Midland Business Alliance to Award Grant Assistance to Businesses Directly Impacted by Recent Flooding

The MBA, in collaboration with the Midland Area Community Foundation (MAFC), will award more than $150,000 in grants to local businesses impacted by the recent floods.

The $150,000 in total funding comes from $50,000 from the MBA Foundation and $100,000 from the MACF. In addition, the Community Foundation has pledged more than $250,000 with $250,000 in matching funds to support local flood relief efforts.

“At the heart of Midland Area Community Foundation is our focus on building a thriving community and doing ‘for good, for ever, for all’,” said Sharon Mortensen, President and CEO of the Community Foundation. “We recognize the critical importance of a strong business community and are pleased to provide these resources to help the Midland Business Alliance serve businesses impacted by the flood.”

The criteria to be eligible for these funds includes:

  • Businesses must be directly physically impacted by the floods.
  • The funds must be used to help the business reopen and rebuild.

“We thought it was crucial to bring together resources to help the businesses that were impacted by the floods,” said Tony Stamas, President and CEO of the MBA. “They were already dealing with all of the challenges thrown at them from COVID-19 and to add this on top of it is almost inconceivable.”

 

The MBA is currently working on identifying resources and working with businesses to support them in their recovery efforts. Businesses directly impacted by flood should contact the MBA’s Vice President of Economic Development, Nicole Wilson, at nwilson@mbami.org.

In addition to the funds provided by the MACF and MBA Foundation, the MBA will also be accepting donations online. Those who wish to contribute to this business recovery effort, can donate at www.MBAMi.org.

“The outpouring of support for those impacted by the floods has been inspiring,” Stamas said. “We know a big part of that is helping the businesses that make Sanford and Midland vibrant – helping businesses reopen will be a crucial part of rebuilding our community.”

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Stay Home Order Lifted – What Does it Mean for Business?

Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-110. This Executive Order rescinds Executive Orders 2020-69 and 2020-96. Here is a summary of the new Executive Order.

The Stay at Home Order is lifted immediately:

  • We must continue to wear face coverings when in enclosed public spaces and take reasonable precautions to protect employees and customers. Indoor gatherings must be kept to 10 people or fewer. Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people, and social distancing must still be employed.
  • Offices may open; however, workers capable of performing their work remotely must continue to do so.
  • Any business or operation that requires its employees to leave their home or place of residence for work is subject to the rules on workplace safeguards in Executive
  • Order 2020-97. A summary of EO 2020-97 can be found here; it is extensive and includes safeguards that all businesses must take, as well as additional safeguards for specific industries/workplaces.

Individuals leaving their residence must continue to employ social distancing and wear face coverings.

What’s Allowed Now?

  • Retailers can re-open on June 4th, subject to guidelines. Appointments no longer necessary.
  • Restaurants, bars, etc. may re-open (indoor and outdoor) on June 8th, subject to guidelines in Executive Order 2020-97 (summary can be found here). No buffets or self-serve stations.
  • Unless prohibited by local regulation, outdoor parks & recreational facilities may re-open, with social distancing. Outdoor public swimming pools can re-open on June 8th with 50% capacity. Indoor pools must remain closed.
  • Day camps for children can re-open on June 8th. Residential, travel, and troop campus must remain closed.
  • Libraries and museums can re-open on June 8th, subject to the same types of guidelines that retail facilities must follow.
  • Outdoor fitness classes, athletic practices, training sessions, or games, with social distancing, limited sharing of equipment, and frequent disinfecting of said equipment is also permitted to re-open.

Drive-in movie theaters are permitted to re-open.

What’s Still Not Allowed?

  • Indoor theaters, cinemas, and performance venues.
  • Indoor gyms, fitness centers, recreation centers, sports facilities, and exercise facilities/studios.
  • Personal care services, such as hair, nail, tanning, massage, traditional spa, tattoo, body art, and piercing services, etc.
  • Casinos, racetracks, and millionaire parties licensed by Michigan Gaming Control Board.

Indoor and outdoor services or facilities involving close contact of persons, for amusement, recreation, or entertainment, such as amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, indoor dance areas, skating rinks, and trampoline parks, etc.

Anything Else?

Yes. Beginning June 15, some retailers will be permitted to take bottle/can returns. Only retailers with bottle return facilities located at the front of the store or housed in a separate area will be permitted to operate, to minimize person-to-person contact. Expect returns to be limited to $25, and limited hours for returns may be imposed, as well.

Read the entire Executive Order here.

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Awaiting the President’s Signature: Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act

If your business took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program, we are pleased to share with you some very good news about new flexibility with the program. On June 3rd, the US Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. It was previous passed by the US House and is expected to be signed by President Trump today, retroactively dated to the passage of the CARES Act. Key provisions of the PPP Flexibility Act:

  • Reduces the amount of the loan that must be spent on payroll costs from 75% to 60% to qualify for full forgiveness. It is critical to note here that no forgiveness will be granted unless at least 60% of the loan amount is used for payroll costs
  • Extends the covered period for qualifying expenditures to 24 weeks (originally only eight weeks) or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier
  • Extends the deadline by which businesses must restore their reductions in workforce and worker pay from June 30 to December 31, 2020. Exceptions here may be available if the business is unable to hire the same employees, and also unable to hire qualified new employees; or if the business is unable to return to its previous level of business activity due to compliance with new health guidelines as a result of the pandemic.
  • Permits borrowers who obtain loan forgiveness to continue to defer payroll tax payments for the balance of 2020.
  • Extends the two-year repayment term for the loan to five years for any portion that is not forgiven and must be repaid.

Our own Congressman John Moolenaar served as a co-sponsor for this bill. We thank him for his leadership and support of the business community throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

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Midland Business Alliance Joins Large, Multi-State Coalition Supporting Regional Collaboration in Re-Opening

On April 21st, the Midland Business Alliance collaborated with 34 other Chambers of Commerce throughout Michigan, as well as from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin to publish a joint statement supporting the states’ Governors as they work together to open the economy, following the COVID-19 crisis and resulting economic shutdown:

“Businesses throughout the Midwest and Ohio River Valley are anxious to get back to work while maintaining the wellbeing of our workforce and communities.

Successfully combatting COVID-19 will require aggressive, collaborative action among governments, health care professionals, businesses and citizens.  While actions taken in our individual states are central to own recoveries, we all will continue to be impacted by decisions made – and not made – in other locales.  

Recognizing that our economies are interconnected and people and goods regularly cross state boundaries to access jobs, services and supplies, we fully support the efforts of our Governors to work together to establish coordinated recovery plans and protocols that will strengthen our economy and preserve our health and safety. 

As organizations representing businesses in some of the hardest hit and most important economic engines in the nation, we look forward continuing to serve as critical counselors to our leaders in our state capitols and Washington DC.”

In a May 7th meeting Zoom meeting with leaders from around the Great Lakes Bay Region, Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist confirmed that the state’s Governors have, indeed, been working together to strategize the opening up of the economy. While this doesn’t necessarily mean concurrent timelines for every phase, it does mean that the lines of communication, especially when considering essential supply chains for industry, are open and working well to coordinate strategic openings.

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Confused About the Governor’s New Executive Order?

Here’s a Summary of Executive Order 2020-59

April 24, 2020 – Earlier today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-59. This replaces Executive Order 2020-42, the “Stay at Home” order which was issued back on March 23rd. The Governor’s new Executive Order (EO) is in close alignment with other Midwest states’ strategies, as she has been in close coordination with the Governors of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. This new EO starts immediately and is in effect through May 15th.

In delivering her new EO, the Governor stressed that people should remain home as much as possible, avoiding unnecessary trips, which might further the spread of COVID-19.

New stipulations, restrictions, and allowances are summarized as follows:

Universal:

  • People are required to wear non-medical, homemade face coverings when they enter enclosed public spaces. Masks will not be required when people are taking a walk in their neighborhood, but outings such as shopping will require one.
  • Public and private gatherings of any number of people who are not part of the same household are still banned

Businesses: (summary; see below for details for business and retailers)

  • The EO still broadly prohibits in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life
  • The EO clarifies that any business or operation that employs workers who perform resumed activities — but that does not sell necessary supplies — may sell any goods through remote sales via delivery or at the curbside, and bring those employees back to work
  • The EO outlines activities that may resume:
    • Landscapers, lawn-service companies, and nurseries can return to work, subject to strict social distancing
    • Retailers to that do not sell necessary supplies may reopen for curbside pick-up and for delivery
    • Big box stores can reopen “closed areas,” like garden centers
    • Bike repair and maintenance can come back online
    • Moving/Storage operations may open
    • Retailers that don’t sell “necessary” supplies may reopen for curbside pick-up and delivery, and customers are allowed to leave home to pick up “non-necessary supplies at the curbside from a store that must otherwise remain closed to the public
    • Advertising for non-essential goods & services is now permitted
  • Businesses must limit in-person interaction with clients and patrons
  • Employers must:
    • Provide, at minimum, cloth face masks for employees
    • Limit the sharing of tools & equipment
    • Frequently cleaning frequently-touched services

Personal/Residential/Recreational:

  • Bans gatherings of any size where six feet of distance cannot be maintained
  • Now permits boating and golfing (no carts; must social distance)
  • Now permits travel between two residents in Michigan or even outside of state
  • Other travel is still prohibited
  • As they have been throughout the emergency, state parks may remain open

Details for business:

Businesses, operations, and government agencies that remain open for in-person work must adhere to sound social distancing practices and measures, which include but are not limited to:

  • Developing a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan, consistent with recommendations in Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19, developed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and available here. Such plan must be available at company headquarters or the worksite.
  • Restricting the number of workers present on premises to no more than is strictly necessary to perform the in-person work permitted under this order.
  • Promoting remote work to the fullest extent possible.
  • Keeping workers and patrons who are on premises at least six feet from one another to the maximum extent possible.
  • Increasing standards of facility cleaning and disinfection to limit worker and patron exposure to COVID-19, as well as adopting protocols to clean and disinfect in the event of a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace.
  • Adopting policies to prevent workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms or have had contact with a person with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • Implementing any other social distancing practices and mitigation measures recommended by the CDC.
  • For businesses and operations whose in-person work is now permitted (landscapers, nurseries, garden centers, pest control, maintenance & groundskeepers for recreation businesses, and moving or storage operations), the following additional measures must also be taken:
  • Barring gatherings of any size in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
  • Limiting in-person interaction with clients and patrons to the maximum extent possible and barring any such interaction in which people cannot maintain six feet of distance from one another.
  • Providing personal protective equipment such as gloves, goggles, face shields, and face masks as appropriate for the activity being performed.
  • Adopting protocols to limit the sharing of tools and equipment to the maximum extent possible and to ensure frequent and thorough cleaning of tools, equipment, and frequently touched surfaces.

Details for retailers that remain open for in-store sales:

  • Must establish lines to regulate entry, with markings for patrons to enable them to stand at least six feet apart from one another while waiting. Stores should also explore alternatives to lines, including by allowing customers to wait in their cars for a text message or phone call, to enable social distancing and to accommodate seniors and those with disabilities.
  • Must adhere to the following restrictions:
    1. For stores of less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space, must limit the number of people in the store (including employees) to 25% of the total occupancy limits established by the State Fire Marshal or a local fire marshal
    2. (For stores of more than 50,000 square feet, must:
      • Limit the number of customers in the store at one time (excluding employees) to 4 people per 1,000 square feet of customer floor space.
      • Create at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations, which for purposes of this order are people over 60, pregnant women, and those with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
  • May continue to sell goods other than necessary supplies if the sale of such goods is in the ordinary course of business.
  • Must consider establishing curbside pick-up to reduce in-store traffic and mitigate outdoor lines.

 

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More Funding for Paycheck Protection Program

Later today, President Trump will sign a bill that, in part, replenishes funding for the very popular Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This is the program that small businesses access via a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, through a local lending institution. An additional $310 billion is set aside specifically for this program.

The PPP is one component of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Securities (CARES) Act, and provides small businesses with forgivable loans to cover payroll and certain other expenses.

Of that $310 billion in new funding, $60 billion is specifically intended for small and medium-sized lenders, to focus on the smallest of businesses.

Also included in the new bill:

  • $60 billion to replenish Small Business Association (SBA) emergency disaster loans, such as the popular EIDL program
  • $75 billion for hospitals, to assist in offsetting the cost of treating COVID-19 patients and lost revenue from delaying other health care procedures
  • $25 billion to accelerate COVID-19 testing

If you haven’t yet applied for a PPP loan, but would like to get in on this round of funding, we strongly recommend that you immediately take action. Prior to the current crisis, only 1,500 lending institutions processed SBA loans; now, 4,000 lending institutions offer this service. And, with the lenders having several weeks’ experience with the program, it’s reasonable to think the process will go smoother and faster. Don’t delay; contact your lending institution about applying for the Paycheck Protection Program.

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