I wanted to provide you with another update on the Chamber’s efforts to support local businesses and our communities during the Coronavirus crisis. We understand the tremendous impact that this health crisis is having on our members and communities and have focused all of our efforts and resources on helping you navigate this unprecedented challenge. At the same time, we are looking ahead and preparing post-crisis recovery efforts to help you recover quickly and get back to business once this has passed, and it will pass!
CARES Act: Last week Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020 (CARES). Among its many provisions, the CARES Act will include $377B in loans and loan forgiveness for small businesses. The Act also includes tax relief measures and various grant programs for impacted industries. Click here for a summary of those aspects of the legislation most relevant to our region. More information will be made available in the days and weeks to come as the federal government works out the details. We encourage you to check our website for updates and for upcoming webinars on the CARES Act;
Emergency Loans: Unfortunately, we have seen very strong interest in our Emergency Loan Program. Our team has been working hard to keep up with the requests and move them through the process quickly. To assist businesses, we have reduced our interest rate and have eliminated the closing fee on these emergency loans. We are also structuring the loans with favorable terms. If you need a small loan to get you through this period until stimulus money kicks in, then please contact Sandie Cataldo at firstname.lastname@example.org or Brendan Hannen email@example.com. We are in the process of recapitalizing our fund to ensure that we can continue to meet the needs of local businesses. Also, for those of you that may require a larger loan, the SBA Disaster Loan Program can now provide up to $10 million dollars;
Video Message: If you have not seen it, then I would encourage you to view a special video we premiered on March 22 on the Chamber’s Facebook page. You can click here to view it. This short video with its message of hope, community and resiliency was developed by our team in an effort to inspire people and raise spirts. The video has already been shared over 330 times and has had over 37,000 views and growing on Facebook! That doesn’t include the video views on our other social media platforms (YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn) and the Chamber website. Special thanks to member and motivational speaker Maria Milagros for narrating the video;
Chamber Office: The Chamber is deemed an essential business under the guidelines announced by Governor Baker last week. However, as a safety precaution, we have closed the office temporarily and will limit access to the public. We will be available by appointment at the office to provide services that need to be made in person, such as certificates of export for our manufacturers and insurance related matters. We will also be performing loan closings at the office related to our Emergency Loan Program. Except for these instances, staff will work remotely per the protocols that we have in place. Please contact us if you need to schedule an appointment;
Equipment Donations: All four of our hospital systems – Health Alliance, Heywood, Nashoba Medical and Emerson – reached out to us and requested help securing additional personal protective equipment (PPE). We have been proactive in our outreach to businesses to secure donations and we have also reached out to most of the region’s manufacturers to inquire if they can modify their production to assist with producing these products. We have received a tremendous response. Thank you to all of you that reached out. It has been very inspiring to see our members rally together to offer any help they could during this time of crisis. Please contact us for more information on how to donate items or if your company is interested in producing PPE items. The state also just established an online portal for PPE donations and procurement that can be found here;
Webinars: We have already conducted several webinars to help businesses, with several more in the works. The webinars were recorded and are available on our website to view. We also have a webinar this week that will review the CARES Act and another scheduled for next week on applying for the new Payroll Protection Program and other grants/loans through the SBA. I encourage you to check out our website and social media for updates;
Coronavirus Information & Resources: Our Coronavirus Information Page is continuously updated with the latest guidance from local, state and federal authorities. We are committed to keeping our members and the public informed and will continue posting throughout this crisis on our various social media platforms as information becomes available. If you have not done so yet, please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram;
Jobs Board: We have been updating our WorkNorthCentral.com online jobs board to help recently displaced workers find new jobs opportunities, as well as help those employers that need immediate help because their needs have changed due to the crisis;
Advocacy & Support: We have been in regular communication with our local, state and federal officials to help with efforts and stay updated on the government’s response. We also continue to collect survey responses from businesses on the impact to their operations. This input from members will be helpful as we communicate with policy leaders, and will help set the stage for recovery efforts;
Finally, I want to extend my thanks to all of those members and their dedicated employees, across all sectors, who are in many cases risking their own safety to respond to this national and global pandemic. These include our health care institutions on the front line, our manufacturers who are playing an important role in the supply chain, our markets and farms who are working to keep people fed, and many more. Stay strong. We will get through this, together.
Roy Nascimento, IOM, CCE
President & CEO