SBA To Provide Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) Up to $2 Million in Disaster Assistance Loans

WASHINGTON – SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement today in response to the President’s address to the nation: 

“The President took bold, decisive action to make our 30 million small businesses more resilient to Coronavirus-related economic disruptions. Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world. Our Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation. Additionally, the SBA continues to assist small businesses with counseling and navigating their own preparedness plans through our network of 68 District Offices and numerous Resource Partners located around the country. The SBA will continue to provide every small business with the most effective and customer-focused response possible during these times of uncertainty.” 

Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending

  • The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
  • Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance. 
  • Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities.
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. 
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. 
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay. 
  • SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.

For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

State Council formed to Investigate Merged Market & Small Business Premiums

Last Fall, Governor Charlie Baker established the Merged Market Advisory Council in an effort to examine the individual and small group insurance market, or “merged market,” and underlying trends that have driven insurance costs up for small and mid-size employers. This group is comprised of 13 appointed members and chaired by Gary Anderson, the Commissioner of Insurance. Its membership includes various experts with knowledge of the insurance industry, including actuaries, brokers, insurance carriers and representatives from employers and the small business community.

The creation of this market can be traced to the Commonwealth’s enactment of RomneyCare in 2006. The reforms included merging the “non-group” risk pool, comprised of individuals, with the “small group” risk pool, comprised of small business with 50 or less employees (including the self-employed). This was intended to reduce premiums for those in the non-group market- which faced elevated costs due to a higher utilization on services – by spreading the risk over a larger population. The Chamber and many business groups were opposed at the time, fearing that rates would increase for small businesses. Vermont is the only other state where the individual and small group risk pools were merged into a single merged market.

While it is true that the merged market has led to premium reductions for individuals, it has also resulted in dramatic increases for small businesses and their employees. According to the Center for Insurance Information and Analysis, Massachusetts has amongst the highest small business health care premiums in the country. Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise to the Chamber or our members who have struggled with increasing premiums for years.

The Governor’s Merged Market Advisory Council is expected to make recommendations to the Baker Administration, which may include separating the merged groups as a way to reduce costs for small businesses. Some have argued that since passage of the national Affordable Care Act, the merged market is no longer necessary due to the incentives and subsidies provided to individuals.

The Advisory Council has scheduled a series of sessions where the public may share their input and concerns. The closest session to North Central Massachusetts is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26, 2020 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Room S-1-123 at UMass Medical Center, 55 Lake Avenue North in Worcester. The Chamber will be in attendance and encourages its members to participate and share any concerns they have as well. If you are unable to attend, please consider submitting written comments to the Merged Market Advisory Council via email at mergedmarket@mass.gov.

For more information, please feel free to contact Christopher McDermott, Public Affairs Manager at 978.353.7600 ext. 224 or via email at cmcdermott@northcentralmass.com

Visit North Central Massachusetts Participating in SkiMass Collaboration

 

Visit North Central Massachusetts is proud to participate in a #SkiMass collaboration in partnership with the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, The Massachusetts Ski Resort Association, The Berkshires and Franklin County. This is in an effort to bring more ski and snowboarding travelers to North Central Massachusetts and support our partners at Wachusett Mountain Ski Area.

A mix of targeted digital media on Facebook and Instagram platforms are set in place to target key markets in Greater Boston, New Hampshire, New York and Connecticut.

 

For more information on North Central Massachusetts, please go to:

www.VisitNorthCentral.com 

2020 Legislative Briefing

On January 10th, the Chamber hosted a legislative briefing with the region’s state house delegation to discuss our budget and policy priorities for the coming year. The presentation touched on economic development priorities, including tourism, manufacturing, education, workforce development and transportation infrastructure.

Thank you to the North Central Massachusetts Delegation for helping secure a $100,000 grant in the FY19 budget to help our efforts to develop a comprehensive economic development plan for the region. Special thanks to Senator Dean Tran for sponsoring the item in the budget.

Mill No. 3 Oils and Vinegars Now Being Sold at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center

For decades, Mill No. 3 Farmstand in Fitchburg, MA has been serving locals from all over North Central Massachusetts. Originally starting as a farm stand in 1996, the   business has grown to include a deli, beer & wine, groceries, flowers, coffee, pastries and the list goes on. Recently, Mill No. 3 has started to offer 50 varieties of Olive Oils & Vinegar- we’re excited to announce that Mill No. 3 oils and vinegars are now being sold at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors’ Center.

The Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center features a popular gift shop that carries many local products including jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, fudge, chocolates, sparkling cider, donuts and that local icon of American kitsch – the pink plastic flamingo!  Visitors to the center can also find a wide selection of books highlighting the history of the region, plus good-quality logo merchandise and souvenir items.  

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, considered by many the gateway to North Central Massachusetts, opened in 1996 as a way to welcome people traveling through the region and give them a place to stop, stretch their legs, and learn more about the twenty-seven communities in North Central Massachusetts and what they have to offer for visitors and families.  Over 165,000 people walk through the visitor center doors every year. 

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center is located at 1000 Rte. 2 Westbound, between exit 34 & 35, in Lancaster, MA.  It is open 361 days a year.  Normal business hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Members with locally produced products that are interested in having them offered at the center should contact Diane Burnette, Visitor Center Manager, at 978.534.230

Smith’s Country Cheese Available at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center

Locally produced and award winning cheeses from Smith’s Country Cheese are now available for purchase at the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center located on Route 2 in Lancaster.  Smith’s Country Cheese, located in Winchendon, has been a family-owned-and-operated, working dairy farm and creamery for over thirty years. Smith’s uses old-fashioned family traditions and hard work to produce their award-winning farmstead Gouda, cheddar, and Havarti cheeses. They use traditional recipes and fresh, raw milk from their farm to make delicious, artisanal cheeses.

The Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center features a popular gift shop that carries many local products including jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, fudge, chocolates, sparkling cider, donuts and that local icon of American kitsch – the pink plastic flamingo!  Visitors to the center can also find a wide selection of books highlighting the history of the region, plus good-quality logo merchandise and souvenir items.  

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center, considered by many the gateway to North Central Massachusetts, opened in 1996 as a way to welcome people traveling through the region and give them a place to stop, stretch their legs, and learn more about the twenty-seven communities in North Central Massachusetts and what they have to offer for visitors and families.  Over 165,000 people walk through the visitor center doors every year. 

The Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center is located at 1000 Rte. 2 Westbound, between exit 34 & 35, in Lancaster, MA.  It is open 361 days a year.  Normal business hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Members with locally produced products that are interested in having them offered at the center should contact Diane Burnette, Visitor Center Manager, at 978.534.230

Paid Family Medical Leave Information

On October 1, 2019, collection of the payroll tax associated with the state’s new Paid Family and Medical Leave Program went into effect. All employees and employers are impacted by this tax, unless they have instituted a comparable and state approved private plan in the program’s place. Below is some further information regarding your rights and obligations as an employer under this program.

Links:

Click Here for Worker Facts

Click Here for Employer Facts

Videos:

Employer Responsibilities for PFML

PFML Information for Workers

Keneally Meets w/ Chamber Leaders

The Chamber closed out the summer by meeting with the state’s new Secretary of Housing and Economic Development on August 22. Taking the reins from Jay Ash earlier in the year, Secretary Michael Kennealy serves as the Commonwealth’s chief economic development officer. In this capacity, he oversees the Massachusetts Offices of Business Development; Travel and Tourism; and International Trade and Investment – to name just a few. As the region’s leading business and economic development organization, the Chamber convened the meeting to engage the new Secretary and highlight economic development priorities in North Central Massachusetts. A range of topics were discussed, including streamlined permitting, tourism promotion, workforce development, manufacturing, housing and the impact the state’s business assistance programs deliver.

“We value the partnerships that we have with Secretary Kennealy’s office and look forward to working collectively with him and his team in the future to grow the economy here in North Central Massachusetts.” said Roy Nascimento, President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamebr of Commerce. “This was a great opportunity to brief the new Secretary on the opportunities and challenges here in our dynamic region of the state.”

The Chamber and its affiliates have long maintained a strong relationship with the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. As the new Secretary moves ahead with efforts to expand the Commonwealth’s housing options and publish a new five year economic development plan, the Chamber will be sure to provide any assistance it can while advocating for the needs of local employers.

The Chamber wishes to thank Chamber member AIS, Inc. for hosting the meeting at their headquarters in Leominster.

Fall Guide to North Central Massachusetts Out Now!

Get the inside scoop on all things fall season in North Central Massachusetts – from the best time to harvest apples to a craft beer trail! Find the latest edition at the Johnny Appleseed Center or any other local venue and attraction in North Central Massachusetts! For more information on the Guide To North Central Massachusetts, how to advertise, or how to get one delivered to you, please contact Diane Burnette | DBurnette@ northcentralmass.com ◊

View the latest edition here!