Table of Contents:
- MN Dial Back Dashboard
- New Employer Tax Credits Available
- MN Preparedness Plan Information
- Stay Safe MN Website: Central Repository for MN COVID-19 Information & COVID-19 Dashboard
- Re-Opening Phases & MN Executive Orders
- FAQs from the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED)
- Community Resources: Sauk Rapids Grant, Federal Reserve Presentation Presentation, FAQs from CentraCare
- Payroll Protection Program (PPP) Information
- Comprehensive Resource Listing
- Guide for Small Businesses
- OSHA Workplace Consultation Information
- FAQs: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Unemployment Insurance
- MN Department of Revenue Sales and Use Tax Guidance
- GSDC B2B Workforce Sharing Website
MN Dial Back Dashboard
Minnesota successfully bought time to build needed treatment capacity and is now taking measured steps toward a new normal. As we take these steps, we will continue to follow the guidance of public health experts and make data-driven decisions. We will monitor the rate of new cases and how the virus is spreading. If there are sudden increases, we may need to dial back. More information on these measures including data lag information is available here.
Click HERE to access the new MN Dial Back Dashboard.
New Employer Tax Credits Available
Many businesses that have been severely impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19) will qualify for two new employer tax credits – the Credit for Sick and Family Leave and the Employee Retention Credit.
Sick and Family Leave Credit: Eligible employers are entitled to receive a credit in the full amount of the required sick leave and family leave, plus related health plan expenses and the employer’s share of Medicare tax on the leave, for the period of April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The refundable credit is applied against certain employment taxes on wages paid to all employees. Eligible employers can reduce federal employment tax deposits in anticipation of the credit. They can also request an advance of the paid sick and family leave credits for any amount not covered by the reduction in deposits. The advanced payments will be issued by paper check to employers.
Employee Retention Credit: Eligible employers can claim the employee retention credit, a refundable tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in qualified wages (including health plan expenses), paid after March 12, 2020 and before January 1, 2021. Eligible employers are those businesses with operations that have been partially or fully suspended due to governmental orders and COVID-19, or businesses that have a significant decline in gross receipts compared to 2019.
The refundable credit is capped at $5,000 per employee and applies against certain employment taxes on wages paid to all employees. Eligible employers can reduce federal employment tax deposits in anticipation of the credit. They can also request an advance of the employee retention credit for any amounts not covered by the reduction in deposits. The advanced payments will be issued by paper check to employers.
To learn more about these new tax credits, see HERE.
Additionally, there are new charitable giving incentives for donors to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations which include the GSDC. The CARES Act created a new above-the-line deduction (universal or non-itemized deduction that applies to all taxpayers) for total charitable contributions of up to $300. This incentive applies to contributions made in 2020 and would be claimed on tax forms next year.
MN Preparedness Plan Information
The Department of Labor and Industry, OSHA consultation, and the Department of Health is working on developing additional guidance documents for developing sector specific preparedness plans. This guidance will be available at staysafe.mn.gov starting Monday June 15th. All businesses, critical and non-critical, must have a preparedness plan in place by June 29th. Current industry specific guidance can be found HERE.
Stay Safe MN Website: Central Repository for MN COVID-19 Information & COVID-19 Dashboard
A new website, www.staysafe.mn.gov is now available. This website will be the central repository of information for COVID related items.
The state of Minnesota has dashboards related to the COVID-19 response available to the public. For information related to Minnesota’s Response and Preparation click HERE. For Minnesota specific COVID-19 data, click HERE. On April 22 Governor Walz unveiled a massive COVID-19 testing plan (COVID-19 and the antibody testing) which is a result of a critical partnership between the State of MN, University of MN, and Mayo Clinic. This has been hailed as a crucial piece of the state’s efforts to control the disease’s spread and carefully reopen the economy. The announced plan will increase the current 1,200 test per day to 20,000 per day. To see the full announcement click HERE.
The Start of Reopening – Resource Center for All Your Questions
Effective April 27, non-customer facing businesses in non-critical sector office and industrial settings are able to start re-opening today. This is the first step in a gradual process to re-open Minnesota and will bring an estimated 100,000 people back to work. For all guidance and help in re-opening, the following website is the central resource for your questions, www.mn.gov/deed/safework.
If you need help in developing your preparedness plan which will help you to re-open when allowed, please reach out to OSHA Consultations. For more information on free on-site safety and health consultations see HERE. To request a consultation visit, you can fill out an online request HERE.
Re-Opening Phases & Executive Orders
New restrictions have been put in place for restaurants & bars, social gatherings, and events. These changes will begin Friday, November 13 at 10 pm. Read the full list of updated restrictions HERE.
New MN Face Mask Requirement: Executive Order 20-81
Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-81 which will require Minnesotan’s to wear masks in indoor businesses and indoor public settings and becomes effective Friday, July 24 at 11:59 p.m.
Masks will be required under the following situations:
· In all public indoor spaces and businesses, including when waiting outside to enter the public indoor space or business.
· When riding on public transportation such as buses or trains, or in a taxi, ride-sharing vehicle, or vehicle that is being used for a business purpose.
· For workers only: When working outdoors in situations where social distancing (i.e., maintaining physical distance of at least six feet from other individuals who are not in the same household) cannot be maintained.
· When present in a business, whether indoor or outdoor, that has elected to require face coverings. Businesses can require face coverings even in situations where face coverings are not otherwise required by Executive Order 20-81.
· When applicable industry guidance, available at Stay Safe Minnesota, specifically requires face coverings (refer to the industry-specific guidance section, below).
There are many exemptions and particularities within the Executive Order. For additional information please visit the Minnesota Department of Health site HERE. For a FAQ addressing the mask requirements contained in the Executive Order, please click HERE.
June 10 Phased Re-Opening
On June 10th, Executive Order 20-73 became effective allowing for the third phase of re-opening. Highlights of Phase 3 include:
· Allows for social gatherings of 25 or less outdoors and 10 or less indoors
· Critical and Non-critical businesses must telework if possible
· Allows retail establishments to operate at 50% capacity
· Allows for indoor dining at 50% capacity and not to exceed 250 individuals for indoor and outdoor dining
· Allows for personal care services to operate at 50% capacity
· Allows for gyms and personal fitness/yoga studios to operate at 25% capacity, not to exceed 250 people.
· Allows for indoor events and entertainment to occur with no more than 250 individuals
· Allows for places of worship, wedding and funerals at 50% capacity and no more than 250 individuals
· Allows for youth and adult sports. For additional MDH guidance for youth sports click HERE.
June 1 Phased Re-Opening
Governor Walz announced plans for a continued phased reopening starting June 1 which also outlines additional phases into the future. Starting June 1:
· Restaurants may provide service in outdoor settings. Maximum occupancy will be limited to 50 people. Tables need to be a distance of six feet apart. Reservations are required with no more than four per table, or six per table for a family. Workers are required to wear a mask and customers are encouraged to wear a mask when possible.
· Personal care businesses, which include salons and barbers, will need to operate at 25% of fire code occupancy. Masks are required for workers and customers.
· Campgrounds are allowed to open.
See HERE for an infographic that shows the plan for phased reopening.
Click HERE for a list of FAQs from the Department of Employment and Economic Development regarding outdoor dining starting June 1.
Outdoor Dining Opened June 1: As part of Phase 2 of re-opening, restaurants and bars are now able to serve customers with outdoor dining option. Many of our local cities, including St. Cloud, Sartell, Sauk Rapids and St. Joseph have relaxed outdoor dining regulations to allow for greater ability to serve customers. The following are requirements that restaurants and bars must implement to comply with Executive Order 20-63:
· Adopt and implement a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan
· Ensure a minimum of six feet of distance between tables
· Limit on-premises capacity to no more than 50 persons
· Limit table service to four persons, or six if part of one family unit
· Require reservations in advance
· Require workers to wear masks and strongly encourage masks be worn by customers
Governor Walz Issues Four New Executive Orders, in affect May 18
Governor Walz announced the Stay At-Home Order will be lifted May 18th and signed four new Executive Orders.
Executive Order 20-53: Extends Governor’s Peacetime Emergency powers.
Executive Order 20-54: Provides for protections for workers from unsafe working conditions and retaliation. This Executive Order mostly reinforces existing laws, statutes and protections that are already in place for workers. A new requirement that goes beyond existing protections is that employees who bring their own PPE to the workplace cannot be retaliated against unless it violates existing policies or decency standards.
Executive Order 20-55: Strongly encourages at-risk populations to continue stay-at-home precautions. At-risk populations include:
Persons 65 and older
Person living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
Persons with underlying medical conditions which include, asthma, lung disease, heart conditions, immunocompromised, obese, diabetic, chronic kidney disease and liver disease.
Executive Order 20-56: Rescinds the stay at home order issued by Executive Order 20-48.
See all MN Executive Orders HERE.
FAQs from the Department of Employment & Economic Development (DEED)
** FAQs are updated each week, most recent FAQs are listed first. Last updated November 13, 2020.
November 13 FAQs
Question: What does the 10 pm deadline mean for bars and restaurants – final orders or that all patrons are gone?
Answer: All customers must leave the establishment by 10 pm. Takeout and delivery service can continue after 10 pm until the business chooses to close. Employees may also still remain in the business after 10 pm.
Question: Do conferences and workshops fall under these restrictions? What are the limits?
Answer: For meetings not defined as a social gathering, the lesser of 250 people or 25% capacity is the limit, with social distancing.
Question: What will enforcement look like for these new regulations?
Answer: Enforcement measures will depend on the agency. OSHA compliance has jurisdiction over most work places. It also must be acknowledged that the State cannot regulate out of this pandemic but MN is using regulations as a tool to promote compliance and enforce the new Executive-Order. The hope is that everyone will self-comply and enforcement actions won’t be needed.
Question: Can you clarify how the regulations impact establishments that have pool and dart leagues?
Answer: A bar with occasional pool or dart leagues has the option to choose if they will define themselves as an entertainment establishment or a bar/restaurant and then comply with the relevant requirements. The option also exists to have one designation for specified days and another designation for other days. Regardless of how an establishment is classified at a certain time, there must be a COVID-19 plan in place and regulations must be followed. Find more information here for restaurants and bars & recreational establishments.
October 30 FAQs
Question: When it comes to workplaces or businesses, what do business leaders on this call need to know about facing risk of COVID-19 exposure in business settings?
Answer: The same trends that apply to social settings should also apply in the workplace. With an increase in people testing positive, there is a higher likelihood that someone will show up infected to the workplace; higher cases can be tied to people letting their guard down and not following appropriate safety protocols. In order to keep everyone around us safe, keep yourself and your employees engaged in following safety protocols.
Question: Regarding hospitalization numbers, is the increase due to individuals testing positive for COVID-19 or are individuals in the hospital for other reasons and then test positive?
Answer: The primary reason individuals are hospitalized is due to COVID-19. Individuals who have underlying complications or pre-existing conditions are more likely to end up needing hospitalization if they test positive for COVID-19.
Question: Has there been additional guidance from the Governor regarding holding in-person city council meetings and if individuals are required to wear a mask?
Answer: There is no updated guidance for city council meetings but if they are in-person, everyone must wear a mask.
Question: If public health contract tracers advise a worker they should quarantine because of exposure to COVID-19, are they eligible for COVID-19 sick leave?
Answer: If an individual is being furloughed because of COVID-19, they are eligible for Unemployment Insurance. If their employer is covering their quarantine time with other types of leave benefits, then unemployment insurance does not apply. If you are an employer covered by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), there is the availability to use two weeks of paid emergency sick leave. To note: FFCRA is set to expire on December 31 and it is uncertain if it will be extended.
October 24 FAQs
Question: With the start of pool and dart leagues, confusion exists on when players are required to wear a mask with some suggesting they don’t have to wear one when they are actually shooting?
Answer: Masks are required to be worn at all times, including when shooting. The only time masks are not required is when the patrons are seated at a table and are eating or drinking. It was also noted that pool and dart league activities are considered a recreational environment with a capacity limit of 25% versus 50% that applies to bars and restaurants. Further information is available from the Executive Order and the MN Department of Health guidelines.
Question: Is the name of companies receiving COVID-19 assistance subject to public disclosure?
Answer: For COVID-19 assistance provided by MN, the names of recipients will be made public once all grant awards are completed.
Question: What is the timeline for reimbursement to unemployment insurance claims due to furloughs, missed work, etc that employers incurred due to the pandemic?
Answer: Each case is evaluated individually. DEED is in the process of sending letters to impacted employers providing direction on how this will be addressed.
Question: With the decline in the spread from work sites as opposed to ‘community spread’, will there be any changes made to the list of “presumed” occupations where the burden of proof falls to the employer to prove the workplace was NOT the source of spread?
Answer: “Presumed occupations” are stipulated by the action of the legislature.
Question: When are face shields allowed as an alternative to cloth face coverings?
Answer: The Executive Order includes provisions for specific industry guidelines that outline when face shields are acceptable. Additionally, MDH also provides guidance on the specific features that are required for face shield use in lieu of cloth face coverings.
October 16 FAQs
Question: A business paid an employee for two weeks of time off due to their daycare provider being closed for that period of time due to COVID-19. Are there any grants or loans to assist businesses in paying their employees in these situations?
Answer: If you are an employer with less than 500 employees, there are tax credits available in these situations as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. More info can be found here on the IRS website.
Question: November 15 is a Sunday. Normally when invoices or payments are due on a Sunday, they become due on Monday, in this case November 16. Does this mean that Cities may expend its CARES Act local funds on November 16, the next working day after the deadline for expenditures?
Answer: Any amount that is not spent by November 15th has to be returned to their home county by November 20th. So the 15th isn’t the deadline for sending the funds, it’s the last day they can spend these funds.
This deadline was on the certification form all local governments signed:
Any aid amount remaining unexpended by an eligible city or town on November 15, 2020, must be sent to the home county in which the city or town is located. The transfer must be made no later than November 20, 2020. Any amount of aid remaining unexpended by an eligible county by December 1, 2020 must be returned to Minnesota Management and Budget by December 10, 2020.
Question: The Executive Order was recently modified to allow restaurants to seat up to ten people instead of six. Does this also apply to banquet facilities?
Answer: No. This change has only been specified for restaurants, not banquet facilities.
Question: With the uptick in cases, is it less likely the State will rescind the “if you can work from home, you should work from home” requirement?
Answer: No change is intended nor is there a timeline anticipated for when that requirement will be lifted. However, it is a matter that is in constant discussion as they understand the want of some to return to office spaces.
Question: Are local non-profits still processing Small Business Relief Grants out to MN businesses or has that process been completed? If it has been completed, will the state be releasing the names of which businesses received grants?
Answer: About 90% of the grants have been awarded but a full listing of businesses receiving the grants won’t be issued until 100% of the grants are awarded. Please contact Brandon Toner (email@example.com), DEED Agency Policy Specialist, Business & Community Development. He is the lead contact for the Small Business Relief Grant Program.
October 2 FAQs
Question: Minnesota has the 4th highest cost of childcare in the country, why is that?
Answer: The high cost for center-based care is partially attributable to high standards such as student/teacher ratios for infants and training standards for direct care professionals. Greater MN does have lower costs due to lower wages and property costs.
Question: Is it common practice to require a doctor’s note for an employee to return to work after they have been quarantined?
Answer: A negative test is not always the best indicator for those wanting to return to work. It is better to follow the guidelines based on an individual’s symptoms.
Question: If a customer is shopping and is known to have COVID-19 or should be in quarantine, what is the best way to address this?
Answer: Safety and health guidelines are meant to presume that everyone is COVID-19 positive. If you implement those guidelines, you are putting yourself in the best position for this possible situation. Maintain social distancing, wear a mask, and follow cleaning protocol.
July 24 FAQs
Question: How does the mask requirements in EO 20-81 apply to manufacturing environments since it is not a public space. Will social distancing suffice?
Answer: The mandate put forth is to protect both workers and customers. Generally, employees should wear a mask indoors, however; they can remove the mask when working alone in their cubicle or office (if the 6 feet social distancing requirement can be maintained). It is best practice to have a mask available in your pocket should you encounter individuals.
Question: Does this policy apply to private businesses?
Question: Do the mask requirements apply to outdoor farmers markets?
Answer: A mask requirement does not apply for customers when outdoors, but masks are strongly encouraged if social distancing can’t be followed. All workers are required to wear a mask.
Question: Can face shields be used in place of face masks?
Answer: No but there are exemptions that allow for face shields. Examples include a kitchen worker in a very hot kitchen, or in a childcare setting if a face shield allows better communication with a child based on the ability to see facial expressions. Face shields should go below the chin.
Question: Many cities have received CARES funds. Is there a contact at the Department of Revenue or Treasury to direct questions to? Can funds be used to fund grants to businesses?
Answer: Funds can be used to fund grants. Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) is handling questions for how funds can be used. Please reference the MMB COVID-19 Response Accountability page found HERE for more information.
Question: Can speakers remove masks when speaking at public meetings?
Answer: Yes, that is one of the exceptions included in the EO.
Question: If an employee provides a note from a physician that states they cannot wear a mask, what should be done?
Answer: The Executive Order specifically addresses exemptions for people with medical conditions. Business owners should follow ADA, Human Rights Act, etc. for what verification must be required. If a mask cannot be worn then an accommodation should be made such as a plexiglass barrier, face shield, reassignment to maintain social distance, etc.
July 17 Questions
Question: Are non-profits ineligible for local CARES act grants?
Answer: No; however, cities and counties will create their own process for how they distribute CARES funds. It is recommended that you contact your local unit of government to learn more about local requirements.
Question: Local CARES funds appear to be quite flexible; can businesses use the same COVID related loss estimates for multiple programs? Can an award exceed the stated business losses?
Answer: Due to the nature of local CARES funds, it is encouraged that businesses talk to their local city/county and DEED to check regulations.
June 23 Questions
Question: Local health departments are getting a lot of reports of restaurants not using masks, what should be done?
Answer: Not wearing a mask by restaurant employees is a violation of the Executive Order. The issue should be brought up with owners of the businesses first. If this does not resolve the issue, individuals can bring it to MN OSHA.
Question: How should employers recruit new workers when many refuse employment due to the $600 unemployment benefit they receive weekly? These prospective employees aren’t previous employees so the business can’t report them.
Answer: If employers are looking to hire new workers it is strongly encouraged that employers participate in virtual career fairs where there are many motivated people to return to work. Local virtual career fairs can be found at your local Career Force center HERE.
Question: When are large plexiglass shields required for businesses?
Answer: Generally, plexiglass dividers are required when you can’t maintain 6 feet of distancing between workers or between customers and workers. Similar standard applies for masking as well.
Question: How can employers get questions answered about specific Unemployment Insurance questions when the employer call line is down?
Answer: Employers are strongly encouraged to reference the Unemployment Insurance website for help in finding answers. The website is constantly being updated. The employee line still has about a 2 hour wait so resources need to be directed there. It is important to note that Unemployment Insurance cannot provide legal advice which is often the case with questions, and employers will need to seek legal counsel or HR advice.
Question: If an employee has said they have been exposed to COVID-19, can the employer require that a test be taken to prove that a quarantine is necessary?
Answer: If there is an order to quarantine by a medical provider or health official then the employer is required to pay for medical leave as required by law. State law says that if a test is required by an employer then the employer must pay for the test. Any requirement to test must also be applied in a nondiscriminatory manner.
June 19 Questions:
Question: Who enforces if a business completed a preparedness plan?
Answer: The requirements are from an Executive Order and can be enforced in multiple ways. Enforcement would most likely occur through MN OSHA during a random inspection or follow-up to a complaint. If a business is subject to licensure, the preparedness plan could also be enforced by the licensing entity.
Question: If a local unit of government sets up a grant program with CARES Act money, will the restriction on not receiving multiple CARES grants apply?
Question: Can an employee who refuses to return to work still be eligible for Unemployment Insurance?
Answer: Why the person is not returning to work ultimately will influence the answer to this question. If there are no vulnerabilities with the employee and there are no safety issues, then the employee must return to work and would not be eligible for Unemployment Insurance.
Question: Fraudulent unemployment insurance claims seem to be increasing. What is being done to reduce fraudulent claims and what should businesses do?
Answer: Beginning last week, the State began seeing an uptick in fraudulent claims by people who have obtained someone else’s personal identity information. Generally, for security and enforcement reasons, the State cannot talk about strategies that are used to identify fraud. If a business does see fraudulent claims, use the online form found HERE. The online form is recommended over making a phone call. These fraudulent claims are likely a result of identity theft and the person/business should also contact local law enforcement.
Question: Do face shields have to be used as required for salons or can other measures be used in their place such as eye protection and masks.
Answer: Face shields are only required when a customer cannot wear a mask, ie: facials.
Question: For businesses that operate in multiple social settings such as a restaurant that also holds events and large gatherings, do they have to have separate preparedness plans?
Answer: The business does not have to have separate plans. It is recommended that the business reviews guidance and requirements for both settings and incorporate guidance when developing their specific plan.
Question: Who does one reach out to in order to provide input on guidance that has been developed?
Answer: There is a form on staysafe.mn.gov where concerns and suggestions can be submitted for guidance and other matters related to COVID. To use the form click HERE.
Question: For businesses operating in different states, does the MN template have to be used for the preparedness plan?
Answer: No, the template is not required and is only provided as a resource to help in developing a plan. It should also be noted that preparedness plans do not need to be submitted or approved, just available for workers and customers to reference.
Question: DEED incentives with the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Job Creation Fund have not been able to be used for retail and service establishments. Will these restrictions be loosened to allow for expanded uses?
Answer: There has not been discussions currently to expand uses for these two programs. However, there have been other programs created to specifically aid industries affected by the Governor’s Executive Orders.
Question: Will Unemployment Insurance rules expire, such as protection for rate increases which are tied to the emergency declaration?
Answer: Unemployment Insurance is not looking to charge or apply rate increases for layoffs that are beyond the businesses control.
Question: Are PPP loans and proceeds taxable income in Minnesota?
Question: How are the protections in Executive Order 20-54 different from existing law?
Answer: Executive Order 20-54 is mostly a reiteration of current law but tailored to COVID-19. The protections for workers who use their own PPE is the one new regulation that is not covered by existing law.
Question: How could a PPE that an employee provides themselves violate existing standards?
Answer: A PPE that has an inappropriate or obscene pattern could be a violation. A personal PPE could also be a violation if a company has an existing policy already in place.
Question: What liability does a business have if all precautions are taken but someone still believes they may have contracted COVID-19 at their place of business?
Answer: It is recommended that the business review their liability policies and consult their insurance agent to ensure that standards in the policy are followed. Following a preparedness plan and CDC and MDH guidelines are also strongly encouraged. Click HERE for resources which include a preparedness plan template, MN OSHA guidelines, and CDC frequently asked questions.
Central MN Council on Aging Response Fund Is Seeking Applications
The Central MN Council on Aging (CMCOA) received an award of $100,000 from the MN Council on Foundations. The CMCOA has established a Response Fund to support older adults and family caregivers with services such as access to nutrition, volunteers, diversity, Virtual Service Delivery and PPE Supplies. Eligible organization include, 1) 501(c)3 Non-profit Organizations, 2) Senior Centers, 3) Tribal Organizations and 4) Faith Communities.
Grant awards are typically between $1,000-$10,000 as determined by CMCOA.
For additional information and application materials, click HERE.
Coursera Online Learning Available via DEED
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) entered into a new partnership with Coursera, the leading online learning platform that offers courses from 200 top universities and businesses around the world, including more than 60 courses from the University of Minnesota. This partnership is made possible by the Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative.
DEED will work directly with Coursera to create accounts for Minnesotans and provide immediate access to online courses. Learners in Minnesota who choose to sign up for Coursera will need to complete their registration before September 30, 2020. Learners will have full access to training through March 2021.
Any Minnesotan who has applied for unemployment insurance in 2020 and already has an account on uimn.org will receive an invitation to sign up for Coursera; other Minnesotans who are interested may also provide their name and contact information at CareerForceMN.com/Coursera to receive access.
Sauk Rapids Creates New Grant Program to Assist Businesses Re-Opening
The City of Sauk Rapids recently approved a new grant program through the Housing and Redevelopment Authority that will allow for up to $5,000 grants for restaurants with fewer than 75 employees and other businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Details of the grant program are as follows:
· Grant can be used for eligible expenses made after March 15, 2020. Examples of eligible expenses include:
o Modifications and alterations made to meet CDC or MDH guidelines.
o Equipment purchases or leases reasonably related to COVID-19 response.
o Personal property to allow for outdoor dining
· Eligible businesses must have been closed or partially closed after March 15th as a direct result of COVID-19 restrictions and the business must have had a reduction of revenue.
· Businesses must be food/restaurants, personal services, retail sales or other similar businesses as determined by the HRA.
· Applications will be accepted through August 15th
To apply, click HERE.
For additional information contact Todd Schultz, Community Development Director at 320-258-5315 or firstname.lastname@example.org or contact GSDC.
Ron Wirtz from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank presented findings from a survey of over 1,100 businesses in the 9th District which consists of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. True to Minnesota form, approximately 700 of the 1,100 responses came Minnesota, with 400 from Greater Minnesota and 300 from the Twin Cities.
To access the presentation, click HERE.
CentraCare Supports Our Business Community
GSDC founding investor, CentraCare, has provided helpful guidance to answer your questions and provide support if your business has been impacted by a COVID-19 outbreak. Find the information HERE.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Information
PPP Flexibility Act Passes: New PPP Rules Announced (Information as of June 18)
The Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act was passed by Congress and signed into law, June 5th. New Rules and applications for borrowers and lenders have recently been released to reflect the changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). To view the new materials, please see the following:
· New interim final rules, click HERE
· New borrower application, click HERE
· New lender application, click HERE.
Highlights of the changes from the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act include:
· Extends the 8 week period for using PPP loan proceeds towards payroll to 24 weeks.
· Lowers the requirement from 75 percent to 60 percent of a PPP loan must be used for payroll costs. If a borrower uses less than 60 percent of the loan amount for payroll costs, the borrower will continue to be eligible for partial loan forgiveness, subject to at least 60 percent of the loan forgiveness amount having been used for payroll costs. The remainder of funds can be used for rent, utilities, mortgage payments and interest on loans.
· Provides a safe harbor from reductions in loan forgiveness based on reductions in full-time equivalent employees for borrowers that are unable to return to the same level of business activity the business was operating at before February 15, 2020.
· Provides a safe harbor from reductions in loan forgiveness based on reductions in full-time equivalent employees to provide protections for borrowers that are both unable to rehire individuals who were employees of the borrower on February 15, 2020, and unable to hire similarly qualified employees for unfilled positions by December 31, 2020.
· Increase to five years (from the original two years) the maturity of PPP loans that are approved by SBA (based on the date SBA assigns a loan number) on or after June 5, 2020.
· Extends the deferral period for borrower payments of principal, interest, and fees on PPP loans to the date that SBA remits the borrower’s loan forgiveness amount to the lender.
Deadline for approved PPP loan applications will be June 30, 2020. There are still funds available in the Paycheck Protection Program. For any PPP questions, reach out to an approved SBA lender or GSDC.
To view the guidance and application, click HERE
The SBA continues to update its Frequently Asked Questions document with the most recent update occurring May 13. To view the FAQ document click HERE.
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Foregiveness Calculator by BerganKDV
GSDC Investor BerganKDV has updated their Paycheck Protection Program Calculator which reflects new information from latest guidance and interim rules. To learn more, you can view an in-depth video that reviews the calculator HERE. To download the loan forgiveness calculator, you can click HERE.
Comprehensive Resource Listing
Below is a compilation of resources and information for business. As always, please reach out to us at GSDC at any time. We stand ready to assist during these challenging circumstances.
Financial Resources for Businesses (Click on text to open links below)
A Summary of all these programs can be found in the Guide for Minnesota Small Businesses.
For Businesses Preparing to Return to Work or Continue Working
OSHA Consultations: You can request a free consultation.
COVID-19 Preparedness Plan Template (Clicking this link automatically downloads the document.)
Checklist guidelines for Creating a Preparedness Plan (Clicking this link automatically downloads the document.)
Resources Related to Federally Passed Legislation:
Guide for Small Businesses
Several state and federal programs have been created to assist small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Different programs make sense for different businesses. DEED has created a Guide for Small Business that helps businesses identify which programs might be right for their situation. This guide covers the following programs:
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program
Minnesota Small Business Emergency Loan Program
Minnesota Small Business Loan Guarantee Program
Unemployment Insurance Shared Work Program
Stearns County Small Business Emergency Loan Program
Interest free gap loans of $2,500 to $15,000 (working capital only) available based on economic injury and the financial need of the business.
Loans are to be paid back monthly over a period of two (2) years. The first payment will be deferred for six (6) months.
Loans will require sufficient collateral or a personal guarantee to cover the balance of the loan.
For more information click HERE
Small Business Emergency Loan Program
Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed additional funding that complements the original CARES act. Highlights of this funding include
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The second round of applications for the Paycheck Protection Program will be accepted starting today, April 27. Your “place in line” will be determined by the order of applications submitted today. If you applied for the Paycheck Protection Program after the first round of funding was exhausted, it is advised that you work with your SBA financial institution to make sure they submit your application again today. This second round was made possible by the last Friday’s passage of additional funding by Congress.
SBA lending institutions will be able to accept your applications. Local SBA institutions include (bold denotes those that are a valued investor and engaged partner in the work of the GSDC):
Sartell: Bank Vista and Deerwood Bank
Sauk Rapids: Farmers and Merchants Bank
St. Cloud: Affinity Plus Credit Union, American Heritage National Bank, American National Bank, Bremer Bank, Falcon National Bank, Great River Federal Credit Union, Kensington Bank, Initiative Foundation, MidCountry Bank, Minnwest Bank, Sentry Bank, Stearns Bank, US Bank, Wells Fargo
St. Joseph: Central Minnesota Credit Union, Sentry Bank
Waite Park: Deerwood Bank
Interesting fact: For the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program, Minnesota ranked third in the nation for the amount of PPP funds accessed per capita.
Reminder: SBA provides daily webinars on many subjects including the Paycheck Protection Program. To view a listing of webinar topics and schedules, please see HERE.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) – An additional $60 Billion has been appropriated. You can apply for EIDL loans directly through the SBA. To learn more about the EIDL loan and when applications will start to be accepted again click HERE. Questions can be submitted to email@example.com
Hospitals: An additional $75 Billion
Testing: An additional $25 Billion DEED is also encouraging lenders to continue accepting applications in preparation for additional funds to become available.
OSHA Workplace Consultations
MN OSHA provides free workplace safety and health consultations and is available to assist during this time. For inquiries into a free consultation contact MN OSHA consultations HERE. Employers are encouraged to use Centers for Disease Control and Minnesota Department of Health guidelines for safe work practices.
FAQs: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance and Unemployment Insurance
Question: Are S-Corps eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?
Answer: Yes. The PUA benefit would be provided to the individual not the S-Corp. It is suggested an individual apply for Unemployment Insurance. If you are denied it likely means that it is because PUA is not yet implemented. They continue to encourage completing the application thereby getting you into the system so once PUA is implemented you will be made eligible (assuming you meet all underlying requirements). The goal is to have PUA implemented by the end of April.
Question: Will there be any additional funding for Small Business Emergency Bridge Loans?
Answer: The legislature is currently considering a bill to add $20 M to the program. Your legislative representatives appreciate hearing from you so please make your support for this appropriation known and to share any other concerns you may have. To find your State Senator and Representative click HERE.
Question: What should business do if an employee refuses to come back to work?
Answer: Employers should raise an issue by indicating in their Unemployment Insurance account that an employee has been asked to return to work and they refused. This will help DEED to determine UI eligibility for the employee. Employers will need to reference a multitude of other provisions (e.g. protected status of the position, required accommodation measures, employment agreement terms) that may impact other potential actions or options they may consider affecting the employees employment status.
Question: Is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance authorized by the CARES act available?
Answer: No, not yet. DEED is continuing to work on implementing this benefit and should have more information out later this week.
Question: How will the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefit be determined?
Answer: PUA Benefits will be determined using 2019 tax income for the sole proprietor or independent contractor. There will be a minimum PAU benefit of $234 a week in addition to the $600 top off for a total minimum weekly benefit of $834 wk.
Question: What does an employer do when they have former employees showing up on UI account but they left prior the COVID-19 pandemic?
Answer: The employer should raise an issue with UI, if the employee continues to get paid then the employer is encouraged to make an appeal.
Question: Will my Unemployment Insurance premiums be negatively impacted by layoffs as a result of COVID-19?
Answer: No, your premiums will not be impacted. This was addressed by Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-05
For more Unemployment Insurance information and FAQs for Employers see HERE.
MN Department of Revenue Provides Sales and Use Tax Guidance
A Reminder: Sales and Use Tax payments for February and March are extended until May 20th. The Department of Revenue is working to provide guidance for over 30 different tax types and continues to post regular updates to their website. For the most up to date guidance for business taxes, click HERE.
GSDC B2B Workfoce Sharing Website
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and impacts on our local workforce, we have created a new feature on our JobSpot website so businesses with employment needs can connect with businesses who have employees available for work. This feature will help businesses identify and make direct contact with each other to customize a job sharing arrangement that benefits their businesses and their employees. We hope this new tool will help fill temporary employment gaps. Please contact Gail Cruikshank (contact information below) with questions.
As an addtional workforce resources see this Bulletin from MN CareerForce: Who Is Hiring Right Now?
If you have questions, please contact a member of our GSDC Staff Team. We’re here to help!