The CVB received $210,000 in Federal Aid to boost Destination Marketing for Hagerstown and Washington County. (See the Herald Mail Article for more details.)
There was concern if we would even be able to publish a 2021 Visitor Guide, but our marketing plan was approved by the BOCC which included the production of a Visitor Guide for Washington County. CVB member businesses will be listed as usual, and ALL 2020 advertisers will have their ads renewed in the 2021 guide COMPLIMENTARY!
“Maryland’s positivity rate has been under 5% for 68 consecutive days, and under 4% for 24 consecutive days. 15 of 24 jurisdictions have positivity rates below 3.5%. HOSPITALIZATIONS are down more than 77 percent from their peak. We have seen a nearly 30% decline in ICU levels since 7/25. Based on our improving health metrics, Maryland is taking its initial steps into Stage Three of COVID19 recovery.
“THEATERS: As of Friday 9/4 at 5pm, indoor theatres where live performances occur or motion pictures are shown may open to the general public at 50% capacity, or 100 people per auditorium—whichever is less.
“OUTDOOR VENUES. Outdoor venues where live performances occur or motion pictures are shown outdoors may open to the general public at 50% capacity, or 250 people max.
“RETAIL/RELIGIOUS ESTABLISHMENTS. Capacity for retail establishments and religious facilities may increase from 50 to 75 percent.
“SCHOOLS. The governor commends the State Board of Education for voting to require school systems that haven’t developed a plan for returning to in-person instruction until 2021 to reevaluate their reopening plans by the end of the first quarter.
New Theater Guidance/Best Practices can be found here: https://commerce.maryland.gov/Documents/BusinessResource/Performances-Theaters-COVID-19-Best-Practices.pdf “
Now that most businesses are reopening, we wanted to touch base and see if you would like to schedule a personal one-on-one, virtual meeting with the CVB staff.
We especially want to be accessible to you during this recovery and reopening stage.
This would be a great opportunity for you to share information on what is new/different? How are you implementing new directives? Do you have grant program questions? What does your future look like? etc. This conversation will also help us relay correct information when promoting your business.
We would also be happy to share the CVB’s plan for the near future.
If you are interested in meeting via Zoom, please reply to this email with at least three (3) different dates and times you’d be available, and we will get something scheduled on our calendars.PREVIOUS UPDATE JUNE 19 - PPP REVISED APPLICATION
The Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of the Treasury posted a revised, borrower-friendly Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application on 6/17. In addition to revising the full forgiveness application, SBA also published a new EZ version of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers who:
◾ Are self-employed and have no employees; OR
◾ Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
◾ Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to #COVID19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.
➡️ View and download the EZ Forgiveness Application: https://lnkd.in/dx8HSVw
➡️ View and download the Full Forgiveness Application: https://lnkd.in/eRc98c4
➡️ Read the full announcement for more details: http://ow.ly/uxIr50Aagk4
Below is a “user-friendly” list to access of Best Practices for specific business industries. On June 10th, the Governor announced a variety of new businesses and activities could open beginning at 5pm today (Amended Executive Order). As the state gets back to business, business owners are urged to adhere to best practices that ensure the safety of your workers and customers alike. Through our collective efforts, Maryland’s business community will play a critical role in protecting our citizens and preventing another surge of COVID-19 infections.
Follow these best practices for general businesses and your specific business industry. Note: Spanish translations appear in parenthesis.
Recreation, Youth Programs, and Sporting Events Directives
Please adhere to the following orders and directives regarding community, recreational, leisure, cultural and sporting gatherings and events. View the latest directive for Swimming Pools and FAQs for Outdoor Youth Camps, Sports Programs, and Other Youth Programs from the Maryland Department of Health.
All businesses are encouraged to review FAQs regarding face coverings (en español), and consult with resources available through the CDC. Ongoing mitigation guidance, as well as prevention and support resources are available on the CDC’s website. All Executive Orders still in effect must be complied with. See most up to date orders. Additional industry best practices coming soon.
To date, Washington County has received 310 Rise-Up Grant application and committed $3,000,000 in aide. The County has another $5,960,000 to help small businesses. If you did not apply, I encourage you to do so as soon as possible. The application process took me less than ½ hour after my documents were assembled. If you are confused about the process or need help developing a strategy to define your need, please contact me. I want to help you make this grant program part of the solution to the problems we are facing.
Prepare these documents:
a. Income Statement and Balance Sheet for Year end 12/31/19
b. Profit and Loss Statement for March 2020 and each month after to date, AND the prior year comparative statement.
c. Previous Year Tax Return
d. Schedule C of personal tax returns for sole proprietors (if applicable)
e. IRS W9
Applications will be accepted from 8:00 a.m. Monday, June 1, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2020. www.washcorises.net.PREVIOUS UPDATE JUNE 7 - PPP EXTENSION AND I-70 AND I-81 IMPROVEMENTS
On Friday, President Trump signed H.R. 7010, Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020 into law and making the following amendments:
Regarding I-70 and I-81, if you are interested in hearing future improvements on these interstates, please join the virtual public meeting using access below on Thursday June 11, 2020; 5pm.
Join the WebEx meeting from here:
Audio Connection: 571-209-6390 (Cisco WebEx)
Access Code: 997 374 859
The Governor held another press conference today at 4pm and announced the start of Phase 2 of MD’s Reopening plan beginning Friday at 5pm. This includes:
If you are interested in these webinars, you can logon and register minutes prior to the meeting. They are both Tuesday and cover Outdoor Recreation and Dining.
Washington County Together We Rise Town Hall webinars on Tuesday June 2nd:
In addition to the previous email regarding the County’s Rise Up Business Grant, if you want to be the first to apply, below are the materials you’ll need to have available.
Start assembling these documents and be ready to launch your application Monday morning:
a. Income Statement and Balance Sheet for Year end 12/31/19b. Profit and Loss Statement for March 2020 and each month after to date, AND the prior year comparative statement.c. Previous Year Tax Return
d. Schedule C of personal tax returns for sole proprietors (if applicable)
Here is a great opportunity for a local grant to help your tourism business:
RISE UP GRANTS AVAILABLE TO WASHINGTON COUNTY SMALL BUSINESSES
Applications will be accepted from 8:00 a.m. Monday, June 1, 2020 until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, June 15, 2020. Applications for the Rise Up Business Stabilization Grant must be made online at www.washcorises.net. The website also provides guidelines, application instructions, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Please note any financial information shared as part of this application will remain confidential, but the names of businesses receiving grants and the amount they receive is public information.
For questions regarding eligibility criteria or required documentation, please email email@example.com.
The State of Maryland continues to update the Back to Business website with attractive reopening guideline one-pagers for certain industries. Eventually, the 13 industries that had task-force workgroups will have information posted here. It is a good site to be checking daily for new information! https://open.maryland.gov/backtobusiness/
I you received a PPP loan and want it forgiven there is some record keeping and documentation involved. The PPP Loan Forgiveness Application is now on line. I have linked it here: https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/3245-0407-SBA-Form-3508-PPP-Forgiveness-Application.pdf
The MD Personal Protection Equipment exchange might be a good resource for businesses as they open: https://dgs.maryland.gov/Pages/Procurement/Bidboards/EmergencyContracts.aspx
Also, if you missed the County’s Town Hall virtual meeting, you can go to www.washcorises.net to download the recorded presentation and other helpful tools.
This link will take you a TOP TEN list of things you can do to prepare to reopen your business. https://www.washco-md.net/wp-content/uploads/Prepare-to-Reopen-list.pdf
The following website “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery” will be very useful in the coming weeks, so you may want to save this link: https://governor.maryland.gov/recovery/
If you have not already joined the Washington County Take Out & Delivery Facebook page, please do! The page has over 5,000 followers who are sitting home planning their next meal. Post a picture of some yummy food to let people know you are open for take out, delivery or curbside pick up and your days/hours. We all want to support you!
We thought the following information might be of interest to you from the American Hotel and Lodging Association. It is the “Safe Stay” - National Industry-Wide Cleaning and Safety Standards Released:
The Maryland Restaurant Relief Fund is offering up to $2,500 in grants to qualifying Maryland-based restaurants and bars in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is organized by OLD BAY and McCormick For Chefs and the CORECARES Foundation.https://corecares.org/maryland-restaurant-relief-fund/
If you are curious about changes in the State’s unemployment insurance rules or having trouble applying for benefits this virtual meeting maybe helpful to you: https://web.hagerstown.org/events/Update-from-Secretary-Robinson-3167/details
This information comes to me through my daily Emergency Support Function group. CVB Members are encouraged to apply for these much needed relief benefits.
Expansion of Unemployment Insurance Benefits Under the New CARES Act
The federal government recently passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which includes an expansion of unemployment insurance benefits for Marylanders. Please read our CARES Act Frequently Asked Questions for more information about benefit eligibility, duration, and amounts.
On Friday, April 24, Labor will be launching a new, one-stop unemployment insurance application to allow Marylanders to file claims for all unemployment programs entirely online. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, and those who were previously required to file by phone like federal employees, members of the military, individuals who have worked in multiple states, and those who have worked for more than 3 employers in the last 18 months.
The Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor opted into providing ALL three of the expanded unemployment insurance programs offered through the provisions of the CARES Act. For More Information CLICK HERE
Starting Friday, April 24, those who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, or have insufficient work history will be able to apply online. To receive an e-mail with additional information and instructions once the new application is ready, please CLICK HERE and scroll to the “Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)” section halfway down the page.
PREVIOUS APRIL 17 UDPATE - TRAVEL SURVEY POSITIVE RESULTS
This is a very good and very brief travel survey follow-up article. The two best quotes are pasted below. It tells me your CVB is doing the right thing now and Washington County will have an advantage in the near future.
One of the things that will change after the coronavirus outbreak is what travelers will want to do when travel restrictions are lifted. The BVK research found that “social distancing” activities will be most popular, including road trips, beach vacations, outdoor adventures, and remote/rural destinations. At least to start, big cities, festivals, cruises and group tours will be a harder sell.
About half of U.S. travelers (52 percent) said that they only want to see travel advertising that is addressing their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 48 percent said that they feel it is insensitive for travel companies and destinations to advertise right now.
The Maryland Heritage Area Authority is pleased to share that the MHAA COVID-19 Emergency Operating Grants for Nonprofits are now open.
Nonprofit heritage tourism organizations located within the boundaries of a certified heritage area that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis are eligible to apply for grants of up to $20,000. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, with all applications received by the first of each month considered as a group.
This 4 phase plan to reopen the economy has a wide distribution and is gaining credibility. You will benefit from studying this document and beginning to prepare.
Ask yourself these questions. Can you open at 50% capacity? Can you accommodate smaller groups? Can you make transactions touchless? Can you enforce rules you put into place?
4 Phase Plan
What we knew about Bulk claims through the Unemployment Office has changed. The message below is copied and pasted from an email from the UI office. It is contrary to what I sent out earlier this week.
It was just determined that the bulk claim process that was initially communicated to employers to file on employees behalf has been misconstrued. I apologize for any miscommunication. Below is the clarification:
When the business contacts Unemployment Insurance to file a bulk claim it ONLY satisfies the employer's part and unless other steps are taken on behalf of the employee, it does not satisfy the action required by the claimant, i.e. filing a claim and subsequent webcerts or telecerts. Unless the employer is willing and able to have employees physically complete paper forms and mail them back in bulk, the other criteria is not being met for the claims process. In this COVID-19 situation, that is unlikely because most businesses are experiencing immediate shutdown and not having physical contact with the employees. Some smaller businesses may still want to handle the additional steps on behalf of their employees, but my assumption is that it is not the most convenient nor timely way to handle claims.
The best process is still for businesses with 25 or more employees (see **note a few lines down) to initiate a bulk claim by emailing UI.BulkClaim@Maryland.gov or if that option is not possible, calling the employer dedicated phone line at 410-853-1700 between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The benefit to filing a bulk claim is it will eliminate the need for the employer to complete a Request for Separation Notice for each employee individually.
The best practice is to have employers email the bulk claim information; HOWEVER, EMPLOYEES STILL SHOULD FILE A CLAIM ON THEIR OWN BEHALF AND SUBMIT THEIR SUBSEQUENT WEBCERT OR TELECERT WEEKLY THEREAFTER.
**Note: Another important change is that originally it was communicated that bulk claims were allowable for 5 or more dislocated employees; however it now states under the COVID-19 procedures, it is for 25 or more.
I have attached the forms for each bulk claim process for your convenience; however, here is the link to the FAQ information as well as the forms: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uibulkclaimfaqs.shtml
Please let me know if you have any questions. I know I have miscommunicated this to many businesses as I am sure you have, but unfortunately, the process was not clearly defined until issues with claims being processed correctly were revealed.
Please update any communications and or materials/websites that you may have with the 25 or more employee information as well as the need for employees to still file individually to initiate their claim.
Also, in case some of you may not have the updated schedule to assist with managing the overwhelming amount of claims being filed I am pasting it below:
Please file your claim according to your last name as detailed below:
- If your last name starts with A - F, file your claim on Monday.
- If your last name starts with G - N, file your claim on Tuesday.
- If your last name starts with O - Z, file your claim on Wednesday.
- Claim filing is open to all last names by phone on Thursday and Friday and online Thursday through Sunday.
* Filing later in the week will not delay your payments or affect the date of your claim.
Hope this is helpful information and feel free to share with any other partners that may be communicating to business within our region and/or State of Maryland.
APPLY FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR YOURSELF, (OWNER OR WORKER)
CARES ACT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS EXPLAINED: https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uicaresfaqs.pdf
STATE OF MARYLAND UNEMPLOYMENT APPLICATION WITH DIRECTIONS: https://secure-2.dllr.state.md.us/NetClaims/Welcome.aspx
PREVIOUS APRIL 1 UPDATE
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.
Before You Apply be Prepared with these Items:
2019 IRS Quarterly 940, 941 or 944 payroll tax reports.
FULL INFORMATION: https://home.treasury.gov/coronavirus
PREVIOUS MARCH 29 UPDATE
The link below is the best guide that I have seen relating to the CARES Act, COVID19 disaster relief. It was written specifically for tourism related businesses. Please take advantage of the many programs the CARES Act offers you.
PREVIOUS MARCH 26 UPDATE
Dan had been asked to join one of Washington County MD’s Emergency Support Function teams . An ESF is a FEMA emergency management tool. The ESFs provide the structure for coordinating Federal interagency support for a Federal response to an incident (COVID19). Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) is the grouping of governmental and certain private sector capabilities into an organizational structure to provide support, resources, program implementation, and services that are most likely needed to save lives, protect property and the environment, restore essential services and critical infrastructure, and help victims and communities return to normal following domestic incidents.
My ESF team reports on Business, Industry and Economic Stabilization. We have a daily briefing where we receive and report information that impacts Business, Industry, and Economic Stabilization.
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with some stories and facts about the impact of COVID19 on your business. Also tell me what you might need or like to see in the way of support or relief. I will take your message to the ESF group and we can help shape a response.
Do you have resources that may be useful in the response to this emergency? Things like lodging, transportation (buses and vans), equipment (pumps, generators, etc.), and food preparation are all useful.
You can list these resources here and make them available for rent or leasing on a temporary basis for use by FEMA and their associated contractors and suppliers.
There are some instruction here: https://mailchi.mp/medamd/covid-19-letter-from-commerce-secretary-schulz-2619125?e=003137a35a
The Request For Information where you list your resources is here: https://emma.maryland.gov/page.aspx/en/bpm/process_manage_extranet/17615
PREVIOUS MARCH 23 UPDATE
Below please find some information and links that maybe helpful to you, including new grant, SBA relief loan, and outline for closing of non-essential businesses in Washington County.
Understand the Governor’s latest proclamation Here is the Legal Council Interpretive Guide that details Governor Hogan’s Monday 3/23/2020 Proclamation. https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/OLC-Interpretive-Guidance-COVID19-04.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0BeU3EAWQUtpYWpIRrcmzAevS8od68TdLXWrjPbfdYvcgpfGUuvbGRu6c
Temporarily Lease your Lodging Property to the Government Governors, mayors and public health officials across the country are seeking hoteliers who are willing to enter into temporary leases for certain types of lodging properties at this time. Do you want your hotel to be considered? Apply through this link. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdMFbxLD4rsltGfZzBJc0BJ9YyWTIwx0v_XNy9ie3yKtiI8kg/viewform
Apply for a US Small Business Disaster Relief Loan Maryland has received official designation for SBA assistance. Individual businesses can now apply directly to the SBA for low-interest loans through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Apply here. https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
Apply for a MD State Grant of up to $10,000
Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund - Offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Apply here. https://marylandcommerce.wufoo.com/forms/small-business-covid19-emergency-grant-relief-fund/
PREVIOUS MARCH 20 UPDATE
We hope you are all safe and well as we all work tirelessly to take stock of the impacts of COVID-19 on our hospitality community. Never in our history have we experienced such devastating and immediate impacts to our nation’s travel industry which is now having lasting effects here in Washington County and across our great state.
To alleviate some current stress on you and your business, the CVB would like to extend the current due date of your membership renewal to July 1, 2020. We realize this maybe small, but also know every bit can help.
Our staff is continually working on plans and future marketing efforts. Please stay in touch and let us know how we can help you during this time.
PREVIOUS MARCH 20 UPDATE
Applications are now being accepted for Washington County.
According to the SBA, the loans will help alleviate financial strain and allow businesses to pay bills, payroll, and accounts payable, with long-term payments stretching up to 30 years. Small businesses and private non-profit organizations can apply directly to the SBA for financial assistance here.
PREVIOUS MARCH 19 UPDATE
Should you need information on unemployment insurance, below we have provided some links that maybe helpful to you and your employees, if layoffs occur:
The Maryland Unemployment Insurance (UI) program pays benefits to workers who have lost their job through no fault of their own and meet the program’s eligibility requirements. If you have become unemployed, you may file a claim on-line or by telephone. Get all the information you need through this link. https://www.dllr.state.md.us/employment/uibenefits.shtml
You can file your initial claim on-line through this link.
If a business experiences a temporary or permanent layoff, Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance’s Bulk Claim Services can open unemployment insurance claims for all affected employees. Businesses should contact a Claims Representative by emailing UI.BulkClaim@maryland.gov.