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 the challenging days ahead, the Maryland Chamber would like to highlight the good deeds being done in our communities by our members. Here are two great examples of acts of “COVID kindness”:
Volvo Trucks North America shared in an April 27 press release that they are giving back to “the communities where its employees live and work” through donations to nonprofit organizations and producing PPE for local medical facilities. The Volvo Hagerstown facility has been providing healthy snacks weekly for the Hagerstown YMCA, which provides childcare for frontline medical workers. In an April 28 press release, Volvo announced it is also providing “free 90-day eLearning for high school and secondary technical education students interested in diesel technician training” who are prevented from attending a hands-on classroom setting due to COVID-19.
AT&T announced in a May 5 press release that they donated $100,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington (BGCGW) to “help reinforce their support of first responder families.” The BGCGW has provides 12 hours of daily childcare for “COVID-19 first responders and essential workers.” AT&T set up an ongoing text-to-give campaign supporting BGCGW’s COVID-19 efforts. To donate $10 text KIDS to 2022. To make a $25 donation, text CLUBS to 2022.
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 email@example.com to share your story.
1. The Maryland Chamber Unveils ReNEW Maryland Plan
On Tuesday, May 5, 2020, the Maryland Chamber of Commerce released its “ReNEW Maryland” initiative. ReNEW Maryland is a collection of policy proposals designed to assist the state in overcoming the economic impact of COVID-19 and rebuilding its economy. It is the product of the hard work and input from the members of the Chamber’s COVID-19 Working Group and other stakeholders from across the state.
Christine Ross, Maryland Chamber of Commerce President and CEO had this to say about the plan, “The health and safety of the public, including our 4,500 members and federated partners and their employees, remains our top priority. We also believe that federal and state actions taken to address the challenges posed by the evolving crisis must appropriately balance public health and safety with the economic realities our members face. Our ‘ReNEW Maryland’ plan features proposals that are meant to serve as a menu of options for recovery efforts that will get Marylanders back to work as soon and as safely as possible.”
ReNew Maryland features three main phases that will assist in short-term recovery (Economic Resilience), mid-term recovery (Economic Recovery) and long-term recovery (Economic Rise). These proposals are expected to evolve as does the public health crisis and economic response.
2. The Governor Eases Restrictions on Outdoor Recreational Activities
In his Wednesday press conference, Governor Hogan eased some restrictions on outdoor recreational activities, opening golfing, boating, hunting, fishing, camping, and horseback riding. He also opened state parks and beaches where walking, jogging, swimming, and fishing will be permitted.
In addition to outdoor activities, the governor also said that elective surgeries may resume at the discretion of health care providers. The lifting of these restrictions is seen as part of the first step in the “Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery” which the governor announced on April 24. The governor cited encouraging numbers for COVID-19 hospitalizations as the reason he is beginning to lift restrictions. He also noted that if the trends continue the stay-at-home order may be lifted in the coming weeks.
Finally, State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year and that the state department of education will be releasing a ‘recovery plan’ for distance teaching and options for an eventual reopening.
Maryland Chamber staff will continue to work with the governor’s administration to get Maryland businesses open and operating as safely and quickly as possible as he continues to ease restrictions.
3. The Governor’s Vetoes: Updates
Thursday, May 7, 2020 marked the 30-day deadline for the governor to sign or veto legislation that was passed by the General Assembly during the 2020 session. The governor had previously announced that due to the current economic climate and budgetary situation facing the state, he would veto all legislation with a significant price tag. Some of the highlighted pieces of legislation vetoed by Governor Hogan include:
All other remaining legislation that was passed by the general assembly and not vetoed by the Governor will become law without his signature. For a full list of Senate bill becoming law with his signature you can click here, and for a list of House bills you can click here.
4. Recap of This Week’s Webinar and Upcoming Webinars
Thank you to our members who joined this week’s webinar which took place earlier today. Extra thanks to our speakers Stephen Umberger of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Baltimore District, John Bratsakis, President and CEO of the MD/DC Credit Union Association, and Mindy Lehman, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Communications with the Maryland Banker’s Association, who led our webinar on SBA Paycheck Protection Program – Updates and Implications.
Some webinar highlights include record numbers in loans given to Maryland businesses – SBA processed roughly 14 years’ work of SBA loans in 14 days. SBA also wants Maryland small businesses to know that there is still roughly $100 billion left in the program so if you are interested in applying there are still plenty of funds left.
Additionally, our speakers tackled a lot of the questions we have been receiving from our members about the PPP program, particularly regarding the loan forgiveness guidance. As of the time of the webinar, SBA indicated that the loan forgiveness guidance has still not been issued. Stay tuned for more information regarding that.
A full recording of today’s webinar with the Small Business Administration can be found here.
Next week, the Maryland Chamber Foundation will host a webinar on the Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019:
The Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019
Tuesday, May 12
11 AM to 12 PM (EDT)
Join the Maryland Chamber Foundation for a free webinar as representatives from Whiteford Taylor Preston discuss the new Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019. Small business owners now have the lifeline they need to work through a rough patch, cyclical downturn or other unexpected problem by taking advantage of the new Small Business Reorganization Act of 2019 (the “SBRA”).
SBRA is a significant change in existing bankruptcy law that greatly 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 feels like must-know law. It is described as 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.
Dennis J. Shaffer, Partner, Whiteford Taylor Preston
Brent C. Strickland, Partner, Whiteford Taylor Preston
We hope you will join us for next week’s webinar. If you have any questions you’d like answered throughout the course of the webinar, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon on Tuesday, May 12.
5. MDCC 2020 Legislative Report Coming Soon
The Maryland Chamber is proud to lead its membership, policymakers and other external stakeholders in support of policies that promote free enterprise, job creation and economic expansion. Throughout the 2020 legislative session, we worked diligently to support the passage of state legislation that would serve those goals and prevent the passage of bills that would not.
In the coming days, we will be releasing our 2020 Legislative Report–a comprehensive review of all state legislation that the Chamber tracked, supported or opposed throughout the 2020 legislative session, and the final status of those bills. We look forward to sharing the final report with you soon.
Interview with Misty Allen of Comcast
In the most recent installment of our Member Spotlight series, our vice president of membership and development, Whitney Harmel, interviewed Misty Allen, vice president of government and regulatory affairs and community impact at Comcast, to learn more about their response during the COVID-19 pandemic. Comcast had to transition a team of 4,000 in the Beltway region to remote work while dealing with a 33% increase in usage across markets. Listen to the interview here to find out how Comcast is adapting and meeting the challenges presented by COVID-19.
Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.