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Last update: 10/19/2020 @ 12:30 PM

During this time of uncertainty, The Chamber’s Public Policy team will continue to provide you with the most up to date state and federal information that you can use right now for your business and your employees. We thank our public officials for recognizing that businesses need immediate assistance as you work to stay above water and be helpful to your employees.

We continue to be in daily communication with our legislative leaders and staff to monitor progress and will update you immediately on results from which you may be able to benefit.

Please contact us (contact information at the bottom of this email) with any questions you may have.

We’ve Been Here All Along...
The Chamber works every day to improve the economy and quality of life in the Lehigh Valley.
Our mission unites us with business people and communities across the Lehigh Valley, as we...

  • Purposefully connect businesses (The Power of Partnerships)
  • Enhance the vitality of our communities (On Every Main Street)
  • Promote the benefits of diversity in the workplace (21st Century Chamber)

...and now more than ever, we are here for you.

Click here to see what we've been up to!

THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO HAVE SUPPORTED US!

Allied Building Corporation
Alvin H. Butz, Inc.
​Amazon
BB&T now Truist
Capital BlueCross
Dynegy
​Equinox Benefits Consulting
ESSA Bank & Trust
​Heintzelman Funeral Home, Inc.
​Jaindl Farms
Lehigh County Humane Society
​Sams Club Foundation
Walmart Foundation
Wells Fargo

 

Federal Resources

NEW: On July 17, the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued newly-revised versions of its model Notice of Rights, Certification, and Designation forms for administration of the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). Revised forms are meant to be “simpler and easier for employees, employers, leave administrators, and healthcare providers to understand and use.” Employers are not required to use the DOL’s model forms (as opposed to FMLA forms they have created themselves), many employers find the DOL’s forms useful in navigating the process. You can find the forms here.

Families First Coronavirus Response (FFCRA) Act:
Emergency relief package providing funding and other changes to law to assist the Nation responding to COVID-19. Key elements of the $100 billion, bi-partisan bill are: paid emergency leave to workers, provisions for free coronavirus testing and bolstered unemployment benefits.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
Congress has approved $350 billion in emergency loans for small businesses to help keep their workers employed. In fact, if small businesses maintain or later restore their payrolls, they may not have to repay some — or possibly any — of the loan.

Here are resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA): 

  • Paycheck Protection Program: Provides loans to small businesses to help them continue to pay employees and cover other business expenses during the COVID-19 crisis. All loans have a 1% fixed interest rate, require no collateral or guarantor (meaning owners don’t need to put anything down to back the loan) and will be due in two years with no prepayment penalties or fees. Loan payments will also be deferred for six months; during that time, interest will accrue. Qualified entities include small businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans/Emergency Economic Injury Grants: 
  • SBA has reopened the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance program portal to all eligible applicants. SBA’s EIDL program offers long-term, low interest assistance for a small business or non-profit. These loans can provide vital economic support to help alleviate temporary loss of revenue. EIDL assistance can be used to cover payroll and inventory, pay debt or fund other expenses. Additionally, the EIDL Advance will provide up to $10,000 ($1,000 per employee) of emergency economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing temporary difficulties, and these emergency grants do not have to be repaid.
    • Learn more and apply: https://www.sba.gov/disaster
    • Read the announcement: http://ow.ly/i6mi50A8Bmf
    • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) are low-interest loans of up to $2 million to be used toward expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, such as payroll and other operating expenses. Eligible businesses must have 500 or fewer employees. The grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private nonprofits harmed by COVID-19. The advance does not need to be repaid and may be used to keep employees on payroll, pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments
  • SBA Express Bridge Loan Pilot Program: Enables small businesses that currently have a business relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 quickly. The funding may be used as a term loan or to bridge the gap while applying for a direct Economic Injury Disaster Loan
  • SBA Debt Relief: Provides a financial reprieve to small businesses by automatically paying the principal, interest and fees of some current loans and microloans

  • Employee Retention Credit under the CARES ActThe IRS has posted updated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to IRS.gov providing answers regarding the Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act. The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19

Federal Reserve’s Main Street Lending Program: provides loans to businesses, with interest rates ranging from 2.5% to 4%. Unlike the PPP, the repayment term for a Main Street loan is four years and the loan can’t be forgiven. There are two loans available through the lending program: the Main Street New Loan Facility for new loans and the Main Street Expanded Loan Facility for borrowers who have an existing small business loan from before April 8. Loans vary between $1 million and $25 million. The program is considering applications from businesses that made less than $2.5 billion last year and employs less than 10,000 employees. Businesses that are interested in the program should contact their banker

Other Federal Resources:


PENNSYLVANIA STATE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST INFORMATION ON COVID 19 IN PENNSYLVANIA

  • The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) announced the new COVID-19 Relief Statewide Small Business Assistance Program to provide grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to small businesses that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. The program is expected to open Tuesday, June 30. Information about the program and how to apply can be found here.
    • Small businesses must apply through their local Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
    • Under the program, $225 million is available for COVID-19 relief to small businesses through a distribution to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) for loan payment deferment and portfolio loan loss reserves, main street business revitalization grants, and historically disadvantaged business revitalization grants.  Eligible businesses with 25 or fewer employees may receive a maximum grant of $50,000 so long as the business was in operation on February 15, 2020 and, if required, paid income taxes to the state and federal government, as reported on individual or business tax returns; COVID-19 has had an adverse economic impact and makes this grant request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the applicant; the grant will be used cover COVID-19 related costs; and during the period beginning on June 1, 2020 and ending on December 31, 2020, the applicant has not and will not receive another grant under this state program.​

​ ​

  • Click here to view the Governor’s office updated list of life-sustaining and non-life-sustaining businesses (last updated on May 28)
    • Click here to view Q&A from the Governor’s office on determining life-sustaining businesses (last updated May 28)​

CareerLink Lehigh Valley is Here to Help:

  • Online Jobs Portal updated daily with positions for Lehigh Valley job seekers and an easy way for employers in the area to add immediate job openings
  • COVID-19 Resources Page (for job seekers and employers)
  • Online Workshops & Resources (for job seekers)
  • Need Help Finding Workers? PA CareerLink Lehigh Valley is here to help provide you with skilled workers. The employment, training, and labor market services you receive through their workforce delivery system are professional, comprehensive, and on-target. These services come at no cost to you. To learn more about employment and training programs, call 610-437-5627, extension 136, or email BEST@careerlinklv.org.

Unemployment Compensation:

  • Employee Refusal of Work:
    • Unemployment Compensation is temporary income support for those whose jobs are reduced or lost through no fault of their own. To be unemployed, a person must have a loss in both work hours and pay or “earnings.”
    • As an employer, if you are continuing to pay your employees through the COVID-19 social distancing period, either in full or in part, an email can be sent to RefusalofWork@PA.gov to notify the department of such payments.
      • Spreadsheets can be attached to your email in order to notify the department of all employees that are contining to receive pay during this time. If you create a spreadsheet, it should include the full names of the employees, the last four digits of their social security numbers and details regarding the wages the employee received, as well as the weeks the compensation covered.
      • If you have employees who have refused to return to work after being recalled, or if you have offered work to an individual who has refused your offer, notifications can be sent to the email address above. In addition, form UC-1921W is available to report these situations. Reports of refusal of work or recall are not limited to the COVID-19 emergency, and may be submitted at any time.
  • The federal CARES Act provides expanded unemployment benefits of $600 per week to eligible claimants.
    • These payments are in addition to regular benefits provided through the unemployment system. The Department of Labor and Industry reports that these payments should arrive by Wednesday, April 15 for eligible claimants who received their regular payments for the week ending April 4. Claimants who have not yet received a payment will receive the extra $600 per week in the days following receipt of their first payment. You can find more information here 
  • Pennsylvanians who have an expired Unemployment Compensation claim or have exhausted their benefits under an existing claim can now receive an additional 13 weeks of payments through the new Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program
    • The extended benefits will be available through December 26 for claimants who have exhausted regular benefits
    • If a claimant’s benefits have expired, they must submit an application for the extended benefit online or mail a paper application. If an individual has an open claim and exhausts their benefits, the additional 13 weeks will be automatically added to their existing claim. Applicants will receive the same weekly benefit as their regular rate, including the additional $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program. Benefits will be available retroactive to the benefit week ending April 4
  • The federal CARES Act has also authorized Unemployment Compensation payments for people who are self-employed or working as private contractors. The application for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) unemployment compensation benefits for self-employed workers, independent contractors and others not typically eligible for benefits is NOW AVAILABLE on the Pennsylvania unemployment compensation system website, here's the link.​
    • For questions about program eligibility and information about the documents you will need to provide when applying, click here.
    • For questions specific to applying for PUA, please email UCPUA@pa.gov or call 855-284-8545 if you have issues with your PUA claim - Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
  • Unemployment Compensation (UC) applicants who were denied benefits will have more time to appeal the decision if they believe the denial was incorrect. Under normal circumstances, appeals must be filed within 15 calendar days of the mailing date of the determination of eligibility. However, due to delays created by the COVID-19 pandemic, appeals can be filed indefinitely for determinations issued during the pandemic.

State Legislation on our Watch-List:
House Bill 2376Would place all retail stores that are not already considered a “life-sustaining business” in the “life-sustaining business” category and allow a retail business staffed by one employee to open for business as long as it allowed only one customer into the store at a time. Small retailers would also be able offer curbside pickup service
House Bill 2408: Would exempt CARES Act stimulus checks from state and local taxation. Stimulus checks are exempt from federal taxes
House Bill 2419: Would ensure intergovernmental cooperation throughout the disaster and recovery period by establishing the COVID-19 inter-branch Cost and Recovery Task Force
House Bill 2429Would allow the reopening of all lawn and garden centers, provided they adhere to establish social distancing practices and other mitigation measures
House Bill 2489: Would require PA DCED to immediately issue a waiver to all outdoor and recreational activities that can adhere to the social distancing practices defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
House Bill 2506 & House Bill 2513: (Two Part Package) Would allow establishments, in counties that are in the Yellow or Green Phase, with existing decks, patios, and courtyards to open those outdoor areas and would allow up to 50% of the outdoor maximum seating capacity in order to properly institute the CDC and State mitigation guidelines. For those establishments with parking lots but no existing outdoor seating space, my bill will allow those establishments to design limited seating in a designated part of the parking lot
House Bill 2517: Would require a waiver to allow residential cleaning services to resume operations during the COVID-19 emergency, provided the follow social distancing and other health and safety guidelines
Senate Bill 1154: Would grant an immediate waiver for licensed hair salons, barbers and cosmetologists to reopen for business
House Resolution 836VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON JULY 14 - Would terminate the Governor's the COVID-19 Disaster Emergency Declaration
House Bill 2412VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would allow real estate related activities that can adhere to social distancing practices and other mitigation measures defined by the Centers for Disease Control to resume
House Bill 2388VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would require the Department of Community and Economic Development to issue a waiver to the business closure order for the following types of businesses, as long as those businesses comply with health and safety guidelines outlined by the state Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: vehicle dealerships, lawn and garden centers, cosmetology salon and barber shops for hair services, messenger services, animal grooming services, and manufacturing operations
Senate Bill 327: VETOED BY GOV. WOLF ON MAY 19 - Would had given county governments the option to develop and implement their own plans to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, following CISA guidelines. Under the bill, businesses already identified as essential could continue to operate. This bill would have established the COVID-19 Cost and Recovery Task Force to include all three branches of government in the process of developing a plan to resume mission-critical functions, including the restoration of housing, transportation, education, and other public services, and economic activity to levels equal to or better than their pre-disaster conditions
House Bill 327: SIGNED INTO LAW ON MAY 21 - This bill will allow taverns and licensed restaurants to sell mixed spirit drinks to-go
Senate Bill 841SIGNED INTO LAW ON APRIL 20 - This Bill will:

  • Reauthorize the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council and require it to study the impact of COVID-19 on hospitals and health systems
  • Allow local governments to conduct remote public meetings
  • Provide property tax relief by allowing taxing districts to waive late fees and penalties for property taxes paid by December 31, 2020
  • Allow school districts to renegotiate contracts with service providers to ensure payment of personnel and fixed costs during the school closure
  • Allow online car sales will resume, enabling PA notaries to perform online notarizations
  • Allow public and private residential and non-residential construction may resume following safety guidance coming soon from the Administration
  • Allow curbside pickup of wine and spirits at Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board locations. View the list of stores offering curbside pickup by county

Senate Bill 1122SIGNED INTO LAW ON MAY 29 - Would appropriate $31 million for a one-time grant program for volunteer fire and EMS companies

Other State Resources:

These postings will be required to be clearly displayed at workplaces, along with publicly posted acknowledgement by the employer that the guidance is being adhered to. Flyers are available in English and Spanish:

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New Jersey State Government Resources

Click here for the latest information on COVID 19 in New Jersey

New Jersey is currently in Stage 2 of Governor Murphy's plan to reopen New Jersey.

It’s not clear when New Jersey will move into Stage 3, which is the final numbered stage and the “new normal” according to Governor Murphy, which could include limited entertainment, bars and expanded dining. Murphy has said” a new normal likely won’t take shape until a vaccine or treatment for the corona virus is widely available.”

For businesses with questions on New Jersey’s reopening and for help with other issues related to COVID-19 please click here.

Governor Murphy laid out his “The Road Back: Restoring Economic Health Through Public Health” plan

To view the various programs available for New Jersey businesses visit: NJ COVID-19 Business Support Eligibility Wizard

Other State Resources:



Quick Links:

Business Matters weekly episodes featuring Lehigh Valley Experts

The Chamber's Coronavirus Resource Webinars:

WFMZ Coronavirus Info Center - the latest on the outbreak

Lehigh Valley COVID-19/Coronavirus Response Resources (LVEDC)

Capital BlueCross Response to COVID-19

Recursos en Español

SEWN Professional Services

Click here for Pocono resources in Spanish / recursos en español del Pocono

The deadline for filing and paying both state and federal incomes taxes has been extended to July 15, 2020

Pennsylvania 211 helps you connect with resources in the community From housing, mental health, help with child care, finding food and more, you can dial 211 or text your ZIP code to #898-211 to talk with a resource specialist for free

Donation Information:


Public Policy Team Contact Information:
Michelle Young: michelley@lehighvalleychamber.org | 610-739-1514
Brittney Waylen: brittneyw@lehighvalleychamber.org | 610-739-1642
Matt Powell: mattp@lehighvalleychamber.org | 610-810-6412

 

ReOpen Carbon County | Back to Business
Process to Reopen Pennsylvania

A Message from the CCEDC:

We at the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corp. are excited to move safely with you, our fellow Carbon County residents & business owners, into the green phase on Friday, June 12, 2020. In an effort to move forward safely, we have partnered with the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, Jim Thorpe Tourism Agency, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Pocono Chamber of Commerce and other partners throughout the area to help provide information, resources and tips to a safe reopening of Carbon County. We are looking forward to getting back to business together!

 

If you plan on re-opening safely, please let us know so we can update our community via the CCEDC COVID19 Support Local page.  You can email us at info@carboncountychamber.org Please include the following information: Company Name, Contact Person, Address, Website, Phone, Hours of Operation, and Offerings/Special Announcements.

WHAT IS OPEN ? CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT!

Jim Thorpe Businesses Phase Openings

Helpful Links

Pocono Promise

Pocono businesses, join the CCEDC and sign the Pocono Promise today!

From restaurants and bed and breakfasts to waterparks and wineries, businesses of all shapes and sizes are struggling to survive amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is committed to supporting our businesses through these unprecedented times and encouraging them to sign the Pocono Promise.

By pledging to keep the Pocono Promise, businesses voluntarily vow to follow certain guidelines that protect employees and customers once it is time to reopen. Those guidelines include aggressive cleaning protocols, health surveys for staff before starting their shift, special training, and using personal protective equipment when possible. In return, businesses ask employees and customers to follow certain guidelines as well, which include following social distancing protocols and staying home/visiting another time if feeling sick.

“The more businesses that adopt this promise, the more solidarity we demonstrate to our residents and our visitors,” said Chris Barrett, President/CEO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. “Together we’ll attest that the Pocono Mountains is doing everything possible to overcome this crisis in the safest and best way possible.”

Ready to sign the Pocono Promise?

Learn more about the Pocono Promise and get access to a variety of printable signage and other resources after you sign.

Protective Equipment & Supplies

BrightStar Care, INC of Stoudsburg & Allentown 570-223-2248

www.brightstarcare.com/Stroudsburg-Allentown

Safeguard Your Employees and Your Business During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The CDC has recommended employers conduct COVID-19 screening including temperature checks for workers. This step is already in place for many healthcare workers. Employers in other industries who are keeping their operations open are adopting similar COVID-19 screening practices. Typically, this occurs at the start of shifts as employees are reporting to work and allows the employer to identify anyone exhibiting symptoms and proactively send them home to avoid possible spread of the virus on the employer’s premises.
How BrightStar Care® can help
BrightStar Care, known for providing home care services at a higher standard, also provides medical staffing services and is able to help you protect your workforce and your company. BrightStar Care on-site COVID-19 screening services can be tailored to your company’s needs including:
Interviewing employees with health screening questions
Taking vitals such as temperature
Documenting employee answers for HR files
Screening staff at the beginning of their shift
Each assignment will be conducted by either an RN, LPN, RPH, DCW. Each screening is 4 hours minimum, and it can be canceled at any time with 24 hours’ notice.

 

Steri Sweep- Phone: (862) 220-0753

 

Stotz & Fatzinger Office Supply

610-360-6516 | www.stotzfatzinger.com

Current Specials below available while supplies last

Legislative Resources

Printable Office Signage

From The Chamber

Click on flyer image above to download and print.

From the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau

Click on flyer/poster images above to download and print.

Corporate Sponsors & Partners