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The Chamber has 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 Forward Dane reopening strategy, CARES Act, 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 new changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, a preview of this week's Lunch(UP)date, the status of the Forward Dane reopening plan and a new initiative to aid local restaurants.

LUNCH(UP)DATE WITH U.S. REP. MARK POCAN

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan will discuss the latest federal efforts this Thursday, June 11, for our next Lunch(UP)date, where you can take a break and enjoy lunch while staying connected, curious and informed.

Register here. If you have questions for Rep. Pocan or the Chamber, please submit them in advance at ask@madisonbiz.com.

FORWARD DANE UPDATE

While metrics indicate we remain on track to enter Phase Two, Dane County will stay in Phase One of the Forward Dane reopening plan for at least this week.

Public Health officials have said they will not issue a Phase Two order without supporting metrics from two full weeks of data from Phase One; that period ends tomorrow, June 9. The data is expected to be compiled and analyzed this Friday, June 12, and the results will inform any subsequent orders.

Phase Two of Forward Dane would enable most businesses to open at 50 percent capacity. View the Public Health requirements for reopening, along with best practices and templates, here.

PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM CHANGES

On Friday, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which addresses many of the shortcomings of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Those changes include:
 
--PPP loan funds can now be spent over a 24-week period instead of the initial eight-week period, and the June 30 deadline has been extended to Dec. 31, 2020, allowing more time for current borrowers to spend loan funds and rehire employees.

--Full loan forgiveness can be achieved as long as the borrower spends 40 percent or less of the loan amount on non-payroll expenses, an increase over the previous limit of 25 percent.

--Loan forgiveness will not be reduced due to a lower number of Full Time Equivalents if an employer is unable to rehire a previous employee, shows an inability to hire "similarly qualified employees" or shows an inability to return to the "same level of business activity" as prior to Feb. 15, 2020.

--New PPP loans will have a five-year repayment term for any non-forgivable expenses, and repayment terms on existing loans can be extended from two to five years if both parties agree.

--PPP borrowers may now defer payment of a portion of their social security taxes to a later year.

We encourage business owners that did not previously apply for a PPP loan to review these changes and consider contacting their lender to start an application. The application deadline is June 30, though remaining program funds could run out before then.

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

The U.S. Small Business Administration is now providing materials for business owners in 17 different languages. Learn more here.

MADISON REGION REMOTE WORK SURVEY

The Madison Area Transportation Planning Board invites you to participate in an important survey to assess the impact of COVID-19 on work-from-home trends and attitudes in the Greater Madison region.
 
Your participation is critical to understanding the unique impacts of COVID-19 on work trends in our region, as well as ways that area agencies and organizations can help employers and employees build resiliency for the future.
 
This survey is for all employees, managers and executives in the Greater Madison region. It takes approximately 8-12 minutes to complete and will be open through Tuesday, June 30.

Fill out the survey here.

HERE TO HEAR

Join us tomorrow (June 9) at 1:30 p.m. for Here to Hear, the second of two small, confidential, one-hour conversations with Greater Madison business leaders, facilitated by Darcy Luoma. These discussions are open to any business leader, owner or decision-maker looking for support from their peers during this especially challenging time.

Sign up here.

If the event is full, please add yourself to the waitlist and we will contact you if a space opens up. Contact Director of Business Development Nikki Javurek with any questions.

"STREATERY" RESTAURANT PROGRAM

To assist restaurants that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, the City of Madison recently announced the "Streatery" Restaurant Recovery Program to allow expanded outdoor dining. This emergency order allows restaurants to expand outdoor dining onto public sidewalks, on-street parking areas or in privately owned parking lots through a streamlined administrative approval process.

This program will expire on Oct. 25, 2020 or the date that Public Health allows restaurants to return to normal operations, whichever comes sooner. Further information will be made available as program details are finalized.

In addition, the City is considering several streets for more substantial Café Zones whereby the City would close selected portions of a street and require detours for vehicles while maintaining fire and bike access and a delivery lane. Streets being considered include the 100 blocks of East Mifflin, East Main, West Main, South Pinckney and South Carroll, as well as the 1900 block of Atwood Avenue.

More details about the program can be found here.

READINESS TO REOPEN SELF-ASSESSMENT

Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) has created a self-assessment to help businesses determine their readiness to return to in-person work during the Forward Dane reopening plan. The assessment consists of six sections and should take less than 15 minutes to complete.

At the end of the assessment, the participant will receive a score to give them an idea of how their business is doing and how they can improve. Questions are weighted by importance.

Take the assessment here. Submissions are anonymous and not used by PHMDC.

VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP

Last week, the Chamber hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as retailers assessed current needs for their businesses and shared projections for the three phases of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak: relief, reopening and recovery.

Retail has been one of the industries most impacted by COVID-19 from the beginning, with many retailers having to adapt to curbside, delivery and online sales. In fact, some meeting participants said they have gone from sales almost entirely in-store to almost entirely online, an adjustment made even more challenging by having limited opportunity to plan.

Some attendees have also endured employment challenges, including having some workers not wanting to return because they're making more money through unemployment. Many applied for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and while that program posed some challenges, steps have been taken through newly enacted PPP changes to resolve previous issues. A commonly expressed priority going forward is to ensure the safety of their workers and customers and demonstrate that they have been thorough in taking preventative health measures.

The Chamber has also convened lenders, developers, commercial property owners, manufacturers, hoteliers, and insurance, biotech and healthtech leaders as part of our Virtual Industry Meeting series to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.

*****

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

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