adjust to COVID-related impacts and protocols. Establishments providing take out or grab and go food services due to COVID-19 restrictions are also eligible to receive the grant from NDC. Additionally, these establishments must have been in operation on or before March 1, 2019 and certify and demonstrate that they have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. ​All businesses must continue to comply with the New York Forward reopening guidance and Cluster Action Initiative guidance, as applicable. 

Restaurants can apply to the “R​aising the Bar Restaurant Recovery Fund” starting Monday, January 11, 2021. For more information visit the ESD website at https://esd.ny.gov/raising-bar-restaurant-recovery-fund

January 4, 2021 – Details of 2nd stimulus bill

Happy New Year!  We hope everyone had a safe and healthy holiday season. 

As you may know, last week President Trump signed into law a second COVID stimulus bill to provide additional support for individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic.  Outlined below are highlights of the bill that may impact your business.

Payroll Protection Program

  • Program extended through March 31.
  • Clarifies that businesses expenses paid for with forgiven PPP funds remain deductible.
  • Loan forgiveness process is simplified for borrowers with PPP loans of $150,000 or less. 
  • Forgivable expenses are expanded to include supplier costs and investments in facility modifications and personal protective equipment to operate safely.
  • Enhances borrower flexibility by allowing borrowers to select their loan forgiveness covered period between 8 weeks and 24 weeks.
  • Allows forgiveness for PPP loans and EIDL emergency advance grants, preventing small business owners being left with unexpected PPP loan balances.
  • Second round of PPP for businesses with 300 or fewer employees and a 25% revenue loss.
    • Maximum loan of 2.5X average monthly payroll up to $2 million.
    • Accommodations and Food Services (NAICS codes beginning with 72) may receive a loan up to 3.5X average monthly payroll.
  • Set asides
    • $15 billion for PPP loans (initial and second draw) issued by community financial institutions, including community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository intuitions (MDIs);
    • $15 billion for PPP loans (initial and second draw) issued by certain small depository institutions.
    • $35 billion for first-time borrowers, $15 billion of which is for borrowers with 10 or fewer employees, or loans less than $250,000 in low-income areas;
    • $25 billion for second draw PPP loans for borrowers with 10 or fewer employees, or loans less than $250,000 in low-income areas.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans: Additional $20 billion for the SBA’s EIDL advance program

Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators

The program will be administered by the Small Business Administration. Once the necessary infrastructure is in place, the SBA will make grants to;

  • live venue operators or promoters,
  • theatrical producers,
  • live performing arts organization operators,
  • museum operators,
  • motion picture theatre operators, or
  • talent representatives

To be eligible, the entity must have been fully operational on February 29, 2020, and must demonstrate a 25% reduction in gross revenue. During the initial 14-day period of implementation of the program, grants shall only be awarded to eligible entities that have faced 90% or greater revenue loss. In the next 14-day period, grants shall only be awarded to eligible entities that have faced 70% or greater revenue loss. After these two periods, grants shall be awarded to all other eligible entities.

The SBA may make an initial grant of 45% of the entity’s gross earned revenue during 2019. Entities may be eligible for a supplemental grant that is equal to 50% of the initial grant, with on overall cap on both grants combined of $10 million.

The grant money must be spent on specific expenses:

  • payroll costs,
  • rent,
  • utilities,
  • mortgage,
  • debt payments,
  • worker protection expenses,
  • payments made to independent contractors, and
  • other ordinary and necessary business expenses (such as maintenance expenses).

Employee Retention Tax Credit extended through June 30, 2021

  • Refundable and advanceable payroll tax credit to cover a portion of wages paid to employees to qualify a business must have faced a full or partial suspension of business due to a COVID-19 government order or suffered a significant decline in gross receipts
  • The credit rate has been increased from 50% to 70% of qualified wages, and the limit on per-employee creditable wages is increased from $10,000 per year to $10,000 per quarter.
  • Definition of “significant decline in gross receipts” has been reduced from 50% to 20%.
  • To further assist with liquidity, businesses with 500 or fewer employees may advance the credit at any point during the quarter based on wages paid in the same quarter in a previous year.
  • Provides that employers who receive PPP loans may still qualify for the ERTC with respect to wages that are not paid for with forgiven PPP proceeds.

Paid Leave Tax Credits extended through March 31, 2021

  • Businesses with fewer than 500 employees may receive a refundable tax credit in order to provide employees with paid sick and family and medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • Workers may receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for their own health needs or to care for others and up to an additional ten weeks of paid family leave to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed or child care provider is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 precautions.

December 22, 2020 2:30 pm – Coronavirus relief package approved

This week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The $900 billion package includes:

  • $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and an extension of PPP through March 31, 2021. Certain 501(c) (6) organizations are now eligible for PPP. 
  • $3.5 billion to resume debt relief payments of principal and interest (P&I) on small business loans guaranteed by the SBA under the 7(a), 504 and microloan programs.
  • Extension and expansion of the Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC).
  • An additional $300 per week to supplement all state and federal unemployment benefits.
  • Full federal financing of state work-share programs.
  • One-time direct payments of $600 for individuals earning up to $75,000 and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, as well as an extra $600 per eligible child dependent. 

To view a more detailed summary of the bill, click here 

We will communicate the details of the bill and access to the assistance as more information becomes available.

December 16, 2020 4:00 pm – Vaccine distribution plan and retail assistance

During today’s statewide update, Governor Cuomo outlined the plan to distribute and manage the COVID vaccination process as vaccines become available. 

As vaccines are delivered to the state, they will be distributed to all regions proportionately.  Currently New York is following recommendations to vaccinate all high-risk hospital workers, nursing home residents and nursing home staff.  The next group to be vaccinated will be long-term and congregate care residents and staff, EMS workers, other health care workers, coroners and medical examiners.  Phase II of the vaccination plan calls for essential workers and individuals with some underlying health conditions. 

To manage this process, the state has established regional vaccination hubs led by local hospital systems.  These groups are being tasked with developing a plan in coordination with local community leaders to create the vaccination network once doses are available.  The plans will be submitted to the NY Department of Health in the first week of January which will review and approve them.  In the Southern Tier, United Health Services will be leading this effort. 

More details on the state’s vaccination plan can be found at www.ny.gov/vaccine.

The state also recently launched the second phase of New York’s Empire State Digital initiative to support the state’s restaurants and food service industry affected by COVID-19. Through April 2021, e-commerce company Ritual will offer its commission-free digital ordering platform Ritual ONE to New York’s restaurants and food service businesses at no cost for pickup and delivery.

Restaurants and food service businesses that join Ritual through the Empire State Digital initiative will be able to accept touch-free payments from customers using their PayPal and Venmo apps and will not be subject to Ritual processing fees for a limited time. As part of this initiative, Ritual will waive its set-up, monthly subscription and credit-card processing fees. More information is available here.  

To help support food service establishments further, PayPal and Ritual have committed to invest $1 million to encourage customers to support their favorite local restaurants and eateries. Beginning in February, businesses enrolled in Ritual One can offer customers a discount on eligible purchases at up to three different store locations during the promotional period.

To further support retail businesses impacted by COVID, Shopify has partnered with the state to conduct a Retail Roundtable on Friday, December 18th from 11am to 12pm.  They will be instructing retail businesses on how they can start selling on Shopify, how Shopify can assist them in making the most of their online store and answer questions. Retail businesses interested in attending this roundtable session can register here.

The state also recently announced the Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership. Recognizing the economic impact of COVID-19, this program will provide small businesses and their landlords with informational resources and pro bono assistance to help both parties reach mutually beneficial lease workout agreements. This service is available to all New York State small businesses and landlords, and participation is voluntary. To initiate a lease renegotiation, please visit: New York Forward Small Business Lease Assistance Partnership | Empire State Development (ny.gov).

December 2, 2020 3:00 pm – Message from Jack Wheeler

Today, Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler released an open letter to the community sharing his concerns around COVID and provided key prevention strategies to help slow the spread of the virus in the community.   Without immediate action to slow the virus, Steuben County could find itself under additional restrictions that will negatively impact our business community.

We encourage you to read his message and act now to fight COVID in our community.

“I write to you today in the midst of very difficult times for our county, state, and nation. The acceleration of COVID-19 has reached levels of extreme concern, and certainly the highest we have seen since March. Tragically, we have also surpassed 100 COVID-related deaths, a mark we never thought we would see in Steuben County, and are heartbroken to witness.

As of this writing, we are approaching 2,000 COVID-19 cases in our county and are averaging over 30 new cases per day. Our seven-day rolling average of positive tests is 7.2%. All of these figures are far higher than public health experts target for controlled community management of the virus. We are clearly in a new phase of this pandemic and additional work is needed to reverse this trend.

Steuben County was fortunate to be removed from the ‘yellow zone’ classification under the Governor’s micro-cluster strategy a few weeks ago, but we find ourselves again on the brink of reentering these zones. Immediate action is needed on all of our parts to minimize the spread, specifically wearing face coverings in public, avoiding non-essential social gatherings and groups, practicing proper hand hygiene, and staying home when sick and seeking a COVID-19 test. These are the basic public health guidelines recommended by all levels of government, and they are more important now than ever. Locally, we have seen hundreds of cases resulting from small social gatherings, and it is critical that residents keep their social circles and activities as minimal as possible.

In my view, these actions primarily support the health and safety of our community and residents. Our hospitals, urgent cares, primary cares, and nursing homes are extremely busy confronting this virus, and we owe it to these selfless professionals to support them in any way we can and to ease their burden. If we can decrease viral spread, we can give these individuals and institutions the breathing room they desperately need.

But these actions also directly support our business community and local economy. Our small businesses have suffered through a shutdown, coupled with requirements for enhanced safety measures for reopening. Were we to enter an ‘orange zone’, personal care services, such as salons, barber shops, and fitness centers, would be required by New York State to temporarily close. In a ‘red zone’, all non-essential businesses would be forced to close. We desperately need to decrease our case count and positivity rate to protect these businesses and ensure they remain open and profitable.

This message, along with the comprehensive daily reports from Steuben County Public Health can paint a bleak picture. However, there is significant hope on the horizon. The data we see regarding vaccines are extremely positive and the county is working diligently to prepare for distribution once we receive allocations.

In addition, we are so thankful and appreciative of our essential workers, from medical professionals, truck drivers, manufacturers, store clerks, and too many others to name. Finally, I know we have a compassionate community that always comes together in times of difficulty, which we find ourselves in now. If we all work collectively to double-down on the basic, common sense public health measures, we can and will minimize the spread of COVID-19 and find ourselves stronger for it.

Sincerely,

Jack K. Wheeler, MPA

County Manager”

  The IDA will continue to provide updates that impact our business community as they become available. 

December 1, 2020 8:30 am – Winter Plan

Good morning:  We hope everyone had a safe and healthy Thanksgiving.  With the passing of the Thanksgiving holiday, state and local health officials are bracing for the next phase of the pandemic as individuals look to spend time with family during the holiday season.  Steuben County Public Health wants to remind everyone that COVID-19 does not move by itself. People move COVID through their choices, the places they go, and through the people they meet and spend time with. The less we travel and gather with others, the less chance there is to spread COVID.

Yesterday, New York State announced its plan for combating COVID-19 this winter.  Specifically, the winter plan consists of five targeted strategies focused on mitigating the spread of the virus and bolstering New York State hospital preparedness including:

Strategy 1 – Continue and Strengthen New York’s Targeted Micro-Cluster Strategy while Managing Hospital Capacity to Enhance and Equalize Care

Under New York’s Winter COVID-19 Plan, New York’s micro-cluster strategy will be strengthened through the utilization of additional, hospital-related metrics to provide a clearer picture of where a particular zone stands in the fight against COVID. Under this improved strategy, the New York State Department of Health will include factors such as regional hospital bed capacity, ICU capacity, staffing ratios, and daily hospital admissions as part of the analysis and metrics used to determine which geographic areas qualify as micro-cluster zones. In addition to the three existing micro-cluster zone levels (Yellow Precautionary, Orange Warning and Red), New York will also add a new ‘Emergency Stop’ level, which will effectively put that area under the NY Pause guidelines if needed to preserve hospital capacity. Hospital metrics associated with these zones will be identified in the next week to 10 days once data from the Thanksgiving holiday is received and analyzed.

Strategy 2 – Increase and Balance Testing Resources and Availability

Under the Winter Plan, New York State will take steps to increase the amount of testing available statewide, but do so in a way that ensures distribution is balanced with testing sufficient across different segments of the population, including:

  • Healthcare workers;
  • Nursing homes;
  • Schools;
  • Essential workers;
  • Business professionals;
  • Personal services testing; and
  • General population, returning students and travelers, etc.

Strategy 3 – Keep Schools Open Safely

Under New York’s Winter Plan, efforts will be focused on keeping K-8 and Special Education schools open as long as it can be done safely. The first step will be to establish sustainable, ongoing testing in schools so that they can continue operating in the long term. As part of this, schools located in Orange and Red micro-cluster zones will be required to conduct weekly testing. Schools in Orange Zones will be required to test 20% of in person students, faculty, and staff over the course of a month and schools in Red Zones will be required to test 30% of in person students, faculty, and staff over a month. Pool testing will be allowed as well.

Strategy 4 – Prevent Viral Spread from Small Gatherings

Small gatherings have now been identified as the number one spreader of COVID-19, with at least 65 percent of all cases coming from these settings. While government’s ability to monitor small gatherings is limited, public education on the safety concerns of small gatherings is crucial.  New York State will be launching a public education campaign to highlight how small gatherings can lead to the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Strategy 5 – Operationalize an Equitable and Safe Vaccination Program

While a vaccine is expected to be released in the coming weeks, it will be months before a critical mass of available vaccinations for the general public will be available. As the state builds its plan to distribute vaccinations, it will be founded on three main pillars:

  • Fairness;
  • Equity; and
  • Safety.

These pillars are critical to ensuring a fair distribution of the vaccine.

Each of these strategies could ultimately impact your business operation and we encourage you to learn more about the strategies here.