Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 10/27/2020 at 10:00 a.m. Updates in bold

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

 

Business Reopening & Operating

All businesses must continue to follow CDC and Department of Health guidance for social distancing and cleaning.

Amended guidelines for gathering limits allow for occupancy limits to determine the number of people permitted both inside and outside for events or gatherings.

View the governor’s amended order here.
View the secretary’s amended order here.
View FAQs about the amended orders on safe gatherings.

Restaurants may increase indoor occupancy to 50 percent if they commit to complying with all public safety guidelines and orders through a self-certification process. Click here for details.

Guidance for businesses (including restaurants) and schools is provided here. (Updated 9/23/20)

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
  • Sabo’s LLC – 1700 Orange St., Berwick, sabosllc.com
  • Staples, The Office Superstore, 1005 Scott Town Plaza, Bloomsburg
  • Wal-Mart – 100 Lunger Dr., 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

Federal programs

The PPP program is currently closed. Another round is being considered as part of the next federal relief package. EIDL loans are being accepted and processed, though funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated. 

– 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, including the application and loan forgiveness forms, are available on the U.S. Treasury’s website
  • Considerations for non-profit organizations are available here.
  • A guide to PPP loan forgiveness is available here.

The Small Business Administration and U.S. Treasury recently issued new guidance for small business owners with loans of $50,000 or less under the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); more information is available here. Business owners who borrowed $50,000 or less can fill out a simplified one-page form and can ignore some of the calculations required of other borrowers. A link to the Form 3508S is available at sba.gov.

– 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 details about the program and to apply. 

All available funds for the EIDL advance have been allocated. Loan applications are still being accepted.

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 program

– 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

The Commissioners in Columbia and Montour counties have allocated dollars from the CARES Act to provide financial assistance to small businesses and non-profit organizations. 

The application period for non-profit organizations closed Friday, September 11th and awards have been announced. 

The Montour County Commissioners have awarded an additional $179,241 in financial assistance to 22 small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. The second grant round results in a total of $564,109 being provided to 53 businesses. An additional $135,450 was provided to 21 non-profit organizations that serve the county. The funds were provided through the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant from the CARES Act.

Columbia County businesses can apply for a second round of grant funding through November 9th.  Additional details are also available through the Central Susquehanna Community Foundation’s website.

For questions about the grant application, contact Christine Orlando, CSCF Senior Program Officer, corlando@csgiving.org,  570-752-3930, ext. 2.

– 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 $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.

Private programs

 The nonprofit Pennsylvania 30 Day Fund was launched by business leaders throughout the Commonwealth. Forgivable loans of $3,000 are available.

Pennsylvania businesses that qualify for assistance from the Fund are:

  • Small businesses that employ three to 30 people;
  • Based in Pennsylvania and have been operating for at least one year;
  • Owned and operated by a Pennsylvania resident.

The funds dispersed to small businesses by the Pennsylvania 30 Day fund do not need to be repaid. Click here for details and to apply.

– 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.


 

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 has established 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 are 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.

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


Free Webinars Offered to Support Small Businesses

The Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center was awarded a CARES Act funding grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small-business owners. Nine SBDC Centers have created partnership initiatives to expand specific industry sector education, training and business advising to address the issues faced by small businesses as a result of the pandemic.

These “Centers of Excellence” offer free webinars and workshops on various topics including business resiliency, digital marketing, e-commerce, and more. A schedule of programs and registration links is available here.

 

Member News- October 28, 2020

Civil, Social, Human Services and Healthcare Expo at Bloomsburg University

Bloomsburg University will be holding an expo to help connect employers with students interested in careers in the Social, Health, and Human Services & Non-Profit career fields on October 28 & 29 from 2-5 p.m. Recommended employers include: Health Care Providers, Non-Profit Organizations, Government Agencies and Residential Treatment Facilities. Primary student attendees are those majoring in Nursing, Allied Health Sciences, Exercise Science, Communication Studies, Languages & Cultures, Social Work, Sociology, and Psychology.

The standard registration fee includes your participation on both dates of the expo and our Fall Finale Bonus Expo in November. 

Upon registration, we will review the details you submitted for approval. At our fair, you’ll be able to engage with students in a variety of formats, including:

  • Video, audio, and chat communication with students
  • Group meetings with up to fifty students
  • 1:1 meetings scheduled in advance or after a group session
  • Share documentation with students ahead of time and have access to students who register to attend one of your sessions, resumes and contact information.

 Note: During registration, you’ll be asked to share the number of representatives who plan to attend the fair—up to 15 representatives per employer are able to participate in the fair. Each representative you register will be able to create their own unique schedule to engage with students. To learn more about these features check out this Handshake-hosted training webinar.

Employers are invited to discuss job shadowing, internship or employment opportunities with freshmen through graduate students and alumni. All expos are open and promoted to students from all majors and class years.

Although recruiting at Bloomsburg may look a little different this Fall, we are available to assist with all of your recruitment needs! Please review the toolkits provided by Handshake which will answer many of the questions you may have about participating in virtual events.

 If you have any remaining questions after reviewing the toolkits or need help registering for the event in Handshake, please contact our team at hireahusky@bloomu.edu.

Spooktacular Halloween Happening

A safe, socially distant, and FUN alternative for Halloween 2020!

Featuring a drive-thru reverse Halloween parade, a virtual costume party, yummy treats, food trucks, and two drive-in Halloween movies – the first at 6:30 pm will be Hocus Pocus (PG, 1hr 36mins) followed by Beetlejuice at 9:00 pm (PG, 1hr 33mins).

The suggested donation is $5 per car (though you are welcome to give more!). Proceeds will benefit participating nonprofits in their ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts.

The event starts with a reverse Halloween parade at 4 pm. Cars will drive around the Bloomsburg Fair Grounds along a parade route and see different scenes staged by local nonprofits and businesses. Individual bags of candy will be handed out to each kid at the end of the parade route.

You will then be directed to the drive-in movie area to enjoy two different Halloween movies at 6:30 pm and 9 pm! 

A virtual Costume Party will happen throughout the event. Take a picture of your costume and post it to your social media accounts and tag @UnitedWayCMC with the hashtag #Spooky2020.

Due to the pandemic, masking, social distancing, and state-mandated safety measures will be enforced.

This event is brought to you through a collaboration with The Berwick Theater and Center for Community Arts, Bloomsburg Children’s Museum, Bloomsburg Fair Association, The Exchange, and United Way of Columbia and Montour Counties.

Veterans Day Dinner Celebration with Geisinger

Geisinger thanks all of our veterans for their service to our country, and hopes you’ll join them for an appreciation dinner for U.S. veterans. Pick up your complimentary dinner via a drive-through arrangement on Thursday, November 12th. 

Reservations are required by Thursday, November 5th. Servings are limited, so reserve your meal today.

Complimentary for all U.S. veterans and one guest. You must wear a mask when picking up your meal.

To make a reservation at Geisinger-Bloomsburg, call 866-462-5127 or visit go.geisinger.org/VetsDinner/GBH.

To make a reservation at Geisinger-Danville, call 866-578-3427 or visit go.geisinger.org/VetsDinner/GMC.

To make a reservation at Geisinger-Shamokin, call 866-278-9806 or visit go.geisinger.org/VetsDinner/GSACH.

 

No-Cost Leadership Development Webinar

The Northeastern Pennsylvania Industrial Resource Center (NEPIRC) would like to extend an invitation to attend our live webinar on Leadership Development. This two-hour event is complimentary and is an excellent way to kick-start your leadership development initiatives.
The Leadership Development program helps individuals become stronger, more impactful leaders. While joining other managers and supervisors to discuss workplace challenges, attendees will explore topics that include self-awareness, power & authority, risk & failure and leadership style. Using self-assessment tools and experiential learning, attendees will examine their strengths and weaknesses while exploring best practices of exceptional leaders.

This seminar will be held on the following dates from 8 to 10 a.m.:
Monday, December 21st, 2020 
Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020

Attendees will receive the webinar link via email one to two days prior to the event.

To register, please visit nepirc.com/events.  Space is filling up quickly, so register today!

 

Montour County Commissioners Award Additional Small Business Grants

The Montour County Commissioners have awarded an additional $179,241 in financial assistance to 22 small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. The second grant round results in a total of $564,109 being provided to 53 businesses. An additional $135,450 was provided to 21 non-profit organizations that serve the county. The funds were provided through the COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant from the CARES Act.

Guidelines for the small business program were developed by a committee chaired by Commissioner Trevor Finn and included representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Columbia-Montour Visitors Bureau, Danville Business Alliance, DRIVE, and County Planning Commission. The Central Susquehanna Community Foundation administered the application process.

UC Claim Issues Subject of House Committee Hearing

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

 State Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak provided an update on how his department is handling unemployment compensation payouts amid a wave of jobless claims resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The hearing focused on ongoing problems that have marked the last several months – department delays related to determinations on UC claims; claimant difficulties connecting with the department; and continued delays to modernizing the state’s aging UC computer system.

According to a story on the hearing by Capitolwire, Sec. Oleksiak encountered tough questions from several members on the committee who shared stories of constituents in dire financial straits due to not having received any UC payments since the spring. Oleksiak agreed that such delays – which he estimated represent around 3 percent, or 50,000 claims – are “unacceptable” and are being held up due to fraud concerns and unresolved eligibility questions. He also said that L&I has worked to remedy the backlog by increasing the number of staffers handling claims; hiring an outside firm to gather claims evidence and help hearing examiners make determinations; installing plexiglass partitions to accommodate more staffing; and upgrading work-from-home software for other department personnel. Despite these efforts, many committee members urged further action to help address dire cases that are reported to their office.

In regard to the ongoing and long-delayed upgrade to the state’s UC computer systems, Oleksiak said there is no set date to go live with the new system, and that the most recent delay was advised by the federal Department of Labor.

According to a Pennlive story, Sec. Oleksiak was also asked whether the department is prepared to handle more challenges, including in the event of another business shutdown. State Rep. Kate Klunk stated that she has sent a number of Right-to-Know requests to the department in order to gain an understanding of how much communication occurred prior to the business shutdown order in March, and to gauge how ready L&I was to handle the onslaught of people put out of work. Oleksiak replied that the department will answer Rep. Klunk’s questions and added that the department is doing an internal review of its handling of the situation. Klunk said, “We need to make sure that if this happens again that we are ready to go and can deliver for the people of Pennsylvania.”

 

Bloomsburg Issues Event Guideline Reminder

The Town of Bloomsburg has issued a reminder to businesses located in the Town regarding current state guidelines for events and gatherings. The maximum allowable attendees for indoor and outdoor events is now based on the maximum occupancy of the venue. Businesses are also reminded that they may call the police if a customer refuses to wear a face covering and leave a business.