RESOURCES for Businesses affected by COVID-19
We are here to assist you and your employees in any way possible.
Below are a variety of very helpful business resources, and we are adding to the list as quickly as we get information in.
The Latest: 3 things you need to know today...
1) WNY has entered Phase 4 of Re-opening as of 6/29/20!
-REMINDER ALL BUSINESSES MUST COMPLETE A SAFETY PLAN TO RE-OPEN AND IT MUST BE POSTED, templates can be found for each industry at https://www.niagaracountybusiness.com/business-reopening-guidelines
-Guidelines are now available https://forward.ny.gov
-Businesses can begin reviewing and completing the affirmation now.
-For more infomation visit: www.niagaracountybusiness.com
2)Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program has Re-opened!
Applications are being accepted NOW! Call the Niagara SBDC office at 716-210-2515 for assistance or visit this link for more info https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/
The NCCC Small Business Development Center is available to offer loan application guidance or to assist you with the application process. You can reach them at (716) 210-2515 or at [email protected].
3) The Niagara SBDC is hosting a free "PPP Forgivness Review" webinar on July 1st.
2 times to chose from, 9am or 3pm.
FREE Business Virtual Series - Session N°2 - Flipping your live product/service to virtual solution
This is a 6-session series starts right from the beginning and progresses to help you learn how to get your business running in our new virtual world.
Registration is required for every Thursday session.
There is NO cost to attend the sessions but seating is limited (Please don’t take a spot unless you can use it)
The sessions are held bi-weekly, every Thursday, via Zoom from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm.
A Zoom invitation will be sent to you after we receive your registration the day before each session at 2:00 pm. *
*Please check your SPAM Folder if you don’t receive the Zoom invitation.
*BONUS* We are offering follow-up individual coaching, if needed to the program participants, to help implement and advance your business right away. More details will be provided to the registrants by email after the session.
What to do if an employee refuses to return to work? Click here for more info
Did you know?
A Business Safety Plan is required to open and must be posted for employees and customers.
The Business Safety Plan Template. Having a clear and available re-opening safety plan is a critical part of this process. This plan should be posted in your workplace, available for review, and communicated to employees.
In addition, the guidelines also contain a Business Affirmation Form that allows a business to acknowledge it has read the guidance and understands its obligation to operate accordingly.
For help determining if your business is eligible to reopen, use the New York Forward Business Reopening Tool.
Video: Compliance with NYS Guidelines
The Partnership has produced a video tutorial on the steps employers need to take, including what forms need to be filled out on the NYS website, to be in compliance with the state’s reopening protocols. Watch it here.
Face Covering Executive Order
Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order yesterday allowing private business owners to refuse service to members of the public who are not wearing masks or face coverings. Learn more about the Executive Order HERE.
Paycheck Protection Program Update
The United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act. This bill makes the following changes to the Paycheck Protection Program:
- Extends the loan term from 8 weeks to 24 weeks;
- Lowers the percentage of loan proceeds that must be used on payroll from 75% to 60%; and
- Extends the PPP from June 30th to Dec. 31, 2020.
The measure must now pass the Senate.
Liability Protection for Employers
Help Us Fight for Liability Protections for Employers
Join the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and employer organizations throughout New York State in asking Governor Cuomo to enact liability protections related to COVID-19.
As New York’s economy beings to reopen, businesses and non-profits are justifiably worried about potential COVID-19 related lawsuits.
The business community is asking Governor Cuomo to enact liability protections to protect businesses acting in good faith and following government issued guidance. Add your voice to this important issue now.
COVID-19 Bulletin from the Buffalo Niagara Partnership on 5/21/20. Click here to find templates and guidelines on:
- Business Safety Plan Template
-Employee Health Screening Form & Questionaire
- PPP loan forgiveness information and forms
New York State has released guidelines for both non-essential businesses in regions that are allowed to re-open May 15th and essential businesses throughout the state that were previously permitted to remain open. They continue to update these guidelines as Phases progress.
- Retail - Curbside Pickup
- Wholesale Trade
- Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting
- Professional Services
- Administrative Support
- Real Estate/Rental & Leasing
- Restaurants/Food Services
Survey results are in:
Here are the results for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership's WNY COVID-19 Business Impact Survey
Or you can watch the full Webisode presentation here.
FREE Cloth Masks are available from Niagara County's Department of Emergency Services
for local businesses who are starting to put their re-opening plans in place and will need these masks for their emerging health & safety protocols. Email or Call (716)438-3171 *Supplies are limited* Forms can be found here
$484 Billion Emergency Interim Coronavirus Relief Package Becomes Law (4/24/20)
Providing further assistance to small buinsesses, while also providing much needed aid to hospitals and ramping up testing capacity across the country.
Below is a breakdown of the allocations, provided by our partners at Niagara County's Center for Economic Development:
CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program. An additional $320 billion has been allocated to the Paycheck Protection Program, which quickly ran out of funding shortly after being unveiled. It is important to note that $60 billion of this funding is reserved for small and medium-sized banks and credit unions, to encourage business owner from all communities to participate in the program.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. An additional $60 billion in funding has been granted to the Small Business Administration to assist businesses throughout the country. $50 billion is for the Small Business Administration's emergency disaster loans, and $10 billion for disaster grants. One significant update is that agricultural businesses will now be eligible for funding.
Hospital Relief. Hospitals across the country will be able to tap into $75 billion in funding designed to assist with costs associated with the fight against COVID-19 and losses associated with the virus.
Funding for COVID-19 Testing. $25 billion is earmarked to help cover the costs associated with COVID-19 and antibody testing. This will allow for a significant increase in the testing capacity nationwide.
Who to Contact for Assistance. If you would like to apply for assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program or the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan you can contact an SBA approved lending institution to complete an application. NCCC SBDC specialists are available via email or at (716) 210-2515 to assist you as you navigate through the process of either the Paycheck Protection Program or the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. If you have already applied for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan and received an application number, you will be contacted by a representative from the Small Business Administration.
Resources and Information A - Z
- Agriculture-Based Business assistance: Various federal and state agencies have recently announced programs available to help businesses in the agricultural community during the COVID-19 crisis. Check out all of the programs that are currently available on this NCCED important links page. Find everything that you are looking for under the heading Important Information for Agricultural-Based Businesses.
- Business Owners and Unemployment: the NYS Department of Labor is advising that Business Owners who have been forced to close due to COVID-19 restrictions on Non-essential Services should claim unemployment benefits. (Please be aware...you cannot claim benefits for any day you do any work for your business) For Unemployment Insurance Information
- Call to Action from Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance. The Buffalo Niagara Manufacturing Alliance (BNMA) is collecting masks, gloves and safety glasses that can be donated to our local medical system. If you have any of these items and would like to make a donation, contact Catherine Muth at (585) 216-5860. BNMA will coordinate pick-up and delivery.
- CARES Act = Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act
Link to a brief 3/30/20 webinar with the US Chamber of Commerce hosted by the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. The focus was the CARES Act and it's business impact;
Presenter was Timothy Maney, Executive Director, Congressional & Public Affairs, US Chamber of Commerce
Cleaning & disinfection recommendations
- Childcare Resource for Essential Workers. The Community Child Care Clearinghouse of Niagara can assist families of essential workers that are in need of childcare assistance. Call the Clearinghouse Hotline at (716) 285-8572 x109 or x105 for help finding childcare in your area.
- Coronvirus Small Business Guide - complete coronavirus coverage, updated daily with new resources to assist you and your business -provided by the US Chamber of Commerce
- Designation as an Essential Business - If your business was deemed non-essential based on the list distributed by New York State, and you believe that you should be considered essential, complete this form and submit it to the email address at the bottom of the form for review.
- Donating, Manufacturing, Volunteering or Selling Goods to New York State
- Empire State Development
- Employee Retention Credit: The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service launched the Employee Retention Credit, designed to encourage businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. Available to all employers regardless of size, including tax-exempt organizations. Two exceptions: State and local governments and their instrumentalities and small businesses who take small business loans.
Qualifying employers must fall into one of two categories:
- The employer's business is fully or partially suspended by government order due to COVID-19 during the calendar quarter.
- The employer's gross receipts are below 50% of the comparable quarter in 2019. Once the employer's gross receipts go above 80% of a comparable quarter in 2019, they no longer qualify after the end of that quarter.
- FREE Face Masks from Niagara County Department of Emergency Services for local Businesses:
The Niagara County Department of Emergency Services has obtained a supply of cloth Face Masks and is making those available at no cost to all local businesses in the area who are starting to put in place their re-opening plans and will need these masks in the future. These Face masks were acquired through the NYS Divison of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. Email or call (716) 438-3171 - supplies are limited.
- Face Coverings: Sources in Niagara County
On April 17th, Governor Cuomo's Executive Order went into effect requiring all people of New York to wear a face covering if they are in public and not able to maintain social distancing guidelines. If you are in need of face coverings, either for personal use, or to protect you and your employees at work, the Niagara County Center for Economic Development's COVID-19:Important Links page has a list of Niagara County companies that are making them. If you know another business who is also providing this essential service, please let the NCCED know and they will be added to their list.
- Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where we operate.
- Go to Meeting is offering FREE Emergency Remote Work Kits providing organization-wide access to many of their products for 3 months to critical service providers including healthcare providers and non-profits
- Legal Assistance for Businesses
Harris Beach is holding COVID-19 Virtual Open Office Hours for Employers as a way to assist area businesses as they navigate the impacts of this pandemic.
Click HERE to learn more and to sign up for one, or several of these "Flash Sessions" where Harris Beach attorneys inform you of the latest COVD-19 impacts/status on particular critical business issues and field your questions, in an interactive, 30 minute audio/video conference.
- National Grid - On March 13th we temporarily suspended collections-related activities, including service disconnections, to lessen any financial hardships for our customers. These policies will remain in effect at least until the end of April, when we will evaluate their continued need. National Grid is also not charging late payment charges.
- Path Forward: Navigating the Return to Work - webinar serries every Monday & Thursday from 3pm - 4pm with the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation
- QuickBooks Small Buisness Relief Initiative : The Small Business Relief Fund will provide one-time matching grants to qualifying small businesses to help alleviate the financial burdens during these pressing times. Donations to the relief fund will be paid out as grants to businesses that qualify, and have created a fundraiser through the Small Business Relief Initiative or had an existing GoFundMe that raises atleast $500.
This initiative by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, and is a collective effort to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as possible. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hopes these supplemental funds will help bridge the gap in the days and weeks ahead. To qualify, you must employ between 3 and 20 people, be located in an economically vulnerable community and have been harmed financially by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Shared Work - May be an option for some businesses that won’t have a full shut down of work, but need an option to retain employees while working an abbreviated schedule.
To file a Shared Work Plan - Employees included on a plan can be full-time, part-time, temporary, or seasonal. A plan can include as few as two employees.
If you would like to learn more, please contact Michele Taylor, NYS Department of Labor Rapid Response Coordinator for the Western region at (716) 851-2655
- Small Business Coronavirus Relief Options: Overview and links
Using dropdown box, select New York State, your County - then click the "Filter" button - you will see a COVID-19 disaster loan link.
PowerPoint created by Empire State Development to assist with how to apply for these SBA loans
- Treasury, IRS and Labor announcement regarding Paid Leave for workers and Tax Credits for Small to Mid size companies
- USDOL Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) issued National Interest Exemption
- Winery Business Optimization of the CARES Act: Gregg McConnell from Farm Credit East provides some helpful tips to New York State wineries on how to navigate the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program and the IRS Employer Retention Credit and provides some scenarios to demonstrate which may be a better fit given your current circumstances.