Fresh off the Presses!!

Info for Maine Retailers on COVID-19
March 22, 2020
Good afternoon: This past week has felt like three years. I can’t even come up with the words to properly describe it, but I think we can all relate regardless. I have no idea what the next week will bring or even the next day, but we will continue to do everything we can to help you.
Here’s the most important information for today:
  • What Questions Do You Need Answered? What Can We Do That Will Help You Now?: We spent quite a bit of time last week helping leaders at the local, state and federal levels with direct information they needed to make decisions. In the span of a week, we provided relevant information on the plastic bag law delay; how to change the bottle redemption law; frequent updates on supply chain issues; helping define essential vs non-essential businesses; virtually met with various state agencies to continue to get answers for you.
  • Over the last couple of days, we are pushing for specific credentials so that employees that work in essential businesses can continue to get to and from work if a larger restriction gets enacted; we are discussing additional public safety measures to help protect retailers that are both open and closed; and what do retailers need to do if an employee tests positive.
  • Please let us know what questions do you need answered? What else can we be doing to help you? .
  • CARES Act Preview: It is our hope that the US Senate and House will vote no later than Monday on the next economic stimulus bill that will help provide direct help for Maine’s small businesses. The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act draft was sent to us this morning and we did a quick read through the nearly 400 page bill. We need to emphasize this is a draft and further changes are possible.
  • However, what the bill proposes is forgivable loans to businesses to help pay for payroll, mortgages, debt and utilities during the emergency. The loans would be forgivable under certain circumstances but the overall thrust is for businesses to keep the same number of employees as before the crisis. In essence, instead of paying people unemployment, they would pay people to stay employed. It seems like it applies to businesses with 500 or less employees (and there is some provision for sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed people). The maximum loan amount would be the lesser of 2.5 x one months payroll or $10 million. The loan can be used for payroll, continuation of group health, mortgage payments, rent, utilities and interest. If you keep the same number of employees as before the crisis, the loan may be forgiven.
  • The bill also expands unemployment benefits; creates a delay of employer payroll taxes and includes the QIP fix for retail that was a mistake in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.
  • SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans: We participated in a webinar with the US SBA to learn more about the SBA’s EIDL program and have some quick notes. First, the loans are for working capital. Even if you aren’t sure you are going to need it (nor are your required to take it once approved), it’s better to get started on the process now. The loans are up to $2 million with a 30 year term and an interest rate of 3.75% for small businesses. SBA will determine how much you are eligible for based on your credit history. No collateral is needed for loans of $25,000 or less, and while collateral (like real estate) is important, it is not a sole deciding factor. They also advise to do the filing electronically. That will speed up the process significantly. Be sure to click “economic injury” on the application process or else it will get filtered out of the EIDL program process. SBA is willing to help so please don’t be afraid to reach out to them.
  • #PayItForwardMaine Launched: Pay It Forward Maine asks individuals, businesses and organizations to continue supporting local businesses and their employees in our new world of closed storefronts and social distancing.
  • This could be your favorite sandwich shop, your local coffee haunt, your beloved caterer, your hotel conference host, your trusted hair salon. It could be your “usual” restaurant or taproom where you know the servers by name. Maybe it’s your favorite bookstore, live music venue, museum, or theater. It’s also your service providers: Housecleaners, pet sitters, daycares, and of course the medical and emergency personnel who have been on the front lines.
  • They have been there for you through thick and thin. Now it’s time for us to all come together to return their service and support, however we can. This is a difficult time for us all. Let’s collectively help each other to the other side of this crisis!
  • Please visit the Pay It Forward website for ideas on how YOU can get involved and to access a Pay It Forward toolkit with logos and other marketing materials. today!
  • COVID-19 Resource Page for Retailers: As we have shared before, we assembled a one-stop resource for you on COVID-19 information specifically for retailers.
Please do not hesitate to email me with your questions or how we can help you or what you need (curtis@retailmaine.org)
Sincerely,
Curtis Picard
President and CEO