During these unprecedented times, our small businesses are facing unique and incredibly difficult challenges. I am here to advocate for you and do all that I can to support you and your employees. See below for a few quick state and federal updates, as well as a list of resources. You can sign up at this link to get weekly Friday emails.
- State COVID-19 Update: Governor Hogan announced several new Executive Orders this week including the “stay at home” directive, the temporary closure of all non-essential businesses, and an expansion of telehealth, among others. To see a list of all of the Governor’s recent Executive Orders, including interpretive guidance on each one click here. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our office – firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-841-3319.
- Federal COVID-19 Update: See below for more information and links to applications for the federal CARES Act, the $2 trillion bill focused on low and middle-income Americans and businesses (including non-profits, sole proprietors, people in the gig economy, and churches).
- Your Unique Challenges: You face unique circumstances and in order for me to be the best advocate for you that I can be, I encourage you to email me with feedback on the programs that Maryland has created thus far (see below), and holes in programs or challenges you see. For instance, the assistance programs that Maryland is currently offering do not provide.
- Briefings with Brooke: Part of my job as an elected official is to make sure you have access to information and resources. That’s why I’m so pleased to be bringing you a series of online briefings – online conversations where you can ask questions (either beforehand or via chat during the conversation) from experts and policy makers! All briefings are listed at my website here. Check back often as I will add new ones every week. Unless otherwise noted, all webinars start at 2:00 p.m.
BALTIMORE CITY UPDATE
On the Baltimore City Coronavirus website, there is a page with information for community and business leaders that details steps employees and employers should take if an essential worker becomes ill with COVID-19, and other helpful guidance and FAQs.
NEW PROGRAMS and FUNDING for BUSINESSES and NONPROFITS — On Thursday, April 23 the Mayor announced a multi-million dollar aid package for Baltimore’s Small Businesses which establishes the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Initiative and Task Force. This program has three components:
- Manufacturing and Procurement of PPE: $500,000 in additional funding to Baltimore City manufacturer’s producing PPE
- Neighborhood Business Reopening Initiative: Baltimore Development Corporation will oversee efforts to develop and implement designs to reconfigure public right of way and public spaces to maximize outdoor seating and other business needs to provide ways to create more social distancing in Main Streets, and Retail Business License Districts (RBDLs) and certain commercial districts. This $1.5 million initiative may include the use of parklets, public information graphics & signage, and design elements to encourage people to patronize local businesses in a manner consistent with public health best practices.
- Small Business Assistance Fund: BDC will administer a $3.5 million grant fund on behalf of Baltimore City to provide financial assistance to small business enterprises (SBE) in certain commercial areas. Businesses may apply for up to $15,000 in grants for expenses such as rent, payroll and purchase of PPE that may be necessary as they plan to reopen. A portion of this fund will be set aside for businesses, which have been unable to qualify for federal aid. SBEs will be required to complete an application to request funding and provide necessary documentation. More information on how to apply will be available on www.BaltimoreTogether.com by May 4.
- On Tuesday, April 21 Mayor Young announced the expansion of technical assistance and business support services available to Baltimore City-based small businesses through a new public-private partnership between the City of Baltimore and the Baltimore Small Business Support Fund (Support Fund). The Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) and the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-Owned Businesses Development will work with the Baltimore Small Business Support Fund to assemble a technical assistance network that will help small businesses complete applications for appropriate federal, state, and philanthropic financial assistance programs that are currently available and federal programs, which are expected to be replenished in the coming days. Businesses that are interested in requesting technical assistance should visit Baltimore Together and fill out the web form.
ONGOING CITY PROGRAMS
- COVID-19 Emergency Response Funds for Nonprofits Funders in the Greater Baltimore area are working together to streamline an application process for non-profit organizations seeking resources to support changes in operations and sustainability due to COVID-19. Applications will be awarded on a rolling basis until May 29, 2020 and grants will range from $10,000 to $75,000. Funding priorities include: access to food; access to home essentials; nonprofit sustainability; technology capacity; mental health and community coping; support for first responders and health care workers, and information sharing. Click here for more information.
- Mayor Young, Goldman Sachs, and Lendistry Announce Multi-Million Dollar Stimulus Program for Local Businesses. On Tuesday, the City of Baltimore announced a $10 million Small Business Stimulus Program Fund to provide emergency forgivable loans to help Baltimore’s small businesses endure the COVID-19 economic crisis made possible through a partnership with Goldman Sachs and Lendistry. This program will provide $10 million in potentially forgivable SBA Paycheck Protection Program loans to help vulnerable Baltimore City small businesses, including non-profit organizations. This fund targets underserved businesses and nonprofits, including those which do not currently have a relationship with a traditional bank and will begin accepting applications immediately . This service is coupled with online technical assistance to applicants, which can be easily found on their homepage. To apply: mylendistry.com/login.html.
- Loyola University Maryland Crisis Navigators. The Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship’s Loyola Crisis Navigators is a volunteer team of trained business experts who are prepared to advise you in these uncertain times. Sign up below for virtual consultations with these experts, who can suggest innovative pivots to your operating model, provide counsel in decision-making, as well as explore additional resources, including new emergency loan and grant options. https://www.loyola.edu/department/center-innovation-entrepreneurship/community-involvement/loyola-crisis-navigators
- Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund: Have you seen the new website for the Baltimore Restaurant Relief Fund? Visit this site to learn more about their relief fund and resources for workers and owners in the restaurant world. The website is in Spanish and English.
- Community Wealth Building: Check out this new resource for loans and grants in partnership with organizations like KIVA, Honeycomb, Wefunder and more.
Maryland Relief Programs
New Funding OpportunitiesThe Maryland Heritage Areas Authority announced a special emergency grant round of up to $20,000 for beloved cultural institutions that are closing their doors, losing revenue from canceled tours and events, and sadly, laying off employees. The fund will assist with operating expenses, lost revenue, and help organizations transition to offering educational opportunities online
Dept. of Commerce Financial Assistance Update
- As of 5 p.m. on April 21, Commerce is no longer accepting applications for its Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund. All applications are currently being reviewed.
- As of 5 p.m. on April 6, the Maryland Department of Commerce is no longer accepting new applications for its Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant and Loan Programs. All applications that have been submitted are currently being reviewed in the order received.
- Please visit our Emergency Relief Fund FAQ for any questions you might have about these programs. If you have other questions or concerns about these funds, please email email@example.com.
- The Maryland State Arts Council has created special grant opportunities that provide emergency funding to arts organizations and artists in Maryland. Learn more.
- The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority (MHAA) is requesting heritage tourism nonprofits apply for emergency operating matching grants of up to $20,000.
- The Maryland Agricultural Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation (MARBIDCO) has launched the Pandemic Adjustment Loan Fund Program to help Maryland’s food and fiber producers, harvesters, and primary processors adjust to business disruptions. Learn more.
The Maryland Business Relief Wizard is a tool that can help Maryland businesses quickly identify the state and federal relief resources they may be eligible to receive.
Department of Labor Update
As of April 24, Maryland is accepting unemployment claims for self employed and independent contractors through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program for 1099 filers.
- Where to go: Visit www.MDunemployment.com, create an account and start your application through the BEACON one-stop application page
- What you’ll need:
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Alien registration number (if you’re not a citizen)
- Residential and mailing address
- + This same information for all dependents under 16
- Documentation of income earned in 2019 (schedule K-1, Form 1099, or summary of quarterly payments)
- All necessary licenses and permits for your self-employment
- Proof of an offer to begin employment that was postponed or withdrawn due to COVID-19
- If you worked for the Federal Govt., you’ll need your SF-8 or SF-50 form, and if you are separated from military service, you’ll need form DD-214, member 4 copy.
Since my last email to you, Governor Hogan announced several new Executive Orders. The most relevant to your nonprofits and small businesses is likely the “Masks and Physical Distancing Requirements”. Effective as of 7AM on Saturday, April 18, a face covering must be worn by all patrons and employees on public transportation or while inside a retail or food service establishment. Physical distancing measures shall be encouraged in retail establishments by using tape, signage or other means to create 6 feet of spacing in lines. Retail establishments should also provide means to sanitize carts and baskets, and post signage about requirements for face coverings. You can learn how to make a simple face covering here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html
The other Executive Order from this week included “Pharmacy Matters” related to the filling of prescriptions that may be used to treat symptoms of or as prophylaxis for COVID-19; new regulations around the adjournment of shareholder meetings, and remote witnessing and electronic signing of certain documents.
To see a list of all of the Governor’s recent Executive Orders, including interpretive guidance on each one click here. This week, the state also launched several drive-through testing sites (appointments still required) and surge temporary medical facilities, including one at the Baltimore Convention Center. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our office – firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-841-3319.
Department of Commerce Updates
Please continue to monitor their online business portal as more resources become available. In the meantime, they are hosting several helpful webinars over the next two weeks:
April 30: Maryland Cyber Capabilities Exchange
State Department of Labor Updates
The state Department of Labor is experiencing unprecedented volumes of calls related to unemployment insurance (UI) — approximately 2,000 calls per hour. Therefore, they are asking everyone to please follow new protocol and to use a new dedicated email address for UI-related questions. Please see below for a message from the Department, and helpful FAQs HERE.
The Maryland DOL released several updates that you and your employees or former employees may want to know:
- DOL is in the process of doubling their claims-processing staffing and are adding SATURDAYS to the days when call centers are open. They have sent up and are monitoring one central email as well – email@example.com. Marylanders who are approved will receive first payment within 3 weeks. The first payment will be on a debit card and will cover ALL benefits to that date. Since March 9, DOL has sent out tens of millions of dollars to Marylanders.
- The Federal CARES Act made three modifications to the unemployment program that the DOL is in the process of incorporating. The Maryland Department of Labor has been working to modify its mainframe system and train staff to update its processes to incorporate the federal CARES Act, Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which will give every person on unemployment $600 more per week. Everyone eligible for benefits, beginning the week of April 4 will receive an additional $600 per week. Claimants will receive it with their regularly-scheduled payments. Maryland claimants will receive all back pay that is owed.
- The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program will allow for an additional 13 weeks of benefits and is being implemented now by Maryland’s DOL (this will allow for a maximum of 39 weeks in Maryland).
- The new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will expand unemployment eligibility to gig workers, those with insufficient work history, self-employed, and more. You can enter your email address now but that program is not yet available: but all claimants will receive all benefits retroactively. The Dept. of Labor is NOT yet “ready” for UI applications from self-employed individuals, but they were working on it. You can sign up to be notified when the system is ready by clicking HERE and then scrolling to the bottom of the page where it says “E-mail Updates”. Here’s a helpful FAQ sheet on the CARES Act and how it will integrate with Maryland UI: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uicaresfaqs.pdf.
DOL has made some technology upgrades which will allow residents to go back into the online system and file missing weekly claim certifications for unemployment insurance online here: labor.maryland.gov/employment/webcert/
The President signed the CARES Act last weekend, bringing the count to three new federal laws to provide economic relief related to COVID-19:
- H.R.748: (CARES) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – Enacted March 27, 2020. Includes direct payments to Americans, an aggressive expansion of unemployment insurance, billions of dollars in aid to large and small businesses, and a new wave of significant funding for the healthcare industry
- H.R. 6201: Families First Coronavirus Response Act — Enacted March 18, 2020. Guaranteed free coronavirus testing, established paid leave, enhanced unemployment insurance, expanded food security initiatives, and increased federal Medicaid funding.
- H.R. 6074: Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 — Enacted March 4, 2020. Provided $8.3 billion in emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak related to developing a vaccine, medical supplies, grants for public health agencies, small business loans, and assistance for health systems in other countries. Allowed for temporarily waiving Medicare restrictions and requirements regarding telehealth services.
The CARES Act will provide about $4 billion in aid to Maryland, including millions of dollars for FEMA, SNAP, local school districts, local nutrition programs and childcare. It will support small businesses and nonprofits through three main programs. All of these programs are now accepting applications! You can learn more about each program and apply for them by clicking “learn more”. There are other helpful links with checklists and guides at the end of this email.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Advance (EIDL). Learn more. This is a working capital loan, but cannot be used to refinance preexisting debt. First payment on the loan, when approved, will be deferred from a 12-month period. Interest rate fixed at $3.75 and maximum term is 30 years. Sole proprietors and most non-profits are eligible. There is also an advance does not need to be repaid available at the end of the loan application. You can access up to $10,000 immediate payment to be used for payroll and other operating expenses.
- Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL) – Learn more. The applications open today. Can be used for payroll, benefits, utilities, etc. If employees are retained on the payroll, then the loan will be forgiven. Loan payments deferred for 6-months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. A sample application form is available here. Private non-profit organizations and veteran organizations are eligible.
How will these programs work for my small business?
- For an overview of how programs under the CARES Act will work for small businesses, here’s a helpful Q&A from the Washington Post. Further, check out the recording and slides from NFIB’s webinar on the CARES Act from Monday HERE. They also have an awesome chart with program details on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPPL) which you can access HERE.
How will these programs work for my nonprofit?
- For an overview of how programs under the CARES Act will work for nonprofits, listen to a recording of a phone call that Senators Van Hollen and Cardin hosted for over 600 nonprofit leaders on Tuesday HERE.
Federal SBA Disaster Assistance Available in Maryland: Small businesses economically impacted by COVID-19 may apply for disaster assistance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Governor Hogan’s Executive Orders: The Governor’s Executive Orders and legal guidance can all be found here. The legal guidance is helpful for clarifying what is essential v. not and rules for specific industries, like churches. There are also orders regarding price gouging, delivery, child care, and more.
Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund: The state of Maryland has announced a $50 million grant fund to support small businesses and nonprofits during the pandemic. The COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund offers working capital to assist small businesses in MD who have seen a disruption in their operations due to COVID-19. Grants can be used by businesses for a variety of purposes, including to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, and utility expenses.
COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund (Grant): Businesses in Maryland can also apply for the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund to implement strategies that help prevent or minimize layoffs due to the pandemic. Businesses with 500 or fewer employees can apply for grants of up to $50,000, which can be used for a variety of purposes, including to cover the cost of purchasing remote access equipment or other strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures.
Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund: The $75 million loan fund is available to for-profit businesses in MD with fewer than 50 employees. Businesses can apply for loans of up to $50,000 which can be used to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, and utility expenses.
Business Tax Payments Extension: Businesses in Maryland will be given a 90-day extension for tax payments. No interest or penalty for late payments will be imposed if 2019 tax payments are made by July 15, 2020.
Business Tax Filing Deadline Extension: The Maryland Comptroller’s Office also extended business-related tax filing deadlines to June 1, 2020.
Business Licensing & Permitting Extension: Maryland Governor Larry Hogan issued an executive order mandating all licenses, permits, and registrations that would expire during the current state of emergency to be extended until at least the 30th day after the state of emergency is lifted.
Department of Commerce COVID Resource Guide: https://businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus
Maryland Retailers Association Guide: https://www.mdra.org/covid-19-resources/
NFIB Resource Guide:
U.S. Department of Labor – guidelines on preparing workplaces for COVID-19: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – information for employers and employees: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/
U.S. Department of Labor – information on Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic
Small Business Administration – information on disaster assistance loans: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USSBA/bulletins/280d49d
Downtown Partnership of Baltimore resource page:
Baltimore City Small Businesses Hit by COVID-19 Eligible to Apply for Federal Assistance
FAQs for businesses responding to COVID-19 (from business express)
Tax extensions – explainer from Comptroller: https://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/MDCOMP-281eb05?wgt_ref=MDCOMP_WIDGET_C7
Maryland Insurance Administration – has also put together an FAQ addressing insurance-related questions about coronavirus: https://insurance.maryland.gov/Pages/newscenter/NewsDetails.aspx?NR=2020251