Edition for Monday, April 6, 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!
Governor Mills Announces
Approval of Federal Disaster Declaration For COVID-19 Response in Maine
On Saturday, Governor
Janet Mills announced that the President has approved
her request for a major disaster declaration for
the State of Maine, unlocking critical federal assistance for state agencies
and municipalities in Maine.
The approval is specifically
for public assistance, which means that State agencies and municipalities in
all of Maine's 16 counties will be reimbursed for 75 percent of approved
costs associated with their COVID-19 response. The Governor''s other requests
for disaster assistance, including additional resources for Maine people to
support child care, behavioral health, and legal services, among others,
remain under review by the Trump Administration. Additionally, Governor
Mills' request for approval of Title 32 Section 502(f) funds for the Maine
National Guard remains under review.
"I welcome this support from the Federal government. It will bolster the response of our State agencies and municipalities who are working to protect the public's health and safety during these unprecedented times," said Governor Mills. "I am grateful to Maine's Congressional Delegation for advocating for this designation, and I am hopeful the President will approve the State's pending requests for critical resources. Maine people are doing their part to defeat this virus, and those additional resources will provide critical support. We will continue to do all we can to protect our state and provide for Maine people who need our help."
Over 1,000 small businesses
in Maine qualify for payroll protection loans
Since the federal assistance program went live Friday, a
total of 1,026 companies have been deemed eligible to receive nearly $292
million in payroll benefits, according to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins.
A recent Portland Press Herald
article indicated that more
than 1,000 small businesses in Maine have been deemed eligible to
receive funding assistance under the federal government's new Paycheck
Protection Plan loan program, an indicator of the volume of businesses struggling to contend with the
impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on the state. U.S. Sen. Susan
Collins, R-Maine, tweeted Sunday afternoon that since the program went live
on Friday, April 3, a total of 1,026 Maine employers have been approved for
$291.9 million in Paycheck Protection Plan loans.
The Paycheck Protection
Program provides small businesses - defined as those having fewer than 500
employees - with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs, including
benefits. Funds may also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent and
utilities. A loan will be fully forgiven if employees are kept on a
business's payroll or rehired quickly at the same salary level. Forgiveness
will be reduced if a business' headcount declines or if salaries and wages
are decreased. At least 75 percent of the forgiven amount must also have been
used to cover payroll expenses.
Small businesses and sole
proprietorships, including nonprofit organizations, veterans organizations,
and tribal businesses, were allowed to start filing applications on Friday. Once
the applications started coming in Friday, Maine lending institutions shifted
into high gear. Starting April 10, independent contractors and self-employed
individuals can apply. Restaurants and hotels are also eligible to apply if
each of their locations has fewer than 500 employees. Small businesses are
being encouraged to apply as soon as possible because there is a funding availability
Small business owners can apply for loans through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, or participating Farm Credit System institution. All loans carry the same terms regardless of lender or borrower.
If they haven't already,
Maine small businesses should explore Paycheck Protection Program loans
On April 4, the BDN Editorial Board published this
editorial in its opinion section. Below is an excerpt but we encourage you to
read it in its entirety online.
Federal investment is a powerful tool in the fight against
the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its staggering economic impact. So too
The Paycheck Protection
Program is just one piece of the federal response to the massive economic
slowdown we are experiencing right now because of the virus, and not all
businesses will be eligible - and it may not be the right fit for every
eligible business. But the Maine State Chamber of Commerce is absolutely
right: Maine businesses should consider applying for these loans during this
"It is extremely important that Maine businesses consider applying for a 'Paycheck Protection Program' forgivable loan to help them stay connected with their employees during the pandemic," Maine State Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors said in a statement on Thursday. "These loans are critical to helping Maine businesses, economy and workforce get through this crisis so they can get back to business as soon as we get to the other side of it."
The Small Business
Administration has posted information online about the loans and who can
apply. A program application is available through the U.S. Treasury
Department. The Maine Chamber has compiled
a list on its website of eligible lenders in the state. The
chamber has also put together a checklist
Maine Department of Labor
Announces Alphabetical Call-in Schedule for Unemployment Benefits
After receiving an
unprecedented number of unemployment claims due to the novel coronavirus
(COVID-19), the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) announced a new
alphabetical-by-last-name call-in schedule for Maine people
filing for unemployment benefits. The new schedule will help reduce phone
line congestion as the Department ramps up its capacity to receive and
Starting today, Maine people
seeking to file for unemployment by calling the 800 number with last names
beginning with A-H should call on Monday; I-Q on Tuesday; R-Z on Wednesday.
Thursday and Friday will be left unassigned for those who miss their
alphabetical day or need to call at that time.
"While we hope to have 100 more people answering the phone lines by the end of next week, implementing this new system will ease congestion on our phone lines in the meantime," said Commissioner Laura Fortman on Friday. "This is an easy way for individuals to take action to improve access for everyone. We are all in this together and we appreciate your help as we navigate these unprecedented times."
The recently enacted federal
CARES Act includes new temporary unemployment programs to provide additional
relief to people affected by COVID-19. At the direction of the Governor,
Maine has opted in to the new programs. However, MDOL requires guidance from
the U.S. Department of Labor in order to implement the new programs. MDOL
continues to press for that guidance and once it is received, will implement
the system changes. Claims filed will be processed retroactively to the dates
in the law.
Until then, the Department urges Maine people who would be eligible under these programs to wait to file until they are in place. Filing now will result in a denial of benefits when those applying, in fact, deserve the benefit. MDOL wants every Mainer to receive the benefits for which they are eligible during this difficult time.