COVID 19 UPDATES
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In August, the County Commissioners approved 3 categories for the future dissemination of CARES Act funding.
The categories are:
• Non-Profit • Tourism/Hospitality • Small Business (less than 100 employees)
The County Commissioners, with the assistance of The Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Lebanon Valley Economic Development Corporation, Visit Lebanon Valley, and the United Way of Lebanon County, established a program for how to best distribute a portion of the CARES Act Fund, such funds must be distributed by the December 30, 2020, deadline.
The Commissioners emphasized that they are dedicated to ensuring this important work is utilized in the ongoing recovery of our community.
Program Timeline – Phase One
September 1 – Grant application opens at 8:00 a.m.
September 15 – Grant applications are due by 4:00 p.m.
September 30 – Grant awards for round one will be announced*
December 30 – Deadline for spending grant funds
Program Timeline – Phase Two
October 15 – Grant application opens at 8:00 a.m.
October 30 – Grant applications are due by 4:00 p.m.
November 15 – Grant awards for round two will be announced*
December 30 – Deadline for spending grant funds
*Subject to change depending on volume of applications.
PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM
SMALL BUSINESS PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM
The Paycheck Protection Program provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
Funds are provided in the form of loans that will be fully forgiven when used for payroll costs, interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities (due to likely high subscription, at least 75% of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll). Loan payments will also be deferred for six months. No collateral or personal guarantees are required. Neither the government nor lenders will charge small businesses any fees.
Must Keep Employees on the Payroll—or Rehire Quickly
Forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
All Small Businesses Eligible
Small businesses with 500 or fewer employees—including nonprofits, veterans organizations, tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors— are eligible. Businesses with more than 500 employees are eligible in certain industries.
When to Apply
Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply. Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply. We encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap.
How to Apply
You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. All loans will have the same terms regardless of lender or borrower. A list of participating lenders as well as additional information and full terms can be found at www.sba.gov.
The Paycheck Protection Program is implemented by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury. Lenders should also visit www.sba.gov or www.coronavirus.gov for more information.
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Unemployment Questions and Answers
PA CareerLink Operations
The PA CareerLink Lebanon County is currently closed to the public, but we’re providing virtual/remote services to both job seekers and employers. As of now, we’re exploring additional opportunities to expand virtual outreach to job seekers and looking at the possibility of holding virtual job fairs for companies currently hiring. As of today, we’re expecting to open on March 30, but we expect that we could be closed for an additional week or more if necessary. We will post any updates with local media and on our Facebook page.
Possible Funding Opportunities for Dislocated Workers
The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of up to $100 million for Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) to help address the workforce-related impacts of COVID. The South Central Workforce Investment Board, which serves as the PA CareerLink’s fiscal agent, is coordinating with partners at the PA Department of Labor & Industry about how these funds can be accessed as quickly as possible. I imagine we’ll learn more about additional funding opportunities/availability as Congress finalizes and approves their economic stimulus package.
Unemployment Compensation Updates
It’s imperative that impacted employees apply for unemployment benefits immediately – any employers impacted by COVID-19 are eligible for benefits. It is recommended that those affected file for unemployment benefits online at www.uc.pa.gov. rather than over the phone. The time that it will take for them to receive cash in pocket will depend on how soon they are able to file their initial claim – typically, individuals will receive their first payment within two to four weeks of filing their claims. The Office of Unemployment has suspended the waiting week and temporarily waived the requirement for PA CareerLink registration and work search, but the system is extremely overwhelmed right now.
Rehiring Employees and Continuing Benefits (like health insurance)
Employees laid off are eligible to be rehired by their employers if they are willing and able.
Additionally, employers may continue to provide benefits, like health insurance even if their employees are collecting unemployment.
As of now, employees displaced from their jobs due to COVID 19 will not receive full wage reimbursement through unemployment. It is typically 50% but with the expansion of benefits being discussed in Congress, this percentage may change in the coming weeks.
Employer Disaster Relief
Employers can request disaster-related relief from charges under the Unemployment Compensation system. If an individual’s unemployment is directly caused by a major natural disaster declared by the President and the individual would have been eligible for disaster unemployment assistance, the employer can request relief from charges and may receive relief for a maximum of eight weeks immediately following the President’s declaration of emergency. More information can be found at https://www.uc.pa.gov/employers-uc-services-uc-tax/uc-benefit-information/Pages/Relief-from-Charges.aspx.
Shared Work Outreach Program
UC also offers a Shared Work Outreach program that could be beneficial to employers if they haven’t yet closed but may need to drastically reduce their operations. Shared Work plans allow employers to temporarily reduce the work hours of a group of employees and divide the hours equally rather than laying off any employees. You can find additional information here: https://www.uc.pa.gov/employers-uc-services-uc-tax/shared-work/Pages/default.aspx.
Rapid Response Services
Rapid Response may also be beneficial during this time – this is an early intervention service that assists workers and employers during layoffs, closures and natural disasters. They can be contacted at – a member of the team will be in touch within 48 hours.