COVID-19 Update: Governor’s “Stay At Home” Order & Federal Stimulus Package — What You Need To Know
A note from GMC CEO & President, Michael Skelton
Dear Chamber Members,
I hope you are all staying healthy and successfully finding ways to navigate this evolving situation. Each day brings more change, new information, and opportunity to adapt. The path ahead is slowly becoming a bit clearer, but not yet in focus enough for us to truly plan and prepare our businesses and organizations for a return to “business as usual.” That day is coming, however, and together our community will get there.
Below are some key updates on pending issues intended to help you focus on the path ahead and making the best possible decisions for your business or organization. I know from speaking with many of you that you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information flowing into your inbox. One role the Chamber is here provide is to be a filter for the most accurate and important information you need to know.
Governor’s Emergency “Stay At Home” Order and Essential Businesses
Yesterday afternoon Governor Sununu issued his 17th Emergency Order relating to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, which called for the “Closure of non-essential businesses and requiring Granite Staters to stay at home.” The order will be in effect until May 4th. In his remarks announcing the order, the Governor noted that this was not a “shelter in place” order and that essential services and businesses would remain open and that residents were able to leave their homes for exercise, food shopping, essential work, and other activities provided they continue to follow social distancing practices and stay in groups of less than 10.
Shortly after the order was announced, an exhibit to the emergency order was published that listed essential businesses that are able to continue operations under this order. Businesses not listed as essential are able to request the essential designation by submitting an email to email@example.com and should include basic contact information and a brief justification.
If you are considering or planning to submit a request, please feel free to contact me directly for assistance. I have been in regular contact with State BEA officials on this issue and will work to ensure your request is handled promptly.
The essential business list is fairly comprehensive and closely follows similar designations made in Massachusetts recently. Governor Sununu noted that given our state’s close interrelationship with Massachusetts, part of the rationale for this order was to bring New Hampshire into alignment with our regional partners. While many businesses proactively chose to transition to remote work, reduce operations, or temporarily close over the past two weeks, this order will impact and challenge many businesses who were attempting to continue operations safely in an already challenging economic environment. The Chamber will continue our efforts to provide you resources, tools, and information on emergency loans and financial options to navigate this challenge. Please stay in touch and do not hesitate to reach out to our team with questions.
Federal Stimulus Package Nearing Finish Line
The Senate this week voted 96-0 to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a more than $2 million federal aid and stimulus package aimed at supporting efforts to respond to this pandemic and mitigate economic damage. The House is set to vote today and the legislation will then land on the President’s desk as soon as this weekend.
The package includes aid and funding targeted towards several stakeholders including, individuals and families, small businesses, corporations, public health agencies, and state and local governments. Since the legislation is still pending, full details are not yet available. But we want to ensure impacted small businesses are aware of these encouraging and worthwhile tools. Initial details of two new federal assistance tools are as follows:
The Paycheck Protection Program is a new $350 billion fund offered through the Small Business Administration to provide small business and other entities with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million. Up to 8 weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if a business retains its employees, and principal and interest on the loans are deferred for up to a year.
The legislation also includes $10 billion for Emergency Economic Injury Grants of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) within three days of applying for the loan. EIDLs are an existing SBA emergency loan that provides up to $2 million and are intended to pay for expenses that could have been met if the economic disaster had not occurred.
As soon as more information and detailed summaries of these programs and soon-to-be approved federal stimulus package are available, the Chamber will update you immediately.
Valuable business resource pages are available and continually updated by the Chamber and some of our partners from across the state.
NH Business and Economic Affairs (BEA) – BEA has updated their resource page into easy to find categories, including information on Governor’s Emergency Orders, state resources, federal resources, and information on unemployment assistance. Also, of note here is the call to action for businesses able to supply or produce PPE products for health workers.
Small Business Administration (SBA) – SBA is the key partner through which federal disaster and economic injury loans flow. The pending federal stimulus legislation proposes to expand funding and availability of these programs so the details of these opportunities remain fluid. The NH SBA is now offering daily webinars for businesses to learn about the process and ask questions. If you’re interested in exploring these options for your business, this is a good initial step. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.
NH Small Business Development Center (SBDC) – SBDC also has an easy to navigate COVID-19 resource page with useful links and the ability to contact one of their advisors for assistance.
GMC Business Resources – The Chamber is continuing to maintain and update a resource page connecting to many of the links above as well as updates from our City partners, ways to support our local small businesses, and resources from some of our member businesses.
GMC Webinars and Virtual Programming
Be sure to keep an eye out for Chamber webinars and virtual programming going forward. Each week we’ll publish a weekly webinar series email that will include Chamber produced content as well as the great content being offered by our member businesses and community partners.
Our team is looking forward to two great opportunities today. At 1 pm today we’ll be offering a “Preparing and Supporting Your Remote Workforce” webinar with Mainstay Technologies. Later this afternoon, the Manchester Young Professionals will be holding their first “Together at Home Happy Hour” with Ancient Fire and Mead & Cider. We look forward to continuing to produce and share great opportunities like this to both learn and stay connected.
Remember to Order Takeout this Weekend!
Treat yourself and support our small business community this weekend and order up some take out tonight. Why not tomorrow night too? Check out our takeout and delivery blog for a listing of members providing takeout and delivery options. Every order helps!
Rest, Stay Connected and Healthy!
After a week of ever-changing news and new challenges for all of our businesses or organizations, remember to take some time this weekend to rest, relax, and take care of yourself. Spend time with family, enjoy the fresh air, check-in on a neighbor or friend (from a safe distance) to see how they are doing. Our relationships and community have the power to sustain us through times like these.
Mike Skelton, President & CEO, GMC