Edition for Friday, April 24, 2020
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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.
Do you have a question? ASK THE EXPERTS.
We are here to
help in any way we can!
BDN Guest Column | COVID-19
rescue loans a lifeline for Maine businesses
The following guest
column appeared in today's online Bangor
Daily News and will be published in this weekend's print edition. It was submitted
by Dana Connors, president and CEO of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce;
Quincy Hentzel, president and CEO of the Portland Regional Chamber of
Commerce; and Deb Neuman, president and CEO of the Bangor Region Chamber of
It has been only six weeks
since the COVID-19 pandemic began dramatically impacting Maine. Second to
protecting public health and keeping people safe, the well-being of Maine's
economy, businesses, and workforce is paramount during this unprecedented
time. Maine's small businesses are getting hit particularly hard by this
crisis. The ripple effect is undeniable.
Swift actions have been taken
by the private and public sectors to mitigate the economic impact of
COVID-19. The leadership of Gov. Janet Mills and the efforts of Maine's
elected representatives in Washington on behalf of Maine businesses are
laudable and greatly appreciated.
Consider the work at the
federal level. With near-unanimous support where gridlock and partisanship
are the norm, Congress and the White House rapidly enacted the Coronavirus
Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
A key component of the CARES
Act is the Paycheck Protection Program. Co-authored by Sen. Susan Collins,
the PPP is an economic relief plan initially allocating $350 billion in
forgivable loans to small businesses and employers struggling due to the
coronavirus pandemic. PPP provides loan amounts up to 250 percent of an
employer's monthly payroll expenses. They are forgivable if at least 75
percent of the loan is spent on payroll. The intent is to help employers keep
their employees paid and employed at a time when a record number of people
are filing for unemployment.
In just two weeks - thanks in
large part to the Herculean work of Maine lending institutions who
implemented new loan processes in mere days - nearly 16,700 businesses across
Maine were approved for $2.2 billion in these much-needed emergency loans to
help them stay afloat during the pandemic.
Imagine where Maine's and the
nation's economies would be without the PPP's rescue funds. They literally
are a lifeline for employers across Maine and the country.
Congress has approved, and
President Donald Trump signed, a $310 billion infusion in the PPP, as well as
additional funding for other emergency loan programs, hospitals and COVID-19
testing. This is welcome news for Maine's small businesses and our state's
Employers who have not yet
applied for a rescue loan are advised to contact their lender right away to
see how these loans can help, and to start the application process. The
future of Maine's and the nation's economies depend on employers accessing
Maine chambers of commerce
also are looking ahead to reopening the state's economy so Maine can get back
to business. Maine must begin planning now, and we need to plan well to
reopen safely, responsibly and successfully. Valuable guidance from the White
House and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is helping direct states.
Both Collins and Sen. Angus
King have been appointed to the White House task force on reopening the
economy. This is a true testament to their leadership, experience and expertise,
and to the importance of small-business states like Maine.
We appreciate Governor Mills'
thoughtful consideration on developing a plan for a gradual, phased-in
reopening based on Maine's demographics and economic sectors. The pandemic is
affecting various parts of Maine differently, and different regions and
business sectors will find it easier to ramp up than others. There is no
We support efforts by the
governor and our congressional delegation to make sure states have the resources
needed to make sure economies are reopened successfully. Those resources
include personal protective equipment, and widespread testing and contact
Finally, it has been
remarkable to witness so many Maine people, essential workers and businesses
step up and pitch in in unique ways to help others. Mainers' ingenuity,
innovative thinking, character and resilience are shining through. We are in
this together, and by continuing to work together to collaborate on solutions
that offer meaningful assistance now and a solid plan going forward, Maine
will be in a strong position to successfully reopen for business when this
crisis passes. We hope you will visit our websites for
more information. Please also send us
your questions. If we cannot answer them, we will find out who can.
Department of Labor to
Expedite Decisions on Thousands of Unemployment Claims
At today's Maine CDC press briefing,
in response to the critical situation caused by COVID-19, the Maine
Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it is streamlining
its standards for 18,000 to 20,000 pending unemployment claims that would
typically require a fact-finding interview. This will relieve a backlog and
bring certainty about benefits to Maine people as fast as possible. MDOL's
streamlining will result in one of three outcomes for all current and future
unemployment insurance claims through May 30:
* About 5,000 claims that were
likely to be approved after an interview are now authorized to move forward
without an interview to ensure benefits can be delivered quickly.
* About 7,000 claims waiting
for an interview that were likely to be denied due to the claim not meeting
monetary eligibility requirements will be denied, a necessary step to ensure
these claimants can take further action without delay.
* The remainder of claims will
still have fact-finding interviews or other staff review but on an expedited
schedule. to ensure they are resolved as quickly as possible.
The Department of Labor
continues to implement solutions to the challenges created by the sudden and
unprecedented levels of questions and claims to meet the needs of Maine
people. The Department is developing a new web-based system to process these
newly eligible claims and will provide a firm timeline on this early next
week. The department has also contracted with a Maine-based center to provide
first level claims assistance. About 100 people are answering calls, up from
13 a month ago. The online unemployment system is performing as designed and
is available 24/7.
IT Non-Profit Launches
Campaign to Provide Mainers With Needed Technology
According to today's Mainebiz,
an organization that refurbishes donated computers and provides them at low
or no cost to people who need them is stepping up its efforts to help Mainers
who are offline during the pandemic. Waterville-based give
IT. get IT., a nonprofit formed last year out of a merger between PCs for
Maine and eWaste Alternatives, is increasing its capacity to recycle retired
technology from Maine businesses, refurbish it, and then distribute it to
technologically isolated Mainers.
About 130 companies in Maine
have donated used equipment, including IDEXX Laboratories, Sappi and Bangor
Savings Bank. Businesses interested in
participating in give IT. get IT.'s technology reuse and recycling
program can contact Chris Martin at (207) 322-6257. A $150 sponsorship will
enable give IT. get IT to provide a computer, training and ongoing support to
one individual or family in need.
Maine State Chamber of Commerce and the Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce
invite you to attend our Legislative Strictly Social
Virtual Coffee Hour. We
invite you to grab a cup of coffee at 9:00
a.m. on Tuesday, April 28, and hear from legislators about current
our annual series of statewide receptions is an ideal way for you, the Maine
business leader, to interact with business associates, new and prospective
Maine State Chamber members, and state representatives in a relaxed setting.
This year, due to the COVID-19 situation, we will be hosting this event online as a coffee hour with Sen.
Eloise Vitelli, Sen. Jeff Timberlake, Rep. Ryan Fecteau, and, Rep. Trey
Stewart. Our panel of legislators will open the hour, and there will be
an opportunity for questions through the Zoom chat feature. Please join us
for this presentation. A participation link will be sent to you after you
have completed registration. Learn more or register here.
Sponsorship opportunities are still available for this event.
Questions can be directed to Angela S. Arno, director of programs and events
for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 104.
SERIES SPONSORS: Bangor Savings Bank,
Central Maine Power Company
webinars will be forthcoming, and sponsorship opportunities are available. Questions can be directed
to Angela S. Arno, director of programs and events for the Maine State
Chamber of Commerce, by emailing email@example.com or calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 104.
Wednesday, April 29 | Starting at 11:00
WEBINAR FOR SOLE PROPRIETOR
webinar will focus on the short- and long-term issues arising from the
pandemic for sole proprietors - with suggested solutions. Topics covered will
include a review of up-to-date federal and state legislative opportunities,
tax issues to discuss with your accountant, insurance liability, health
insurance options, credit protection, and steps for sole proprietors to take
with customers. There will also be a brief review of pertinent estate
planning options during the pandemic.
here | Sponsored by Lambert Coffin
May 6 | Starting at 11:00 a.m.
CHALLENGES FOR MANUFACTURING,
This webinar will focus on challenges for
manufacturing due to the impacts of Covid-19 on international trade and
energy. Guest speakers are John Murphy, senior vice president for international
policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Christopher Guith, senior vice president
of the U.S. Chamber's Global Energy Institute.
Wednesday, May 13 | Starting at 11:00 a.m.
RECENT STATE AND FEDERAL TAX
webinar will focus on federal tax changes contained in the CARES Act and
changes made at the state level that provide support for businesses during
this pandemic. Additional topics also include a look at the ever-changing
landscape at the federal level for additional stimulus funds and what those
changes might look like.
here | Sponsored by Pierce Atwood and WIPFLi,
New England Council's
Energy & Environment Committee Meeting with Chad Metzler, Legislative
Director for Senator Angus King
Wednesday, April 29 | 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Please join the New England
Council for an Energy & Environment Committee meeting with Chad Metzler,
Legislative Director for Senator Angus King's office on Wednesday. Dial-in
details will be provided upon registration.
For more information, please contact Sean
Malone at the New England Council.
Starting April 27 | Maine
Teachers Host "The Learning Space" on Maine Public
Maine Public, the Maine
Department of Education, and Educate Maine have joined forces to create
original, educational programming for students in Grades 3 to 5. The Learning Space will be broadcast
on Maine Public Television at 12:30 p.m. each weekday starting on Monday,
April 27. As more episodes are developed, the broadcast schedule will expand
to run from Noon to 1:00. Episodes of The Learning Space will be archived for
later viewing on numerous platforms online, including on mainepublic.org. The
Learning Space will air through the spring to mid-June.
effort to support local students and businesses during
this period of remote learning by getting books in the hands of as many Maine
children as possible, the Maine State Chamber and its partner Educate Maine are
working with the network of County Teachers of the Year and Education Leaders
Experience alumni to distribute books in all 16 counties. This effort will
look different in different places, and the hope is to bring on more partners
as the efforts grow. We will share our progress
regularly on our website and through our social media channels. This one
small act of generosity will make a big difference in the lives of Maine
students and businesses.
Here's how you can help:
1 Purchase an online gift card in any amount
to one of Maine's independent bookstores (or
any book retailer).
* Designate firstname.lastname@example.org as
the recipient and she will forward your gift card to one of our county
teachers for purchase and distribution to students. (Note: Several bookstores
are adapting to restrictions and not all are currently open. You may want to
* Some booksellers may not offer online gift
cards, but you can call and ask if they could generate a credit or reach out
to email@example.com to
coordinate an alternative method of getting books to students.
* Pro Tip: If you are able to coordinate with
others in your workplace or community, it would be preferable for one person
to make the gift card purchase using everyone's donations as opposed to
several smaller gift card transactions.
2 Fill out this brief form to
help us keep track of our progress toward 2,020 books. You can also specify
whether you have a particular part of Maine in mind to receive your gift.
Maine State Chamber
President Dana Connors: WVOM Interview Regarding Governor Mills' Reopening
In case you missed this morning's interview, Maine State Chamber
President Dana Connors spoke with WVOM's Ric Tyler and George Hale about Governor Mills' announcement yesterday on reopening
Maine's economy. The three also discussed the $484 billion rescue package the
U.S. Congress passed late yesterday and that the
president has since signed into law. Connors stressed the importance of this
latest rescue package to Maine small businesses, hospitals, and Maine's
testing and tracing capabilities, key to getting our arms around this
pandemic so Maine can successfully reopen.
On reopening, Connors highlighted that the level of
incidence and characteristics of Maine's geography indicate some businesses
may be able to open sooner than others. Every business sector is looking at
what they need to do to prepare to reopen. Public-private collaboration is
important, and DECD is already working closely with various sectors. The
governor has made it clear that it is incumbent on businesses to make their
cases for reopening. That includes sharing their plans to implement social
distancing, hygiene and other strategies to meet the
Connors added that next Thursday, April 30, is an
important date when the governor is expected to announce if the current stay
in place order will be extended and if so, for how long.
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