Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 6/05/2020 at 2:00 p.m. Updates in bold

We appreciate the ongoing support of all of our members, including our Visionary Members: Bloomsburg University, First Columbia Bank & Trust, Geisinger, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, USG, & SEKISUI KYDEX

 

Business Reopening & Operating

Columbia County, along with 11 other Pennsylvania counties, will enter the green phase next Friday, June 12th. Montour County moved from the yellow to green phase on May 29th. This phase allows bars and restaurants, personal care services such as hair salons and barbershops, indoor recreation, and entertainment businesses to open at 50% occupancy. All businesses must follow CDC and Department of Health guidance for social distancing and cleaning. Guidance for general business operations in the green phase is provided here.

As of Friday, June 5, every county has exited the state’s complete stay at home order, otherwise known as the red phase. That means 33 counties are in the yellow phase, where aggressive mitigation must be practiced, while 34 are in the green, or the least restrictive phase. Under it, all businesses can open again as long as they follow CDC and Pa. Department of Health guidelines.

Businesses that remain closed under the yellow phase include indoor recreation, health and wellness facilities, personal care services (salons, barbershops, spas), entertainment, indoor malls, and restaurants and bars for dine-in.

Updated guidance for yellow and green phase operations is below. (Updated 5/27/20)

Guidance for general business operations is provided here. (Updated 6/1/20)

Specific guidance for restaurants and bars is provided here.

Specific guidance for the summer recreation industry is provided here.

A required notification poster for employees is provided here.

CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

A FAQ providing additional clarification on cleaning and safety is provided here.


Protection Equipment and Cleaning Supplies & Services

 

Hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning products, plastic barriers
(Contact individual stores for in-stock items)

  • Coles Hardware – 1089 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg
  • Commercial Stainless – 570-387-8980 (glass/plexiglass barriers only)
  • Renco Ace Hardware – 2251 Columbia Blvd., Bloomsburg
  • Wal-Mart – 100 Lunger Drive, Bloomsburg

Cleaning services

  • 3B Consultant Services – 570-799-5774
  • MaxWorx – 272-202-4435
  • Marr Development – 570-416-0570
  • ServPro of Columbia Montour & Sullivan Counties – 570-759-0966

Members that provide these products or services and are not listed should contact the Chamber.  


Financial Assistance

A webinar discussing the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, Paycheck Protection Program, Employee Retention Credit, and other resources is available on the Chamber’s YouTube channel.

Federal loan programs

PPP and EIDL loans are being processed. Local financial institutions are still accepting PPP applications. The EIDL application portal has been reopened for agricultural businesses only including those engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).

– The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) provides loans to small businesses, including sole proprietors and self-employed individuals, as well as some non-profit organizations, that maintain their payroll during the emergency. These loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. 

  • The most up to date information and application form are available on the U.S. Treasury’s website
  • Considerations for non-profit organizations are available here.

Applications can be submitted to approved lenders. Contact your commercial lender or banking institution for specific application requirements.

The SBA has provided information regarding how to apply for loan forgiveness. 

  • The loan forgiveness application is available here.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides a guide to help borrowers understand the process by which their loan forgiveness amount will be calculated and the overall approach of the forgiveness process. A webinar is also available on YouTube.

– The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program provides businesses with less than 500 employees working capital loans of up to $2 million. Click here for basic details about the program. 

Applicants can obtain up to a $10,000 advance on EIDLs. The advance is available as part of the full application and will be transferred into the account provided after the application is submitted. The amount of each advance will be determined by the number of the applicant’s pre-disaster (i.e., as of January 31, 2020) employees. The advance will provide $1,000 per employee up to a maximum of $10,000.

Click here for additional information about the advance.

Businesses needing assistance in applying for an SBA loan can contact the Small Business Development Center network.

Columbia & Luzerne County businesses – wilkes.edu/sbdc
Montour County businesses – bucknell.edu/sbdc

Federal tax credit programs

– The CARES Act also created a new employee retention tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed, or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. The Employee Retention Credit is a fully refundable tax credit for employers equal to 50 percent of qualified wages (including allowable qualified health plan expenses) that eligible employers pay their employees after March 12, 2020, and before January 1, 2021. The maximum amount of qualified wages taken into account with respect to each employee for all calendar quarters is $10,000, so that the maximum credit for an eligible employer for qualified wages paid to any employee is $5,000.

Click here for details from the IRS.

Local programs

– SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has created a loan program with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. For-profit businesses can apply for loans of at least $10,000 with an interest rate of 3.25%. Funds can be used for working capital and can be disbursed based on past working capital expenses. No payments are due in the first six months. There is a limited pool of funds available so interested businesses should apply now as soon as possible.

There is a $500 underwriting fee and a $100 filing fee.

For more information, visit https://seda-cog.org/covid-19/ or contact SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department at cwca@seda-cog.org.

– The Chamber’s low-interest loan program is offering loans of up to $10,000 for members at 3% interest for 30 months, with interest only payments for the first 12 months. If you are interested in the Chamber’s loan program, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber of Commerce at 570-784-2522 as funds are limited.

– The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation has activated its Disaster Relief Fund to support 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Lower-Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties. The Foundation is specifically interested in helping front-line organizations maintain their operations and respond to increased demand from clients during this critical time.

A second grant round will be announced on June 1, 2020.

Donations to the Fund can be made online at csgiving.org/disaster-relief or mailed to Central Susquehanna Community Foundation, Attn: Disaster Relief Fund, 725 West Front Street, Berwick, PA 18603.

Private programs

Employees of bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs might be eligible for a grant through the Restaurant Strong Fund, a partnership between the Greg Hill Foundation and Sam Adams. To learn more and apply, visit: restaurantstrong.org/apply-for-grant

– A growing number of companies have set up relief funds, online tools, classes, and other resources at no cost in response to the impact on small-business owners. This link contains a list that Inc. is curating and continuously updating.


Business Tax Deadlines Extended

In addition to extending tax filing and payment deadlines for individuals, the Commonwealth has also extended a number of business tax deadlines, including moving the due date for corporations with tax returns due in May to August 14, 2020 and removing the requirement for some businesses to make prepayments of Sales and Use Tax for April, May and June 2020.

Full details are available on the PA Department of Revenue’s website


Unemployment, Benefits & HR Issues

 

 

 

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to individuals not eligible for regular benefits, including the self-employed and those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Click here for more information and to apply for PUA. Qualifying self-employed individuals will need to submit a copy of the Governor’s order closing businesses, available here

The PA Department of Labor and Industry provides additional UC guidance for employers with impacted employees.

New temporary paid sick leave and Family and Medical Leave Act programs are 100% reimbursable by the federal government. The effective date of both programs is April 1 and they expire December 31. Both programs are in addition to any leave the employer already offers. Click here for a guide for employers from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Click here for details from the IRS about the tax credits for paid leave.

The U.S. Department of Labor has released a required posting and FAQ regarding the FFCRA which went into effect April 1. 

Employee Rights: Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave under The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Families First Coronavirus Response Act Notice – Frequently Asked Questions


Small Business Recovery Program

The Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Zeigler College of Business is establishing a Small Business Recovery Program (SBRP) to assist local businesses in recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know these are challenging days for small businesses throughout the region, and the Zeigler College of Business wants to be a partner to help solve those problems,” said Todd Shawver, dean of the Zeigler College of Business.”

The SBRP will assist regional small business with any aspect of their business, except for financial assistance. These services can include, but not limited to:
• Professional sales assistance
• Social media and marketing strategy
• Business strategy redevelopment
• Cost structures and monitoring
• Tax guidance
• Open to customizing services depending on business needs.

“This will be a fabulous learning opportunity for our students, under the supervision of our amazing faculty,” said Shawver. “It will provide the subject matter expertise necessary to provide guidance for our small business and assist them in recovering from this negative economic impact.”

Anyone wishing to access the services of the SBRP can do so by filling out a request form that can be found here


Visionary Member Spotlight- First Columbia Bank & Trust

The Columbia Montour Chamber’s Visionary Member Spotlight highlights First Columbia Bank & Trust Co. For nearly 120 years, the institution has been committed to serving customers and the communities in which they reside, providing a full range of banking, trust, and investment services for both individuals and businesses.  The Bank is dedicated to remaining a hometown community bank for generations to come.  Visit any of their 14 locations and ATMs.  From savings and checking accounts, personal loans, mortgages, and commercial loans, visit their website or Facebook page to find out more.  

Beyond their work in the financial sector, First Columbia Bank & Trust Co. has given much to our community. The company supports Chamber events as well as activities the community enjoys from their Teen Star program, to the Chamber’s Annual Meeting, and many other civic and non-profit causes. 

The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is proud to call First Columbia Bank & Trust Co. a member for many years. We look forward to serving them for many years to come.


The Chamber appreciates the ongoing support of all of our members, including our Visionary Members: Bloomsburg UniversityFirst Columbia Bank & TrustGeisingerKawneerPPL Electric UtilitiesUSG, & SEKISUI KYDEX

Welcome Trivium Packaging

More than 435 businesses and organizations belong to the Chamber to receive benefits and support efforts to strengthen their businesses and the region. Increased membership allows the Chamber to offer additional programs and benefits, have a stronger voice in advocacy and be involved in more activities and initiatives. The Chamber welcomes Trivium Packaging.

Trivium Packaging operates close to 60 locations worldwide, including its manufacturing facility in Bloomsburg.  They are a global food and specialty metal packaging producer offering a variety of shaping, decoration, embossing, debossing, and different opening solutions.  To learn more about Trivium Packaging visit their website, or LinkedIn.  

Member News- June 3, 2020

  • Geisinger will be hosting Back to Business Town Hall- part two, on June 4th from 11 am-12 pm.  This event will feature Dr. Stanley Martin, Infectious Diseases; Allison Hess, VP, Health & Wellness; Brion Lieberman, VP, Human Resources.  Register for the event here. 
    This Virtual Meeting will be taped and added to their business resources landing page. On the landing page is a place for businesses to submit questions. The email will go to Geisinger’s Community Wellness staff and they will respond.  Any questions that they answer will be published to the page.

Townhall Introductions: 
Brion Lieberman is Vice President of Human Resources at Geisinger. He is responsible for leading employee relations, compensation, diversity and inclusion and organizational development. Brion joined Geisinger in 2007 and has served in various HR roles for both Geisinger’s clinical enterprise and insurance operation. 

During his tenure, Geisinger’s employee base has grown tremendously to 30,000 plus employees, serving the health care needs of our patients and members throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Brion is passionate about creating an exceptional employee experience by making a difference for Geisinger’s employees on both an individual and organizational basis.

Dr. Martin is Geisinger’s director of the Division of Infectious Diseases. He’s a board-certified and fellowship-trained specialist in infectious diseases. His clinical interests include immunocompromised hosts, transplantation and infections related to mechanical circulatory support. His research interests include antimicrobial stewardship, population health and optimization of inpatient care. 


Allison Hess is the Vice President of Health Innovations for Geisinger. She has been part of the Geisinger family for 13 years and is responsible for the oversight and implementation of health and wellness programs for Geisinger patients and insured members, employees and community members. She started her career in community health education/corporate wellness and has continued to expand to include community-based population health initiatives driven by data analysis and clinical outcome measurements.

She has been the recipient of several awards focused in various areas of health including health equity, worksite wellness and supply chain. She has also been recognized nationally for her work with the Fresh Food Farmacy program.

DRIVE Expands Wireless Network in Montour County

DRIVE, an economic development council of governments serving Columbia and Montour Counties announces an expansion of its wireless broadband network in Montour County.

The original pilot project launched in 2019 to reach underserved areas of the county as well as to create a wide area network for Montour County owned offices. Jennifer Wakeman, executive director, says new technology was deployed to reach further into Anthony and Derry Townships. “CBRS, or Citizen Band Radio Service, is a non-line of sight technology that reduces the effect of trees and other obstructions.”

With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, more residents began working from home and found their service to be inadequate. Wakeman says DRIVE moved quickly to deploy CBRS. “We had been exploring the availability and cost to add CBRS to our network prior to the coronavirus outbreak. With the jump in remote workers in early March, we reached out to our contractor, Conxx and they were able to bring CBRS online in three weeks.”

Geisinger supplied $300,000 in a forgivable loan for the original project and agreed that unused funds could be utilized for this expansion. “We were thrilled that Geisinger stepped up to the plate to help us reach more users in Montour County,” says Wakeman.

CBRS could allow for network expansion into more rural, forested areas of Columbia County according to Wakeman. “We learned a lot with our initial build out and are constantly looking at options to expand our service into underserved areas in Columbia County.”

The fixed base wireless network can provide fiber speeds to areas that do not currently have adequate access to broadband service. Additional information about the DRIVE Network and how to get service can be found online.

Central Susquehanna Community Foundation Announces Grant Opportunities for Disaster Relief

In response to the heightened needs of area nonprofit organizations and its mission to enhance the quality of life in the region, the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation is pleased to announce a second grantround available for Disaster Relief Funding. Established in 2011, the purpose of the Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund is to support nonprofit organizations affected by disasters in Lower-Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties. The grantround is designed as a flexible response to provide relief for a variety of unexpected costs. The Foundation is specifically interested in helping organizations maintain their operations and respond to increased demand from clients during this critical time.

While many CSCF funds have contributed to these Disaster Relief efforts, the grantround can create an even bigger impact with contributions from community members. To join the Foundation in this initiative, visit here to make a secure online donation.

Grant requests ranging from $500-10,000 are currently being accepted. Additional funding may be considered on an individual basis. This is the second grantround from the Disaster Relief Fund in 2020. The grant application has been updated. If your organization applied in the first grantround in April and wishes to apply again, you must submit a new application for this grantround.

Only 501(c)(3) nonprofit and government organizations are eligible to apply and the requested funding must be invested within the CSCF service area of Lower-Luzerne, Columbia, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and Union Counties. Individuals are not eligible to apply. To discuss your organization’s eligibility, please contact the Foundation.

Grant applications must be completed and submitted through a web-based program. Interested applicants can access the grantround guidelines and applications by visiting www.csgiving.org.

Grant requests must be submitted online by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

For grant-related questions, please contact Christine Orlando, CSCF Senior Program Officer, at 570-752-3930 ext. 2, or corlando@csgiving.org.