COVID-19 Business Resources

COVID-Business-Resource-web

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.

Chamber — Facebook | Twitter | email

EGC — Facebook  | Twitter | LinkedIn | email

IDC — Facebook  | Twitter | LinkedIn | email

  1. Guide to CARES Act

    Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act

    Where should you begin when trying to understand how the $2 trillion federal CARES Act can help your business? The Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act is a pretty good starting point. Read on...
  2. PIDA loan

    PIDA approves COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program

    The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority board has approved guidelines for a new emergency response program that provides zero-percent interest loans of up to $100,000 with terms of three years. Read on...
  3. SBA loan

    SBA Is Taking Applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans

    Small businesses and nonprofits that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus now can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan. Read on...
  4. Shared Work

    PA’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. Read on...
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CORONAVIRUS AID, RELIEF, AND ECONOMIC SECURITY ACT

How the CARES Act can Help Small Businesses Maintain Payroll

Congress allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed. For a U.S. Chamber of Commerce summary of the Paycheck Protection Program — which provides loan forgiveness to borrowers who maintain payrolls during the crisis and restore their payrolls afterward — click here. Small businesses and sole proprietors can begin applying April 3; independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply starting April 10.

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.

FOR MEDICAL MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS & SUPPLIERS

Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal

Pennsylvania needs critical medical supplies. To fulfill this need, several state agencies and departments have developed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Critical Medical Supplies Procurement Portal to source the most needed medical supplies. This portal is for manufacturers, distributors and other suppliers to inform the state of supplies available for purchase. It will enable state agencies to efficiently procure these supplies for hospitals and medical facilities across Pennsylvania.

The web portal includes a list of needed supplies, contact information and a procurement form that businesses can fill out to inform the state of the supplies they have available. Click here to access the portal.

FINANCIAL AID, LOW-INTEREST LOANS, TAX CHANGES

PIDA approves COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program

The Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority board has approved guidelines for a new emergency response program that provides zero-percent interest loans of up to $100,000 with terms of three years. This COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program will be administered through PIDA, which requires all loan applications to be submitted through a certified economic development organization. For Westmoreland County, applications must be submitted through the Economic Growth Connection of Westmoreland

The CWCA Program is available to small businesses located in the state that employ 100 or fewer full-time employees worldwide, including businesses in the agricultural, service and hospitality sectors. In addition to the loan application documents, applicants will need to provide:

  • Individual Credit Reports – For any individual with an ownership stake of 20 percent or more in the operating entity. (EGC can pull these, if needed; there’s a fee $50 fee to do so.)
  • One Year of Tax Returns – Most recent year-end, accountant-prepared financial statements or most recent filed tax returns.
  • All Invoices AND Signed General Ledger Details – There currently are questions as to which to include. Have both ready to send to ensure we have all necessary information.

The maximum loan amount will be $100,000 for working capital with a zero-percent interest rate, subject to the statutory requirement for the agriculture sector, and a term of three years. These loans will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. These are used to reimburse businesses for working capital expenses incurred within the past three months (50 percent of expenses for retail/service sector businesses for the prior six months up to a maximum of $100,000).

To view the program guidelines PDF, click here. To download the application files, click here. (Note: The application files are in a zipped archive; some smart phones and tablets might not be able to open it.) To view the PIDA page for the CWCA program, click here.

To ensure the quickest possible turn-around on funding, the EGC asks applicants to submit only COMPLETE applications. Anything less than a fully complete application will greatly slow down processing and may negatively impact the applicant’s ability to access funding.

All loan applications should be submitted to Disaster@egcw.org. Please contact any of the following ECG staff with questions:

SBA Is Taking Applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Update: The CARES Act — which was signed into law on March 27, 2020 — expands the SBA EIDL program. To view a one-page summary from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, click here.

On March 19, the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance approved the statewide disaster declaration application submitted by Gov. Tom Wolf’s office. Small businesses and nonprofits that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus now can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan via https://sba.gov/disaster. These low-interest loans — which have rates of 3.75 percent for businesses and 2.75 percent for nonprofits — can be for up to $2 million, with term of up to 30 years.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has provided three documents to help with the process:

For information concerning SBA’s disaster funding, see https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance. Businesses with questions about the funding should contact the SBA Pittsburgh District Office at wpainfo@sba.gov.

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.

WORKPLACE SAFETY

PA Health Secretary’s Issues Building-Safety Measures to Combat COVID-19

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. The measures took effect April 6.

These measures are for owners of buildings of at least 50,000 SF that are used for commercial, industrial or other enterprises. In addition to maintaining pre-existing cleaning protocols, the order outlines these new protocols:

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch areas routinely in accordance with CDC guidelines, in spaces that are accessible to customers, tenants, or other individuals.
  • Maintain pre-existing cleaning protocols established in the facility for all other areas of the building.
  • Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of employees to perform the above protocols effectively and in a manner that ensures the safety of occupants and employees.
  • Ensure that the facility has a sufficient number of security employees to control access, maintain order and enforce social distancing of at least 6 feet, provided the security employees are otherwise responsible for such enforcement.

CDC Resources for Employers

The Centers for Disease Control currently offers the following resources to businesses and employers:

OSHA/Health and Human Services — Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19

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.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Workplace Tips, Guidance for Employers

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.

NON-LIFE-SUSTAINING BUSINESS CLOSURES

Gov. Wolf’s Order that Non-Life-Sustaining Businesses Close

Here’s the link to Gov. Wolf’s March 19 order that non-life-sustaining businesses close physical locations.

The Wolf Administration has set up a waiver process for those who believe their company should be considered a life-sustaining-business. The state has established two email accounts to handle questions related to this order:

  • ra-dcedcs@pa.gov – resource account for questions about whether businesses need to close
  • RA-dcexemption@pa.gov – resource account for businesses that want to apply for a waiver and want information on the process

PA BUSINESS INFO

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.

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.

NOTE: During this national disaster declaration, it is likely that independent contractors are covered. They should check the guidelines.

MISCELLANEOUS

Employment Opportunities

As of Tuesday, March 25, PA CareerLink lists more than 2,600 job openings for Westmoreland County. While it’s likely that several of those postings were placed before the full economic impact of COVID-19 was upon us, a local rep from PA CareerLink noted that many listings had been added recently. Health care, transportation and warehouse workers are particularly in demand.

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.