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.
What Every Employer Needs to Know During Covid-19
As 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.
This 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.
Join 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.
register in advance for this meeting, please 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 submit them.
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
UMaine, statewide partners
producing hand sanitizer, exploring PPE innovations for Maine hospitals
of Maine has formed an innovation team to help evaluate and develop
solutions to the shortages of supplies and challenges faced by Maine's health
care centers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group includes
UMaine faculty, staff and students, representatives from the Maine Department
of Economic and Community Development, the Maine Manufacturing Extension
Partnership (Maine MEP), MaineHealth, St. Joseph Hospital and Northern Light
Health. Other collaborating partners include the Manufacturers Association of
Maine and Maine Procurement Technical Assistance Center.
The team based at the state's
public research university is operating as part of a March 22 umbrella
agreement with the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) allowing the
University of Maine System to provide goods and services to Maine health care
facilities and agencies as coordinated by MEMA. The first UMaine-led
initiative to help meet the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE)
for health care workers focuses on production of hospital-grade hand sanitizer.
Other initiatives include research on protocols for N95 masks, and
development of devices supporting intubation and ventilation. All supplies
are coordinated by the University of Maine System via the MEMA WebEOC.
With hospital-grade hand
sanitizer in very short supply, a team led by UMaine's Process Development
Center (PDC) and faculty in biomedical engineering has established limited
production of hospital-grade alcohol-based sanitizer in accordance with FDA
Temporary Guidance. The PDC is working with Maine Distillers Guild and area
distillers - including New England Distilling, Hardshore Distilling,
Stroudwater Distillery, Sebago Lake Distillery, Split Rock Distilling, Blue
Barren Distillery, Mossy Ledge Spirits, Chadwick's Craft Spirits, Wiggly
Bridge Distillery, Round Turn Distilling and Three of Strong Spirits. Local
brewers - Allagash, Maine Beer, Rising Tide, Foundation, Oxbow, Shipyard,
Baxter, Threshers and Tumbledown - provide the feedstock for the
distilleries. UMaine's production has focused on larger volume 55-gallon and
5-gallon containers for use by hospitals. To meet evolving and expanding
demand, they are now increasing coordination with other distillers who may
remain focused on smaller package production, such as Maine Craft Distillers
in Portland and Boston Brands in Lewiston. Nestle is donating 0.5-liter
bottles to help distribute the hand sanitizer in smaller portions.
After Monday, April 6,
continuous PDC production is expected to be at 400 gallons a day, given the
available supply of components. PDC is able to produce a single 55-gallon
batch in 30 minutes. The hospital-grade hand sanitizer is intended for
immediate use and only for hospitals. As production increases, the hope is to
supply other health-related facilities and first responders to meet demand.
While formed directly to work with Maine hospitals and Maine manufacturers, the UMaine innovation team welcomes ideas from others. The group is making new connections daily and hopes others will coordinate through the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention and MEMA. Questions and can be sent to email@example.com.
JMG Gives $300,000 to
Students for Groceries
Relationship-based Approach Even More Critical During
As families continue to
struggle with the economic impact of COVID-19, JMG is
partnering with its school partners to distribute $100 Hannaford Supermarket
gift cards to 3,000 students and their families throughout Maine.
While Maine's K-12 public schools are continuing to provide free bagged
breakfasts and lunches to students by scheduling pickup times, and even
school bus deliveries, food insecurity continues to rise.
JMG programs are hosted within
Maine's public schools and higher education systems. JMG Specialists deliver
a competency-based model, providing instruction for essential life and career
skills, through personalized learning strategies. JMG has named its
relationship-based approach a "continuum of support." It is the
only nonprofit in Maine serving students from middle school through high
school graduation, and into post-secondary education and careers. There are
143 JMG programs in Maine, in all 16 counties.
JMG was able to raise $150,000
from Maine employers, including Unum, Bank of America, Hannaford
Supermarkets, Procter & Gamble, Bangor Savings Bank, AT&T, Skowhegan
Savings Bank, IDEXX, Machias Savings Bank, BerryDunn, E.J. Prescott, Pratt
& Whitney, Kennebec Savings Bank, Hospitality Maine, Pike Industries and
the Retail Association of Maine. The Harold Alfond Foundation is committing
additional resources to JMG to assist with anticipated emergency student
needs caused by the pandemic.
All of JMG's school-based partners will receive a minimum of 20 gift cards for $100 to local Hannaford Supermarkets and/or their affiliate stores. JMG Specialists will collaborate with school administrators to distribute the gift cards to students and their families next week.
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