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04/06/20: WBE Tools, Resources, Information and Connections Bulletin March 6 – April 10, 2020

Corporate Member Resources

Small business owners show an incredible amount of courage and grit to run their business every day—and we understand it’s taking every ounce of that strength to problem solve in today’s uncertain time. We want to provide immediate ways to help. Please see a compilation of resources at this link.

CVS Health is excited to announce that they are now accepting applications for the 6th Annual Executive Learning Series for Diverse Suppliers. This year’s program will begin on June 11th, 2020, and as in previous years, will consist of a combination of in-person classes, executive coaching, and online learning.

They have worked diligently with their colleagues at the Center for Workforce & Professional Development at the Roger Williams University College to enhance this year’s program, based on feedback from participants in previous years. Included are:

    • Refinements to the curriculum and class schedule
    • Additional coaching from CVS Health Procurement
    • Early access and a walk-through of the mock RFP

Applications are being accepted at 2020 CVS Health Executive Learning Series Application from Wednesday, April 1st through Friday, April 24th.  Selected participants will be notified during the week of May 18th.

We are confident that this program will significantly expand opportunities for all participants – whether with CVS Health or other companies similarly committed to enhancing supplier diversity.

Here is what a previous graduate had to say:

“The learnings from the CVS Executive Learning Series was incredibly powerful and will make a big difference as we continue to move forward in either pivoting into new industries and/or pursuing key clients…I enjoyed not only the material covered but the relationship and friendship that I now share with my fellow cohorts.  It’s amazing the way CVS selected because there are synergies based on our collective capabilities and I am pursuing discussions with some, where I think we can go after significant business to deliver on the supplier diversity mission – economic impact in our communicates.” – Betty Manetta, President & CEO of Argent Associates, Inc.

In this spirit, we are distributing to you, our certified diverse supplier members, their Invitation Letter and encourage you to apply. Also, the following documents are attached to serve as additional resources:

We all know all this information is still unfolding daily so we urge you to review other resources so you can make the most informed decisions for your particular situation.

General

  • IRS issues FAQs on receiving tax credits for Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
  • The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES ACT
  • UPDATE: Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers
  • Paycheck Protection Program launched to help small businesses keep their workforce employed.
  • S. Chamber of Commerce: Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist
  • What exempt organizations need to know about federal responses to COVID-19. Read the Alert.
  • COVID-19 Response Checklist for Nonprofit Organizations
  • Disability:IN launches their COVID-19 Resources webpage
  • The SBA is hiring temporary employees to assist with disaster relief efforts during these unprecedented times. The positions include:
    • Call Center Customer Service Representative
    • Document Preparation/Legal Review/Loan Closings
    • Loan Processing/Credit Analysis/Mortgage Underwriting
    • Program Support
    • Apply Today.

Webinars and Townhalls

  • Tuesday April 7 at 9:30 a.m. ET – Live Hotsheet Webinar “Where is the money. The inside scoop on contracting during COVID-19 and how MBE’s can benefit from the stimulus package.” hosted by Capital Region Minority Supplier Development Council Business Consortium. Register.
  • Wednesday, April 8 at 11:00am ET – City of Baltimore Web Services (AWS) Shares Remote Working Tools. Join Here or Dial-in at (855) 552 – 4463 Meeting ID: 5309 37 4391.
  • Wednesday, April 8 at 12 p.m. ET: Stories of Resilience: A Conversation with Mark Cuban. Register.
  • Wednesday April 8 at 12:30 p.m. ET: Virtual Lunch Hour with Judith Gerberg sharing tips on Managing Stress of this Moment. RSVP to judith@gerberg.com. Judith Gerberg, MA, LMHC, NCC, ATR-LM-BC* expertly guides individuals to find purpose in their life’s work and is an innovator in change and stress management. Judith works with the whole person
  • Wednesday, April 8 at 2 p.m. ET: KPMG COVID-19 Relief Provisions: What Non-profits Need to Know. Register.
  • A conversation with Senator Tim Kaine: Join us onThursday, April 9th at 1:30 pm for a conference call with Senator Tim Kaine and The Virginia Hispanic Chamber in regards to the recent updates for businesses and individuals pertaining to the economic impact of COVID-19. RSVP.
  • Thursday, April 9 at 2 p.m. ET: Cyber safeguards for a remote-work environment. Register.
  • Tuesday, April at 21 p.m. ET: Managing Travel During a Crisis. Register.

Connecticut

  • The State of Connecticut has updated the resources available to business owners on their Business Resource page.
  • Governor Lamont has issued new executive orders in response to COVID-19. Read More.
  • Governor Lamont Announces Mortgage Payment Relief During COVID-19 Crisis. https://youtu.be/AnidXG5aAYQ
  • The Connecticut Department of Revenue Serviceshas extended the sales-tax filing deadline for businesses that generate less than $150,000 in annual sales-tax liabilities. Read More.
  • Phone, Internet Companies in Connecticut avoiding termination, making changes to benefit people working, learning from home during coronavirus outbreak: The #coronavirusoutbreak is forcing more people to use TV & internet at home and hampering some people’s ability to pay their bills. In response, telecom companies are adding new services and pledging no shutoffs during the crisis. Read More.

New Jersey

  • In response to the economic challenges being faced by New Jersey Small and Medium sized businesses and non-profits (collectively “SMEs”), the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) has created the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. (Application now open here)

New York

  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York Launches Resource Hub for coronavirus.
  • To help small businesses deal with the impact of COVID-19, the City has launched the NYC Small Business Continuity Loan Program. This program is available to New York City businesses with fewer than 100 employees that can demonstrate at least a 25% decrease in revenue as a result of COVID-19. Eligible businesses can apply for an interest-free loan up to $75,000.
  • Assistance & Guidance for Businesses Impacted Due to Novel Coronavirus: Businesses with fewer than 100 employees who have seen sales decreases of 25% or more are eligible to apply for zero interest loans of up to $75,000 to help ensure business continuity. Learn more about the NYC Small Business Continuity Loan Fund: gov/covid19biz

Maryland

    • Paycheck Protection Program

Starting on April 3rd, small businesses with 500 or fewer employees can apply for zero-fee loans of up to $10 million to cover 8 weeks of payroll and other operating expenses like mortgage, rent and utility costs under the Paycheck Protection Program. Eligible businesses include sole proprietorship and independent contractors; it also includes nonprofits, veterans organizations and tribal businesses.

This program is retroactive to February 15th, to help bring workers who may have already been laid off back onto payrolls.

Businesses will not have to pay back the loan so long as they use at least 75% of the money on payroll costs over the first two months of the loan. The total amount of forgiveness will be reduced if your workforce is drawn down through attrition or if wages are reduced.

Any part of the borrowed money not forgiven will have to be repaid over two years at a 0.5% interest rate. There’s an automatic six-month deferral on payments for all borrowers.

Businesses can apply for these loans through existing Small Business Administration (SBA) lenders. Loans will be available through June 30, 2020.

More information about the Paycheck Protection Loan Program and other resources for small businesses can be found: here.

    • Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Congress has expanded eligibility for SBA economic injury disaster loans (EIDL) and provides an emergency grant of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits – which functions as an advance on the loan. This grant is available within 3 days of applying, and does not have to be paid back if the loan is denied.

EIDLs are loans up to $2 million with interest rates of 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits, and principal and interest payments deferred up to 4 years. These loans can be used to cover paid sick leave, increased costs, rent or mortgage payments, and maintain payroll.

A small business may apply for an EIDL grant and a Paycheck Protection loan.

You can apply for an EIDL online with the SBA: here.

    • Debt Relief for New and Existing Borrowers

Small businesses with SBA 7(a), 504, and microloans, or who take a loan out in the next 6 months, will automatically receive debt relief. SBA will cover all loan payments on these SBA loans, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. SBA borrowers may also seek an extension of the duration of their loan and delay certain reporting requirements.

Paycheck Protection loans and SBA disaster loans are not eligible – payments are already deferred under those loans.

Check in with your lender to discuss how this will apply to your business.

    • Help for Contractors

Government contractors have access to a number of relief options and protections. Agencies will be able to modify terms and conditions of a contract and to reimburse contractors at a billing rate of up to 40 hours per week of any paid leave, including sick leave.

Eligible contractors are those whose employees or subcontractors cannot perform work on site and cannot telework due to federal facilities closing because of COVID-19.

Contact your agency’s contracting officer, as well as the agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) for more information.

    • Employee Retention Tax Credit
      Congress created a refundable payroll tax credit for businesses, large and small, that retain their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The tax credit is equal to 50% of wages and compensation.  There is an overall limit on wages per employee of $10,000. The credit is provided through December 31, 2020.

The Department of the Treasury is authorized to advance payment of the employee retention tax credit. This tax credit is not available if the employer takes an SBA paycheck protection loan.

    • Payroll Tax DelayEmployers (both businesses and nonprofits) may delay paying the employer-portion of payroll taxes through the end of 2020. The deferred amount is due in two installments – 50% is due before December 31, 2021, and the other 50% is due before December 31, 2022.

Deferral is not available if the employer takes an SBA paycheck protection loan.

    • Advance Payments of Tax Credits for Paid LeaveCongress has allowed the Treasury to send advance payments of tax credits available to employers that are required to provide up to 12 weeks of coronavirus-related paid leave to their employees.
    • Delay for Single Employer Pension PlansSingle employer pension plans are allowed to delay quarterly contributions for 2020 until the end of the year. Employers may also use 2019 funded status for the purposes of determining funding-based limits on plan benefits for the plan years that include 2020.
    • Additional Federal ResourcesFor more information about SBA loan programs, please visit the Small Business Administration website.

If you need additional assistance, please reach out to your local Small Business Development Center, Women’s Business Center, SCORE chapter, or SBA District Office. Find local assistance here

For more information about tax issues, please check the IRS’s website.

    • In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic – and in support of our State’s healthcare workers and first responders – the Maryland Department of General Services, Office of State Procurement, is introducing a new Request for Information (RFI) template in eMaryland Marketplace Advantage (eMMA). This template allows registered vendors to provide information on their ability to provide hospital and medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other related supplies and equipment required to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The template is focused on the most critically needed items including ventilators, N-95 masks, facial protection, medical grade hospital beds, and general PPE. Vendors will be asked to provide information about quantities available, shipping capabilities, country of origin, and product-specific information (e.g., OEM part number, etc.).

What do you need to do?

If your company would like to be considered as a vendor to the State for COVID-19 related supplies, please:

      • Ensure your company is registered on eMMA (click here to view the Quick Reference Guide to register on eMMA).
      • Update your company’s profile to indicate the appropriate commodity code (42000000 – Medical Equipment and Accessories and Supplies) for these types of supplies.
      • Visit the eMMA Public Solicitations page and search for solicitations for COVID-19 supplies.
      • Click here to view the Quick Reference Guide to view open solicitations.

Next steps and support

Thank you for your support as we work together on behalf of all Marylanders. Please contact eMMAC19support@nitorpartners.com (our eMMA implementation partner) with any questions or concerns.

    • The Montgomery County Council approved $20 million in emergency funding to provide grants to small businesses and nonprofits that have been impacted by COVID-19. At least 25% of the funds are required to go to restaurants and retail storefronts; that figure can be higher. See recent news releases for details >

County at Work on Application Process

The County is now developing the application process for accessing those funds; we will share the application on our website and newsletter when it becomes available. Here are some key items to know:

        • Businesses and nonprofits with up to 100 employees can apply for a maximum grant of $75,000
        • Funds may be used to cover employee wages and benefits, taxes, debt, rent, and other operating expenses
        • The principal place of business must be in the county
          • Sole proprietorships are eligible
          • Includes mini-grants of up to $2,500 to cover technology equipment and software purchases for remote work

Maryland Resources
The Maryland Department of Commerce is offering three new business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More information on each can be found below.

Washington DC

  • The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) is enhancing the security and improving access to our online resources. Access DC is a key component of DCRA’s Vision 2020 digital transformation to make every DCRA service available securely on-demand. As part of this implementation, user email addresses will be verified so they can be safely used as Access DC usernames for sign-in to DCRA’s online services. The Access DC account will be all you need to access any of DCRA’s online systems.

In the coming weeks, DCRA will begin protecting its online service applications with Access DC. You will notice that Access DC will be required to access some applications that previously allowed unsecured access.

Signing up for an Access DC account is easy. Simply visit accessdc.dcra.dc.gov and click the sign up link.

Access DC benefits:

    • Access DC simplifies interactions with DCRA. Instead of having multiple accounts with passwords to remember, your single Access DC account will be used for every DCRA online system.
    • Access DC enhances security by verifying email addresses of all users, and protects DCRA’s online services with an access management platform conforming to the U.S. government’s stringent FedRAMP security standards.
    • The Access DC account is easy to obtain. You can sign up for an account in just a few minutes, and if you ever forget your login information, self-guided prompts will help you recover it instantly.

Virginia

WBE -Provided Resources

  • WBE company, the Creter Group would like to extend to all WBENC and WPEO members through April 24th.  They have several off-the-shelf virtual classroom workshops facilitated by professionals on a variety of topics.  They are offering 3 of them FOR FREE through April 24th to help anyone navigating the virtual world.  The workshops are Virtual Facilitation, Virtual Instructor-led Training and Teleworking/Work-from-Home.  Click here and enter code VIRTUALFREE when checking out to bring the total to zero.
  • The Barbour Group, LLC and Alliance for Hispanic Commercial Contractors in partnership with Alan Paquette, President of Construction AnalytiX, has compiled a summary and links of financial relief options afforded to small businesses and employees.  After you read through this document you have any questions, send your questions to Karen Barbour at Karen@thebarbourgroup.com and Alan will respond.  They will wait until they have several questions before responding.  If your question is urgent, they will get back to you as promptly as possible given how much additional research your response needs.
    • Also, they have an attorney on board, Andrew Winick, that can place loan applications on your behalf until the financial institutions report back that they are at full capacity.  He is working directly with several institutions. They wish to be a valuable resource to you and help you through this trying time. We want to save your business.  Please stay safe and well.  Click here:  COVID-19 Financial Relief Options for Small Businesses and Employees
  • COVID19 has put a stop to “business as usual.” Companies are revisiting their travel plans and policies as well as sick leave and remote work policies. The implications for supplier diversity is that events may be smaller or cancelled completely. This mini-mastermind shows you how to use your certification when you can’t leave home and how be in a good position when you can leave home. https://www.diversitymasterminds.com/product-page/mini-mastermind-business-unusual WBEs will receive a playbook to strategize their certification, opportunities to attend live sessions with Masterminds Liz and Heather and will become part of the Diversity Masterminds community.

Tools You Can Use

  • On-demand recording: Obtaining COVID-19 financial relief.
  • Resources for COVID-19 Communications
  • From disruption to recovery: A road map for businesses impacted by coronavirus. Read Insight.
  • Tax Implications of the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill for Individuals and Businesses. Marcum’s Tax & Business Services leaders discuss the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and how the stimulus provisions may benefit you. Watch Webinar.
  • How to Access the SBA and Other Ways of Preserving Value in Your Business. While the coronavirus is threatening our health, the response and shut down of business operations is threatening our economy. Our government is responding with loans, a federal stimulus, and responses to the timing of tax filings and payments. Watch Webinar.
  • How Might the Value of your Business be Impacted as a Result of the Coronavirus Crisis. Marcum’s National Business Valuation leaders are going to discuss combatting the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption with resilience and perspective. Watch Webinar.
  • 6 Habits Every Telecommuter Should Implement to Build Rapport
  • Latina Style, Inc. is providing access to their previous webinars:
  • SBA DISASTER LOAN FOR SMALL BUSINESS AND NON-PROFITS Password: ZhYX5KVD
  • BOOSTING YOUR BUSINESS VISIBILITY EVEN WHEN NOT IN THE OFFICE – 03.26.20 Password: 5DxYyPS5
  • Work From Home Tip: Are you homeschooling AND working? Here is a tip for you! MAXIMIZE FLEXIBILITY: When possible, organize your work around your family’s needs and childcare opportunities. Save less critical tasks for times when distraction is likely, and reserve more high-stakes assignments for when you are distraction-free.
03/30/20: WBE Tools, Resources, Information and Connections Bulletin March 30 – April 3, 2020

General

  • COVID-19 and Cyber Security
  • Capital One: Small business owners show an incredible amount of courage and grit to run their business every day—and we understand it’s taking every ounce of that strength to problem solve in today’s uncertain time. We want to provide immediate ways to help.
  • Please see a compilation of resources at this link.
  • A licensed psychotherapist and financial wellness advocate for WPO sponsor Prudential offers guidance on managing financial decision-making and maintaining well-being during the unprecedented market turmoil triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Leading through uncertain times requires agility, empathy, and transparent communication. This Crisis Survival Toolkit will help you adapt to changing circumstances. We’ll be making additions to this toolkit daily.
  • The Wage and Hour Division, of the US Department of Labor, provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
  • The Wage and Hour Division, of the US Department of Labor prepared a one-pager on Employee Rights which outlines the new guidelines for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the families first coronavirus Response Act.
  • Kaufman & Canoles, Attorneys at Law discusses Inventory and Analyze Insurance Coverage and Relief Solutions Upfront in the latest Business Client Alert.
  • ProjectN95 launched The National Clearinghouse to connect healthcare providers with critical equipment.

Connecticut

  • The COVID-19 Business Emergency Response Unit, under the CT state Department of Economic and Community Development, has a phone line dedicated to providing assistance to small businesses. It can be reached at 860-500-2333. Questions specific to small businesses may also be answered by the Joint Information Center at JIC@ct.gov.
  • Governor Lamont launches the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19. This is available for businesses with 100 or fewer employees, has a 0% interest rate and has a 12-month term with a 5-month extension per request.

New Jersey

  • New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development – NJDOL and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): What Employers & Businesses Should Know.
  •  COVID-19 JOBS & HIRING PORTALThe State is building a centralized resource to match talent with opportunities in industries on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.The first crucial step is to gather details on employers’ immediate hiring needs. We’ve built an intake tool for employers to share this information which can be directly accessed here: https://jobs.covid19.nj.gov/intake.

    You can find more information on intake process on the State’s COVID-19 Business Information Hub: https://cv.business.nj.gov.

    We’re starting the roll-out of this new tool with critical industries like grocery stores, shipping and logistics, healthcare, janitorial services, and warehousing, but over time we’ll expand to work with all industries that need to tap extra deep into New Jersey’s best-in-class talent pool during this extraordinary time.  New Jersey’s  COVID-19 Business Information Portal

New York

  • The State of New York’s disaster declaration was approved on March 19th, which means that the entire state is eligible for U.S. Small Business Administration working capital loans available to small businesses and most private non-profit organizations that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The Department of Labor is reminding businesses of its Shared Work Program that can provide an alternative to laying off employees during business downturns by allowing workers to work a reduced work schedule and collect partial unemployment insurance benefits for up to 26 weeks. Instead of cutting staff, you’re able to reduce the number of hours of all employees or just a certain group.
  • Many businesses and organizations have expressed a desire to support New York State as it responds to the virus outbreak. Individuals or groups looking to volunteer or contribute to the State’s effort should contact the Governor’s Office at covid19assistance@exec.ny.gov.
  • Empire State Development has set up a web portaland FAQ page for individuals and businesses with business-related COVID-19 issues and questions on this website with all COVID-19 info.
  • New York is taking on coronavirus on all fronts, using digital products, data science, & other tools to ensure we keep New Yorkers safe. If your organization is interested in being a part of the NYS Tech SWAT team.
  • APPLICATIONS OPEN FOR SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF PROGRAM: NEW YORK — Mayor Bill de Blasio, the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Gregg Bishop and NYC Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett announced today that loans are available for small businesses affected by COVID-19. Small businesses have begun applying for relief and can access the application here. The Small Business Continuity Fund offers financial assistance to small businesses in New York City as they deal with various challenges in response to the novel coronavirus.

Maryland

  • Employees are creative protective face shields for hospitals in Maryland
    • I run a call center where employees usually work in an office setting. To support social distancing, I’d like my employees to work remotely, which will require equipment such as reliable headphones and laptops for each employee. If they do not have this equipment, I will need to layoff my staff.
    • I could ask employees to use their personal phones and work remotely, but I do not have the funds to support the cell phone packages. If provided funds to reimburse employees for the increased data usage, my business could avoid layoffs.
    • My employees could work remotely if they had a specific software or computer application, but I cannot afford to purchase. Without this software, I will need to layoff my workforce until we can go back to the office.
    • I need my 8 employees to continue to work on site, but I am concerned about their potential exposure to COVID-19 and cannot afford frequent deep cleaning to help limit potential exposure. If I had funds to support the deep cleaning, it would allow my workers to continue to work and would foster a safer work environment.
    • Due to the impacts of COVID-19, my employees have more down time than usual. If I were able to offer the opportunity for them to take project management training online during this down time, they will increase their skillsets, making them a valuable asset to our company and less likely a candidate for layoff.
      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund – This $75 million loan fund (for for-profit businesses only) offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Learn more.
      • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund – This $50 million grant program for businesses and non-profits offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Learn more.
      • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More details are expected to be announced by Friday, March 27, 2020.UPDATE: Governor Hogan announced new COVID-19 business relief programs on March 23. These resources are available through the Department of Commerce and the Department of LaborThe entire state of Maryland has received designation for SBA assistance. Small businesses can apply here.https://commerce.maryland.gov/fund/maryland-small-business-covid-19-emergency-relief-fund-programsMaryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses Maryland has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This emergency assistance provides interim relief and proceeds that can be used to pay cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs.If you are a Maryland-based business impacted by the Coronavirus with under 50 full- and part-time employees, or a Maryland manufacturer, check out the programs below to see if you qualify for assistance.

      http://www.labor.maryland.gov/employment/covidlafund.shtml

      COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund – Workforce Development and Adult Learning

      Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland Department of Labor have launched the new COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which is designed to support businesses undergoing economic stresses due to the pandemic by preventing or minimizing the duration of unemployment resulting from layoffs. The award (up to $50,000 per applicant), will be a quick deployable benefit and customizable to the specific needs of your business to minimize the need for layoffs.

      Labor is accepting grant applications from small businesses for awards from now through 30 days after the State of Emergency ends (subject to funding availability).

      How can it help me?

      ✔ Providing funds to cover the cost of purchasing remote access (ex. computers, printers, etc.) equipment to allow employees to work remotely from home versus being laid off;

      ✔ Providing funds to cover the cost of purchasing software or programs that an employee would need to use from home;

      ✔ Supporting businesses that take advantage of the Unemployment Insurance Work Sharing Program by supplementing the employee’s income and benefits;

      ✔ Providing funds to cover the costs of cleaning/sanitization services so that small businesses are able to keep employees at work on site, but only if a frequent deep cleaning to prevent exposure occurred;

      ✔ Paying for liability insurance for restaurants that convert to delivery while under emergency circumstances;

      ✔ Providing funds for training or professional development opportunities for employees to avoid layoffs; and

      ✔ Adopting other creative approaches and strategies to reduce or eliminate the need for layoffs in the small business community.

      Examples of how a business may demonstrate the need for layoff aversion funds:

  • Get Started Now!View the One PagerCOVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund Policy

    COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund Application (Excel)

    Submit your completed application to: LaborCOVID19.layoffaversion@maryland.gov.

    Labor staff will process applications within two business days of receipt. Upon approval and receipt of signed contract, payment will be expedited.

    For More Information…
    Contact the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning.

Virginia

  • Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19. The Governor has also outlined these additional measures to ensure the health and safety of all Virginians. Effective at midnight on Tuesday, March 24 certain non-essential businesses must close or have restricted operations.
  • The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has a comprehensive overview of resources developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to ensure your business and your employees have the necessary information to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Washington, DC

  • Mayor Bowser and the Council of the District of Columbia are investing $25 million in the COVID-19 Recovery Effort and the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrants Program, which will be housed in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

  • On March 24th, 2020, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser signed  “Mayor Order 2020-053 Closure of Non-Essential Businesses and Prohibition on Large Gatherings.”  This order defines essential businesses and remains in effect through April 24, 2020.
  • A message from the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs (MOVA), Director Elliot J. Tommingo – DC veterans, veteran family members, and their caregivers, I know these are trying and uncertain times.  As veterans, we are used to overcoming hardship, but that shouldn’t discount the new challenges we face as a community.  I am proud of Mayor Bowser and HSEMA’s leadership, the DC VA Medical Center response, and most importantly our first responders and medical professionals risking their own health as our “boots on the ground”.  MOVA’s office remains open at 441 4th St NW, Suite #707N, M-F 9am – 5pm.  We are accepting walk-ins for VetsRideprogram enrollment, computer lab usage, and scheduling appointments for claims, pathways to work, and vocational rehabilitation occurring after April 24th, 2020.  Please give us a call at 202-724-5454 for any questions.
  • Small Business Relief: The Mayor and the Council of the District of Columbia are investing $25 million in the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrant Program, which will be housed in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. The microgrants will be available to businesses, non-profits, and independent contractors or self-employed individuals. Grants will provide financial support for expenses such as employee wages and benefits, rent, and other operating costs. The program will provide support up to $25,000.

Applications and information on the microgrants program can be found at:

https://coronavirus.dc.gov/recovery-business.

    • Federal SBA Support: Last week, Mayor Bowser also announced the S. Small Business Administration (SBA) accepted the District of Columbia’s declaration for assistance in the form of economic injury disaster loans following the advent of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and DC businesses can apply. While the SBA directly administers this loan program, the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD), led by Director Kristi Whitfield, is the liaison with the SBA on behalf of the District of Columbia. More information on SBA loans can be found at https://coronavirus.dc.gov/recovery-business.
    • Unemployment Benefits Waivers: The Department of Employment Services (DOES) is taking action to allow more workers to file for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits during the public health emergency. DOES is in the process of updating statutory eligibility requirements for workers impacted by COVID-19. Updates will include waivers for:
    • the seven-day waiting period to receive benefits
    • the work search requirement for those affected by COVID-19 (included in Council emergency legislation); and
    • additional flexibility with the requirement to be able and available to work.

These waivers will expand coverage and ensure a faster turnaround period for District workers who have become unemployed or partially unemployed, as a result of COVID-19. When implemented, the waivers will remain in effect until the end of the public health emergency.

Based on the increase in call volume and wait times, DOES encourages residents and workers to visit does.dc.gov to review important information with regard to UI benefits and workplace rights. Similarly, claimants are encouraged to apply for unemployment insurance benefits online at dcnetworks.org, using a desktop or laptop.

    • For Veterans in the DC Area: If you have flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath, call 202-745-8000, option 3, before you visit the medical center. Consider using virtual care options such as telehealth or My HealtheVet Secure Messaging. To minimize risk for Veterans and employees, everyone who enters the DC VAMC campus will be pre-screened for COVID-19. This may lengthen entry times, so please plan accordingly.

The SE DC Community Clinic located on 820 Chesapeake St., will be temporarily closed beginning Monday, March 16, 2020 to protect the health and safety of Veterans co-located on the campus.

Coronavirus can spread not only illness, but stress and anxiety, too. If you’re feeling uncertain or fearful, see these practical steps you can take to improve your well-being. https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/72665/veterans-stressed-coronavirus/.

If you feel you are in crisis, please contact the Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1. The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/ 7 by phone, chat or text.  Visit: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/.

Webinars and Townhalls

  • WPEO Lunch with the Experts: Join WPEO for a Lunch with the Experts webinar each Tuesday. Hear from an expert and submit your questions for a Q&A session as we navigate business challenges during this unprecedented time.
  • WIPP Webinar: The Intersectionality of COVID-19 and the Small Business Community. COVID-19: Monday March 30, 2:00pm EST presenters Barbara (Barb) Carson, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting at the U.S. Small Business Administration and Courtney Fairchild, President & CEO, Global Services, Inc; Vice Chair, WIPP Board of Directors. COVID-19: Managing Team Dynamics & Morale.
  • Navigating a Disrupted Workforce: A Discussion on Procurement’s Role in the COVID-19 Pandemic Tuesday, March 31 from 2PM – 3:30PM(brought to you by NIGP) Register Today
  • The Corona Virus Impact on Global Supply Chain– What you can do to help mitigate risk for your organization. (brought to you by ASCM, the Association for Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Canada – Available on YouTube)
  • Leadership Communication in a Crisis Thursday, April 2 11:00am EST.
  • Navigating Your Business Through Turbulent Times. a special thought leadership webinar to learn how small and midsize business leaders can navigate the current economic climate to stabilize operations, survive a downturn and position your business to take full advantage of a recovery. Thursday April 2, 1:00pm EST.
  • Webinar – Why Remote Work Makes Teams and Leaders Better Thursday, April 9 11:00am EST.

Tools You can Use

  • How to conduct a remote interview  – As a potential employer, you may already be used to conducting remote interviews, but when all your interviews are remote, what are things you should keep in mind to still get the same impact? Find out in this blog.
  • Why and how to measure disengagement right now – Administering an engagement survey is a great way to get the clarity and data needed to help you navigate uncertainty and make the right decisions for your business.
03/23/20: WBE Tools, Resources, Information and Connections Bulletin March 23 – 27, 2020

General

Connecticut

  • SBA assistance: Connecticut Governor Lamont asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to begin offering disaster-relief loans to Connecticut small businesses and non-profits. The SBA approved his request. Companies can now apply for loans of up to $2 million through a special page on the SBA website. SBA also has more valuable information for businesses.
  • For Connecticut businesses in need of assistance with SBA loans or any other DECD program, a business hotline at 860-500-2333 is available.
  • While the state Department of Revenue Services has closed its branch offices to the public, it may be reached by telephone at 860-297-5962, or by email at drs@po.state.ct.us.
  • During COVID-19 Emergency, Connecticut Utilities Will Stop Nonpayment Shut-offs
  • State of Connecticut’s Actions Related to COVID-19 – A Comprehensive Summary
  • Connecticut’s coronavirus-response team has a web portal with up-to-the-minute news and information about the virus, its impact and how to keep yourself and others safe. You can follow the coronavirus response on Twitter (@Covid19CT) and Facebook (@CTCovid19Response).
  • For Connecticut businesses in need of assistance with SBA loans or any other DECD program, a business hotline at 860-500-2333 is available.
  • Unemployment assistance: Workers directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic no longer must be actively searching for work. And employers who are furloughing workers can use the Department of Labor’s shared work program, which allows businesses to reduce working hours and have those wages supplemented with unemployment insurance. DOL has more information about these and other changes.

New Jersey

  • The Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ is asking businesses to take a short survey to explore what strategies and ideas can be implemented to support and showcase members and the small business community.
  • BusinessNJ.gov has compiled COVID-19/Novel Coronavirus Information for New Jersey Businesses.

New York

Maryland

  • Baltimore City Government has issued Policy Changes in response to the coronavirus.
  • The Governor of the State of Maryland has proclaimed a State of Emergency and a catastrophic health emergency related to COVID-19.  On March 12, 2020, an order was issued extending state licenses and registrations until 30 days after the State of Emergency and catastrophic health emergency is terminated. See notice.
  • In accordance with the Order, the Secretary of State has issued a Public Notice extending registrations for charitable organizations, professional solicitors, fundraising counsels, and public safety solicitors due during this period are automatically extended until 30 days after the State of Emergency is terminated. This order only impacts registration due dates from March 12, 2020 until the State of Emergency and catastrophic health emergency is terminated. If your registration was due before March 11, 2020, it is delinquent.
  • The state of Maryland announced COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund Programs for Businesses.
  • The state of Maryland has established a COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund.

Virginia

  • The state of Virginia SBA has announced SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) for small businesses and private, non-profit organizations.
  • The City of Chesapeake’s Economic Development Department is offering tools and knowledge for small business success during this time.
  • Virginia Department of Small Business  & Supplier Diversity in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had developed a brief survey that will allow their agency to collect data on the impact COVID-19 is having on business revenue and employment.

Webinars and Townhalls

  • WPEO Lunch with the Experts: Join WPEO for a Lunch with the Experts webinar each Tuesday. Hear from an expert and submit your questions for a Q&A session as we navigate business challenges during this unprecedented time. Find this week’s (3/24) webinar information here and next week’s (3/31) webinar information here.
  • Nukk-Freeman & Cerra, P.C. Webinar: COVID-19 Awareness: Employment Law Q&A, Thursday, March 26th, 11:00am – 11:30am EST. Register here.
  • WIPP Webinar: The Intersectionality of COVID-19 and the Small Business Community. COVID-19: Funding Resources and Options. Every Monday during this challenging time, WIPP will be hosting webinars on The Intersectionality of COVID-19 and the Small Business Community. March 23, 2020 at 2:00pm ET, presenters are Sue Malone, President, Strategies for Small Business and Barbara (Barb) Carson, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Government Contracting at the U.S. Small Business Administration. Audience Log-in URL:   https://www.anymeeting.com/687-043-405 | Dial-in Number: 863-208-0120 | Attendee PIN: 954 8393#
  • Wells Fargo Webinar: Managing Treasury Risks in Challenging Times: With the pandemic impact of COVID-19, the list of risks treasurers face seems to grow day by day. In this rapidly changing environment, businesses need to understand the nature and implications of these challenges as well as anticipate potential impacts to their treasury operations. You will be able to log in to the event on Mar 24, 2020 12:00 PM EDT, the broadcast will start at 12:30 PM EDT.
  • AARP – hosting weekly live Coronavirus Information Tele-Town halls on Thursdays at 1:00pm EDT to answer questions about avoiding coronavirus scams and providing resources to family caregivers. Call toll-free (855) 274 – 9507.
  • Vital Voices, Voices of Resilience podcast series will feature leaders across industries and cultures, each sharing unique insights into how they are dealing with current COVID-19 crisis, how they motivate themselves and their teams to stay focused on the larger goal, and where they find the strength and courage to persevere. Launched March 20, 2020.
  • SBA Webinar: Join a live web event with SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza on COVID-19’s economic impacts and the SBA’s targeted relief efforts for the nation’s small businesses. SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza will join the Small Business Roundtable and CEOs of the leading small business organizations for a discussion on the needs of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners during the economic fallout resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Tools You can Use

03/11/20: Meet the WBEs: Christine Nichlos

Christine Nichlos
WPEO NY WBE
CEO/Founder, People Science

What inspired you to start your business?
In early 1997, I was told by the company president that even though I was doing extremely well, and had a good following throughout the company, that he could not groom me to be president. He went on to explain that he had trouble working with women, but this was his challenge and no reflection of me or my abilities. Ironically, I was working on a new service offering for my employer at the time, so I borrowed some money, cashed in my 401k and created my own company based on the new offering.

Tell us about your business.
Not a Staffing Company, Not an Agency – People Science provides REVOLUTIONARY solutions to today’s recruitment challenges. Since our inception in 1997, clients have relied on People Science to “break the code” of their toughest recruiting efforts. Matching services to our clients’ unique recruiting circumstances, we provide highly effective customized solutions. Our Services include:

  • Talent Acquisition Consulting: Advice, direction and solutions
  • Recruitment Process Outsourcing: Assuming the portions, or the entire recruitment function
  • HireGate: Software that completes the talent acquisition cycle

Acquiring talent today is a Science. The Science of People.  We are People Science, We can help.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur?
Getting acknowledged as capable, even though we are smaller than the large players in our space.    Finding Venture Funding for our software. As recent as this year, we were told that we were “in the RFP mix,” because we are woman-owned and the potential client company needs to have diverse companies to be “in the mix,” but not really considered.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
Recently, I am witnessing companies really start to see the value in diverse businesses. The certification process has always helped me keep good records in place that have proved valuable when responding to large companies. I do enjoy the connections I have made when attending the Summit.

What’s your favorite WPEO/WBENC event you’ve attended? Why?
The Summit.  I like hearing what the purchasing teams are looking for in suppliers and of course making the connections.

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
It’s always about me: How I feel, what I think and what I do. When I was in corporate America, I always thought of the company as a whole. It has taken many, many years for me to realize the company is about me – quite the opposite of what most new women business owners think.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
Question yourself – are you really an entrepreneur?  I do think it is a characteristic. My father was an entrepreneur, and I always swore I would never have my own business. Ha.

Also, lose the fear – it doesn’t really work for you. Business owners often think fear propels us, but this is not so. It’s our drive that propels us – the fear is just a hindrance.

What do you love about being a business owner?
I am an entrepreneur, I love making things work differently.  I love watching others in my company think and perform differently.

Connect with Christine:

03/10/20: Number of women-led startups doubles

By Anne Stych, BizWomen

The number of companies founded by women doubled from 10 percent of global startups in 2009 to 20 percent in 2019, according to new research from Crunchbase.

The data report, which looked at funding trends for female founders over the last decade, also found that the number of funded companies with a female founder has doubled in the past five years.

Read more here.

03/04/20: Meet the WBEs: Jen Portland

Jen Portland
WPEO NY WBE
Founder and Spreadsheeter, Portland Spreadworks, LLC dba Excel Rain Man

Tell us about your business.
We help companies streamline their business processes and analyze and better understand their data – whether it is due to a lack of spreadsheet savvy or merely not having the time to get their work done. Our bread and butter is taking Microsoft Excel, Access and Google Sheets work off of people’s desks with a focus on automation via Macros/Visual Basic. All of our work is custom. I like to think of us as a mail merge on steroids. As our work is very niche and does not fit into the typical buckets for RFPs and Commodity Codes, we best convey our capabilities by showing demos of our sample work to get people thinking of how we can help.

What inspired you to start your business?
Before I started Excel Rain Man, I was working at an insurance company buying reinsurance protection. My colleagues would always ask me for spreadsheet help. I thought to myself, “What happens at places without a spreadsheet guru?” Identifying the problem was the first step. That’s when I knew Excel Rain Man would make a good business. The first 6 years of my business, I worked full time elsewhere. My former employers and connections in the insurance/reinsurance space are now some of our best customers, referral sources and cheerleaders.

What do you love about being a business owner?
I really love making fast decisions with my team that we can directly see the results of. Whenever we see a way to better our business, we do it. When there is a problem, we fix it. I feel super fortunate that we do not have to get bogged down in the bureaucracy that larger organizations have to (understandably) deal with.

What challenges have you faced as a woman entrepreneur?
Often a challenge I face is on the periphery when people (both men AND women) find out I have my own business – they assume that it is a hobby so I can have a flexible schedule with children. I get so annoyed by this. To me, family/personal life is separate from work, and it is not fair to put women in a place of not having a serious job/business or just assume that they have a family (many people don’t… hello?!?). That said, our customers/prospects have never felt this way or alluded to such. So, I just need to simmer down when people make these comments and know that we have a wonderful business that makes a difference to our customers and is a job creator.

How has being a WBENC-Certified WBE helped your business?
After getting certified, I started by email-blasting a WBENC supplier diversity contact list – basically cold-emailing everyone saying we were newly WBENC-certified and would love the opportunity to tell them about our business. It is AMAZING the number of meetings we got just by name-dropping WBENC! HUGE WIN!

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t give family and friends a discount! If you do, then what is the point of having a network? Plus, you don’t want to resent the people who love you that bring you business because you are working for less money.

What advice would you give to other women entrepreneurs?
My advice is all about working smarter:
1. NO DISCOUNTS: Stemming from the best advice I ever received. Don’t discount your services… especially to friends and family.
2. FIRE BAD CUSTOMERS: We make most of our customers so happy. And then there is the customer that will never be happy. That keeps us up at night and maybe I shed a tear over it. NOT ANYMORE. We end that relationship with a soft email or call and suggest some other places to take their business.
3. WORK LESS, PAY OTHERS: Pay others to take things off of your plate… especially the things you don’t want to do. Worst case scenario, you make a little less money and have a lot more fun. More likely, you will get so much more done and be able to take on more customers, be happier and create jobs.

What’s your favorite WPEO/WBENC event you’ve attended? Why?
I made some INCREDIBLE connections at two WPEO NY events: Prime Suppliers and Second Tier Opportunities (at New York Life) and the NY Annual Breakthrough Breakfast. Because these events were so worthwhile, I am trying to attend as many events as I can and have already booked my tickets to Nashville (for WBENC’s Summit & Salute). While there are so many networking events to choose from across all of the organizations I touch, WPEO has moved to top and I am weeding out some of the others in the interest of time.

Connect with Jen:

 

02/14/20: Quality Control: Bad Content Does You No Favours

By Lisa Bragg, CEO & Founder of MediaFace

I hear it all the time: “people are hungry for content.” As the owner of a content company, I’ve probably said it more than once, myself. But let me clarify: people are hungry for goodsophisticated content.

Calling the volume of content released on a daily basis a “glut” would be an understatement. It’s a deluge, an avalanche. A new blog post is released every 0.5 seconds – to say nothing of videos, podcasts, Tweets, Instagrams, TikToks… And most of it is garbage. There’s a mix of human and machine work at play to make sure that the good stuff gets seen. Popular content is form-agnostic: there are viral short stories and viral chickpea curry recipes in addition to viral videos and Tweets. People still want what they consume to have meaning, and meaning still means that they connect with it, and can discuss and dissect that connection with other people.

Read more here.

02/10/20: Black In Business: Celebrating The Legacy Of Black Entrepreneurship

By Ruth Umoh and Brianne Garrett, Forbes

African-Americans have played a profound role in shaping the U.S. business landscape. Technological innovations like the traffic light, automatic elevator doors and even caller ID all sprung from the minds of creative black luminaries.

To honor their business achievements this Black History Month, Forbes spoke to a number of founders, investors, activists, celebrities and experts on the black diaspora. What emerged from these conversation was a rich, complex portrait of black entrepreneurship, one that highlights the black community’s tremendous creativity, as well as a resilience that was born, in part, out of hardship and necessity.

Read more here.

01/28/20: Goldman Sachs Won’t Take Companies Public If They Have All-Male Corporate Boards

By Kim Elsesser, Forbes

Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told CNBC that the investment bank wouldn’t take companies public unless the company had at least one “diverse” board member. Although he didn’t define exactly what he meant by diverse, he said the focus was on women.

“Starting on July 1 in the U.S. and Europe, we’re not going to take a company public unless there’s at least one diverse board candidate, with a focus on women,” Solomon told CNBC from the World Economic Forum. He added, “And we’re going to move towards 2021 requesting two.”

Read more here.

01/22/20: INVESTING IN WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES

By The NWBC Council

THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S BUSINESS COUNCIL ISSUES POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS ON INVESTMENT IN WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 16, 2020 – In its new Annual Report, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) has issued policy recommendations on angel investment tax credits with the aim of incentivizing new investments in women-owned firms.

The NWBC submitted its 2019 Annual Report to the President, the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the House Committee on Small Business, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration.

This report recaps NWBC’s 31st year and provides the findings, conclusions, and policy recommendations of the Council. NWBC Chair Liz Sara, now in her second year at the helm, has concentrated the Council’s efforts on three important policy initiatives: improving access to capital for female founders, encouraging more women to start and grow companies in STEM-related fields, and removing obstacles for women business owners in rural areas.

Read more here.

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