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An Update From the WMWO Chamber
Please note that as our nation and state take the necessary steps to address COVID-19 in Louisiana, the West Monroe West Ouachita Chamber will do the same. Many meetings are now on hold or postponed, and our staff will be working remotely as much as possible as we all work together to prevent the spread of the virus.
While our staff may be operating from different locations than usual, rest assured that we will continue to keep you informed of resources and information to support your operations. We stand ready to aid our local, state and federal partners in helping Louisiana's employers and workers during this difficult time.
Please find below links to resources that will keep you updated during this time. Should you have specific questions you would like help with, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org OR call us 318-325-1961. We will get back to you as soon as possible.
New relief for businesses:
We highly encourage you to explore the summary of legislation here, consider the SBA loan programs immediately and collect the needed documentation for filing. If you have not already, contact your local bank where you already have an established relationship and ask for their feedback and advice. It is important to note these loans may take time to process so action now is critical to maintain liquidity for your business. Although the Chamber cannot directly advise you of your specific financial needs, we can direct you to quality contacts in the banking, accounting and legal professions that can!
Summary April 7, 2020:
SBDC Comparison Chart
America's Small Business Development Centers has released a spreadsheet that compares all of the currently available SBA programs, including the Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Program. You can access the document by clicking here.
To aid small businesses in their response to the COVID-19 crisis, the National Federation of Independent Business has assembled a resource center, including all of their webinars on-demand, financial and lending guidance, legal assistance, and the answers to frequently asked questions.
To access the NFIB resources, click HERE.
Paycheck Protection Program
With applications now being accepted, the Paycheck Protection Program will provide forgivable 7(a) loans that can only be used for business expenses such as payroll, health benefits, rent or mortgage payments, and existing debts. To read a top-line overview of the program, click HERE.
- For US Treasury Department information for borrowers seeking a loan, click HERE.
- For US Treasury Department final rules with specific examples and FAQ, click HERE.
- To find a list of approved lenders, click HERE.
- To access the loan application itself, click HERE.
- For US Treasury Department interim final guidance for banks, click HERE.
- To access the SBA Application to become an approved lender, click HERE.
- To access the US Treasury Department's affiliation rules, click HERE.
- For a step-by-step guide to Paycheck Protection Program loans from LABI's partners at the US Chamber of Commerce, click HERE.
NOTE: These loans are administered directly though local banks, and that is where you should start if considering this program. These loans can be forgiven by the federal government if payroll is maintained beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the US Small Business Administration
In addition to the Paycheck Protection loans described above, the SBA is taking applications for Economic Injury Disaster Loans to address revenue losses and other business needs related to COVID-19. Low-interest loans with long-term repayment programs are available up to $2 million at a fixed interest rate of 2.75% for non-profits and 3.75% for businesses with specific terms based on your situation.
- For a guide to the SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loans from the US Chamber of Commerce, click HERE.
- To apply for a disaster loan online through the SBA, click HERE.
- For instructions for filling out an SBA loan application, click HERE.
NOTE: While businesses can take out both Paycheck Protection loans and disaster loans, they CANNOT be used for the same company expenditures. Disaster loans are NOT forgivable and must be repaid.
Employee Retention Tax Credit
The Employee Retention Credit is another tool to help struggling businesses keep employees on their payroll. There are NO business size limitations as with the two loan programs above. In order to qualify, companies must have fully or partially suspended operations to comply with government prevention mandates, or have gross receipts at less than 50% of a comparable quarter last year.
- For a guide to the Employee Retention Tax Credit from the US Chamber of Commerce, click HERE.
- To access IRS Form 7200, which is needed to claim the credit, click HERE.
- To find the IRS' answers to FAQs about the credit, click HERE.
NOTE: If a business is receiving a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, they are NOT eligible for the Employee Retention Tax Credit as this would be considered "double dipping" for the same payroll and the same workers.
Save the Date for another LABI Call/Zoom Panel of Experts next Thursday, April 9, at 2pm. Next week's panel will focus on all of the various forms of federal tax relief available to businesses during COVID-19. To join the webinar via Zoom, click HERE. Dial in from your phone: +13462487799,,565528457#
State Announces New Loan Program for Small Business
Governor John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson announced last week that state government is backing a program to offer loans of up to $100,000 to small businesses with fewer than 100 employees that are impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. These loans will not require payment for up to 180 days, will have a term of 1-5 years and a maximum interest rate of 3.5%.
The loan program, called the Loan Portfolio Guaranty Program, or LPGP, will have the funds dispersed through approved local banks in partnership with the Louisiana Bankers Association. A regularly updated list of the participating lending institutions is available on LED's website.
Businesses are encouraged to discuss these loans directly with their local bank. Please note that these loans do not in any way conflict with any federal assistance offered through the US Small Business Administration.
For more information on the LPGP program from LED, click HERE.
Participating Banks LPGP:
Community Bank of Louisiana; Carl Thibodeaux, email@example.com
Homeland Federal Savings Bank: Robert Frazier, firstname.lastname@example.org, 318-649-6124
Citizens National Bank, N.A.: Daniel Keeton, email@example.com, 318-698-8527
Rayne Building and Loan Association; Claire Benoit, firstname.lastname@example.org, 337-334-7535
St. Landry Bank & Trust: Lyle Brignac, email@example.com, 337-948-2443
St. Landry Homestead Federal Savings Bank; Kathy LeJeune, firstname.lastname@example.org, 337-948-3033
Liberty Bank; Tracey Hunter, email@example.com, 504-240-5154; Ann Duplessis, firstname.lastname@example.org, 504-240-5182
Succentrix Business Advisors – COVID19 Relief Services:
EIDL application - $500.00 Paycheck Protection application - $500.00
Neither Fee is payable until the loan is funded or rejected
- Provide initial call to explain EIDL and PPP loans.
- Provide a list of initial documents needed to fill applications
- Work with your bank to provide their documentation requirements.
Another engagement will be required when further documentation is requested from SBA to provide proof of how business spent the PPP loan proceeds.
Succentrix Business Advisors, Bill Stansbury, CPA LLC
101 North 2nd Street, Suite 100 D West Monroe, LA 71291
Summary April 2, 2020:
Summary April 1, 2020:
To better compare the 2 major loan programs, click here for a free CARES Act EIDL/PPP Comparison Chart
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) are working capital loans available to small businesses and non-profit organizations to help them meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations and assist them through the disaster recovery period. Under the recently-passed CARES Act, certain terms and conditions of the EIDL Program have been relaxed or expanded.
Eligibility, Terms, and Conditions
Paycheck Protection Program Overview
Does My Business Qualify?
Small Businesses & Certain Nonprofit Organizations
Entrepreneurs & Independent Contractors
Food & Accommodation Sector
Summary March 30th:
As you have probably heard, the CARES Act was passed and signed into effect last week. While there are many items that have yet to be clarified, we think it is important that you know 3 major items immediately. (Our thanks to Senator Cassidy’s and Senator Kennedy’s offices for providing us with this information to pass along)
Should you have questions, consider a session with the SBDC –
- Great feedback on the Paycheck Protection Program can be found here
- Importantly, SBA loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis. The SBA loans have a process for loan forgiveness for loan funds used for payroll costs including those of tipped employees, payments on utilities, rent on a leasing agreement, and more. These loans can be up to 2.5x the borrower’s average monthly payroll costs, not to exceed 10million. See attached document from US Chamber for a quick summary including definitions.
- The best method of securing your loan is to interact with a local bank with which you already have a relationship. This helps to support our local banks and will dramatically speed your application process. However, full guidance from the US Treasury is likely to not come out until Friday. As a result, your local bank may not have full detail on the process until then. It is recommended that you take action now and gather the important documentation to submit your application. To our knowledge all our Chamber member banking institutions qualify as providers. See: http://www.westmonroechamber.org/list/category/banks-24
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) can answer many of these questions directly. While their offices are closed, technical advice is available remotely with SBDC experts. Click HERE to request a consultation and schedule a virtual meeting with SBDC staff in your area and/or email email@example.com.
Rest assured that the WMWO Chamber will continue to keep you informed of resources and information to support your operations. We stand ready to aid our local, state and federal partners in helping Louisiana's employers and workers during this difficult time and are happy to seek answers to any questions you may have. Simply email us and we will gladly look into the issue you are facing.
SUMMARY MARCH 26th:
Over the last days, multiple sources have emerged to aid our business community. In an effort to keep you informed, please review this brief summary below. As always, we will continue to update content here to reflect the latest information we have.
- Louisiana Department of Revenue: Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Louisiana today extended the deadline to file and pay the February 2020 sales tax returns to May 20, 2020. This is an automatic extension and no extension request is necessary. Learn More>>
- Refundable Payroll Tax Credits: the U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Labor announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, March 18, 2020. Click here for details. Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers Note: The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.
UPDATE March 25: The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division issued their first level of guidance on how the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will affect employers and employees. In the text, the DOL makes it clear that they will be issuing further guidance and regulations related to the exemptions for employers with fewer than 50 employees, as well as health care providers—which will we share with you as soon as it becomes available.
The guidance—provided in a Fact Sheet for Employees, a Fact Sheet for Employers and a Questions and Answers document—addresses critical questions, such as how an employer must count the number of their employees to determine coverage, how small businesses can obtain an exemption, how to count hours for part-time employees, how to calculate the wages employees are entitled to under this law, and more.
To view the official guidance from the DOL please click here.
- Gov. Edwards announced that small businesses in all 64 parishes have access to the Small Business Administration disaster aid. Impacted small businesses may apply for up to $2 million in working capital to pay for fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the COVID-19 disaster. Loan terms (3.75 percent interest rate for small businesses; 2.75 percent for nonprofits) may be extended up to 30 years to keep payments affordable.
Further, the SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced automatic deferments through December 31, 2020, for borrowers still paying back SBA disaster loans from previous disasters such as the 2016 floods and Hurricanes Gustav, Ike, Katrina, or Rita. Borrowers of home and business disaster loans do NOT have to contact SBA to request deferment.
SBA has shared the following information related to the COVID-19 disaster loans:
- Full eligibility guidelines for non-profits and business, click HERE.
- Size and standards classification guidelines for small businesses (for use when applying), click HERE.
- Guidelines on what small businesses can do with the disaster loans, click HERE.
- Complete resource guide for small business, click HERE.
- Louisiana Economic Development also is offering COVID-19: Business Resources, an online guide to assistance available for impacted businesses. Look for updates to the guide at OpportunityLouisiana.com.
- If you have additional questions - or questions specific to your business - you are encouraged to contact the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in your area. While their offices are closed, technical advice is available remotely with SBDC experts. Click HERE to request a consultation and schedule a virtual meeting with SBDC staffin your area and/or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Louisiana Department of Revenue
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, Louisiana today extended the deadline to file and pay the February 2020 sales tax returns to May 20, 2020. This is an automatic extension and no extension request is necessary. Learn More>>
Refundable Payroll Tax Credits
Information from the
Louisiana Workforce Commission
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has provided guidelines and information regarding unemployment insurance for employers and workers affected by the crisis.
Information for Workers in Louisiana
If your employment has been impacted for reasons related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease), please review the following information about assistance available. The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) will do all that we can to ensure impacted workers receive the benefits for which they are eligible.
Do any of these situations apply to you?
Your work hours have been reduced because of lack of work due to Coronavirus.
Your workplace closes temporarily, and you are not being compensated.
You have been instructed not to go to work, and you are not being paid while at home.
You MAY be eligible for unemployment insurance. You can file a claim at www.louisianaworks.net/hire or by calling our Claim Center at 866-783-5567. Effective March 17, 2020, we have extended our Claim Center hours to 8 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Be sure to answer “yes” to the question, “Are you filing for Unemployment Insurance benefits for reasons related to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?” This will provide needed information to the LWC to help process your claim.
If your work hours have been reduced, partial benefits could be available to you up to a maximum of $247 a week. You must report any earnings for the week that you work, even if you’ve not yet been paid. Report the gross amount before deductions. These earnings would be factored into the amount of unemployment benefits paid to you for that week.
A number of factors determine eligibility for benefits. The LWC reviews each case separately.
The maximum number of weeks that unemployment benefits can be paid per claim is 26 weeks in a 12-month period.
Wages and vacation pay (received or will receive) MUST be reported when you file your
unemployment claim. Sick leave and PTO do not need to be reported.
IMPORTANT NOTE: As per the Governor’s proclamation, for individuals whose employment has been impacted due to COVID-19:
Work search requirements are waived Week of waiting is waived
Information for Employers in Louisiana
If you are temporarily closing or reducing your hours of operations due to COVID-19, please contact the LWC to discuss how we can provide assistance and answer your questions about unemployment insurance and other programs and resources available.
Contact us at EmployerServices@lwc.la.gov with your unemployment insurance questions. Be sure to provide your company’s name, a point of contact, telephone number and email address, as well as specifics on the assistance you are requesting. The Employer Call Center, 225-326-6999, is also available.
For other programs and assistance, contact the American Job Center in your area. To find the closest American Job Center, go to http://www.laworks.net/Downloads/WFD/AJC_Contacts.pdf
IMPORTANT NOTE: As per the Governor’s proclamation, reimbursable employers impacted due to COVID-19:
Non-charges may be granted
For more information regarding LWC's operations and procedures during this time, visit their Coronavirus website.
Recommendation for Louisiana Businesses
As you look to pass accurate information to your workers and make important decisions regarding business operations, a good place to start is with the CDC's recommended business strategies, which include:
1. Actively encourage sick employees to stay home.
2. Separate sick employees.
3. Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees.
4. Perform routine environmental cleaning.
5. Advise employees before traveling to take certain steps.
For more information, see below or visit the website of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, a LABI member company, for a variety of other resources, fact sheets and fliers regarding COVID-19 including:
Information From the Louisiana Department of Health
With over one hundred cases of coronavirus confirmed across the the Louisiana Department of Health has resources available for the business community.
- To see LDH's Guidance for Business and Employers, click HERE
In addition, LDH has also made some printable items available that can be placed around your place of business and company facilities.
- How to Keep Illness from Spreading
- Coronavirus Symptoms and Travel Considerations
- LDH's Guidance for Family Preparedness
For more information, visit LDH's Coronavirus website or you can call the Louisiana 211 Network by dialing 211. In addition, you can text the keyword LACOVID to 898-211 for regular text updates from LDH on the coronavirus in our state.
Information From the U.S. Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers
Given the nationwide scope of this challenge, our partners in Washington at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) have made resources available for American businesses and workers:
- U.S. Chamber's Guidance for Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus
- To see the U.S. Chamber's Workplace Tips for Employees
ACTIVELY ENCOURAGE SICK EMPLOYEES TO STAY HOME:
- Employees should notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
- Employees who have symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until:
- they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer),
- signs of a fever and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants).
- Ensure that your sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of these policies.
- Talk with companies that provide your business with contract or temporary employees about the importance of sick employees staying home and encourage them to develop non-punitive leave policies.
- Do not require a healthcare provider’s note for employees who are sick with acute respiratory illness to validate their illness or to return to work, as healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely way.
- Employers should maintain flexible policies that permit employees to stay home to care for a sick family member. Employers should be aware that more employees may need to stay at home to care for sick children or other sick family members than is usual.
SEPARATE SICK EMPLOYEES:CDC recommends that employees who appear to have acute respiratory illness symptoms (i.e. cough, shortness of breath) upon arrival to work or become sick during the day should be separated from other employees and be sent home immediately. Sick employees should cover their noses and mouths with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available).
EMPHASIZE STAYING HOME WHEN SICK, RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE AND HAND HYGIENE BY ALL EMPLOYEES:
- Place posters at workplace entrances and in other high traffic workplace areas that encourage:
- Provide tissues and no-touch disposal receptacles for use by employees.
- Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% to 95% alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty.
- Provide soap and water and alcohol-based hand rubs in the workplace. Ensure that adequate supplies are maintained. Place hand rubs in multiple locations or in conference rooms to encourage hand hygiene.
- Visit the coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage for more information.
PERFORM ROUTINE ENVIRONMENTAL CLEANING:
- Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label.
- No additional disinfection beyond routine cleaning is recommended at this time.
- Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls and desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
ADVISE EMPLOYEES BEFORE TRAVELING TO TAKE CERTAIN STEPS:
- Check the CDC’s Traveler’s Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which you will travel. Specific travel information for travelers going to and returning from China, and information for aircrew, can be found at on the CDC website.
- Advise employees to check themselves for symptoms of acute respiratory illness before starting travel and notify their supervisor and stay home if they are sick.
- Ensure employees who become sick while traveling or on temporary assignment understand that they should notify their supervisor and should promptly call a healthcare provider for advice if needed.
- If outside the United States, sick employees should follow your company’s policy for obtaining medical care or contact a healthcare provider or overseas medical assistance company to assist them with finding an appropriate healthcare provider in that country. A U.S. consular officer can help locate healthcare services. However, U.S. embassies, consulates and military facilities do not have the legal authority, capability and resources to evacuate or give medicines, vaccines or medical care to private U.S. citizens overseas.
3 WORK-FROM-HOME SOLUTIONS
- Hosted Phone - Pair your desk phone to your mobile phone, tablet or desktop PC. You can be reached anywhere, all through one number. This service can also include features like conference calling, voicemail, chat and integrated contacts.
- Online Meetings - Conduct face-to-face meetings, chat, share your desktops, applications and whiteboard with anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- Business Backup and Recovery - Make sure your data is backed up at all times.
COMMUNICATE AND COLLABORATE
- Evaluate your current business practices.
- Are there ways you can offer services with less face-to-face customer contact?
- Can you offer delivery, take out or other options that can support quarantined or home bound customers?
- Develop policies and practices that build trust with customers and colleagues
- Encourage employees to take their temperature every day, regardless of how they feel. Catching a fever early may spare both customers and colleagues from exposure.
- Insist that sick employees stay home, for their health and everyone's safety.
- Increase use of cleaners and frequency of cleaning
- Post steps you are taking online and at your establishment so customers know you are aware and vigilant
Last updated March 26th