Edition for Thursday, June 11, 2020
To view this edition of Impact online,
your COVID-19 Impact newsletter!
As a valued member of
the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, we plan to stay in touch with you
several times each week 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 Department of Labor's
Unemployment Compensation Claims for the Week Ending June 6, Continues Fraud
to today's Bangor Daily News, the
state's new jobless claims last week fell to their lowest
level since the coronavirus outbreak began in Maine back in March. In a
recent press release, the Maine Department of Labor recorded approximately 3,000
initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance and an additional 3,700
initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for
the week ending June 6. These claims represent nearly 5,400
individuals filing an initial claim.
Nearly 77,700 weekly
certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state
unemployment. In addition, almost 23,300 weekly certifications were filed
under PUA. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in
order to continue to receive unemployment benefits. Since March 15, the
Department has paid out more than $720 million in unemployment benefits.
As part of its continuing
investigation into organized criminal unemployment
imposter fraud, the Maine Department of Labor has cancelled more than 12,000
initial claims and 16,800 weekly certifications that were suspected to be
fraudulent, during the week ending May 30. The Department has received about
10,000 reports of potential unemployment imposter fraud so far that are under
investigation. Some reports could be duplicates, if both the claimant and
their employer reported the same instance of fraud.
State, Local Government Offices
Begin To Reopen; Downeaster Is Moving Again
Today, Mainebiz reported that as public health restrictions are lifted
and Maine businesses gradually reopen, government
offices and transportation infrastructure are also beginning to resume
regular operations. In keeping with the reopening schedule ordered by Gov.
Janet Mills, the state Department of Health and Human Services and its 16
regional offices have returned to normal business hours, according to a news
release. Maine's three largest municipalities - Portland, Lewiston, and
Bangor - are also reopening their doors.
The article went on to say
that Amtrak Downeaster passenger rail service in Maine will start up again on
a limited basis Monday, June 15. The train will run one daily round trip
between Brunswick and Boston, according to a recent news release. Downeaster
service has been suspended since April 13.
Legislature 'Close' To Reconvening, Top Maine Democrat Says
the Bangor Daily News reported that
Maine Senate President Troy Jackson said "we're getting close" to the point
where state lawmakers may reconvene,
three months after they adjourned and gave Democratic Gov. Janet Mills broad
emergency powers to address the pandemic.
Thank you for doing
Governor Mills Renews
State of Civil Emergency For 30 Days As Maine Reopens, Continues to Combat
As the State continues to
respond to COVID-19, Governor Janet Mills extended
the State of Civil Emergency yesterday for thirty days through July 10,
2020. According to the National Governors Association, nearly every state in
the nation has ongoing emergency declarations. Last Friday, New Hampshire
Governor Chris Sununu renewed his State of Emergency as well. This will be
Governor Mills' third extension of the State of Civil Emergency. Under Maine
law, State of Civil Emergency Proclamations may only be issued in thirty day
increments. A State of Civil Emergency allows the State to continue to draw
down critical Federal resources and to deploy all available resources to
respond to COVID-19.
One week ago, we sent out a notification
to our Board of Directors about an initiative, called "Work with Maine,"
that recently went live and is being spearheaded by Chamber Board member,
Peter Connell. As you are well aware, tourism is the backbone of Maine's
economy. In 2018, Maine's hospitality sector had a statewide economic
contribution, including multiplier effects, of an estimated $6.9 billion in
output, 79,000 full- and part-time jobs, and $2.2 billion in labor income,
according to a study released last fall. This
is all at risk if we don't act now.
With Governor Mills' 14-day quarantine,
and then her administration's replacement plan, which forces out-of-state
travelers to either quarantine or obtain and prove that they have
received a negative COVID-19 test within a 72 hour window prior to traveling
to Maine, our tourism industry is
being crippled. We need your help!
We receive numerous calls on a daily basis from business members, and out-of-state tourists alike, telling us how unworkable this plan is. As a gentleman from Massachusetts said yesterday, "We have been looking forward to traveling to Maine all year. With these restrictions in place, I don't see any possible way that we can make it to Maine."
He went on to explain that testing is limited
where he is located. He planned to travel to Maine during the July 4th
weekend and questioned whether testing would even be available prior to a
holiday. This gentleman ended our conversation yesterday by thanking us for
our help in providing information and stating that perhaps this year they
would need to visit Vermont or someplace that allows easier travel. This has
been the common theme over past weeks and months.
this plan does not work for Maine and it does not work for our out of state
tourists. Please, we
urge you to join us in telling the Governor and her Administration that this
plan does not work for Maine. Together, our voices will be louder.
TAKE ACTION! "Work with ME" is looking for the support of
Maine's people. Please visit www.WorkWithMaine.com today to review their plan and add your voice to this coalition, and like/follow their Facebook page for updates.
Join the "Yes on 1 - Better Internet For Maine"
A diverse and widespread
campaign coalition has come together to form the "Yes on 1 - Better Internet
For Maine" Campaign. You and your organization represent a critical voice
in Maine. Please consider signing on to the letter here
to show your support for Question 1.
Additionally, if you are able,
the coalition asks that you:
* Please share the opportunity
to support the campaign with your members;
* Join us at a virtual
* Share your support for
Question 1 via newsletters, social media and letters to local publications.
If you can, share the campaign website, https://betterinternetformaine.org/.
Please let us know if we can help.
* Please consider a tax deductible donation to the campaign to help amplify the message that Maine
needs better internet now - and in the future.
How we connect with each other
matters. Let's ensure a better future - now. For questions or more
information, please contact Andrew Butcher and Nick Battista on behalf of the
Maine Broadband Coalition.
The Bottom Line Podcast | Thursday, June 11
with Dan Belyea, Chief Workforce Development
Dan Belyea, chief workforce
development officer for the Maine Community College System, was this week's special guest on The Bottom Line podcast. He joined The Bottom Line co-hosts Dana Connors
of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce and John Williams of Williams
Broadcasting to discuss the Hospitality Maine Covid19 Restaurant Readiness Course, a micro-credential certification created in conjunction
with Eastern Maine Community College and designed to support the State of
Maine's Prevention Checklist for Restaurants. The course provides fundamental
information needed to help keep employees safe and empower them to mentor and
inform guests so they also follow the best
To listen to the recording, please visit The Bottom Line page on the Maine State Chamber's
Collins, King Announce Funding to Expand Telehealth
Services Across Maine
Wednesday, June 10, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King
(I-Maine) announced that the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC)
COVID-19 Telehealth Program has awarded $516,160 to two health centers to
improve and expand telehealth services. Specifically, the FCC has awarded
$270,172 to Central Maine Medical Center and $245,988 to Portland Community
Health Center to upgrade technology at each facility and improve remote health care access for
Senator Collins Presses Treasury Secretary to Allow Small
Businesses to Apply for a Second PPP Loan
invitation of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business
Committee, U.S. Senator Susan Collins attended a hearing yesterday on the
Paycheck Protection Program. Senator Collins raised the issue of small
businesses reaching the end of their eight-week loan period and urged
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to support a second round of forgivable PPP
loans for industries that have been
particularly hard-hit by COVID-19. She also received clarification from
Secretary Mnuchin on when small businesses can begin applying for loan
Senator Collins noted that there is approximately $130 billion in unused PPP funds. She asked Secretary Mnuchin whether he would "support allowing small borrowers in heavily-affected sectors such as the tourism industry that cannot fully reopen because of state restrictions to seek additional PPP funds - apply again, or extend perhaps for another four weeks - so that they can just make it through this period where they're forced to be closed, because they are viable businesses."
Bipartisan House Lawmakers Push Senators to Pass Golden's
SBDC Legislation, Help Small Businesses through COVID-19 Recession
Maine SBDCs have served more than 1,300
small businesses during COVID-19
Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) report record demand for their
no-cost business advising and training services during the COVID-19 pandemic,
Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the
House Small Business Committee called on Senate committee leaders yesterday
to pass the Small Business Development Centers
Improvement Act. Introduced and passed through the House
by Golden last year with a large bipartisan majority, the bill would bring
SBDC services to more small businesses by reauthorizing the program,
expanding available funding for the centers, and allowing SBDCs to market and
promote their services. Golden's bill would reauthorize the SBDC program and
increase the funds available for the program by $40 million to $175 million
per year. The legislation also makes important changes to the SBDC program
itself, including allowing SBDCs to market their services in their communities
and broaden their reach to more small businesses.
Webinar on WorkShare:
An Alternative to Layoffs
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
The next presentation in our webinar series
explores how employers may be able to avoid layoffs by choosing the WorkShare
alternative. In lieu of a layoff, employers can temporarily reduce work hours
in a particular unit, shift or company from 10% to 50%. To help offset the
loss of hours, the affected workers can receive a modified weekly
unemployment benefit. Join us to learn more about this program and how it
might work for your business. Our presenters for this webinar are Commissioner
Laura Fortman and Deputy Commissioner Kim Smith of the Maine Department of
An Employer's Guide
Tuesday, June 23, 2020
11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
employers have been faced with many challenging issues from the COVID public
health emergency. In this webinar, we
now turn our focus to the return-to-work phase, which raises many
employment-related concerns, such as properly preparing the workplace for the
new reality under OSHA and CDC recommendations, determining how employee
recalls will work, ongoing unemployment, accommodation claims and disability
related issues, potential other leave application, and similar topics. This
session will navigate these and other related issues and provide an
opportunity for questions. Hosted by the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, our
presenter for this webinar is Anne-Marie Storey, partner at Rudman Winchell.
WEBINAR SERIES SPONSORS:
Bangor Savings Bank, Central Maine Power Company,
webinars will be forthcoming, and sponsorship opportunities are 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.
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
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 email@example.com. For
more information or questions, please contact Mark Ellis by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or
by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 109.
Hey, If You Can Work From
Anywhere, Why Not Maine?
There's no doubt about it:
COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to remote working, and it's here to
stay. As people all over the world are given the option to work from
anywhere, we think Maine has a great case to make for why they should bring
their careers, income, families, and cultural diversity here to Vacationland.
Our colleagues at Live + Work
in Maine are circulating a survey
to gather data and stories about what it's like to live and work
[remotely] in Maine. It's part of a larger effort to learn more about how
people think/feel about working-in-place, and will also inform marketing
campaigns aimed at encouraging people to move here.
Please fill out Live + Work in Maine's survey using the
link above; it closes on Friday, June 12! Feel free to share
with your employees and partners.
Providing Books to Maine
Maine educators were recently surveyed about critical needs of their students. Books were highlighted as a top priority for students of all ages. Supporting reading is essential for students to continue to thrive in schools. Making certain that our students, particularly our youngest readers, have easy access to books during the end of the school year and throughout the summer is crucial for preventing summer slide.
Even with yeoman-like efforts
by Maine teachers and a hands-on approach from the Maine Department of
Education to ensure all Maine students have been able to continue learning
remotely during the pandemic, we know that learning over these past few
months has inevitably been disrupted. In addition to the school year
disruption, student achievement often widens during the summer, an outcome
referred to as summer slide. Summer slide accounts for as much as 85 percent
of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their
middle- and upper-income peers. Providing students with appropriate books
will help address this challenge. Not only does summer reading enable
students to continue practicing foundational skills, but it opens the world
to students through stories and knowledge building around topics of interest. We need your help to ensure students across
our 16 counties have access to books, an essential commodity.
Here are a few ways you can
support Maine students:
1 2020 Maine Books Challenge: Educate Maine is leading this
initiative to provide students with books while supporting local bookstores.
You can purchase an online or physical gift card at one of Maine's
independent bookstores. Every $10 donation provides a book for a Maine
student. Every donation will be matched by the Law Offices of Joe Bornstein
up to $5,000. Teachers across Maine will help coordinate book distribution to
students. If interested in supporting this effort, please email Katherine at email@example.com.
2 Scholastic Books: This company has offered significant discounts
to help get books to Maine students. For example, a $1,000 donation can
support 300 books for 100 students. A $5,000 donation can support 1,500 books
for 500 students. If interested in supporting this effort, please email Megan
Diver at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 Community Book Donations: Gently used books are also needed
across Maine. We are seeking community drop off spots at local employers
throughout the 16 counties. If your business is interested in becoming a
location for books to be collected, please email Megan Diver at email@example.com.
Books will be distributed to
students directly through their schools and at local meal sites throughout
the summer. Additional information about summer literacy initiatives can be
Thank you for supporting Maine students.
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