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COVID-19 Business Resources
On behalf of the Westmoreland County COVID-19 Leadership Team, this page is collaboratively maintained by the Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce, Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland and the Westmoreland County Industrial Development Corporation. All three organizations have staff working remotely during the COVID-19 response.
NAVIGATING THE COVID-19 ECONOMY
May 26-29: Free Webinar Series to Provide Guidance for Organizations Reopening for Business
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is offering a free, five-part webinar series May 26-29 to help organizations prepare a safe work environment, ensure employee safety and determine how to operate in this new business landscape. This series will cover important regulations and guide businesses through a safe re-opening process. At the end of this series, organizations will receive a course-completion certificate that demonstrates that the company has attended all five parts and has put forth a good-faith effort to educate itself on these topics. To register or for more information, click here.
How COVID-19 Will Trigger Global Supply Chain Realignment … and What To Do About It
Pittsburgh-based Catalyst Connection is freely sharing an international-business webinar with key insights into how COVID-19 will trigger global supply chain realignment. In the webinar, Dennis Unkovic — partner at Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP — and David Iwinski, managing director of Blue Water Growth LLC, share their expertise in how manufacturers can handle supply chain challenges and how to seize the new opportunities that exist. Click here for the video.
State Guidance for ’Yellow Phase’ Business Operations
Gov. Tom Wolf has released guidance for businesses that are planning to conduct in-person operations in counties that have been designated for the "yellow phase" of reopening. This applies to all businesses — including nonprofits — that are permitted to conduct in-person operations. To view the state guidance, click here. NOTE: Westmoreland County is scheduled to move to the "yellow phase" on Friday, May 15. For the governor’s yellow-phase announcement, click here.
Catalyst Connection’s COVID-19 Back to Work Playbook
This 28-page PDF offers guidance on 16 topics — such as plant-opening protocols, inbound parts/material/packages and return-to-work training plans — of interest to businesses that are preparing to reopen. To view the PDF, click here.
Understanding the State’s ’Red | Yellow | Green’ Plan for a Phased Reopening of the Economy
Click here for an explanation of the three-tiered approach that the Wolf Administration is taking to reopening the state economy. This page details the work and social restrictions of each phase.
CDC Resources for Employers
The Centers for Disease Control currently offers the following resources to businesses and employers:
- Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019
- Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations
Previous Announcements and Guidance from the State
- Here’s the link to Gov. Wolf’s March 19 order that non-life-sustaining businesses close physical locations.
- On April 15, the state Department of Health issued guidance on precautions that essential businesses can take to protect employees. Click here to view the PDF file. Also, the state released this nine-page PDF of frequently asked questions clarifying that order.
- Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, issued a set of disease-control measures for maintaining and cleaning buildings for businesses that have been authorized to continue operating on-site under Gov. Tom Wolf’s March 19 non-life-sustaining business closure order. These measures — which are for owners of buildings of at least 50,000 SF that are used for commercial, industrial or other enterprises — took effect April 6.
- The U.S. Department of Labor and the Department of Health and Human Services have a 33-page Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 PDF available for download.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce provides up-to-date information and resources to prevent the spread of the virus and prepare businesses for the near and long-term impact.
April 24 update: After a lapse in appropriations that halted the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the federal government approved a second round of funding for both programs.
Paycheck Protection Program
Businesses can apply for PPP loans of up to 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs of the previous calendar year, with a $10 million cap. The SBA will forgive these loans for recipients that keep all employees on the payroll for eight weeks and use the money for approved uses.
Applications are processed by existing SBA 7(a) lenders or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. To ensure that more small businesses receive aid during this round of funding, Congress specified in the bill that the president signed into law April 24 that $30 billion is for community lenders, small banks and credit unions. Another $30 billion is earmarked for medium-sized banks and credit unions. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating in the program.
Click here for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program webpage. For a U.S. Chamber of Commerce summary of the program, click here.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Small businesses and nonprofits that have been harmed by the coronavirus can apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans via https://sba.gov/disaster. EIDLs have rates of 3.75 percent for businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits and are capped at $2 million, with term of up to 30 years. For information concerning SBA’s disaster funding, click here. Businesses with questions about the funding should contact the SBA Pittsburgh District Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has provided three documents to help with the process:
- A three-step overview of the SBA Disaster Loan process,
- A summary of terms of the disaster assistance, and
- A notice to lenders, CDCs and microloan intermediaries regarding deferments on SBA 7(a) and 504 business loans and microloans.
To view a one-page EIDL summary from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.
Understanding the Employee-Retention Tax Credit
The CARES Act created a new employee-retention tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19. Click here for a PDF guide from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act
Where does a business owner begin when trying to understand the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act that Congress just passed? Thanks to the Senate Small Business Committee and the Western Pennsylvania Partnership of Chambers, we’ve got you covered. This 11-page Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act helps business owners understand the scope of the act. For details on the Paycheck Protection Program, Emergency Economic Injury Grants and the Small Business Debt Relief Program — as well as small-business counseling, contracting, tax provision and more — you’ll want to download this PDF file.
OTHER FINANCIAL AID
Innovation Works to Administer Technology Development Grants for Southwestern PA
The state Department of Community and Economic Development is working with Innovation Works to provide $2 million in funding to Southwestern PA tech start-ups that previously have received funding from Innovation Works or the state during the COVID-19 economic downtown. According to the Pittsburgh Business Times (paywall), Innovation Works will split the funding between as many as 40 companies. Innovation Works is one of four regional DCED Ben Franklin Technology Partners administering the Technology Development Grants. The DCED contributed $1 million to each region, and each of those partners is providing $1 million in matching funds.
PIDA COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program
April 27 update: Contrary to a recent local news report, the PIDA COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program is not currently accepting applications. We will update this item if that changes.
The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program has disbursed all of its initial funding. We will update this information if the state government allocates more funds for this program to provide zero-percent-interest loans.
PORTALS FOR THE STATE’S COORDINATED COVID-19 RESPONSE
DCED Unveils B2B Directory to Connect Manufacturers of COVID-19-Related Products
The Department of Community and Economic Development has unveiled its Business-to-Business Interchange Directory, which is intended to connect organizations and businesses directly to manufacturers of COVID-19-related products and supplies. At its April 18 launch, the directory included manufacturers of N95, fabric and surgical masks. Additional supplies and materials will be added to the directory as the DCED identifies potential manufacturers. Businesses that wish to be added to the directory should email RA-DCEDPAMCTAP@pa.gov.
PA Department of Labor & Industry’s Job-Hiring Portal
Pennsylvanians who are looking for work can find businesses that currently are hiring through the PA COVID-19 Job Hiring Portal, which went live on April 13. The site is updated daily and features listings of businesses that meet the criteria of a life-sustaining business and that have more than 10 job openings. The site isn’t just for job-seekers; employers who meet the life-sustaining-business criteria can post job openings through the site. The COVID-19 Job Hiring Portal is part of the PA CareerLink system.
DCED’s Manufacturing Call to Action Portal
The Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development wants to mobilize manufacturers that can produce critical medical supplies and products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a current manufacturer of supplies and products or are able to pivot your existing manufacturing capabilities to meet the necessary demand, the DCED wants to hear from you. The portal enables the state to match manufacturers and distributors to fill specific supply chain needs to meet increasing demands for medical supplies and related products; assist manufacturers that have workforce needs or gaps and aid them in identifying skilled workers; and identify manufacturers that can pivot or innovate to fulfill the demand for medical supplies and related products. Click here to access the Manufacturing Call to Action Portal.
PA Dept. of Human Services Feeding, Sheltering Survey
Can your business help feed or shelter Pennsylvanians in need and/or pets during the COVID-19 response? The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is collecting information on capabilities across the state so it can match people in need with available resources. This survey is for planning and possible implementation of any type of response related to COVID-19. For instance, a hotel could be used by first responders or to temporarily house the homeless or to quarantine patients, etc. If the DHS would select your site, you would be reimbursed for disaster-related expenses. Click here submit your information via the survey.
Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Available to Self-Employed Workers, Independent Contractors
Pennsylvania’s self-employed workers and independent contractors are eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. This temporary federal program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits for those who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits. For details or to apply, click here.
Filing for Unemployment
Unemployment claims are processed by the state government. You can start the process by clicking here.
Employees should be aware that they may be eligible through the Family Medical Leave Act for days off if they are diagnosed or are treating someone who is diagnosed. Employees also may have access to vacation, personal and/or sick paid days off; again, talk with your employer. Employees should discuss those scenarios with their employers.
Pennsylvania’s Shared-Work Program Offers Innovative Alternative to Layoffs
Shared-work plans enable employers to temporarily reduce the work hours of employees and divide the available hours equally rather than laying off any employees. Those employees who are covered by a shared-work plan receive a percentage of their unemployment compensation weekly benefit amount while they work the reduced schedule, if they are otherwise eligible for unemployment compensation. For details on Pennsylvania’s Shared-Work Program, click here.
Deadline to File Taxes Has Been Pushed to July 15
The deadline for filing (and paying) federal and state 2019 taxes has been pushed back to July 15. So far, the state has made only very focused changes or delays related to taxes. Click here for info on the IRS response to COVID-19. For the latest tax developments at the state-level, see the state Department of Revenue webpage.
Forbearance on Student Loans
Student-loan borrowers may be eligible to temporarily stop making payments on their loans. For details, see the U.S. Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid office.