Edition for Wednesday, May 13, 2020
To view this Daily Impact online, click here.
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.
Do you have a question? ASK THE EXPERTS.
We are here to
help in any way we can!
Maine Businesses Share
Concerns, Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic and Reopening Plan in MACCE Survey
The Maine Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
(MACCE) released findings of their recent survey of
businesses across the state on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and
Administration's four-stage plan to gradually reopen Maine's economy. A
total of 1,467 businesses responded to the "Re-starting Maine's Economy"
survey, conducted online the first week of May.
MACCE surveyed businesses
to collect constructive feedback and suggestions on reopening Maine, as well
as to provide helpful information on Maine's economic recovery. The findings
show the impact the pandemic is having on Maine's economy and businesses, and
provide an important benchmark for measuring and evaluating Maine's comeback
in the months ahead.
It is important to note that
the survey was conducted prior to Governor Mills' Friday, May 8 Rural
Reopening Plan announcement that allows certain businesses in 12 Maine
counties to reopen with safety precautions beginning May 11 and May 18, ahead
of the timeline in the Governor's original plan. The Rural Reopening Plan has
addressed some business concerns identified in the survey.
Responses came from businesses
in every county and region of Maine, with heaviest responses from Cumberland,
Hancock, Oxford, Penobscot, and York counties. Sectors include hospitality,
retail, tourism, healthcare, real estate, marine, construction, finance,
nonprofits, and more.
Businesses that responded indicated they expect significant economic losses this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on business operations under the original reopening plan. The average anticipated loss came in at just over 50%. Respondents also indicated that approximately half of employees have been laid-off or furloughed. Of remaining employees, 26% are working reduced hours. Additionally, nearly 6,000 new hires were not made because of COVID-19. When asked about the likelihood of opening this summer, 16% responded "extremely unlikely." More than 80% of businesses responded they will likely be open on this date in 2021, with only 8% responded "extremely unlikely."
Several themes emerged from
14-day quarantine requirement poses difficulties, specifically to lodging and
tourism-related businesses that fear losing the bulk of their summer
encourage regional reopening in areas less affected by COVID-19, as opposed
to a one-size fits-all plan.
want more transparency/clarity in reasoning behind which kinds of businesses
can reopen when.
want to be included as part of the solution and in decisions regarding
reopening plans, and believe they can be trusted to implement safeguards and
precautions to reopen safely and responsibly. They take their role in helping
to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 very seriously.
the Governor's reopening plan, responses cover the spectrum on whether the
approach was too fast, too slow or just right. Many respondents also
acknowledge the challenges the Mills Administration is facing due to such an
all-consuming pandemic. Many urge caution in reopening too quickly so Maine
does not have a resurgence requiring another shut down.
businesses are extremely supportive of implementing strict safety guidelines
to protect employees and customers, and are looking for more detailed
guidelines and clarification on how to safely reopen.
majority of respondents feel face coverings should be required.
expressed a clear need for PPE and proper sanitizing equipment such as masks,
sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. Many are having a difficult time
finding these items.
More than half (53%) of
respondents have accessed Paycheck Protection Programs rescue loans, and 15%
have been approved for Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the U.S. Small
Business Administration. Less than 1% have utilized the Workshare program.
Governor Mills Extends
State of Civil Emergency as Maine Continues to Combat COVID-19
As the State continues to
respond to COVID-19, Governor Janet Mills today signed
a proclamation extending Maine's state of civil emergency for thirty days
through June 11, 2020. This will be Governor Mills' second extension of the State
of Civil Emergency. According to the National Governors Association, all
States and Territories, including those in New England, have ongoing
emergency declarations. The Governor's proclamation comes as other governors
across the nation also extend their respective states of emergency.
"The State of Civil Emergency allows state government to deploy all available resources to protect the health and safety of Maine people and to respond quickly and as-needed to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Governor Mills. "It also allows us to continue to draw critical Federal resources that help us equip frontline workers with needed protective equipment and to use Federal resources to support the State's response."
LL Bean Reopens Two of its
Freeport Retail Stores
According to a story in the Bangor Daily News today, L.L.
Bean became the latest retailer to partially reopen its stores Wednesday
after it had closed
all of them on March 16 to help curtail the spread of the novel
coronavirus. The iconic Maine outdoors goods company - which began a slow
reopening last week with curbside pickup at most of its Freeport stores - has
opened its Bike, Boat & Ski and Hunting & Fishing stores in downtown
Freeport, it told customers in an email Wednesday.
The two reopened stores will
each limit occupancy to 25 customers and take only credit card payments.
Returns and special services such as monogramming are not currently available.
The stores, which are open seven days a week, will have a special time daily,
from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., for senior citizens and shoppers who are at
risk. Otherwise they are open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Portland Mulls Closing Streets to Help Retailers Reopen
Mainebiz reported that the city of Portland has drafted a plan to help restaurants and retailers
resume operations as public health restrictions are lifted.
The proposal includes temporary closures of six downtown streets to
accommodate more outdoor dining and retail sales and expansion of existing
outdoor dining spaces onto public and private property, according to a news
city says the plan is in keeping with Gov. Janet Mills' order to allow the
reopening of restaurants, retail establishments and other commercial activity
in Cumberland County, scheduled for June 1. City staff will present the
proposed plan to the council's Economic Development Committee on May 14 at 4:00
p.m. The proposal is then expected to head to the full council at its May 18
meeting. The proposed plan will serve as a pilot, and will be reviewed on the
basis of data collection, observation and public feedback, the city said.
Tuesday, Mainebiz reported that Rockland is considering a similar measure to
boost foot traffic for Main Street retailers.
Line Podcast With Special Guest, Kurt Adams
Adams, President & CEO
of Summit Utilities, Inc., is this week's special guest on The Bottom Line
podcast streaming online at 10:00 a.m.
on Thursday, May 14. Mr. Adams will join The Bottom Line co-hosts Dana Connors of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and John Williams of Williams
Broadcasting to discuss how an essential Maine business is operating during
the COVID-19 environment.
Collins, King Announce an
Additional $52.7 Million to Expand COVID-19 Testing in Maine
U.S. Senators Susan Collins
and Angus King announced today that Maine
has been awarded a total of $52,673,451 to purchase, administer, and
expand capacity for COVID-19 testing.
"Expanded testing is essential for helping to protect Mainers' health during the current public health crisis and to safely reopen our communities," said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. "Testing will also give Mainers the confidence to resume their daily lives and return to work, school, restaurants, and recreational activities. This important funding will provide a substantial boost to Maine's efforts to ramp up testing."
This investment for Maine was
included in the $480
billion bipartisan agreement that was signed into law last month, which
included $25 billion for COVID-19 testing efforts. Of that amount, $11
billion was set aside for states, localities, territories, and tribes to
support testing needs. In April, Senators
Collins and King announced that Maine would receive $16,295,844 for
COVID-19 testing, which was an initial allotment of state funding.
Separately, last week,
Senators Collins and King announced that 18
Maine health centers have been awarded a total of $4,732,797 for COVID-19
Maine Delegation Works to
Improve VA Telehealth Services During COVID-19
As more veterans in rural
Maine seek routine VA care online or by phone due to COVID-19, Maine's
congressional delegation wrote to the Department of Veterans Affairs today in
to improve telehealth services. In their letter
to VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus
King, and U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree and Congressman Jared Golden
requested the VA provide them with information Congress can use to ensure
that veterans receive the services they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telehealth services help at
risk groups, like older veterans, connect to their providers without risking
exposure to COVID-19. They also allow rural veterans who live far away from
VA providers to receive care without requiring them to travel, potentially
decreasing unnecessary emergency department visits and avoiding hospital
have an engaging and current topic of interest you would like to present at
this year's Education Symposium? Educate
Maine is now accepting proposals for presentations! They are looking for
dynamic speakers and engaging presentations that cover a wide range of
educational topics. Deadline for submission is June 1, 2020. The Annual
Education Symposium will be held on December 4, 2020, at Holiday Inn by the
Bay in Portland, Maine.
About the Symposium: The Educate Maine Annual Education
Symposium and Leadership Luncheon is a convening of more than 350 business,
policy, and education leaders who gather to hear from education experts, to
learn from one another, and to honor talented Maine educators. The agenda
includes a morning plenary followed by interactive workshops on a range of
education topics spanning early childhood through adult workforce
development. The event also includes the annual Leadership Luncheon, where they
honor the accomplishments of educators from across Maine. This event will be
held virtually, if necessary.
What are they looking for in proposals? Their priority is to offer symposium
attendees a diverse selection of engaging and informative sessions from which
to choose. Educate Maine values breadth, depth, expertise from within and
beyond Maine, new ideas, compelling data, high-quality professional
development, and topics related to its mission of helping Maine people reach their
highest educational potential. Their three areas of priority are:
partnerships and workforce development;
learning with a focus on achieving equity; and,
that explicitly connect education and workforce.
In addition to these priority topics, Educate Maine is interested in sessions that explore issues of equity and access that have been brought to the forefront during the current pandemic. They are looking for sessions that present innovative and actionable solutions to Maine's education and workforce needs as Mainers learn and grow from this experience.
MaineSpark: The Maine State Chamber is a proud member
of the MaineSpark coalition with Educate Maine and others. Working together,
the coalition's goal is for 60% of Mainers to hold a credential of value by
2025. In keeping with this commitment, the coalition is looking for
presentations that align with the strategic tracks of MaineSpark:
Strong Foundations: Working with children birth to 6th grade;
Future Success: College and career readiness for middle school through
Adult Promise: Working with adults age 25 years and older;
Opportunities: Attraction and retention of new talent for the Maine workforce;
Policy: Policies that support attainment of the 60% by 2025 goal.
Use the Maine State Chamber's blog and Daily
Impact to tell your story!
Numerous Maine companies are stepping up or pivoting nimbly,
as Maine people resourcefully address the challenges of this pandemic. Share
your perspective and experience with us and with the rest of the business
community. How are you facing and overcoming the challenges posed by this
pandemic? What are you and your employees doing in this dramatically
different economy? Tell us about the innovations your company or employees
are making or ways you have adapted your company to meet your customers'
Each blog entry should
be 300 to 500 words. Join us in creating a written history of the business
community's resilience and innovation during this extraordinary time. Please submit your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information
or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing email@example.com or by calling (207)
623-4568, ext. 109.
RECENT STATE AND FEDERAL TAX CHANGES
The Maine State Chamber
would like to thank the webinar's
Thanks also to our Premier
Sponsors: Pierce Atwood and WIPFLi, LLP
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce hosted a fifth webinar in its Wednesday
Webinar series, this time focusing on the effect state and federal taxation
changes may have on businesses as a result of the CARES Act. This webinar
featured three speakers with significant tax policy expertise: Jonathan Block, a partner with Pierce
Atwood LLP, who has substantive expertise in state and local tax encompassing
corporate and individual income tax, business profits tax, sales and use tax,
property tax, excise tax, transfer tax, and other state and local taxes; Rob Ravenelle, the head of Pierce
Atwood's Federal Income Tax practice, who has extensive experience in the
planning, negotiation and tax structuring for mergers and acquisitions; and, Cory Vargo, a partner at Wipfli LLP,
who focuses his tax practice on private equity and corporate acquisition and
divestiture due diligence, international tax structuring, and tax compliance.
panel of knowledgeable speakers provided thorough information on a wide
variety of topics, including federal and state filing and payment deadlines,
PPP loan forgiveness and tax deduction update, employee retention tax credit,
deferral of employer payroll tax obligations, corporate net operating losses,
excess business loss limitations (other and non-corp NOLs), accelerated
refunds of corporate AMT credits, business interest expense limitations,
qualified improvement property, changes affecting retirement plans, and
changes to charitable contribution deduction.
the discussion on PPP loan forgiveness, it was noted that an employer's decision
to return PPP loan proceeds by May 14 may lead to more claims for the
Employee Retention Tax Credit. Under the Employee Retention Tax Credit's employer
eligibility and defined qualified wages for attendees, attendees were
reminded that this credit is not available for wages paid under FMLA or as
sick leave, or to the extent payroll tax credits were claimed under the FFCRA
(no double dip) or if the employer received a PPP loan.
about the deferral of employer payroll tax obligations, which are available
to all employers without size restriction unless the taxpayer has had a PPP
loan forgiven, followed. It was noted that employers and self-employed individuals
can defer their payment of the employer share of social security tax or
self-employment tax attributable to the period from March 27 through December
31, 2020. The deferred payroll taxes are payable at 50% required by December
31, 2021, and 50% required by December 31, 2022.
of the discussion centered on federal tax changes because the State of Maine
has not conformed to the CARES Act tax provisions. The Maine Legislature
needs to convene and vote on federal tax code conformity. Until that happens,
CARES Act benefits are not available to reduce Maine state income tax, and
could impact PPP loan forgiveness. For
all of the valuable information
discussed in today's webinar, please watch the recording online. We encourage you to discuss any and all of
this information with your own tax preparation professional and legal counsel.
webinars will be forthcoming, and sponsorship opportunities are still available. Registration or
general questions can be directed to Angela 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.
A Virtual Update
Maine State Chamber of Commerce, together with local and regional chambers of
commerce, invites you to our Regional Breakfast Meetings, held virtually on
Zoom. As a local business leader, your valuable insight is instrumental to
this open dialogue about issues that affect your business, your community and
your state. We need your expertise and input to make recommendations and to
identify opportunities for moving Maine's economic future in a positive
attending one of our annual statewide breakfast series meetings 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 from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. - so
grab a cup of coffee and join the conversation from the relaxation of your
Monday, May 18
Tuesday, May 19
Thursday, May 21
with the Bangor Region
Chamber of Commerce
Thursday, May 28
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