Breaking News: SBA and Treasury Announce Simpler PPP Forgiveness for Loans of $50,000 or Less

10.14.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the Treasury Department, today released a simpler loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less.
 
SBA began approving PPP forgiveness applications and remitting forgiveness payments to PPP lenders for PPP borrowers on October 2, 2020. SBA will continue to process all PPP forgiveness applications in an expeditious manner.
 
Click here to view the simpler loan forgiveness application.
Click here to view the instructions for completing the simpler loan forgiveness application.
Click here to view the Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process for loans of $50,000 or less.
 
Click here to read the full press release.

SEED: Grant Funds Available to Women-Owned Restaurants

10.7.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 

We recently received notification from our partners at SEED about new grant opportunities available for women-owned restaurants and are excited to share with you!
 
The Massachusetts Conference for Women, in partnership with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association and Chef Joanne Chang, has created a $250,000 fund to assist women-owned restaurants across Massachusetts. Fifty $5,000 grants will be presented to women-owned restaurants.
 
Business owners can apply for grant funds here by October 22nd.
 
For information on business loans, contact SEED at (508) 822-1020 or visit www.seedcorp.com.

Round 6 LISC Small Business Relief Grants

09.05.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the country’s largest social enterprises supporting projects and programs to revitalize communities and bring greater economic opportunity to residents, is providing grants to small businesses to help them keep functioning and remain vital facets of their local economies at this difficult time.
 
These grants are designed to support small businesses and enterprises across the country that have been affected by COVID-19, especially those in underserved communities, including entrepreneurs of color, women-owned businesses, and veteran-owned businesses that often lack access to flexible, affordable capital.
 
Applications will be reviewed based on criteria designed to prioritize particularly challenged businesses, and the final grantees will be randomly selected from the top scoring applicants.
 
The deadline for submissions is this Monday, September 7 at 11:59pm ET.
 
For more information and to apply, please click here.

ALERT: Malicious Cyber Actor Spoofing COVID-19 SBA Loan Website via Phishing Emails

08.13.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 

Summary
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is currently tracking an unknown malicious cyber actor who is spoofing the Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-19 loan relief webpage via phishing emails. These emails include a malicious link to the spoofed SBA website that the cyber actor is using for malicious re-directs and credential stealing.

 

Technical Details
CISA analysts observed an unknown malicious cyber actor sending a phishing email to various Federal Civilian Executive Branch and state, local, tribal, and territorial government recipients. The phishing email contains:

A subject line, SBA Application – Review and Proceed

A sender, marked as disastercustomerservice@sba[.]gov

Text in the email body urging the recipient to click on a hyperlink to address: hxxps://leanproconsulting[.]com.br/gov/covid19relief/sba.gov

The domain resolves to IP address: 162.214.104[.]246

 

For more information about the attack please click here.

Meeting the moment with innovation in New Bedford

By Steven Froias / Contributing Writer

Beginning in 2010, something remarkable began happening in the City of New Bedford. New business start-ups outpaced the state average here and reached a plateau in 2015 that maintained itself for the next five years. On average, 85-100 businesses of all manner and size opened each year in New Bedford over the course of ten years.

That trend was on track to continue right into 2020 – and then the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

As is the case throughout the country, predicting what happens during the coming year, after an economic shutdown and while the novel coronavirus still seethes while more effective treatment is found or a vaccine is discovered, will be difficult.

However, during the past decade, the New Bedford Economic Development Council (NBEDC) has had a front-row seat witnessing this period of extraordinary growth and innovation in New Bedford. Indeed, it has been the organization’s mission and privilege to help facilitate this profound change of fortunes in the city and for the region by building policy consensus, forging strategic partnerships, providing critical lending opportunities, and promoting long-term growth potential through a variety of initiatives.

During the current combined health and economic crisis, we’re now seeing the result of years of crucial investment in New Bedford’s economic foundation pay off as businesses small and large seize the culture of creativity that engineered this noteworthy period of growth – and employ it to confront the current challenge. They are moving forward building better in ways that offer a promising outlook once Covid-19 is history.

For example, Arthur Glassman of Glassman Automotive Repair and Sales probably didn’t imagine that he would soon be celebrating 30 years of business as a brick and mortar service center in the city while confronting a pandemic. Yet he is tackling the challenge head-on.

He says that during the first weeks of the total economic shutdown in Massachusetts business came to a screeching halt. But Glassman Automotive used the time to “regroup, reorganize, and basically do the things we had always planned to do but had not got around to doing,” he says.

As an essential business, they remained open – and quickly saw business rebound. The way they were conducting that business had changed, however.

They stocked up from vendors after arranging for contact-less delivery. They installed a dropbox for check and key drop-offs and began taking credit card payments over the phone. They launched a policy called “get in and go” whereby customers would just arrive at a parking space, find the keys in their newly-serviced car, and just drive off the lot with it.

“After 30 years, our customers are friends,” Arthur Glassman says. “They’re happy we are looking after their safety.” As a consequence, business, he says, is now good.

Anne Broholm, CEO of AHEAD LLC, had a different challenge to meet. As a leader of a world-recognized manufacturer of quality headwear, apparel and accessories in New Bedford’s Industrial Park, she realized that ensuring her workforce was ready to safely and effectively return to work after the shutdown was the goal AHEAD had to set for itself.

“AHEAD, like most companies, took a significant hit due to COVID-19 and the implications of the shutdown and overall slowing of the economy,” she states. Like Glassman, the initial shutdown provided time to plot a strategy – and AHEAD’s also involved speeding up plans that had already been part of the company’s long-term strategy.

Broholm writes, “One of the best measures we took was to effectively utilize the workshare program through MA unemployment. This allowed us to return more employees total on a 32 vs. 40-hour workweek once we reopened. In my opinion, it is an underutilized but extremely valuable program.”

“We also continue to aggressively cross-train within the company – this was already an ongoing initiative prior to COVID and we have taken it a step further since reopening. We want to ensure that we have work for everyone at all times and the best way to do that is to ensure that our associates have the skills to do whatever task is needed most at any given time.”

Formulating and enacting innovative programs for the future is nothing new for Anne Broholm. Indeed, she is a member of the NBEDC’s Regeneration Project – a collaborative platform that focuses on research, engagement, and the development of policies that encourage dynamic and sustainable economic growth for a thriving New Bedford.

In addition to protecting their associates’ employment, protecting their health is a top priority, says Broholm. “We have and continue to take all necessary measures to ensure a safe work environment. Our goal has and continues to be to focus on any/all actions we can take to rebuild the company and return to a position of growth. We work every day to identify the takeaways from this challenge that can make AHEAD be even stronger in the future,” she concludes.

Finally, few businesses face the challenges that New Bedford’s many and beloved independent restaurants face.

Jessica Coelho, owner of Tia Maria’s European Cafe in the downtown historic district, recognized this reality early – and faced it head-on by moving decisively. This, too, entailed putting into action some ideas that previously been discussed, but were now imperative to keep the business firing on all burners.

Coelho realized the eatery would have to “drive” take out and, essentially overnight, put in place the infrastructure to make that happen efficiently. “My husband is in the military,” she explains, “so he’s been trained to adapt to change!”

They and her crew quickly created an online ordering platform on ​tiamariaseuropeancafe.com​, and instituted a customer-friendly curbside pick-up service – a challenge for a business in a historic district with no parking lot and limited street frontage.

“I thought about the businesses along Acushnet Avenue,” Jessica says, “And realized they had the same challenge regarding limited parking and curbside to work with.”

Her answer was to designate a dedicated pick-up spot for customers near the restaurant and then promote it vigorously via Tia Maria’s social media. And, it paid off.

“We discovered that curbside take-out was so easy!” she says. “We kind of owned the block!”

Coelho also made sure she was part of the City of New Bedford’s restaurant reopening group launched by the Planning Department, from where she could help formulate outdoor dining policy and eventual indoor reopening plans. It was “very beneficial to be part of the restaurant reopening group,” she says. “It allowed us to open for outdoor dining quickly.”

Tia Maria’s was also part of a program funded by Harvard Pilgrim, coordinated by Coastal Foodshed, which arranged for restaurants to provide meals for seniors.

“That was important to us,” Coehlo says – and not just because it was a financial shot in the arm during the early days of the pandemic. “We didn’t just want to be ‘those people who stayed open during a pandemic.’ We needed a purpose and this gave it to us.” As of mid-July, Tia Maria’s and fellow downtown business Destination Soups have provided over 1,200 meals for seniors through the program.

Like Arthur Glassman and Anne Broholm, Jessica Coehlo says the innovations with which she met the onset of the pandemic will outlive it. Online ordering and curbside pick-up in a historic district, like contact-less vehicle pick-up and cross-training at AHEAD, are ideas that are here to stay.

Though each and other new practices at these businesses were launched to meet a particular moment, they were truly born in a foundation of growth and opportunity that was and is the new bedrock of innovation in this city. While the immediate economic outlook will test the resilience of New Bedford, this culture of regeneration augurs well for the future.

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The New Bedford Economic Development Council is pleased to share the stories of Arthur Glassman, Anne Boholm and Jessica Coelho with you as part of the city’s culture of collaboration. It is what will help see us through the present time and into the future. As always, the NBEDC stands ready to provide any assistance necessary to realize that future, and together we will ride out this storm and maintain the reputation New Bedford has worked so hard to earn over the past decade as a regional economic, creative and social hub for Southeastern Massachusetts.

Governor Baker Announces Phase 3 Updates

08.11.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 

Over the weekend, Governor Baker announced that Massachusetts will press pause on the implementation of Step 2 of Phase 3 of his reopening plan, among other initiatives, in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Details of the update can be found outlined in the press release here. Key components have been highlighted below:

 

Group Gatherings Update
Effective today, outdoor gatherings must reduce their capacity from 100 to 50 individuals, per the Executive Order from the administration. Indoor gatherings will continue to be limited at 25 people. Please note, this will now apply to both public and private spaces. Read the revised Executive Order for more details.

 

Step 2 of Phase 3 Postponed
Step 2 of Phase 3 of the Commonwealth’s reopening plan has been postponed indefinitely as a result of rising COVID-19 cases across the state. Events hosted at indoor theaters and concerts, among others will be affected. Please see the Order Authorizing the Reopening of Phase III Enterprises for a list of businesses in Phase 3, Step 2.

 

Restaurant/Bar Protocol Update
According to the updated restaurant protocols, alcoholic beverages may only be served for on-site consumption if accompanied by orders for food prepared on-site.

 

Cross-Agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team
The Administration unveiled a targeted cross-agency COVID Enforcement and Intervention Team that will lead enforcement statewide and coordinate with local intervention efforts in higher risk COVID-19 communities. For more information, please see the press release.

 

Small Business Updates & Resources
• Last week, the SBA released a PPP Forgiveness FAQ to support borrowers seeking loan forgiveness.
• The SBA also released its Small Business Resource Guide, full of tools and resources to help businesses with everyday operations and COVID-19 related support.
• SCORE, MSBDC, the Center for Women & Enterprise, and many others are available to assist with virtual counseling and workshops to support your small business; find an SBA Resource Partner here.

 

To apply for an outdoor dining permit, click here

 

For information on a free masks (must be New Bedford resident), click here.

 

To view additional sector-specific updates and details of the Governor’s reopening plan, click here

 

For more information on the status of reopening in New Bedford and other important news, visit New Bedford’s COVID-19 page.

Prepare to Reopen NB! Stay Informed and Be Safe

05.22.2020

 

 

Staff Contribution

 

 

Dear Friends,

 

We hope your Memorial Day weekend offered a nice break and opportunity for family and reflection.

 

You may have missed it, but on Friday, Secretary Kennealy summarized key steps businesses should take as they look ahead to reopening in Massachusetts. His message is below and outlines additional guidance, standards, and resources for phase one industries.

 

It is also critical to stay in the loop on what the City is requiring in addition to the State, which at the moment is focused on our larger manufacturing and processing businesses. The specific requirements for prevention can be found  here, and the requirements for reporting can be found here .

 

We will continue to post the City’s and State’s updates and share critical and relevant information over the coming weeks, as we make it through the phases of reopening.

 

Stay well,

 

Derek

 


 

 

Message from Secretary Kennealy’s Office: 05.22.2020

 

Last week, the Baker-Polito Administration released the Reopening Advisory Board’s report on the four-phase reopening of the Massachusetts economy,  Reopening Massachusetts . This report outlines a roadmap for gradually reopening, as well as guidance as to when which businesses may reopen, and what standards they must adhere to in Phase 1.

 

Phase 1 began on May 18th with lifting restrictions in some industries/sectors. The next milestone you should be aware of within Phase 1 is May 25th, when additional sectors are able to reopen with limitations (including curbside pickup for retail businesses).

 

Phase 1 will last at least three weeks; the Commonwealth will progress to Phase 2 when public health metrics and progress indicate it is safe to do so.

 

Below, I’ve summarized key steps businesses should take as they look ahead to reopening. As always, I hope you will get this word out to the businesses in your communities.

 

I’d also recommend reviewing and circulating  What Businesses Can Expect in Phase 1  to businesses, as it offers a condensed, one-page summary of key information.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BUSINESSES

 

Identify the phase in which your industry or sector is eligible to reopen

 

 

 

Read the guidance for reopening

 

 

 

 

  • Please note that businesses that have been offering essential services and have remained open throughout the COVID-19 outbreak must adhere to the safety standards and create a COVID-19 Control Plan (see below) by May 25th. Businesses with office spaces that have been operating as an essential service have until July 1st to comply with occupancy limits.

 

Develop a COVID-19 Control Plan

 

 

  • All businesses in the Commonwealth must develop a written control plan outlining how its workplace will comply with the mandatory safety standards for operation in the COVID-19 reopening period.

 

  • Control plans do not need to be submitted for approval but must be kept on premises and made available in the case of an inspection or outbreak.

 

 

  • Before reopening, the business must meet the Mandatory Workplace Safety Standards and attest to compliance

 

 

 

  • These should be displayed in an area within the business premises that is visible to employees, customers, and visitors.

 

Reopen brick-and-mortar operations safely and in line with guidance

 

  • These standards will be jointly enforced by local Boards of Health and the state’s Department of Labor Standards (DLS).

 

  • Businesses play a key role in setting a standard for safe public interactions and in restoring consumer confidence.

 

  • By adhering to these mandatory standards and best practices, businesses, employees, and customers will ensure Massachusetts is able to progress from Phase 1 to Phase 4, the “New Normal.” It’s all of our responsibility to ensure we move forward, and not backwards, in reopening the Massachusetts economy.

 

Additional resources: 

 

What Businesses Can Expect in Phase 1, which condenses key detail into a single page

 

The report, Reopening Massachusetts, offers the full framework of the four-phased reopening and provides an overview of the issues underpinning the approach

 

The Reopening: Four-Phase Approach page outlines the phased approach and the key role that public health benchmarks play in reopening

 

The Purchasing Hygienic or Protective Supplies page includes information for employers and employees about supplies needed to return to workplaces, as well as a Vendor Tool to assist businesses in locating and purchasing hygienic and protective supplies

 

Department of Public Health’s Safer-At-Home Advisory gives key guidance for all residents of the Commonwealth, including employers and employees, during Phase 1. Please note, businesses authorized to operate under Phase 1 are not subject to the 10-person limitation on gatherings.

 

Note for retail businesses: retail businesses may engage in curbside pickup sales as of May 25th. Please check the Essential Services FAQ document for current guidance on remote fulfillment. Additional notes on curbside pickup guidance will be available in the coming days.

 

Breaking News: Governor Baker Releases Reopening Plan

05.18.2020

 

Staff Contribution

 

Dear Friends,

 

Today, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito announced the release of Reopening Massachusetts – The Baker-Polito Administration’s comprehensive plan to safely reopen the Massachusetts economy, get people back to work, and ease social restrictions while minimizing the health impacts of COVID-19.

 

Also released today was a comprehensive state web platform that will be updated as additional industry sectors are allowed to open. The  report  and the  new webpage  provide information to help businesses meet the state’s required self-certification requirement to reopen.

 

Please note that the City of New Bedford is reviewing these new workplace rules and will have an announcement on how this will be applied in New Bedford later this week. Until then, the City’s orders concerning industrial facilities remains in effect.

 

As more information becomes available, we will share it as soon as we are able.

 

Be well,

 

Derek

 

Reopening Massachusetts

 

Update from Secretary Kennealy’s Office

Staff Contribution

 

May 12, 2020

 

New Guidance for Fulfillment of Remote Orders By Retail Businesses

 

Earlier this week, the Administration provided new guidance for retail businesses. Under this guidance, non-essential businesses are allowed to bring in a small number of employees in order to remotely fulfill online or phone orders, provided they can meet safety protocols.

 

Read the full guidance in the  COVID-19 Essential Services FAQs.

 


 

Department of Unemployment Assistance Resource

 

DUA has recently released FAQs to guide employers and employees in returning to work:

 

Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Returning to Work: Guide for Employers 

 

Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Returning to Work: Guide for Workers.

 

These FAQs provide responses to some of the questions that employers and employees may have when looking ahead to reopening.

 


 

U.S. Department of Commerce EDA Funding: Economic Adjustment Assistance Program

 

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration announced  the availability of $1.5B in funding through an Economic Adjustment Assistance program.

 

This funding will support communities in economic recovery through planning and technical assistance grants, grants for recovery and resilience strategies, capitalizing or recapitalizing revolving loan funds, and innovation grants.

 

Non-profits working in partnership with local government, cities and towns, regional planning agencies, and others can apply for this support.

 

Read more about this funding on the  EDA’s website ; eligible applicants may apply  here.