Edition for Friday, April 3, 2020
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Welcome to your daily Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of the
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you every
afternoon, through emails like this one and on Facebook and Twitter, until the pandemic passes. We
intend to provide you with the latest state and federal information, as well
as highlighting the creativity and innovation that is occuring here in Maine
during this unpredictable and rapidly changing time. To assist you in navigating
the uncertainties ahead, we have created a diverse and comprehensive
collection of web-based resources to help you take care of yourself and your family, your employees, your business, and your community. If there is anything you need, please reach out.
We are here to help in any way we can!
Notabel Changes to the Paycheck Protection Program
the federal package and its implementation continues to evolve daily. We are
in the process of updating our online
resources, but wanted to make you
aware of a few important changes. The Small Business Administration issued
its much-anticipated Paycheck Protection Program Interim Final Rule,
providing guidance on the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program
(PPP) and on loan forgiveness for amounts loaned by the SBA loans under the
PPP. Among the changes are added
requirements on appropriate uses of proceeds of a PPP loan, and an increase in the fixed interest rate on
loans made under the program from 0.5% to 1%, in response to feedback
that the original terms could have prevented community banks from
participating in the program.
PPP Forgivable Loan
Program: How to do the Math
Thousands of articles are circulating about the new
Paycheck Protection Program under the CARES Act signed into law on March 27.
Having a general idea about how this program works is good, but if you have
questions about the math, then this article from Verrill should prove helpful.
It is a slightly simplified explanation of how to compute the loan amount and
the forgivable amount, although the precise numbers will differ slightly due
to the details of the program.
Also, links to the Paycheck Protection
Plan borrower and lenders forms were released
yesterday evening by the U.S. Department of Treasury. They will also be
Federal Families First
Coronavirus Response Act
Effective April 1, 2020
We are sharing with you this April 3 letter from the Commissioner
of the Maine Department of Labor to Maine Employers regarding the Families
First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which became effective this week.
On Wednesday, April 1, the new Families First
Coronavirus Response Act went into effect. This federal Act
requires some employers in Maine to provide their employees with paid sick
leave and expanded medical leave for reasons related to COVID-19.
The new federal requirements apply to covered employers as
defined in the Act, which includes most businesses with fewer than 500
employees and almost all public employers. The Act allows for these
businesses to be reimbursed for expenses they incur to provide required paid
leave through a payroll tax credit. Certain businesses with fewer than 50
employees can seek an exemption. Businesses must seek this exemption at the
Employees of covered public and private employers may be
eligible for up to two weeks of emergency paid sick leave (80 hours) at full
pay, and in some cases up to an additional 10 weeks of emergency paid family
medical leave at partial (two-thirds) pay.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division (WHD)
is responsible for implementation and enforcement of the Act. Please visit their website for more information,
including answers to a wide range of anticipated questions from both
employees and employers. You will also find posters that employers will be
required to display at their worksites.
WHD will post a recorded webinar on
Friday, April 3, 2020, to provide interested parties a
more in-depth description and help them learn more about the FFCRA. WHD
invites webinar viewers to call the agency's toll-free help line at
866-4US-WAGE to speak with a trained WHD professional about any questions
they may have. They have also provided a website for comments and suggestions from employers, workers and the
public. The WHD has posted additional updates to
the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. There are now answers to 79 Q&As as the U.S. DOL continues
to answer questions that are coming in through their national online dialogue.
Information on other new developments at the state and
federal levels such as a separate stimulus package (the CARES Act) will be
posted and distributed when it is available. MDOL is currently waiting for
additional guidance from USDOL on the implementation.
Thank you and best regards,
Laura Fortman, Commissioner, Maine Department of Labor
Join the Maine State
Chamber on Tuesday, April 7
for a Special
Employer Needs to Know During Covid-19
employers have been wrestling with the financial impact of the COVID-related
shut-down of major sectors of the Maine and U.S. economies, there has been an
avalanche of remedial legislation at both the state and federal level
directed at easing the impact on employers and employees alike. However, when legislation is enacted this
quickly, it's inevitable that it will create many questions.
webinar will get you up to speed on the latest guidance and understanding
concerning the emergency paid sick leave, expanded Family Medical Leave, and
payroll tax credit provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response
Act. We'll do the same for the
enhancements to unemployment benefits under the CARES Act and Maine's
Emergency Unemployment Act.
Katy Rand of Pierce Atwood and Peter Gore of the Maine State Chamber as they
help you understand what you need to know to make critical decisions for your
workforce and your business.
To register in advance for this meeting,
click here. After registering, you will receive a
confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. If you have questions you'd like to make
sure we answer, please click here to
LISC, Verizon Small Business Grant Application Goes Live: #PayItForward
Verizon has committed
to an initial fund of $2.5 million with LISC, with the potential of
an additional $2.5 million to provide critical relief to small businesses and
non-profits facing immediate financial threats. U.S. Bank also has
contributed another $500,000 to the fund. Apply by clicking here. The
application process for
the LISC Rapid Relief and Resiliency Fund is now open, and
applications must be submitted by April 4 at 11:59 p.m. to be considered. For
questions, please contact email@example.com.
New U.S. Chamber / MetLife Poll: One in Four Small
Businesses on Brink of Permanent Closure, Half Eyeing Temporary Shutdown
A new poll taken from March 25-28, 2020, and released today from the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce and MetLife reveals that one in four small
businesses (24%) say they are two months or less from closing permanently
amid the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic. One in 10
(11%) are less than one month away from permanently going out of business.
Additionally, about one
in four (24%) small businesses have already shut down temporarily in response
to COVID-19. Among those that have not, 40% say they are likely to close at
least temporarily within the next two weeks. This means a total of 54% of all
small businesses report that they have closed or expect to close temporarily
in the next 14 days.
When asked what
proposals might offer the most relief, small businesses indicated support for
three key provisions included in the recently enacted Coronavirus Aid,
Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
* 56% of small business say direct cash payments to Americans would be the most helpful form of aid from the government;
* followed by loans and financial aid (30%; and,
* suspending payroll
The full report relays
findings on small business owners' level of concern, changes they are making
in order to continue operating, resources and relief programs needed over the
next couple of months, and predictions on when the U.S. small business
climate will return to normal. Key findings include:
* 43% of small
businesses say they are 3-6 months away from permanently shutting down, 24%
say they are two months or less from closing permanently, and 1 in 10 that
say they are less than 1 month away from permanently shutting down.
* 24% of small
businesses report having temporarily closed their business in the last two
* Among those who
haven't temporarily shut down yet, 40% report it is likely they will do so
within the next two weeks. This means a total of 54% of all small businesses
are reporting they have closed or could close within the coming weeks.
* 54% of small business
owners now rate the overall health of the U.S. economy as "poor," and 32%
feel the same about their local economy.
* 59% of small business
owners feel comfortable with their cash flow, compared to 80% last quarter.
* The most common
business responses to the COVID-19 disruption are shortening hours of
operation (30%), temporarily closing (24%), and adjusting employee salaries
or hours (17%).
* 84% of small business
owners say they are concerned about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on
their business, and a majority (58%) are very concerned, especially those in
the Northeast and in the service industry.
Maine Jobless Claims Surge to New Record as Coronavirus
On Thursday, April 2,
the Bangor Daily News reported that more Mainers filed for unemployment last week than in the
record-setting previous week as the new coronavirus outbreak places the U.S.
economy under immense stress at an unprecedented pace. Unemployed workers in
the state submitted 23,761 new claims for the week from March 22 to 28, up
from the previous week's 21,459, according to Maine Department of Labor data
released Thursday. In the week from March 8 to 14, before strict limits were
placed on business activity, the claims were 634. Initial claims averaged 800
in the same week in 2018 and 2019. Before the virus began spreading worldwide
in December, Maine's unemployment rate had been on a record pace of being
below 4 percent for 50 consecutive months in February, at 3.2 percent
Friday, April 10 | U.S. Department of Labor hosts National
As everyone works to
implement the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), they may
encounter unique questions that are not yet addressed in the U.S. DOL's guidance or in the temporary
rule released recently, please consider submitting your
questions to the national online dialogue.
The U.S. Department of
Labor is hosting a national online dialogue, now extended until close of business on April 10, to
provide employers and employees with an innovative opportunity to offer their
perspective as the department develops compliance assistance materials and
outreach strategies related to the implementation of the FFCRA. The ideas and
comments gathered from this dialogue will inform compliance assistance
guidance, resources, and tools, as well as outreach approaches, that assist
employers and employees in understanding their responsibilities and rights
under the FFCRA.
Share Your Story With Us!
The stories below are just a few examples of numerous Maine
companies stepping up or pivoting to make the desperately-needed protective
gear and other products, as Maine people resourcefully address the challenges
of this pandemic. If your company is one of the many "Mainers helping Mainers,"
we want to hear your story!
BIW donates ventilators, keeps local eateries afloat during
On Tuesday, March 31, Bath Iron Works donated 3,200
medical-grade N95 respirators to MaineHealth.
The face masks are being distributed to hospitals and other medical
facilities in Maine based on need. Over the past week General Dynamics, BIW's parent company, donated more than 21,000
pieces of personal protective equipment to sites in New York City and Chicago
including N95 masks, Tyvek and Kimberly Clark suits, boot covers and face
A story in yesterday's Portland Press Herald noted, BIW started purchasing
lunches last week for employees made by local
restaurants, an arrangement that has kept some of those eateries afloat amid
the coronavirus pandemic, according to the owners. In total, 13 local
restaurants supply about 5,000 lunches per day.
"BIW has been a really big lifeline that's keeping us going," said Michael Quigg, owner of Beale Street Barbeque in Bath. "If this offer hadn't come through, we would've had to close or lay people off."
After Mills' initial order two weeks ago, John Brigance, owner of Midcoast Pizza and More in Bath said business dropped by 20-25% and he began weighing whether to lay off employees or take out a loan. Brigance said he makes between 500 and 700 sandwiches per day for the company. "BIW has saved us from taking out a loan or going under," said Brigance. "There is no way in the world we would've survived without BIW. We're not making a fortune, but it's allowing me to pay my employees and my bills."
Lisa Fraser, the owner
of Fiona's Catering, was once able
to bring her food truck into the shipyard to sell food to BIW employees but
decided to stop when coronavirus began spreading rapidly throughout the
state. She and her 11 employees make 500 to 600 meals per day for BIW
In a message to employees, Dirk Lesko, president of BIW, wrote: "Here in Maine where store shelves are often bare and staff is stretched thin we've been blessed with support from local restaurants who are working night and day to provide boxed lunches for the shipbuilders of BIW."
New Balance Making Personal Masks In Two Northeast
In a recent centralmaine.com
article, representatives from New
Balance said the company's factories in Norridgewock and Lawrence,
Massachusetts, will begin producing a general-use face mask to help meet the
urgent demand for personal protective equipment at its factory on
Depot Street in Norridgewock. New Balance officials said that by mid-April,
they hope to be producing as many as 100,000 masks per week between the
factories in Maine and Massachusetts. New Balance's face mask design and
materials are being assessed to ensure they meet standards set by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration, and will result in a product "that can be
confidently used by frontline medical staff." New Balance is also working on
collaborative opportunities and on prototypes to produce other personal
protective equipment, including gowns and foot coverings.
announcement about mask production followed an announcement March 24 that the
New Balance Foundation had given $2 million to help support local, regional
and global communities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maine biotech companies stepping up, and hiring, in
According to an article in today's Mainebiz, Maine's life science
companies, representing a variety of products and services, are finding
themselves on the forefront of the worldwide effort to stop COVID-19 and
adding employees as they increase production.
Abbott Laboratories' production plant in Scarborough began Wednesday manufacturing 50,000 COVID-19 rapid tests
a day. The test is capable of delivering positive results for the novel
coronavirus in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.
The Scarborough location is the only place in the world making the rapid
Puritan Medical Products in Guilford manufactures medical swabs used to collect specimens for
coronavirus testing. The company is producing between 800,000 and 1 million
swabs a week, and makes more than 1,200 types of swab and single-use sample
collection devices for the medical, diagnostics, microbiology, forensics and
other industries. It produces 5 billion swabs a day, many of them sterilized
and for specialized uses.
The Baker Co. in Sanford designs and manufactures biological safety cabinets used
in research laboratories by scientists studying diseases like COVID-19, as
well as in health care settings for diagnosis and treatment. The company has
received many rush orders from hospitals and public health laboratories and
is putting those orders in the front of its production schedule.
Enercon Technologies in Gray manufactures diagnostic medical devices being used in the
COVID-19 outbreak. Generally, the company designs and builds electronics
instrumentation specializing in medical devices, life sciences, military and
The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor is breeding stocks of genetically engineered mice that can
be used in research for COVID-19. The lab will distribute the transgenic mice
at cost to infectious disease research labs around the world in the hope of
providing the research communities with the resources needed for scientific
discoveries leading to the development of therapies that will stem the
BBI Solutions in Portland produces diagnostic reagents and provides assay
development services that can accelerate tests to market and aid in the
collection, interpretation and communication of test results.
L.L. Bean boxing food, not
flannel, to help during pandemic
According to the Associated
Press, the outdoors retailer is lending space and employees to help the
Good Shepherd Food Bank get food to Mainers who need it during the pandemic. With
many workers idled because of the coronavirus, L.L. Bean will use its
shipping hub in Freeport to pack food for pantries across the state. The
company's workers will sort and package food in boxes that the Good Shepherd
Food Bank will ship to food pantries in all 16 counties. The arrangement will
reduce Good Shepherd's reliance on local food pantry volunteers, many of whom
are older and should be at home.
A recent Boston Globe article also featured L.L.
Bean's transition to medical gear production. It started with a call from
MaineHealth asking whether L.L. Bean might be able to address the severe
shortage of protective gear that health care workers need to stay safe during
the coronavirus outbreak. By Monday, March 30, twenty workers, clad in face
masks and gloves and standing at least six feet apart, got to work at the
company's Brunswick factory assembling masks out of the white nylon fabric
typically used to line Bean dog beds. By the end of the shift, the Bean
workers had produced 5,000 masks for MaineHealth, which has opted to help
cover the cost of materials and labor.
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