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COVID-19: Business Resources

The safety of Frederick County's residents, workers and visitors is of the utmost importance to Visit Frederick. We are monitoring all recommendations and updates from government officials surrounding COVID-19 and we will inform our stakeholders of relevant changes. The staff has been working remotely, gathering and disseminating information, and identifying ways to urge locals and visitors to return to shopping and dining in a safe way. The COVID-19 advisory page found on the Visit Frederick website continues to be a great resource to visitors, providing up-to-date information about the reopening status, safety guidelines about social distancing and facial coverings, closings and event cancellations, and the latest travel and tourism information.

Financial Relief Resources

COUNTY

FREDERICK, Md. – Frederick County restaurants and food service businesses are being offered a second round of grants to support the hard-hit industry. County Executive Jan Gardner announced that an additional $1.3 million would be distributed this month. Food service businesses that received funding in the first round will automatically receive a second grant. Those that did not receive funds in the fall may apply now through 3 p.m. Wednesday, January 13. Grants will be awarded in two categories. The first category includes commercially located bakeries and caterers, carry-out restaurants that have no seating, and food trucks. The second group includes restaurants without drive-thrus, and wineries, breweries, and distilleries. The amount of each grant will be determined by the number of establishments that apply. All eligible businesses in a given category will receive the same amount of funding.

To be eligible, the business must be located in Frederick County; be in good standing with the County and the State of Maryland; and possess a current food license from the Frederick County Health Department, or in the case of craft beverage manufacturers, possess a liquor license from the Frederick County Liquor Board.

Grant funds can be used to pay for:

Working capital, such as rent, payroll, and job training 

Purchase of equipment and services to expand outdoor dining, such as tents, heaters, warmers, and carts

Infrastructure improvements, such as HVAC system upgrades

Technology to support carryout and delivery

Purchase of PPE and disposable food containers and utensils

Sanitization services Additional information about the grants can be found at FrederickCountyMD.gov/8155-Frederick-CountyBusiness-Grants. Applications can be made at FrederickCountyMD.gov/FoodServiceGrants. Applications will be accepted until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 13. Questions about the grant program can be emailed to the Office of Economic Development at OED@FrederickCountyMD.gov

STATE

The State of Maryland has already announced $500 million in emergency economic relief. While stimulus negotiations in Congress remain gridlocked, the Governor announced the following additional measures to help Marylanders weather this crisis:

Emergency Tax Relief: The Governor has issued an executive order to prevent small businesses from facing major increases in their unemployment taxes. An employer’s 2021 tax rate will be calculated based on their non-pandemic experience by excluding the 2020 fiscal year, and instead by using the last three fiscal years of 2017, 2018, and 2019. This order will provide relief for businesses already operating on razor-thin margins, and help keep more people on their payrolls.  Read the executive order and the Maryland Department of Labor press release.

Loan Forgiveness: To provide additional economic relief, the Governor has directed the Department of Commerce to forgive the $75 million in emergency loans that the state provided to businesses during the first round of economic relief in March and convert them all to grants. 

FEDERAL

This link from NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) provides a very helpful overview of the recently signed legislation that includes information on PPP 2.0 and EIDL Advance 2.0

Summary of the $900 billion federal pandemic relief package (from MD Dept of Commerce): 

As part of the new pandemic relief package, Congress has passed several changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Congress has also made changes to other programs, including Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL Program) and the Employee Retention Tax Credit.

Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Changes: Loans for first time borrowers are again available, and Congress has created a "Second Draw" PPP for small businesses that have exhausted their initial loan. 

PPP Loan Amount (Note this info is from the call with Cardin this AM): The formula is the same as the first round which was average monthly payroll times 2.5 times.  New with this legislation -- Restaurants or "hospitality" businesses can qualify for 3.5 times your pre-covid average monthly staffing costs. 

PPP "Second Draw" Program: The brand new “Second Draw” program is for small businesses, non-profits, sole proprietors, and independent contractors who have exhausted their initial PPP loan. The program will make new loans through March 31, 2021 or until the new funding is exhausted. 

Companies are eligible for a Second Draw if they have exhausted their first PPP loan and  AND have less than 300 employees, AND have experienced a greater than 25% reduction in gross receipts during the first, second, third, or fourth quarter in 2020 relative to the same quarter in 2019. Entities with significant ties to China are ineligible for a second draw loan. A loan may not exceed $2 million.

New (first time) PPP Loans: For new PPP applicants, the loan process will largely remain the same with a few major changes:  The PPP program is open through March 31, 2021 or until the new funding is exhausted. Enterprises that are a 501(c)(6), a local news media organization, or a housing cooperative may be newly eligible for a loan. A business may qualify even if it took advantage of the Employee Retention Tax Credit. Publicly traded companies are now prohibited from receiving a loan. The maximum loan amount is now $2 million. PPP still requires that your business was opened prior to the pandemic. 

Expanded List of Expenses Qualifying for Forgiveness: The list of expenses that PPP funds can be used for that qualify for loan forgiveness has been expanded to include operations expenses, supplier costs, and worker protection expenses. It is still the case that not more than 40% of the forgiven amount can be for non-payroll costs.The new law also provides that regular business expenses paid for with PPP loan proceeds shall be deductible for tax purposes (applies to past and future loans).   

Additional Loan Forgiveness Provisions: If you also received an EIDL grant, your PPP loan forgiveness will no longer be reduced by the amount of the grant. The period for which expenses count toward loan forgiveness will begin on the date of loan origination and end on a date of your choosing that is between 8 and 24 weeks after origination. If your loan was for less than $150,000, there will be a simplified one-page application process for loan forgiveness. 

EIDL Grants: The new law reopens the $10,000 EIDL Grant program. Priority for the full amount of the EIDL grant will be given to small businesses with less than 300 employees, located in low-income neighborhoods, who have experienced a 30% reduction in gross receipts during any 8-week period between March 2, and December 31, 2020 compared to a comparable 8-week period before March 2. 

Expanded Employee Retention Tax Credit: The new law significantly expands the employee retention tax credit beginning on January 1, 2021. The new credit is 70% on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $14,000 per employee through June 30th).  The new law also expands which employers are eligible. Eligibility now includes employers who experienced a decline in gross receipts of more than 20% in a quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. Employers with 500 or fewer employees can now claim the credit for wages paid to employees regardless of whether the employee is providing services.  Employers can now also receive both the Employee Retention Tax Credit and a PPP loan, just not to cover the same payroll expenses. The credit expires on June 30, 2021.

SBA Loan Debt Forgiveness: The new law resumes the government payment of monthly principal and interest on small business loans guaranteed by the SBA under the 7(a), 504, and Microloan programs. Borrowers with loans approved by the SBA prior to the CARES Act will receive an additional three months of payments beginning in February of 2021. Those payments will be capped at $9,000 per borrower per month.  

One-Time $600 Direct Stimulus Checks to Individuals: Payments start phasing out for individuals with adjusted gross incomes of more than $75,000. Those making more than $99,000 would not receive anything. The income thresholds would be doubled for couples. Amounts will be based on 2019 incomes. Those who filed their 2019 tax returns will receive their money automatically, as well as Social Security recipients and those who uploaded their bank account information using the IRS's online portal to receive their first payments.

Unemployment Benefits: $300 weekly federal enhancement in benefits for 11 weeks, from the end of December through March 14th. The agreement also extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for gig workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and the self-employed. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which provides an additional 13 weeks of payments to those who exhaust their regular state benefits, was also extended. Both programs would close to new applicants on March 14, but continue through April 5 for existing claimants who have not yet reached the maximum of 50 weeks.

Grants for theaters and other live venues: $15 billion grant program for live venues, theaters and museum operators that have lost at least 25% of their revenues. The initial grant can total up to $10 million per eligible business. The money will be for specified expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities and personal protective equipment. During the first 14 days of the program's implementation, grants will be awarded to those who have faced 90% revenue losses. Then, those who have experienced at least 70% revenue losses will be eligible during the next two weeks. After the first month of the program, any other eligible businesses can receive grants.

Payroll tax repayment: Employers who are deferring their workers' payroll taxes under President Trump's executive action from August now have until the end of 2021 to increase their employees' withholding to pay back the taxes owed. Originally, the deferred amount had to be repaid by April 30.

The package also contained funding for K-12 schools and child care, nutrition assistance, rental assistance, and vaccine and hospital funding. 

Webinars

Upcoming:

Recurring:

  • Community Conversations (local to Frederick) every Thursday at 1:00PM. Series of collaborative virtual meet-ups with local business owners from a wide range of industries. Discuss challenges and innovations, generate new ideas, and refine your own strategies for keeping momentum during these challenging times. Register in advance. Hosted by Postern.
  • Downtown Frederick Partnership is hosting a series of Merchant Round Tables, where we provide a virtual venue for merchants from various industries (retail, restaurant, craft beverage, service, entertainment, etc.) to meet, contribute and hear ideas from neighbors in your same industry. Contact cecylia@downtownfrederick.org for more information.

Recovery and Reopen Resources

FAQ sheet provided by Frederick County Department of Health following the Maryland State order was made on November 10

Maryland launches #MasksOnMayland campaign

Questions about reopening your business? FCHDBusinessInfo@FrederickCountyMD.gov or call 301-600-6200.

FDA Restaurant Reopening Check-list

Best Practices for Restaurants & Bars

Frederick County Health Dept.: Food Control Office

Frederick County Liquor Board

Recovery, Reopening and Reentry/General Guidance  

Small Business Health Related Requirements

FAQs Regarding Face Coverings from the Maryland Department of Health.

Visit Frederick: "Roadmap to Recovery" which illustrates a 4 phased approach on messaging & promotion to locals and future visitors.

Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery: For the most up to date information on recovery plans for the State of Maryland, visit governor.maryland.gov/recovery.

Maryland Back to Business Website: Maryland business community leaders have developed industry-specific guidelines to help businesses as we enter this new era. These guidelines and best practices for Maryland companies will be made available on this new website. Guidance for marinas and golf courses is currently available. Additional industry sector guidance coming soon. 

Cleaning and Disinfecting Community Facilities  - CDC provides an Interim Recommendations for U.S. Community Facilities with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Face Masks and Other Critical Cleaning Supplies  - Maryland Retailers Association provides resources for supplies. Visit Frederick suggest that you work with our local distilleries for a supply of hand sanitizer and surface disinfectant.

Face Coverings, Social Distancing & Sanitation Requirements: Governor Hogan has issued an Executive Order that requires all employees and customers (over the age of 9) of retail and food service establishments, as well as public transportation, to wear face coverings beginning on April 18. Additionally, retailers must post signage at each entrance advising customers about the requirement to wear face coverings. Appropriate signage and markings to reinforce social distancing and six-foot spacing must also be displayed where any queue is expected to form.  Businesses who use shared equipment, such as baskets or hand carts, must provide sanitation equipment, such as handiwipes or alcohol swabs, for individual use. Retail businesses also are required to provide employees and customers with access to clean restrooms stocked with soap and sanitizer, and must allow employees to wash their hands at least every 30 minutes.

Retail Guidance: As general guidance to consider, the National Retail Federation and Retail Industry Leaders Association created a guide about phased openings and shopping safe, called Open for Business – A Blueprint for Shopping Safe. The NRF also put together an Operation Open Doors Checklist, a helpful checklist to help retailers prepare to reopen. 

OSHA Guidance for Takeout & Curbside: OSHA issued an alert with safety tips for restaurant, food and beverage businesses providing curbside pickup and takeout service. Also provided by OSHA is this poster listing Ten Steps All Workplaces Can Take to Reduce Risk of Exposure to Coronavirus.

American Alliance for Museums published a blog post titled How to Get Ready to Open the Doors with insight about what museums may look like upon reopening.

Pandemic Relaunch Toolkit - Provided by Streetsense, a potential good resource for restaurant and craft beverage industry.

Industry Guidance for Promoting Health and Safety of All Travelers.  This US Travel Association plan was developed based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and White House guidelines: “Opening Up America Again “ and in consultation with public health experts.

US Food and Drug Administration is sharing information about best practices to operate retail food stores, restaurants, and associated pick-up and delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard workers and consumers.

Guidance on Best Practices for Golf Courses to reopen.

Additional Resources

Frederick County OED Resources for Businesses - Frederick County Business Financial Tool - Office of Economic Development has partnered with Orases to have a single tool for businesses to use to better understand what is available.  This tool will be updated as loans and grants change. It has been vetted and is believed to be the most current information on interest rates, terms, borrowers requirements and eligible funding uses.  

Frederick County Chamber of Commerce

City of Frederick COVID-19 

Downtown Frederick Partnership COVID-19

Bartender Emergency Assistance Program 

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