Friday Five | May 15, 2020

We hope all of our members are staying safe and healthy and as productive as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic. In light of the health crisis, the content of our Friday 5 emails has shifted to feature the top five COVID-19 news items and resources of the week.

Acts of COVID Kindness

As we all band together to get through these challenging days, the Maryland Chamber would like to highlight the good deeds being done in our communities by our members. Here’s another great example of an act of “COVID kindness”:

The T. Rowe Price Foundation is donating $540,000 to local and global nonprofits, including: $250,000 to the Fund for Educational Excellence; $125,000 to nonprofits supporting COVID-19 relief efforts in Colorado Springs, New York City and San Francisco; and $40,000 toward an Emergency Artists Relief Fund in Baltimore. The foundation has donated more than 160,000 N95 respirators to the University of Maryland Medical System, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, LifeBridge Health, UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central, Centura Health, and Children’s Hospital Colorado Springs.

Additionally, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies and local organizations, the T. Rowe Price Foundation supported Root Branch Academy’s “Kids on COVID-19” video contest for young people throughout Baltimore and beyond. The Baltimore-based digital media youth nonprofit created the contest to engage students and offer an outlet to share their stories during the pandemic. Check out the series here.

If you know of a Marylander or Maryland business or organization that is stepping up in the face of adversity to help others during the pandemic, please reach out to Kimberly Reach at to share your story.

1. Governor announces movement into stage 1 of recovery

On Wednesday, May 13, Governor Hogan announced in a press conference that our state will, as of 5 p.m. this evening, enter into the first stage of his Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery plan, a three-phase response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor’s approach will give each local government the ability to pick and choose what reopens and when, instead of one set of guidelines for the entire state.

Christine Ross, president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, issued the following statement in response to the governor’s announcement:

We are grateful that the day has come to begin moving into the first phase of economic recovery. We thank the governor for his leadership and for safeguarding public health and safety throughout the pandemic. Like him, we want to see Marylanders get back to work as safely and as soon as possible.

We are concerned, however, about the emerging “different rules for different jurisdictions” method to reopening and what it will mean for employers who run businesses in multiple parts of the state. This patchwork approach could prove detrimental for employers and their employees, who are already in the midst of navigating a difficult and evolving crisis situation.

As we continue to steadfastly advocate for our members, who are anxious to return to work, we continue to urge the governor to actively communicate and engage with members of the business community throughout each stage of the recovery process.

To read more about the Phase 1 reopening, check out the stories in the following publications, all of which featured Ms. Ross’ response:

To see a spreadsheet of how each local jurisdiction plans to respond as of this morning, please click here.

And in case you missed it, over the last two weeks, through its COVID-19 Working Group, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce released two resources intended to help Maryland businesses swiftly and responsibly reopen and recover from this unprecedented economic crisis:

2. KCI Technologies’ COVID screening app helps organizations get back to work

The team at KCI Technologies—a member of the Maryland Chamber—has developed a customizable COVID screening application, which can be used by companies to assess employees and visitors for any symptoms prior to entering a building or job site.

The app, called the Readiness Screening Solution (or RSS), features geospatial contact tracing support should an exposure to the virus occur on-site. “This wellness screening application is the perfect example of the kind of innovation possible when Maryland’s business leaders are given the opportunity to support efforts to reopen the economy,” said Christine Ross. “Great job, KCI Technologies!”

Read more about the app here.

3. Recap of this week’s webinars

The Maryland Chamber Foundation hosted two more webinars this week. On Tuesday, May 12, Dennis J. Shaffer and Brent C. Strickland, two partners from Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, a law firm that specializes in business reorganizations and bankruptcy, discussed the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (SBRA).

SBRA is a significant change in existing bankruptcy law that reduces or eliminates many of the costs associated with a bankruptcy reorganization, expedites the process for a quick turnaround, and preserves ownership and control of the business.

Given the number of businesses suddenly faced with the prospect of insolvency, the SBRA is a game changer for small and medium-sized businesses, as it allows access to a quicker and less expensive reorganization, at the same time making it easier for a business to maintain equity interests.

A full recording of the webinar can be accessed here and on our COVID-19 Chamber resources page.

And earlier today, we were pleased to host a conversation with Comptroller Peter Franchot. Comptroller Franchot was joined by Andy Schaufele, director of the Bureau of Revenue Estimates, to discuss the fiscal and economic challenges Marylanders are facing during the pandemic. They also provided us with their predictions for the future.

A full recording of the webinar can be accessed here and on the COVID-19 Chamber resources page.

4. Secretary Kelly Schulz to join us for a webinar next Tuesday   

Please join us for our next webinar, a conversation with Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz. Sec. Schulz will discuss her department’s ongoing COVID-19 response, including the work of industry-specific advisory groups and the next steps in Governor Hogan’s Roadmap to Recovery.

A conversation with Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz

Register here

Tuesday, May 19

10:30 – 11:00 AM

If you have any questions you’d like answered throughout the course of the webinar, please submit them to no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, May 18.

5. June 2nd Presidential Primary Elections

The Maryland State Board of Elections has announced that, due to COVID-19, the upcoming June 2nd presidential primary election will be conducted by mail, with very limited options for in-person voting on election day.

All eligible voters will receive a ballot in the mail that they can fill out and return. The process is safe, easy and secure. Voters simply mark their ballot, sign the oath on the envelope and make sure their ballot is postmarked before 8 p.m. on June 2. Voters can also drop their ballots into designated drop boxes in each county, or vote in person on election day if they cannot vote by mail.

Read more here.

Membership Spotlight: Interview with Gary Antonino

As part of our Member Spotlight series, our vice president of membership and development, Whitney Harmel, is interviewing members of the Chamber who are emerging as leaders throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For her sixth interview in the series, she spoke with Gary Antonino, chief business development officer at NCIA’s Herbert J. Hoelter Vocational Training Center.

The training center serves the homeless veteran and returning citizen population by providing HVAC, automotive, CDL-B, culinary and drone training programs. To learn about how the center was able to successfully shift some of its vocational training programs online during the COVID-19 pandemic, and still achieve a 94 percent attendance rate among trainees, listen to the interview here.

Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.

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