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The Network Effect
The Chamber has launched a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.

Submit questions about the CARES Act, Gov. Evers' newly extended "Safer at Home" order, availability of assistance for your business and more by visiting Slido.com and entering the event code #ASK4BIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). Questions can also be submitted via email at ask@madisonbiz.com.


Good evening --

Here are the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak and our organizational efforts to inform and ensure an effective community response.

Today's highlights include details of the extended "Safer at Home" order, next steps for small business relief, available benefits for employers and workers, how you could spend your stimulus check and how Greater Madison businesses are making a difference.

NEW TIME: LUNCH(UP)DATE WITH U.S. SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin will discuss the latest on federal relief, reopening and recovery efforts in response to the COVID-19 outbreak tomorrow (Friday, April 17) at a new time (2:45-3:30 p.m.) during Lunch(UP)date, the Chamber's weekly program where you can take a break and enjoy lunch (or, in this case, a mid-afternoon snack) while staying connected, curious and informed.

Register here. Submit in advance any questions you have for Sen. Baldwin or the Chamber to ask@madisonbiz.com.

"SAFER AT HOME" EXTENSION

Today, Gov. Tony Evers announced he is extending his existing "Safer at Home" order until Tuesday, May 26 at 8 a.m. Read the full order here and the FAQ document here.

There are several notable changes from the Governor's original order that take effect when the original order expires on April 24:

Businesses and Activities Increasing Service and Operations
 
--Public libraries may provide curbside pickup of books and other library materials.

--Golf courses may re-open, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.

--Non-essential businesses will now be able to do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings and curbside pickup. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.

--Arts and crafts stores may offer expanded curbside pickup of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE).

--Aesthetic or optional exterior work such as lawn care or construction is allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.
 
Safe Business Practices
 
--Safe Business Practices for Essential Businesses and Operations: Essential Businesses and Operations must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, ensure that only necessary workers are present and adopt policies to prevent workers exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic workers from coming to work.

--Safe Business Practices for Retailers that are Essential Businesses and Operations: Retail stores that remain open to the public as Essential Businesses and Operations must limit the number of people in the store at one time and provide proper spacing for people waiting to enter, while large stores must offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations.

--Supply Chain: Essential Businesses and Operations that supply, manufacture or distribute goods and services to other Essential Businesses and Operations may only continue operations that are necessary to those businesses they supply. All other operations must continue as Minimum Basic Operations.
 
Other changes include:
 
--Schools: Public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

--Local parks and open space: Local health officials may close public parks and open spaces if it becomes too difficult to ensure social distancing or the areas are being mistreated.

--Travel: People are strongly encouraged to stay close to home, not travel to second homes or cabins and not to travel out of state if it is not necessary.

--Tribal Nations: Tribal Nations are sovereign over their territory and can impose their own restrictions. Non-tribal members should be respectful of and avoid non-essential travel to Tribal territory. Local government must coordinate, collaborate and share information with Tribal Nations.

If you believe your business is essential and has not been included in the order, you may request a designation as essential by submitting this form (Note: If you have trouble loading the form, you may need to exempt WEDC's website in your pop-up blocker).

If you are unable to get answers from the order or other resources listed above, submit your questions to us via Slido.com (enter event code #ASK4BIZ or click here) or email us at ask@madisonbiz.com so we can advocate on your behalf.

SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE UPDATE

As of today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is unable to accept new applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program due to appropriations funding having run out. Those who already submitted EIDL applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

The U.S. Senate met in a brief pro forma session this afternoon but did not come to an agreement for additional funding. The next Senate session is scheduled for Monday afternoon, April 20. We will continue to monitor the congressional debate and share further information as it becomes available.

The PPP is designed to incentivize small businesses to keep their workers on payroll by providing loans of up to $10 million for payroll and certain other expenses. The EIDL program offers up to $2 million in assistance and can provide vital economic support to small businesses to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills.

For additional information about the PPP, EIDL and other business relief options, click here.

VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP

This week, the Chamber hosted a two-part Virtual Industry Meeting with developers and commercial real estate owners and brokers, who assessed current needs for their businesses and shared projections for the three phases of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak: relief, reopening and recovery.
 
Participants discussed how their industry is supporting tenants, noting that PPP loans have provided welcome short-term relief, but long-term concerns remain. Additional discussion focused on current and future development and how the outbreak may alter workplaces going forward.
 
Leaders also addressed how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting different areas of the economy, what reopening will look like across sectors and how to provide best practices for tenants. As with all industries, they said they are looking for more certainty in the timeline and what metrics are being used by government to reopen businesses.
 
So far in our Virtual Industry Meeting series, we have convened lenders, in addition to developers and real estate professionals, to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.

STATE COVID-19 RELIEF

Yesterday (April 15), Gov. Tony Evers signed into law AB 1038, a bill that was negotiated by Democratic and Republican legislators for weeks. The primary goals of the bill were to enable the state to receive more federal funding, remove penalties for the late payment of taxes and fees and remove regulatory barriers to the delivery of health care during the public health emergency.
 
Some notable items include:
 
--A temporary waiver of the one-week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits, retroactive to March 12. This was a requirement for states to be eligible for expanded Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits.

--UI benefit claims that are due to the public health emergency will not be counted against the employer.

--Expansion of the Work-Share program to include companies as small as two employees and other tweaks that improve the flexibility of the program.

--Allow the Secretary of Revenue to waive interest and penalties on a case-by-case basis for anyone that fails to pay income, sales or gas taxes on time due to the public health emergency.

--All April tax return and estimated tax deadlines are deferred until July 15.

--Taxing jurisdictions are allowed to waive interest and penalties on late property tax payments that are due between April 2 and Oct. 1, as long as the full payment is made by Oct. 1. The county and taxing jurisdiction must first adopt resolutions authorizing the waiver and setting the terms for establishing hardship.

--Requires WEDC to issue a plan by June 30 for providing support to the hardest-hit industries. Those industries include tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, construction, retail and services.
 
Many of the fiscal provisions of the Governor's legislative packages (LRB 5920LRB 6105) will be funded by the $1.9 billion the CARES Act authorized to the state's general fund. These funds will arrive no later than April 24 and may be allocated at the Governor's discretion without legislative approval.

WKOW-TV ON STIMULUS SPENDING

With federal stimulus checks starting to arrive and get deposited into individuals' bank accounts this week, WKOW-TV examined different ways people could spend their money to help the economy and the community.

In the story, Chamber President Zach Brandon expressed his hope that the money will stay local, with spending at locally owned businesses with local employees that make products or provide their services locally having the greatest impact.

See the full report here. You can find additional ideas on how to support local businesses here.

MADISON MAKERS

A new Cap Times feature highlights Greater Madison businesses including GE Healthcare, Delve, Midwest Prototyping, members of Sector67 and others who are making a difference by producing safety equipment for the COVID-19 response, including ventilators and face shields and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Read the full story here.

If you have ideas and information about business initiatives we could spotlight in a future update, please share them with Director of Business Development Nikki Javurek.

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For a full archive of previously shared resources, visit madisonbiz.com/covid19.

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