Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

Space, Inc. Leads the Return to Safe, Hybrid Work Environments

By Amy DeGeer Roten

As vaccines are distributed and employers approach the idea of the workforce returning to the office, they are faced with more questions than answers: How can workspace be redesigned to accommodate hybrid, remote, and in-office workforce? How will workflows change? How can safer, socially distanced workspaces promote collaboration and team building?

Post-COVID, the physical office will be different. The question is, what will it look like?

SPACE, Inc. can help answer those questions.

Founded in 1995, SPACE, Inc. is a commercial interior design firm that blends interior workspace design and aesthetics with functionality to promote collaboration, productivity, and creativity. They have two main locations in Michigan and Virginia.

“SPACE, Inc. does business a few ways,” Kathie Fuce-Hobohm, Principal of SPACE, said. “Our Michigan team provides all things in workspaces including design, project management, installation as well as office furniture, move management, and facility management. Our Alexandria, Virginia team supports our federal government contracts with more product-oriented solutions.”

The Hybrid Workspace  

Like many industries, COVID created new opportunities for SPACE, Inc. to assess change, identify new needs, and develop innovative solutions. Over the past year, they have addressed questions related to the post-COVID work environment and developed solutions that combine sustainable workplace design and sanitization processes.

“We think the workplace is going to be viable as a hybrid work environment,” Kathie said. “We’re not going to have an office for every person. It will be a percentage of office or focus stations and amenity areas to attract people back to the workplace – fireplaces, soft seating, etc.”

Making Workspace Work – SPACE Facility Armor and Anew Upcycling

Fear of COVID is the number one reason employees are hesitant to return to the office. “People will be sharing desks and community spaces. SPACE Facility Armor prevents the transfer of viruses and germs. With every application, the entire building is safe and committed to well-being,” President Paddy Hobohm said.

SPACE Facility Armor, powered by the BioProtectUs system, kills 99 percent of microbes on porous and non-porous surfaces for at least 30 months. It prevents microbes from repopulating on those surfaces between cleanings. This CDC-approved, hospital-grade disinfectant fogging application is followed by an electrostatically charged antimicrobial technology. It’s water-based and EPA-accepted for all industries including food service. Originally created by Dow 30 years ago, it has been used in healthcare facilities and SPACE is the first to bring the technology to office environments.

Their upcycling program, SPACE Anew, is a turnkey process that reutilizes up to ninety percent of the existing furniture assets, reimagines them, and adds stylish, functional elements to brighten up the workplace. It relies on high-quality redesign and creativity to create a balance of individual workstations and collaborative areas, with little to no work disruption. Additionally, SPACE Anew costs 30-50 percent less than the cost of purchasing new furniture.

“It’s a fixer-upper model – we can utilize the existing assets, reimagine them, and make them new and different,” said Kathie.

“We assess workplace design and develop improvements for the future of work through our sustainable upcycling program. Then we add SPACE Facility Armor into the equation to provide a safe and healthy work environment.  This is a great way to help businesses move forward,” said Kathie.

Learn more about SPACE Anew and Upcycling

Learn more about SPACE Facility Armor

For more about what SPACE, Inc. can do for you, contact Paddy Hobohm.

For media relations contact Amanda Rogalski.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cybersecurity Trends and Challenges for 2021

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Last year saw constant disruption for business. The pandemic spurred a quick shift to remote work which has opened more opportunities for cyber thieves. While small businesses sometimes feel their size equals less risk, it actually can make them a target.

Here are two quick articles from BizTech Magazine that will help businesses large and small with security tools and emerging technologies to address the needs of today.

4 Small Business Tech Trends to Watch This Year – Keara Dowd

Top Security Challenges for Small Business in 2021 – Nick Suda

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Expanding During a Pandemic: Q&A with Midland Eye Associates

By Amy DeGeer Roten

Eighty years ago, an optometrist opened his new practice on the Circle in Midland. Four owners and three locations later, Midland Eye Associates has grown into a comprehensive eye-care practice offering vision and medical eye care. Owners Dr. Paul Kimball and Dr. Carl Erickson are dedicated to maintaining and maximizing patient vision with the most comprehensive eye care available. They will remain at the forefront of optometry and use the most advanced technology for diagnosis and treatment. That promise and dedication has generated growth – and prompted their current expansion – which you can see at 217 N. Saginaw Rd.

At the MBA, we know the importance of supporting small businesses. And small business growth is 50 percent of our national GDP. Firms with fewer than 100 employees make up more than 98% of all business in our country and employ nearly half of the U.S. workforce.

To celebrate this growth during such challenging times, here is a quick Q&A with Dr. Erickson.

What was the catalyst for/goals of the expansion?

After I joined the practice in 2016, it became evident that we were running out of space to see patients. We needed to update the site and facilities to support our expanding services. We also want to offer more services in the future.

We purchased two buildings adjacent to our current practice and designed plans to build a new, 7,500 square-foot office. We know Center City business improvements are a focus for the City of Midland and we are proud that our new building supports that.

How many new and retained jobs will this expansion support?

Four to six new jobs and ten retained jobs.

What new services or products do you have?

We’ll continue to provide eye screenings for three-year-old patients at no charge, eye exams, a full-service drop-in optical department, digital photo documentation, and our onsite, state-of-the-art lab.

Our new building will give us the room we need to offer new services, including ortho-k (service for kids to reduce how near-sighted they will be as adults with contact lenses). We also plan to expand medical services for diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, and dry eye.

How did your practice and the expansion survive the COVID shutdowns?

Luckily, Midland Eye Associates kept a healthy, rainy-day fund in anticipation of a grand opening for the new facility. However, between that fund and the PPP Loan programs, we remained healthy even though the State Executive Orders closed our practice for two months. Since the shutdowns, things have been busy for us. People are adjusting to life with more time spent on electronic devices, which affects eyesight. They are also dealing with foggy glasses due to facemasks. These two things have created a strong demand for new solutions to COVID-related lifestyle changes.

How did the MBA help your expansion?

The MBA provided helpful direction and contacts to the City of Midland for permitting, introductions to necessary contacts at Consumers Energy, connections to PTAC, and soft skills training information for new employees. You (the MBA) also investigated potential funding that would support our expansion and provided COVID-19 business toolkits, webinars, executive order information. These helped us navigate the pandemic.

Besides COVID and flooding, were there other impactful barriers to expansion?

Luckily, and with the help of the MBA, extraordinary barriers to our expansion have been few to none.

What is the date for the anticipated grand opening of the new building?

Barring no future, unexpected set-backs, we anticipate an April 2021 opening date.

You can learn more about Midland Eye Associates’ offering on their website.

If you have an expansion that you need help with, contact mba@mbami.org or Tina Lynch at tlynch@mbami.org

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Expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit Offers Significantly More Relief for Small Business

By Amy DeGeer Roten

On December 27, 2020, the COVID-19 stimulus package was signed into law, which contains substantial enhancement to the employee retention tax credit enacted under the CARES Act. This means small business (under 500 employees) will receive more relief than the original credit. The credit may also be used with PPP loans.

The Employee Retention Credit under the CARES Act encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. From the Michigan Chamber of Commerce website, here are highlights of the expanded tax credit:

  • Increase the credit rate from 50 percent to 70 percent of qualified wages.
  • Expand eligibility for the credit by reducing the required year-over-year gross receipts decline from 50 percent to 20 percent and provides a safe harbor allowing employers to use prior quarter gross receipts to determine eligibility.
  • Increase the limit on per-employee creditable wages from $10,000 for the year to $10,000 for each quarter.
  • Allows businesses with 500 or fewer employees to advance the credit at any point during the quarter based on wages paid in the same quarter in a previous year.
  • Provide rules to allow new employers who were not in existence for all or part of 2019 to be able to claim the credit.
  • Retroactive to the passage of the CARES Act, the bill allows employers who receive Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to qualify for the ERTC with respect to wages that are not paid for with forgiven PPP proceeds.

The Michigan Chamber recommends that all employers contact their CPA’s immediately to make sure they can take advantage of these credits RETROACTIVELY and prospectively.

I spoke with Michigan Chamber of Commerce Director of Tax Policy and Regulatory Affairs Dan Papineau for more information and his thoughts on this new credit.

“Honestly, the employee tax credits could be as good or better than the PPP loans and they can be used with PPP loans. These are very unique tax credits. They’ve never rolled out this way, so business owners need to check with their CPA and tax professional to understand if they can take advantage of this.” Dan said.

He continued, “The IRS hasn’t come out with guidance yet, perhaps because they have pushed back the tax return date to February 12. The enhanced employee tax credit may need to be flushed out before the IRS will except returns.”

Since the enhanced tax credit was part of the Trump administration, one may wonder if the Biden administration will keep the law. It is not uncommon, after all, for a new administration to make changes as they enter the White House. So, does the Michigan Chamber of Commerce believe the enhanced tax credit law will stay?

“I don’t think it will get overturned,” Dan said. “I think President-elect Biden will take advantage of some of the programs that Trump pushed through and this one is a good one to keep. It keeps people on the payroll and off unemployment. It will be good to add to his toolbox.

However, as we see in Michigan, how the agency interprets the law affects the rules. The question is, will the Biden administration view the tax relief program in a way that the Trump administration would have with regard to enforcement and interpretation. The Biden administration may be more cost-sensitive and read the package more conservatively. It’s definitely an interesting dilemma.”

To find out more on the employee retention tax credit enhancement, visit please contact your tax advisor. The following resources may also provide more information:

The Michigan Chamber of Commerce or email Dan Papineau at dpapineau@michamber.com

The Internal Revenue Service

The Tax Foundation (scroll until you see the article)

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Local Business Grows 36% During COVID-19 Shutdown

By Amy DeGeer Roten

The Coronavirus has created a devastating impact on public health, as well as economic shock. However, COVID-19 has not impacted all industries equally. Some companies deemed essential by the State of Michigan are experiencing growth, albeit, not without challenges. This post will highlight how COVID-19 has supported some growth opportunities while simultaneously creating obstacles and how Impact Analytical worked through the inimitable challenges facing “essential” business to reap the benefits of 2020’s unforeseen opportunities.

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