Salem County Chamber of Commerce
From the Chamber Director
We have been carefully monitoring the Covid-19 crisis and are following guidelines set by the CDC and Health Departments, as a result Chamber staff will be working from home until April 1.
All events, meetings and gatherings are postponed – new dates will follow.
Rest assured, we are still working for our Members on a daily basis – we’ve packed up our office and are working from our home offices. The weekly E-News distribution will continue each Wednesday.
Thank you for understanding, our primary concern is the health and safety of our community and our Members.
Salem Chamber of Commerce
The Latest News
- For the latest Coronavirus/Covid-19 health information, click here for the Salem County Health Department information page.
- Covid-19 Small Business Relief Package information (March 30)
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers (March 30)
- Information About SBA Small Business Relief and Disaster Loans (April 6)
- Good News for Anyone Wanting to File a Property Tax Appeal (April 8)
- NJEDA Covid Eligibility Wizard Site – cv.business.nj.gov
- NJEDA Funding Phase 2 – conta.cc/3gqe3eP
Recognition of Spring Banquet Sponsors
We want to recognize our wonderful Spring Banquet Sponsors. We weren’t able to hold the Annual Banquet due to the pandemic restrictions but we still want to give them recognition. We greatly appreciate the support and participation of these businesses for our primary annual fundraiser:
Atlantic City Electric
Eric M. Krise Electrical Contractor
C & H Disposal
Century Savings Bank
Green Technology Services
Mannington Mills, Inc.
Salem Medical Center
Astro Sign Company
BKC, CPA’s PC
Silver Level continued
BR Williams, Inc.
Christopher’s Organic Botanicals
Deepwater Industries Federal Credit Union
First National Bank of Elmer
Henry D. Young, Inc. – Insurance
Pennsville National Bank
Salem Community College
Salem County Recyclers
Third Legislative District
Barrett’s Plantation Bed & Breakfast
Friends Village at Woodstown
Heart Felt Designs Country Shop
Salem County Dept of Veteran’s Affairs
Zarin & Associates, CPAs
Expanded program provides loans up to $50,000 to businesses with ten or fewer employees TRENTON, N.J. (August 11, 2020) – The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) today announced that it has started accepting applications for its expanded Micro Business Loan Program to support New Jersey small businesses, many of which are facing business interruption as a result of COVID-19. The application can be found at www.njeda.com/microbusinessloan. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.
Under the expanded program, $10 million is available for financing of up to $50,000 for micro businesses and nonprofits with ten or fewer full-time employees and no greater than $1.5 million in annual revenues. Loans through this program will have a 10- to 15-year term, with interest rates at two percent and no principal or interest payments for the first three years. Under the Micro Business Loan Program, financing can be used for inventory, the purchase of equipment, or working capital.
“Micro businesses are a dynamic and often overlooked part of New Jersey’s economy – but they represent a large and growing segment of our business community, led in many cases by women and people of color,” NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan said. “With this purpose-built tool to support these unique businesses, we can help more entrepreneurs survive this current economic crisis and realize their long-term visions.”
The expanded Micro Business Loan Program is open to for-profit businesses with a business location in New Jersey, that have been in operation for at least one year, as well as home-based businesses and not-for-profit organizations that have been in operation for at least two years. Startup businesses, defined under the program as business in operation between six months and one year, may also be eligible for the program, but will be required to provide a business plan and five-year financial projections at application. Of the $10 million in total funding available through the program, $3.5 million will be set aside to support eligible entities located in New Jersey Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts. Businesses that receive financing under the enhanced program and are still open and in operation 12 months after the closing date of the loan will have ten percent of the approved loan amount forgiven. Additionally, recognizing the extraordinary economic circumstances that make this program necessary, the NJEDA will waive all application and closing fees for the first three months from the date the application is opened.
Businesses that may be interested in the program should visit www.njeda.com/MicroBusinessLoan to review the program eligibility and access the loan application. Once the loan application is submitted, if the NJEDA determines the business may be eligible, the business will be asked to provide additional financial information the NJEDA will need to make a final decision on the loan application. Applicants that wish to start gathering any financial information needed can review the application checklist located on the program webpage for further guidance.
Comprehensive information about New Jersey’s coronavirus response is available at https://cv.business.nj.gov.
To read Governor Murphy’s full economic plan, please visit: https://nj.gov/economicplan
About the New Jersey Economic Development Authority
The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.
Jeff Truax is a Salem County Hero
On the day New Jersey mandated a lock-down mode due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Jeff Truax sprang to action knowing that the Mid-Atlantic States Food Distribution Program would be an essential resource to thousands throughout South Jersey, and most particularly, in Salem County.
In early 2020, Mid-Atlantic States Career and Education Center under the leadership of Jeff, operated a food distribution program at its Training Center at 375 S. Broadway in Pennsville, once a week serving seniors and others lacking food security in Salem and Gloucester counties.
When the pandemic hit, Jeff responded quickly, beginning a daily food distribution immediately, leveraging our partners’ contributions with a few new resources to acquire literally tons of nutritious food on a weekly basis. Jeff redesigned the packaging and distribution process immediately to adhere to CDC Guidelines. He led the devoted staff and volunteers into a seemingly seamless transition from serving hundreds per week to thousands per week – all while maintaining the health and safety of everyone involved. Today, Mid-Atlantic States continues to provide food to more than a thousand families per week; sometimes the line for pickup at the Pennsville site has stretched for two miles. In July, Mid-Atlantic States’ Food Distribution Program has given away 268,400 pounds of food for 223,667 meals for 8,091 families.
Simultaneously to this expanded distribution, Mid-Atlantic was approached by the Veteran’s Hospital in Wilmington Delaware to provide food baskets to shut-in disabled veterans in several Southern New Jersey counties. Due to the nature of being isolated over long distances these baskets must be delivered directly to the door of the veterans. Rather than saying NO, our staff, once again under Jeff’s attentive guidance and leadership, sprang into action and we now deliver what we call “Meals of Honor” to more than 50 disabled veterans per week.
In addition, Salem County seniors who participated in the Salem County Office on Aging’s Congregate Nutrition Program administered by Mid-Atlantic States, were no longer able to gather, thus missing out on hot meals. Jeff worked out the logistics that now allow these seniors, who are most vulnerable to the virus, to receive food baskets delivered to their door on a regular basis.
While we commend and support all food pantries and distribution sites within Salem County which have stepped up to support the community, we believe that Jeff Truax deserves special accolades for going way above and beyond – working beyond 9 to 5 and many times dipping into his own pockets to provide needed food and supplies – to make sure the people of Salem County can put food on their family’s tables.
Jeff, supported by Mid-Atlantic States Career and Education Center, had the courage to immediately ramp up operations to giveaway enormous quantities of food, expanding from a few hundred pounds of food a week to tons of food a week without any guarantee of financial resources.
Most important of all is how Jeff leads the staff and volunteers – many times though extreme heat or pouring rain – to show great caring and empathy for people in need at significant personal cost and without reservation. He encourages them to give their best graciously and selflessly. Jeff’s infectious positive attitude is also a welcome relief for the many people receiving food. He’s not just handing them a bag of food; he’s giving them a smile, a bit of support, a ray of hope during this very trying time that our entire country is enduring.
Webster’s defines Heroes as having great courage in the face of adversity but here is more than courage involved. There is also empathy, caring, understanding, a big heart, perseverance, self-sacrifice, and a strong desire to overcome barriers that might stop meeting urgent needs. Jeff Truax has exhibited this definition in an amazing way, and as long as the need is there, Jeff will be there as well.
Jeff lives in Pennsville with his wife Michele and their two daughters Shelby and Kimberly.
When I saw the hero nominations Sally Maurer immediately came to mind. Sally is a visiting Nurse Practitioner with Phoenix Housecall Associates of South Jersey. Home-bound individuals throughout South Jersey rely on Sally to receive in home medical care. I know there are many Meals on Wheels clients who utilize the service Sally provides, which is how I was able to get to know her. The individuals Sally cares for often do not have others they can rely on and Sally steps in to be a source of reliability and trust. Through mutual clients and interactions I see just how much Sally cares for her patients.
During this time of quarantine and social distancing Sally is taking extra precautions to keep her home-bound clients and herself safe so that she can continue to visit them in their homes, where they feel safe.
It is not always easy to help care for those who are home-bound, especially if they have no other family to help them. For these individuals you become much more than just their medical provider. You become their friend, their therapist and sometimes their family. Sally has stepped-in and assumed the role of Emergency Contact for more than a few of the clients she cares for. Sally is an advocate for her clients and truly has earned and deserves the title of Salem County Hero.
Thank you! This was a great idea and I am so glad to be able to nominate this individual.
The Friends Village at Woodstown COVID-19 Response team is made up of administrators, directors, facility personnel, registered and licensed practical nurses, and certified nursing assistants who selflessly created a safe haven during one of the most challenging times in our organization’s history. The unexpected storm hit in early March when we were forced to suspend visitors and cancel resident activities. We had no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at that point, but this would not be the case for much longer. Knowing that the novel Coronavirus was on it is way to us, our team put a COVID-19 Response plan into motion, with guidance from the State of NJ Department of Health and Salem County local health officials.
Within thirteen days, this team converted our office and storage wing into a 12-bed COVID-19 isolation wing so that we could accommodate South Jersey seniors who were contracting the virus. We opened the doors of the isolation wing on April 15th and have been treating COVID patients ever since. A team of nurses, certified nursing assistants, and a member of our facility team volunteered to exclusively work with COVID-positive seniors, a noble act that reduced the chance of virus transmission to our other residents and staff members. These staff members have families and loved ones, which triggers fears of their own, yet they continue to help our patients who need their kindness as much as the critical medical care.
In addition to our COVID-19 Response medical team members, our administration has also been committed to the safety of every staff member as weekly COVID-19 testing was put into place in May. Every Monday, each staff member and resident is tested for COVID-19 to ensure the safety of all who are connected to Friends Village at Woodstown. This commitment comes at a high financial cost for a nonprofit that could never have predicted what 2020 has brought us.
I am nominating our entire COVID-19 Response Team as a Heart of Salem County Hero for their altruism that is enriching and saving lives during the most significant public health crisis of our time.
I am nominating this person due to the strength and loyalty she has shown during the Covid outbreak while serving her clients here in Salem County.
Cynthia Davis is a CNA employed through Bayada. She also has several clients through the state’s PPP program and self pay clients. She takes care of the physically disabled, the senior population as well as younger clients, also the mentally ill.
During the Covid outbreak her job took on many new roles, not expected or reimbursed for.
Some of her daily duties include helping her clients with daily living skills as well as light cleaning and food preparation.
With the new normal she now has taken on more in-depth of a role due to the lack of clients family members being available, such as: medication ordering, picking them up from the pharmacy, dispersing them in proper daily containers, grocery shopping, laundry, yard work, and using her own phone for tele-med conferences for her patients with their doctors.
Instead of going down the road as a lot of her co-workers did by quitting their jobs for the fear of getting Covid, not to mention they made more money staying home collecting the “new” unemployment rates brought on by the virus, Cyndi remained faithful to her clients. She quickly became their “family member”, not letting one of them want for anything!
Oh how I wish more of us had her attitude! Her job is not just a job, it’s a passion for helping those who can not help themselves.
While she is currently working full time, raising her own family at home, enjoying being a first time grandmother, she is pursuing a career as an RN and is currently enrolled in Salem Community College.
Her current clients will someday miss her ……… but her new patients will be blessed! Let’s keep her in Salem County!
The Resuming Business Toolkit is designed to assist employers in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and lowering the impact in their workplace when reintegrating employees into non-healthcare business settings. Not sure whether you’re ready to resume business? Use CDC’s decision tools as a start.
This toolkit includes the following materials:
- Employer Sheet to introduce employers to the contents of the toolkit and how to use the materials in non-healthcare workplace
- Restart Readiness Checklist to help make returning to
work and resuming business operations as safe and healthy as possible for employers, employees, and the public
- Worker Protection Tool for employers to identify protective measures for workers when interacting with each other
and the public
- Returning to Work Infographic to remind employees how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19 and address their potential concerns about returning to the workplace
- Resources to easily access additional information using hyperlinks, URLs, and QR codes
Resuming Business Toolkit for Coronavirus Disease
The information in this toolkit is based on CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) . Be sure to thoroughly review this guidance for complete information.
Before resuming your non-healthcare business operations, it is important to consider how much the disease is spreading in your community and the readiness of workplace management to protect the safety and health of employees and the public. CDC’s decision tools [2-3] can help with determine if it is time.
For information about conditions in your community, contact your local health department .
This toolkit provides a checklist to prepare the workplace for operations and a tool to navigate protective options for workers. Revisit materials regularly as the COVID-19 situation can change in your community.
- Get started with the Restart Readiness Checklist, working with others in management to identify which checklist items apply to your business. Revisit the list as you make progress on items and as conditions in your area change.
- Select protective measures in the Worker Protection Tool, based on the nature of your employees’ interactions with other workers and/or the public. Consider whether multiple categories apply to your business, then work through those items.
- Share the Returning to Work Infographic with employees.
Depending on your business, consider the following ways of incorporating the infographic into the workplace:
- Print and post in common areas such as break rooms, hallways, elevators, or bathrooms.
- Email to employees, encouraging them to print a copy and place it where they will see it often in their office or workspace.
- Read content during team meetings, reminding employees to reach out with any questions.
Restart Readiness Checklist
PLEASE DOWNLOAD THE PDF PACKET TO VIEW CHECKLIST
Keep yourself and others safe from COVID-19 when returning to work
Clean your hands often
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and after using others’ or shared equipment.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact
- Put distance (at least 6 feet) between yourself and other people.
- Wear cloth face coverings (if appropriate) when social distancing is difficult to maintain.
- Avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. Clean and disinfect between employees if sharing occurs.
- Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
If you are at increased risk for severe illness…
- Contact management to request special accommodations that will allow you to perform your job duties safely.
At this morning’s Board of Director’s meeting, we discussed current events and the group decided we needed to make a statement.
Here’s what we know:
- COVID-19 infected 1.7 million in America, killing 103,000 as of June 1, 2020 per CDC.
- Our distressed economy now has 40,000,000 who have filed for unemployment.
Some citizens have demonstrated to “reopen our economy and restore freedoms.”
- A handcuffed African American man died under the knee of a police officer.
During a citizen’s arrest, an unarmed African American is shot to death.
- A white woman calls police when a black man asks her to leash her dog.
George Floyd demonstrations turn into violent riots in several American cities.
- We are very encouraged Salem County has shown demonstrations can be both impactful and peaceful.
- National Guard troops are deployed across the nation, in at least 16 states.
- As of May 31, at least four people have died in demonstrations and rioting.
- Property losses, while quite secondary to loss of life, mount into the billions.
Your Chamber Board has prepared the following for our businesses and residents:
- First, to safeguard against COVID-19 wear your mask, distance, and wash. This will demonstrate your concern for yourselves and protect others. Some are confident the disease has diminished and we can go back to “normal.” Safety first!
- Second, be patient and kind to businesses and their staff. Understand we are all learning and adjusting to new requirements and new ways of doing business.
- Third, we will actively work to avoid societal assumptions such as using ethnicity and race as descriptors. People are people, not a black man, Hispanic woman, African American. It is all our responsibility to hear the words of demonstrators. Failure to listen exacerbates the frustration.
- Fourth, we believe in the maxim “it’s not my fault, but I am responsible.” George Floyd didn’t die at my hand but I have a responsibility in his death. At this time, I don’t know how to address the situation, but I know it is my charge. Perhaps it is as simple as trying to understand. Be the change you want to see in the world.
This is not a political statement. We share the planet with far more good people than bad. It’s time that caring, concern, empathy, and humanity come forward. Doing nothing is not an option. It is long past time we all play an active role in creating a world filled with peace, love and respect or all of humanity.
Restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining & other retail may reopen with precautions.
SALONS & BARBER SHOPS CAN REOPEN!!! (With precautions)
The Small Business Administration issued additional guidance regarding the required good faith certification of need by borrowers under the Paycheck Protection Program, providing safe harbor to all recipients of less than $2 million in loan proceeds.
The guidance also addresses ramifications for borrowers of more than $2 million that are determined to have lacked an adequate basis for their certification.
Coronavirus Resource Center Update
Our Coronavirus Resources
Page features the latest information on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
And the Cares act:
Visit regularly for links to free webinars, alerts and other practical guidance to help leaders of companies of all sizes solve their COVID-19 challenges.
Return to Work
Keep up to date on state back-to-work initiatives and the broader labor and employment law implications of re-engaging the economy during the COVID-19 health emergency, in this article by Jenny Fuller.
Employee Retention Credit
Get the details on how businesses of any size can qualify for CARES Act tax credits designed to help companies keep employees on the payroll in an alert by Michael Bookbinder and Maureen Monaghan.
Learn best practices for conducting videoconference depositions in an alert by Jeff MacHarg, John Reis and Jon Heyl on a North Carolina law that allows notaries to administer oaths remotely.
Examine OSHA’s tips for restaurants to reduce health risk when offering curbside pickup and takeout in this alert by Jonathan Ash, Wayne Pinkstone and Carolyn Richmond.
Visit our Aviation Practice’s Plane-ly Spoken blog for a detailed list of resources for companies in the industry that are planning to resume or expand operations.
Paycheck Protection Program
Navigate the loan program’s compliance requirements and get tips on minimizing False Claims Act liability in an alert by Jana Volante Walshak.
Learn about the Small Business Administration’s newly released guidance regarding borrowers’ good faith certification of need in an alert by Christopher Pippett, Melissa Sanders and Jared Schwass.
Litigation Risk Mitigation
With a wave of COVID-19 personal injury lawsuits on the horizon, get a roadmap for mitigating the risk of litigation in an alert by *Chris Michael Temple *and Michael Zukowski.
Get details on the latest IRS Notices relaxing employee benefit rules for cafeteria plans and flexible spending accounts in an alert by Susan Foreman Jordan and Michael McNally.
Prepare to resume limited or full operations with an alert by* Mark McCreary *covering FEMA’s Issues Planning Exercise Starter Kit.
State Reopening Plans
Track recent developments in state reopening plans with back-to-work updates on
Agencies have not begun accepting forgiveness applications for the PPP Loans, however, they released what the application will look like on Friday:
It follows the same basic requirements that they have been stating throughout the process. The loan funds must be used for payroll (25% of which can be used for approved non-payroll expenses) loan proceeds must be used within 8 weeks (56 days) beginning from the date funds were received. They will be doing employee headcounts, in an effort to enforce payroll restoration. If your employee headcount is reduced, so too will be the portion of the loan that can be forgiven.
Your Help Needed to contact Governor Murphy to express support to reopen ALL Salem County Businesses. For complete details, click on the link to view. Please SHARE with others in the business community: https://conta.cc/36aSmL0
As you are aware, many government restrictions have been put in place to control the spread of coronavirus over the last few months. We are now preparing to re-open Salem County in a measured and safe manner.
Therefore, as discussed during the May 6, 2020 Freeholder Meeting, we have formed the Salem County Re-Opening Task Force to address the economic, social and community issues associated with public health crisis. Freeholders Charles Hassler and Mickey Ostrum, liaisons to the Economic Development Council, are working with this group. The first task was to contact Governor Phil Murphy requesting that Salem County be allowed to reopen. This was done last week with a letter outlining our needs as a rural county and the lack of financial help from the government. We stressed that this can be done with social distancing guidelines in place.
This is an unprecedented time for Salem County. We are forging new roads now and will continue to do so after the pandemic. We are entertaining all ideas for safe business practices. Our Task Force members are listed below. Please contact any of them with your ideas for operating safely during these exceptional times.
Salem County Re-Opening Task Force
John Bibeau, President, Tri-County Pest Control
Sean Elwell, Mayor, Elsinboro Township
Martin Erder, Owner, Hitchner’s Furniture
Charles Hassler, Salem County Freeholder
Christina Humphreys, Executive VP, Fulton Bank
Jennifer Jones, Executive Director, Salem County Chamber of Commerce
Lou Joyce, Director, South Jersey Economic Development District
Kenny Krycicki, Sr., Owner, Quick Snips II Salon
Kathleen Mills, Director, Salem County Economic Development, Cultural Affairs & Tourism Gordon Ostrum, Salem County Freeholder
Mark Valente, Chair, Salem County Economic Development Advisory Council
Honorable Gov. Murphy:
On behalf of the Salem County Freeholders, the Salem County Chamber of Commerce and our county-wide Re-Opening Task Force, we submit for your consideration reasons to open Salem County small businesses in a safe and diligent way. It is concern for our residents’ welfare that we write to you during this pandemic.
Our health department is hard at work at our test site and is monitoring the COVID-19 spread, which to date has infected less than .6% of our population.
Unique to the rest of the State, Salem County is primarily rural. Residential, commercial, and industrial usage occupies only 12% of our total land usage. Agriculture occupies 48% and the balance is comprised of park, wildlife management areas, meadows, and water. So, as you can see, we are truly rural.
As a rural area our big business is our small businesses. With few large retailers, we rely extensively on small businesses. Small business in Salem County is defined as sole proprietorships and businesses with 15 employees or less. This makes up 96% of our business profile. Consequently, our unemployment rate has risen from the pre-pandemic level of 5.3% to a current 15.6 % and continues to rise. Prior to COVID-19 our County lagged in all measurable indices since the 2008 recession. This pandemic has hit us extremely hard.
Recent surveys of local businesses assure us that they are prepared to open, prioritizing the safety of the public and employees. Using CDC guidelines, they are ready to operate within Federal guidelines with adherence to social distancing, proper PPE, employee monitoring, proper sanitation, and disinfection. As the States of Delaware and Rhode Island begin to open we can take lessons from their plans and their progress.
We have conducted a survey which indicates a loss of income, over 9 million dollars from small business respondents, (5.14.20) and revealed that only 45% of applying businesses have received any financial assistance from State or Federal COVID-19 programs. Local businesses with licenses in adjoining States can work there, but are unable to work similar jobs in New Jersey, a loss of tax revenue. We continue to lose business to the State of Delaware. We were not designated in the first round of the funding that came to New Jersey from the Federal government – this has left us disappointed and with minimal resources. The pain is real and growing worse.
We understand the Road Back’s 6 principles and benchmarks and believe public health is critical to a full recovery of the economy. Our unique economy is not built to be sustainable while our neighbors to the North, with large dense populations and more diverse economies, work their way back.
Please consider Salem County as unique to New Jersey and a perfect place to begin the road back for our State. As we ensure our success, we can inspire other counties to a fuller reopening with lessons learned. We are not a tourist destination and our farms are spread across 373 square miles, limiting the number of outsiders which come to our community. Of our working residents, 72% work in the County. Primarily we are local businesses selling to residents. We have identified resources for local businesses to operate in a safe manner as they return to service and have a campaign ready to go promoting our small business resources and the Shop Local theme.
Please consider this request as the nation moves forward to strike a balance between economic hardship and reducing the spread of COVID-19. Let Salem County open our businesses within CDC and Federal government guidelines as soon as possible. Know we are first and foremost concerned with safeguarding the health and welfare of our residents. We are ready to go – just give us the word!
Original Article: https://www.njadvancemedia.com/hr-resource-for-new-jersey-businesses/
NJ Advance Media continues to be committed to both readers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses and employees face a time of crisis, with furloughs and layoffs continuing, our readers are turning to NJ.com for information.
Meet Karin Price Mueller, our consumer affairs and personal finance columnist on NJ.com. Karin has been busy providing NJ.com readers, and the New Jersey workforce, with helpful advice and resources. As a partner to businesses, we’d like to call your attention to this helpful content for both you and your employees as we face these difficult times.
SOME SAMPLES OF RECENT COVERAGE
- Can’t reach N.J. unemployment? Labor Dept. launches new tool to help.
- Still waiting for stimulus? There’s a new deadline to give the IRS your direct deposit information.
- My company reopened. Can I collect unemployment if I refuse to go back?
- N.J. workers who exhausted unemployment benefits will have to wait longer for extended payments.
And the list goes on…
Gov. Phil Murphy today announced the first steps being made to reopen sectors of New Jersey’s economy.
Among the initial first steps, announced by the governor at his daily press briefing: Easing restrictions on non-essential construction, subject to social distancing and mitigation protocols. It will take effect at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 18 and will include all types of construction previously shut down via Executive Order 122.
Curbside pick-up will be permitted starting at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 18 for all non-essential retail establishments previously closed via Executive Order 107 and is available via both vehicle and on foot.
Vehicle gatherings are permitted effective immediately, subject to certain social distancing requirements. This includes drive-in or drive-through events such as movie theaters, church services, and farms.
The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) is the crown jewel of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”). The CARES Act allocates $349 billion to the PPP loan initiative in an effort to stabilize small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak and to allow them to retain their workforces while weathering the Coronavirus storm. But while $349 billion is a staggering number, it is unlikely to be enough to satisfy the demand for capital. The appropriated funds will go fast, and it is a first-come, first-served program. Indeed, reports are already indicating that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is seeking an additional $250 billion for the PPP loan program.
Applications for PPP loans were available for submission on April 3rd. Processing began in earnest for small businesses and sole proprietorships this week. The U.S. Small Business Administration (the “SBA”) is opening up applications for independent contractors and self-employed individuals starting April 10th. The PPP gold rush is on and there is plenty of confusion and chaos to go with it. With many PPP borrowers having received their loan proceeds, or receiving them soon, what should borrowers be doing after receiving their loan? Here are five things that need to be on that list.
1) Ensure That The PPP Funds Are Used Only For Allowable Uses
The CARES Act requires that a PPP loan recipient certify that the funds will be used for purposes that are authorized under the act. In the rush to claim PPP funds, recipients should not lose sight of the legal restrictions on the use of those funds.
Indeed, the SBA issued an Interim Final Rule on April 2, 2020 that requires PPP applicants to certify that “[t]he funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or make mortgage interest payments, lease payments, and utility payments.” And that requirement comes with a warning: knowingly using the funds for unauthorized purposes may lead to charges of fraud. In fact, there are a host of potential federal crimes that could apply for misusing funds or making false statements about the intended use of the funds.
There are other considerations as well. If a PPP loan is used for unauthorized purposes, the loan can be converted into a recourse liability. That is, the SBA may be able to come after the loan recipient or its shareholders, members, or partners for an unpaid loan if they use the PPP funds for unauthorized purposes. In addition, the recipient will not qualify for the loan forgiveness provisions.
2) Work Closely With Tax Professionals To Maximize The Forgivable Amount
The full PPP loan balance may be forgiven if the loan proceeds are used for a discrete group of costs during the 8-week period following the loan. Loan recipients need to work closely with their tax professionals to ensure that they maximize the forgivable amount of the loan. This requires properly documenting the use and allocation of the funds. As part of this effort, borrowers may want to segregate the funds and take steps to ensure that proper accounting mechanisms are in place.
The PPP loan can be forgiven to the extent that it is used on the following categories of costs during the 8-week period:
Interest on mortgage obligations incurred before February 15, 2020;
Rent payments on leases dated before February 15, 2020; and
Utility payments under service agreements dated before February 15, 2020
Borrowers need to stay abreast of the Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) and SBA guidance on these issues. For example, the SBA, in its April 2, 2020 Interim Rule, announced that no more than 25% of the loan forgiveness amount can be attributable to non-payroll costs. While that requirement does not appear on the face of the CARES Act itself, the SBA and Treasury imposed this requirement to align the finite resources available to fund the PPP loan program with the overriding Congressional intent to keep workers paid and employed. Borrowers will need to work closely with their tax professionals to ensure that they are both spending the funds on the proper categories and—just as importantly—that they are able to document and demonstrate this in the future, especially if the PPP funds are commingled with other operating funds.
In addition, borrowers need to ensure that they do not run afoul of any of the CARES Act’s limitation provisions that scale back PPP loan forgiveness. This includes ensuring that they do not unnecessarily trigger the limitations based on reductions in employee count or reductions in an employee’s salary or wages. Borrowers may be able to avoid these limitations through careful planning. Borrowers may also be able to course correct for pre-loan layoffs or furloughs in order to avoid reduced eligibility for the forgiveness provisions. Again, this may require careful and quick planning.
3) Maintain Proper Documentation To Substantiate Costs.
Document, document, document. Did I mention, document? Borrowers need to maintain documentation of the use of their PPP funds. The CARES Act expressly requires that the borrower be able to adequately document the use of the funds in order to obtain forgiveness.
Borrowers will ultimately be required to submit a request for loan forgiveness to the lender that is servicing the loan. The request will need to include a number of items, such as documentation to verify the number of full-time employees and their pay rates, as well as documentation to prove expenditures on eligible mortgages, leases, and utility obligations. This documentation may include cancelled checks, payment receipts, transcripts of accounts, and other documentation. If history teaches anything, it is that regulators tend to give more focus to the documentation requirements once the smoke has cleared and the underlying emergency has subsided. Borrowers should not overlook the need to document and substantiate. Maintain copies of those payroll records, invoices, and utility bills.
4) Look For Additional Tax Savings Under The CARES Act.
In the rush to get their foot in the door for PPP loans, many borrowers have not yet had a chance to consider whether they may qualify for other tax breaks under the CARES Act. Borrowers need to take the time to consider how those potential tax breaks might augment their PPP loans. Or better yet, borrowers should consult with a tax professional to ensure that they maximize the tax relief available under the Act.
The CARES Act provides businesses with a number of potential tax breaks. For example, the CARES Act retroactively amended the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act of 2017 (“TCJA”) to remove some not-so-helpful restrictions. The CARES Act specifically increased the ability to deduct net operating losses—often referred to as “NOLs.” Under the TCJA, NOLs related to 2018 and later years generally could not be carried back to prior years. The CARES Act changed that. It allows taxpayers to carry back NOLs from 2018, 2019 and 2020 to the prior five years. The idea is to allow taxpayers to file amended returns and get cash refunds now—when they need it most.
The CARES Act also did away with restrictions that applied to non-corporate taxpayers on something known as excess-loss deductions. Taxpayers that suffered serious losses in 2018 or 2019 may have unused excess losses. Thanks to the CARES Act, they will now be able to use those losses more quickly.
The CARES Act loosened the rules that limit business interest deduction. The Act basically allows some taxpayers to deduct additional business interest expenses. Under the TCJA, some taxpayers were only able to deduct business interest expenses up to a limit that was calculated by summing (i) business interest income, (ii) 30% of “adjusted taxable income” (essentially EBIDTA for tax years beginning before 2022), and (iii) “floor plan financing interest.” The CARES Act increases the 30% limitation to 50% for tax years beginning in 2019 and 2020. Increased interest expenses may cut down on a business’s tax bill and may even create a NOL. That may be particularly helpful because NOLs can now be carried back to pre-TCJA tax years and used to offset income that was subject to a higher tax rate.
Finally, the CARES Act accelerates the ability for corporations to use alternative minimum tax (AMT) credits. Under the new provisions, companies are able to claim AMT credits for as early as the 2018 tax year. This provides yet another mechanism to get cash quickly during the COVID-19 epidemic.
5) File an Application With The Bank After the 8-Week Period To Request Forgiveness Of Loan Amounts.
Finally, PPP borrowers will need to file an application with their bank after the 8-week period. By that time, if they have been following the guidance above, that should be a relatively easy process. Banks are required to make the forgiveness determination within a 60-day period after the application is submitted.
Keep in mind that a representative of the business will be required to submit a certification providing, among other things, that the amount for which forgiveness is requested was used for appropriate purposes.
And, just to end on a high note, do not forget: Loans that are forgiven under the PPP are not subject to federal taxation as discharge-of-indebtedness income. The CARES Act specifically excludes them from gross income.
The Pascale Sykes Foundation and New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) announced the expansion of the THRIVE South Jersey Initiative (THRIVE) to meet the immediate needs of small businesses and nonprofits critically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through THRIVE South Jersey, an initiative developed to address economic hardship in the targeted four-county region of Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, and Western Atlantic Counties, small businesses in South Jersey can apply for zero-based interest rate loans and receive approval and funding within 10-14 days of application — delivering immediate relief in unprecedented times. NJCC used its experience helping small businesses recover after Hurricane Sandy to form this innovative approach to providing emergency assistance through THRIVE.
“We know that small businesses are the heart of our communities and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many are encountering unexpected challenges in a rapidly changing market,” said Wayne Meyer, president of NJCC. “Consistent with our mission, this expansion of THRIVE ensures that small businesses and nonprofits are provided with equitable and inclusive opportunities for relief, stability, and growth. We believe that small businesses are the lifeline of the New Jersey economy.”
“Our cross-sector approach is critical to driving this work forward and getting small businesses what they need quickly to stay open and operational during this crisis that we’re all facing,” said Frances Sykes, president and CEO of the Pascale Sykes Foundation, a champion of the Whole Family Approach. “Furthermore, we recognize that the economic fallout that this pandemic has caused is greatly impacting working families, many which rely on small businesses for access to essential items and for employment. Keeping small businesses afloat is a way to also help families and communities stay afloat. We’re proud to expand our partnership with NJCC and hope to provide some relief to local residents and businesses.”
Applying lessons learned from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Foundation and NJCC recognized that small businesses required access to immediate funding with low interest rates in order to survive the economic setbacks resulting from COVID-19. Small businesses and nonprofits often lack access to traditional sources of capital. Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) like NJCC are uniquely positioned to provide accessible and affordable financing to communities that are disproportionately affected during a crisis.
Some small businesses have already benefited in South Jersey. Owners Bob and Carey Hettmannsperger of Essl’s Dugout, a restaurant located in Egg Harbor Township, shared how the loan is helping them keep their business afloat during this challenging time: “We are very grateful for the opportunity to be supported by our local community. Funding secured through THRIVE South Jersey will help us to continue serving many of our patrons and keep the legacy of this staple institution alive during this time of uncertainty. It’s good to see New Jersey working together. This is a win for small businesses.”
NJCC partnered with the Pascale Sykes Foundation in 2014 to launch THRIVE South Jersey, as part of Pascale Sykes’s South Jersey Strengthening Families Initiative. Over the years, THRIVE has offered flexible, affordable capital and capacity building assistance to generate quality jobs and improve economic opportunity across the four-county area. Its funding model, which provides cross-sector financial support, can be replicated in other states facing similar challenges.
To those businesses located in areas outside of the THRIVE market, a 3% interest rate loan is available for eligible applicants through the Garden State Relief Fund, a $20 million statewide program managed by NJCC. This funding leverages and complements state- and federal-level relief programs to ensure that resources reach the small businesses and nonprofits in communities with the greatest needs.
Eligible small businesses must have three to 50 full-time employees and be located in Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, and Western Atlantic Counties to meet the criteria for the no-cost loan. There are roughly 50 small businesses that have applied to date. To submit an application, complete this form and return via email to further information regarding this initiative and the Garden State Relief Fund, please contact New Jersey Community Capital at 732.640.2061, ext. 143 or by email at .
Original article: https://pascalesykesfoundation.com/pascale-sykes-foundation-and-new-jersey-community-capital-expand-thrive-south-jersey-initiative-to-support-small-businesses-during-covid-19-pandemic/
The Salem County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Salem Community College, is offering free access to job seekers AND employers in the Salem County area using SCC’s College Central Network site. CCN offers a wide array of tools and resources, including webinars, articles, resume building tools, and local and national job boards.
Congress has reached a new deal to replenish funds to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aiding small businesses working through financial hardships brought on by COVID-19. The new PPP and Health Care Enhancement Act was signed into law on Friday by the President after receiving bipartisan support in the House and Senate. The SBA began accepting applications again this morning, although funding is expected to run out within days. Companies are encouraged to apply regardless in case additional funding becomes available in the future.
Provisions include new safeguards to work against unfair apportioning and more money allocated for small businesses and community lenders. It is strongly advised that those interested in applying begin gathering materials and working with their bank to ensure fast submission once the Small Business Administration reopens enrollment.