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Ask Us: COVID-19 & Your Business

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BUSINESS SUPPORT
CARES ACT
CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN
COMPASSIONATE CARE
DONATION OPPORTUNITIES
FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT
FORWARD DANE
HEALTH INSURANCE
INSURANCE POLICIES
MAIL DELIVERY
PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
PROPERTY TAXES
PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS
SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE
UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
WEDC ASSISTANCE
ZONING

To submit or vote up questions, visit Slido.com and enter the event code #ASK4BIZ or simply click here to be directed to that page. Questions can also be submitted via email at ask@madisonbiz.com. We will collect and aggregate your questions and post responses here in as timely a manner as possible.

FORWARD DANE

Question: Under 4(a) of Order #3, capacity is limited to “25% of APPROVED capacity.” While this might be clear for bars and restaurants, how is capacity defined for offices and places where this is less clear? Contact the City? If so, who? It had been explained that orgs would rely on their best judgment.

Answer: Public Health Madison & Dane County released additional guidance on this topic on June 2. See here.

Question: I’d love to better understand where consumer confidence is right now, especially what measures taken by businesses would make customers feel most safe. I am considering surveying my customers around this topic, but it would be great to have more comprehensive feedback available. Has this been done?

Answer: Building consumer confidence will be critical to accelerating our economic recovery. There are several resources available with guidance on best practices to provide a safe and healthy space. Locally, Public Health Madison & Dane County has created sample policy templates and industry-specific checklists on a variety of topics including hygiene, cleaning, PPE and physical distancing, which can be found here.

Once policies are adopted, employers should communicate changes with customers and encourage questions to provide assurance that their safety is paramount. The Chamber and PHMDC have launched a joint campaign, #JustAsk, to encourage this conversation. We also encourage you to share your plan through this online portal so we can help amplify the steps you have taken.

Question: Are outdoor volleyball leagues able to open with Phase Two? Seems confusion among two different leagues we are in.

Answer: Public Health Madison & Dane County shared this guidance to help understand the sports guidelines during Phase 2 of Forward Dane. In it, volleyball is classified as a “Medium Risk Sport” and “competitions between teams are not allowed” during this phase.

Question: 1) For temporary events that would be considered mass gatherings, how is Public Health making its determination on what will and not be allowed for events? Specifically, if an event is spread between multiple in-door facilities and then a shared outdoor space, will the limitation on capacity be based upon the entire site or for each indoor area? 2) Now that Forward Dane has come out, how quickly will businesses be provided guidance toward operating seasonal and temporary events?

Answer: According to Public Health, these events fall under the definition of mass gatherings. For indoor events, the limit is 50 people. For outdoor events, the limit is 100 people. For events that span multiple indoor facilities, or a combination of indoor and outdoor facilities, event organizers should contact Bonnie Koenig, Public Health Services Supervisor for Public Health Madison & Dane County at (608) 243-0335 or bkoenig@publichealthmdc.com.

Question: Should we cancel our July 18 wedding based on Forward Dane restrictions?

Answer: According to Public Health, weddings fall under the definition of mass gatherings. For indoor events, the limit is 50 people. For outdoor events, the limit is 100 people. An outdoor event under a tent is considered an outdoor event. These limits increase in Phase Two and Phase Three. See the Forward Dane plan for more details.

Dane County entered Phase Two on June 15. If our metrics hold or improve, we could move to Phase Three as early as July 6.

Question: We own and operate a wedding venue in Dane County. Based on the Forward Dane restrictions, it seems that we would be capped at 100 people even through Phase Three. This is frustrating because in theory people could have their wedding at a church and then go to a bar for the reception and that would be allowed under those rules. That seems less safe than having a wedding at our venue, which has many open-air options. What can I do to address this inconsistency and what would happen if I simply opened and operated as usual?

Answer: According to Public Health, weddings fall under the definition of mass gatherings, both the ceremony and the reception. Similarly, a planned event at a restaurant or bar would fall under the same mass gathering definition. For indoor commercial facilities, the limit is 50 people. For indoor events on other private properties or in residences, the limit is 10 people. For outdoor events, the limit is 50 people. An outdoor event under a tent is considered an outdoor event. These limits increase in Phase Two and Phase Three. If you have a question about your specific situation that is not clearly outlined in the Forward Dane guidance, we encourage you to reach out to Bonnie Koenig, Public Health Services Supervisor for Public Health Madison & Dane County at (608) 243-0335 or bkoenig@publichealthmdc.com.

Dane County entered Phase Two on June 15. If our metrics hold or improve, we could move to Phase Three as early as July 6.

Question: It does not appear Forward Dane is an order that is enforceable by law enforcement and fines like the Emergency Order. Is the plan that another Emergency Order will be issued once we reach Phase One (then Phase Two, etc.) to make the phasing-in outlined in Forward Dane enforceable?

Answer: There will be a new order issued for each phase as we move forward. For all these Forward Dane orders, there will be no criminal penalties. In our Lunch(UP)date, the Director of Public Health made clear that their approach is education first, and that it is not their intent to make this a punitive process.

Question: Is June 2 the soonest Phase One can start, and when can the order be withdrawn? It doesn’t seem like there is a hard end date, only when we are in Phase Three. Does the County plan to ebb and flow between phases, forever potentially, based on the metrics?

Answer: Dane County entered Phase Two on June 15. Moving to Phase Three depends on the health of neighboring counties that are part of the Southern Region. During each phase, the goal will be to stay in the phase if metrics are trending in the wrong direction. If the evidence is overwhelming, a return to a prior phase is possible. Public Health has said that a move beyond Phase Three is unlikely until there is a scientific breakthrough, whether that be widespread vaccinations, effective treatments or some other solution.

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CARES ACT

Question: Do you have any more information about the CARES Act funding for child care?

Answer: On Wednesday, April 17, Gov. Tony Evers signed the legislature’s COVID relief package into law, becoming 2019 Act 185. This bill contains one specific provision for the Department of Children and Families (DCF) related to the Child Care Block Development (CCDBG) federal CARES Act funds, totaling $51 million. The bill provisions place the CCDBG funds into two child welfare block grant appropriations, which requires DCF to submit a 16.54 request to the Joint Committee on Finance in order to access and provide funding to childcare providers across the state.

These funds are intended to provide additional support to childcare providers during the public health emergency. The Department of Children and Families should be submitting its report to the Joint Finance Committee this week, and then there will be at least a two-week delay before funds are accessible to providers.

Providers can sign up for updates here.

Information on how the funds may be spent by providers can be found here.

Question: Currently I have my small business account with UW Credit Union. Unfortunately, they aren’t participating in the Paycheck Protection Program. All the other banks I’ve looked at seem to require a prior account relationship. Do you know of any bank that doesn’t have such a requirement?

Answer: To the best of our knowledge, provided funding is again made available by Congress, the following institutions may be willing to process a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application for someone who does not currently have an account with them, but please know that the situation is still very fluid:

*State Bank of Cross Plains: (608) 798-2400
*Monona Bank, PPP Team, (608) 310-1245, PaycheckProtection@mononabank.com
*Bank of Sun Prairie: (608) 837-4511
*Park Bank is open for non-client applications as of Monday, April 20, 2020, assuming funds are made available. The business will need to agree to move all of its banking relationship to Park Bank as a condition of the loan. Contact information: (608) 278-2801

We know that resources to find lenders continue to circulate online as well, but as you look, please remember that this program has no fees to apply, so you should be cautious with anyone charging a fee to process your application.

Question: If a restaurant gets a $10,000 loan, they spent $6,500 on payroll & $1,000 on rent during an eight-week period. Would $7,500 get forgiven and then $2,500 is a one percent loan (assuming FTE qualification is met by June 30)? There are some attorneys and bankers claiming if $7,500 (75 percent) isn’t spent in an eight- week period, zero percent is forgiven. It may be a challenge for restaurants to get payroll up to this level in next couple weeks.

Answer: The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is intended to help businesses rehire and retain their employees through the outbreak, so these funds are intended to be spent in the eight-week period to qualify for loan forgiveness. The period starts on the date the funds are received, which should be no later than 10 days from the date of loan approval. The reality is that there are some businesses that may not be able to be up and running again for some time, so this may not be the right choice for them.

According to the SBA, “it is anticipated that not more than 25 percent of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs,” so it is our understanding that the entirety of the amount would be forgiven if at least 75 percent of it is used toward payroll costs within eight weeks, provided there is adequate documentation. However, the Treasury and the SBA have yet to finalize all the details around forgiveness, so we anticipate having more clarity in the coming days and weeks.

Question: We took a PPP loan for the full amount of salaries. We are still making some revenue, though, which could cover some of these salaries. If we fulfill the guidelines for full employment, will the whole loan still be forgiven? Is there any accounting for income or profit in the forgiveness decision?

Answer: You will likely qualify for forgiveness, as revenue is not a factor in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association created a helpful PPP Borrowers Forgiveness Calculator to walk you through the factors that will likely be considered around forgiveness. That tool can be found here.

For additional U.S. Small Business Administration guidance on forgiveness, see page 3 here.

Question: I’ve applied for the SBA EIDL a few weeks ago and have not received any feedback or acknowledgement of the application. What does this mean?

Answer: According to the SBA office in Wisconsin, the EIDL loans are still being processed. A Disaster Loan Officer will contact you using the information you provided in your application when a final decision is made on your loan.

If you applied for the EIDL Advance, the Treasury started sending those funds out on April 10, 2020 and have estimated that it will take them approximately two weeks to fund them all. The funds are being deposited directly into applicants’ accounts using the direct deposit information provided in the application.

Question: Can PPP funds be used to pay owners? As a note, our current owners are managing partners and not 1099 or W-2 employees. To date, they’ve taken weekly draws from the business. Will these types of draws be included as eligible/forgivable PPP transactions?

Answer: It is possible, but without knowing your exact situation, we would encourage you to use this tool to help you calculate your loan forgiveness.

According to the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Borrowers Fact Sheet found here, the PPP loans cover payroll costs, which include:
*Salary, wages, commissions or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee);
*Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit;
*State and local taxes assessed on compensation; and
*For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

This video and blog post provide good additional resources for a variety of business situations.

We would strongly encourage you to discuss your situation with your bank or accountant as you consider applying for the PPP loans. If you need additional help, you can also reach out to one of the agencies tasked with assisting businesses with SBA loans. Those can can be found here.

Question: For applicants whose banks are no longer accepting applications for PPP, some lenders are recommending that applicants go through national companies like Kabbage. Does the SBA recommend this approach?

Answer: The SBA recommends utilizing their portal to find SBA-approved lenders in our area, which can be found here.

More resources to find lenders continue to pop up online, but as you look, please remember that this program has no fees to apply, so you should be cautious of any lender charging a fee to process your application.

Question: My bank is not an SBA 7(a) lender. I have reached out to about 10 other lenders but they’re simply replying that I’m not a member, so I can’t apply for the PPP loan through them. Are there resources? I simply need to find a lender but am hitting a wall.

Answer: Due to the limited funding available, many local lending institutions are limiting the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) applications that they accept to current customers or members only.

To the best of our knowledge, provided funding is again made available by Congress, the following institutions may be willing to process a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application for someone who does not currently have an account with them, but please know that the situation is still very fluid:

*State Bank of Cross Plains: (608) 798-2400
*Monona Bank, PPP Team, (608) 310-1245, PaycheckProtection@mononabank.com
*Bank of Sun Prairie: (608) 837-4511
*Park Bank is open for non-client applications as of Monday, April 20, 2020, assuming funds are made available. The business will need to agree to move all of its banking relationship to Park Bank as a condition of the loan. Contact information: (608) 278-2801

We know that resources to find lenders continue to circulate online as well, but as you look, please remember that this program has no fees to apply, so you should be cautious with anyone charging a fee to process your application.

Question: For PPP loan forgiveness, how soon do I need to rehire laid-off employees? Also, if I reach out to rehire a laid-off employee and they are no longer available, can I hire a different person for that role and have it still count toward forgiveness? What snapshot of time will be used to verify you are back at “full strength”?

Answer: According to the SBA, you have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between Feb. 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.

To qualify for forgiveness, you do not necessarily have to rehire the same people, but you do need to maintain employment and salary levels. According to the Treasury, when you apply with your lender for forgiveness, “you will need to verify the number of full-time equivalent employees and pay rates, as well as the payments on eligible mortgage, lease, and utility obligations. You must certify that the documents are true and that you used the forgiveness amount to keep employees and make eligible mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments.”

The Treasury and the SBA have yet to finalize all the details around forgiveness, so it’s not yet clear the exact snapshot of time that will be used to verify you are back at “full strength.” However, lenders and law firms that we respect and trust are giving guidance and information that may be helpful for you. Michael Best gave their thoughts on this in question 13 here. It says there will likely be one of two periods of time (beginning on Feb. 15, 2019 and ending on June 30, 2019, or beginning Jan. 1, 2020 and ending on Feb. 29, 2020) that will be used as the baseline for full-time equivalent employee count and pay rates. That will be used to determine if you have maintained levels. While we await more guidance on this, we also know that this is an issue being discussed in Congress and may be addressed in the next stimulus package that they pass. Once we have more information, we will be sure to share it.

Question: As a small business owner, I am looking at applying for both the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). I have heard that applying for and being awarded the EIDL may prevent us from being approved for the PPP. Is that true?

Answer: According to the SBA, there will be a question on the PPP application asking if you have applied for the EIDL. They are two separate programs, so it should not be an issue based on how other programs have been used. The SBA is advising borrowers to apply for both loans. The EIDL loan takes 2-3 weeks to get an answer and you do have the option of canceling the EIDL if you determine that the PPP is the better choice for you.

Question: The Paycheck Protection Program says that loans are available for wages, benefits, taxes, etc., but it is limited to wages <$100,000. As we adjust our financials to exclude wages above $100,000, should we also adjust the taxes only for the withholding below $100,000?

Answer: We cannot give out specific financial or tax advice, so we would encourage you to discuss your own situation with a CPA or tax attorney. However, there is a great resource from the U.S. Senate that addresses many questions about the CARES Act and can be found here.

Question: I’m not seeing how small businesses can apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) forgivable loan. I saw a note that said, “The SBA is expected to provide further details on the application process in the next few days.” Have the application details been made available yet?

Answer: The application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) can be found here along with resources and an FAQ for borrowers. As of April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for these loans.

Question: With the Paycheck Protection Program loan, can I apply even if some of my staff that choose to stay home have filed for unemployment?

Answer: Yes. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is intended to help businesses rehire and retain their employees, so you can apply for the PPP. What is worth noting, though, is that the “[f]orgiveness of the loans is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.”

Our understanding of the PPP loan is that it is intended to cover payroll for all employees, regardless of their utilization rate. However, there are many pieces of the application process that you will want to consider and get clarity on, so we would strongly encourage you to reach out to one of the agencies tasked with assisting businesses with SBA loans. Those can can be found here.

Question: We have laid off several employees due to lost revenues. We also have very little work for them to do at this time. Would the Paycheck Protection Act provide me with a loan to bring back employees when there is no work for them to do at this time?

Answer: The guidance we received from the SBA here in Wisconsin is that the intent of the PPP loan is to continue to pay your employees as usual. According to the SBA, “[f]orgiveness of the loans is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.”

Our understanding of the PPP loan is that it is intended to cover payroll for all employees, regardless of their utilization rate. However, there are many pieces of the application process that you will want to consider and get clarity on, so we would strongly encourage you to reach out to one of the agencies tasked with assisting businesses with SBA loans. Those can be found here.

Question: My daughter and I are small business owners. We started our business last September and have put every penny back into the account. This past week we started taking payroll finally, but now things are coming to a slow due to the COVID-19. Would we qualify for the payroll protection?

Answer: According to the SBA’s PPP Borrowers Fact Sheet found here, the PPP loans cover payroll costs, which for a sole proprietor or independent contractor includes “wages, commissions, income, or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.” Therefore, you would likely be able to take advantage of the PPP loans.

However, there are many pieces of the application process you will want to consider and get clarity on, so we would strongly encourage you to reach out to one of the agencies tasked with assisting businesses with SBA loans. Those can can be found here.

Question: I have a question about how to calculate payroll if I filed as an sole proprietorship, and I took an owner draw and wasn’t salaried. I did have four employees on payroll part-time.

Answer: According to the SBA’s PPP Borrowers Fact Sheet, the PPP loans cover payroll costs, which include:
*Salary, wages, commissions or tips (capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee);
*Employee benefits including costs for vacation, parental, family, medical or sick leave; allowance for separation or dismissal; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits including insurance premiums; and payment of any retirement benefit;
*State and local taxes assessed on compensation; and
*For a sole proprietor or independent contractor: wages, commissions, income or net earnings from self-employment, capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee.

However, there are many pieces of the application process that you will want to consider and get clarity on, so we would strongly encourage you to reach out to one of the agencies tasked with assisting businesses with SBA loans. Those can can be found here.

Question: Can PPP funds be used pay independent contractors?

Answer: No. This is addressed in Question 15 in the PPP FAQ document that can be found here.

“Any amounts that an eligible borrower has paid to an independent contractor or sole proprietor should be excluded from the eligible business’s payroll costs. However, an independent contractor or sole proprietor will itself be eligible for a loan under the PPP, if it satisfies the applicable requirements.”

Question: We support nonprofits that have applied through their bank. What is the timing/process to find out if funding is confirmed?

Answer: According to the SBA, “the lender must make the first disbursement of the loan no later than ten calendar days from the date of loan approval.” This is answered in Question 20 of the SBA’s Frequently Asked Questions, which can be found here, along with other questions you may have about the PPP process.

Question: With the passing of the CARES Act, there were some changes to SBA Disaster Loans, one of which was, “Borrowers can receive a $10,000 cash advance that is forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, etc.” Do you know how a business applies for this cash advance?

Answer: According to this Q&A from the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, “These grants provide an emergency advance of up to $10,000 to small businesses and private non-profits harmed by COVID-19 within three days of applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). To access the advance, you first apply for an EIDL and then request the advance. The advance does not need to be repaid under any circumstance, and may be used to keep employees on payroll, to pay for sick leave, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments.” Therefore, you must apply for an EIDL in order to access this advance.

For more information about the EIDL application process, check out our resources here.

Question: I was under the impression we’d see the $10,000 advance in our bank account within three business days of requesting. Is this still the case?

Answer: When the SBA rolled out the Economic Impact Disaster Loans (EIDL), they initially said that the EIDL Advance requests would be deposited within three days. However, after widely reported issues due in part to the volume of applications, that has not been the case. The SBA office in Wisconsin said that they received guidance on Thursday, April 9, 2020 that the Advance portion of the applications were going to start being distributed through direct deposit as of that same week. Businesses have since begun to report receipt of their advances.

Question: Do business owners and employees without Social Security numbers and/or immigration status qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program, SBA disaster loans, direct government assistance checks, unemployment benefits and other assistance programs through the stimulus bills?

Answer: Currently, the guidance that we are seeing for the both the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) requires businesses to provide a valid Tax Identification Number during the application.

The current guidance for the Direct Government Assistance Checks indicates that a Social Security number is required to receive the Economic Impact Payments.

For unemployment benefits, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) indicates that a Social Security number or an Alien Identification Number is required to file a claim.

Question: Can someone explain the small business loan in the CARES ACT?

Answer: A comprehensive summary of the Paycheck Protection Program in the CARES Act can be found here.

Question: What about those businesses that didn’t borrow money from a financial institution, but rather with a land contract? Are they eligible for some sort of financial assistance?

Answer: According to the SBA, land contract payments are the same as a mortgage, rent or lease payment and should be treated the same for either the EIDL or PPP loan programs that they are administering. To learn more about those programs, see the “SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans” and “Paycheck Protection Program” sections here. Another grant program that you may want to look into is the Kiva loan program, which can also be found at that link.

Currently, WEDC Small Business 20/20 Program grants are only being awarded to existing CDFI loan clients, but those may expand as more resources become available. More information about those grants can be found here.

Also, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced the new Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program, which will be administered by Dane Buy Local. More information about that program can be found here.

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SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

Question: I am interested in applying for the SBA disaster loan. I’m finding information that says part of the loan could be forgiven, but I’m not seeing this consistently through all of the different reporting sources. How would I know how much would be forgiven, or if any?

Answer: Loan forgiveness is included in the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a lending program in the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package that was enacted on March 27, 2020. While the bill makes some important changes to the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, including the availability of $10,000 cash advances, it does not provide full loan forgiveness. The EIDL cash advance can only be forgiven if spent on paid leave, maintaining payroll, increased costs due to supply chain disruption, mortgage or lease payments, or repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.

Businesses that have already secured EIDL loans will be able to refinance into a PPP loan that can be fully forgiven. Businesses should be able to apply for PPP loans at their bank or lender of choice once the program is stood up. Additional guidance will come from the Trump Administration in the coming days.

For further information about the CARES Act, click here.

Question: The SBA does not show Wisconsin businesses as eligible for disaster loans. When will that happen or is there another no- or low-interest working capital loan source for Wisconsin businesses? 

Answer: As of Friday, March 20, 2020 at 10 p.m., the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has made available Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to assist small businesses in Wisconsin affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The WEDC has also approved a $5 million grant program designed to support certain small businesses, but as you will note in a previously answered question, these grants are only intended for current Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) clients. 

For important information and links to these two resources for small businesses, you can check out our page at madisonbiz.com/smallbusiness.  

If you have additional questions about either of these programs, you can submit a question at slido.com using the event code ASK4BIZ or simply click here to be directed to that page.

Question: Do you know yet what the criteria will be to qualify for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan? 

Answer: As of Friday, March 20, 2020 at 10 p.m., the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) made available Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) to assist businesses in Wisconsin affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. You can find more information about these loans, including information about eligibility and additional resources, at madisonbiz.com/smallbusiness

If you have additional questions about this program, you can submit a question at slido.com using the event code ASK4BIZ or simply click here to be directed to that page.

Question: The SBA disaster loan shows that it could be used for payroll, fixed bills, etc. Could it also be used for paying employees’ health insurance?

Answer: According to the SBA’s EIDL Frequently Asked Questions Fact Sheet, “[t]hese loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.” Per the Wisconsin SBA Office, health insurance “is a monthly obligation of the business so they should include that in their application to help the Disaster Loan Officer determine how much the applicant should be receiving.”

If you have additional questions, you can email the Wisconsin SBA Office at wisconsin@sba.gov. You can also visit their website at sba.gov/disaster.

Question: I see some disaster funding options being made available but all through lending services. Will there be grant funding as well? As a small business owner, I don’t want to take out a loan and take on more debt if I don’t have to. Even smaller grant amounts could go a long way for business owners. 

Answer: The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has provided $5 million in grant money to support small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.  

NOTE: This program is intended for current Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) clients. If you are not a current client, this program is not for you. If you ARE a client, you will know who your CDFI is and can reach out accordingly. 

The money, which is intended to ease payroll and rent burdens for two months, will be awarded by CDFIs to for-profit businesses that are current CDFI loan recipients in good standing as of 3/1/2020. These businesses must have 20 or fewer full-time or part-time employees and greater than $0 but less than $2 million in annual revenues. Preference will be given to service and retail businesses. Businesses may be granted two months of payroll and rent expenses, up to a maximum of $20,000. Funds must be used for rent and payroll expenses, including covering paid leave (sick, family and other leave related to COVID-19) during the duration of the funding period. 

Click here or more information about the WEDC Small Business 20/20 Program.

Question: Regarding grant funding offered by the WEDC, if you’re not a current client of a CDFI, my understanding is that you’re not eligible for this grant. Is there grant money extended to small businesses regardless of CDFI affiliation?

Answer: As of Tuesday, March 24, 2020, we have not been made aware of any additional grant funding. The current opportunities we know about are the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans, the WEDC Small Business 20/20 grants and the Kiva loans. To learn more about any of these, please visit madisonbiz.com/smallbusiness.

Question: Who are the CDFIs in Madison?

A list of U.S Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) can be found here. Click to download an Excel spreadsheet of all current CDFIs and then sort the list to see only those in Wisconsin.

The three CFDIs active in the Madison area are the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC), Forward Community Investments and Habitat for Humanity of Dane County.

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PUBLIC HEALTH RECOMMENDATIONS

Question: What are the COVID-19 degrees of separation for social connections? For example, if one of my employees has a spouse who works and had contact with someone that was diagnosed with COVID-19, I believe this is three degrees of separation. Should I instruct my employee to stay home for 14 days to ensure he was not exposed and ensure safety for the rest of my employees?

Answer: Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) created a great resource for businesses with employees who have tested positive for or have been exposed to COVID-19, which can be found here. In this document, PHMDC recommends that those who have had moderate exposure to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 self-isolate for 14 days after the last contact with the sick person and return to work after that period of time only if they have had no symptoms. “Moderate exposure is defined as being within 6’ of an infected person for a prolonged period (15 minutes or more) starting from 48 hours before illness onset.” Therefore, if your employee did not themselves have moderate exposure, it is not necessary for them to self-isolate. However, as an employer, you may want them to self-isolate to keep you, your employees and your clients and customers safe during this time.

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UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

Question: My employees rely on the services they provide for commission and tips. If we temporarily close our doors, is there such a thing as temporary unemployment so they can collect benefits? The intention is that we will re-hire them post-crisis and that they intend on coming back to work.

Answer: As long as your business has been paying into state unemployment, your employees should be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if they lose employment through no fault of their own. Additionally, the governor has waived several eligibility requirements in order to make it easier for those unemployed during this outbreak to receive benefits. To file a claim, your temporarily unemployed staff should go to my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov and create an account. The Department will follow up with them.  

Please note that unemployment is treated on a case-by-case basis and that there are still some criteria for eligibility. In examining claims, the Department will look at the wages that you, the employer, have reported in your quarterly wage report. In the case of employees who receive commissions or tips, if tips or commissions have been declared and reported, then they are part of the claim. If a worker did not declare their tips or the employer did not include them on the W-2, then they are not included in the claim. If a worker disputes quarterly wages by saying they should be higher, they must be able to prove that claim. Declaring tips as income on their taxes is proof. 

You can find the Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Handbook for Employers here. If you have additional benefits/claimant eligibility questions or need support from the Department of Workforce Development, the Unemployment Insurance Employer Assistance line is 414-438-7705. The line is staffed M-F 7:35 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The Department of Workforce Development has also created a general FAQ regarding COVID-19 and Unemployment, found here.

Question: My business has closed and my employees have filed for unemployment. Can I continue to pay benefits for my employees including health insurance?

Answer: In general, all that matters is wages earned. When calculating unemployment benefits, the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is looking at gross wages, which includes everything that is calculated prior to deductions. The employer share of contributions to health insurance, retirement, etc. should not impact claim calculations. You as the employer can continue to make healthcare or retirement contributions without affecting gross wages and therefore impacting unemployment insurance claims.

Please note that unemployment is treated on a case-by-case basis. You can find the Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Handbook for Employers here. If you have additional benefits/claimant eligibility questions or need support from the Department of Workforce Development, the Unemployment Insurance Employer Assistance line is 414-438-7705. The line is staffed M-F 7:35 a.m – 3:30 p.m. The Department of Workforce Development has also created a general FAQ regarding COVID-19 and Unemployment, found here.

Question: If my business is a salon, but my staff are all independent salon owners who are essentially renting space in my salon (they are all LLCs or S-Corps), can they file for unemployment? And would it be based on their 2019 taxes?

Answer: A representative at the Department of Workforce Development told us that as long as the salon owners have lost employment through no fault of their own, they should take the steps to file for unemployment. The Department of Workforce Development will conduct its own investigation into their circumstances to determine whether they are considered “independent contractors” under unemployment law and will then determine any unemployment benefits.

If you or they have additional benefits or claimant eligibility questions or need support from the Department of Workforce Development, the Unemployment Insurance Employer Assistance line is 414-438-7705. The line is staffed M-F 7:35 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. The Department of Workforce Development has also created a general FAQ regarding COVID-19 and Unemployment, found here. Please note that due to high call volumes, there may be a wait.

Question: I have a dental practice that has been ordered closed for regular business, except dental emergencies. Would I be able to call in a staff member to assist in an occasional emergency procedure if they are collecting unemployment?

Answer: The Department of Workforce Development has a guide to a variety of issues that impact eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits that can be found here. There are two eligibility tests that seem relevant to your question: $500 Maximum Earnings and 32 Hours of Pay in a Claimed Week. In order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits in a given week, they must not: 1. earn more than $500 in gross wages, and 2. work 32 or more hours. We’ve copied the relevant sections below.

For unemployment, each week the individual fills out their online claim for unemployment benefits, they will be asked a series of eligibility questions. They’ll be asked to report the work that they performed for you if they are called in to help with a dental emergency. As long as you stay within eligibility requirements, their unemployment claims shouldn’t be impacted.

Section 108.05(3)(dm)

No benefits are payable for any week in which a claimant earns wages, misses wages by missing work, and/or receives or will receive holiday, vacation, dismissal, sick pay, bonus pay, back pay, or temporary total, permanent total, or temporary partial disability payments exceeding $500 in the week.

Section 108.05(3)(c)

A claimant is ineligible for benefits for any week in which (s)he worked, missed work and/or received or will receive holiday, vacation, dismissal or sick pay totaling 32 or more hours from one or more employers.

The Department of Workforce Development has also created an FAQ for questions that have arisen specifically due to COVID-19, which can be found here.

Question: When will the unemployed receive their $600 added to their checks?

Answer: Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) is a temporary emergency increase of $600 per week in unemployment insurance (UI) benefits, which will automatically be added to your benefit payments. UI claimants do not need to apply for these additional benefits. The federal increase is automatically added to UI payments from the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

Wisconsin plans to start making FPUC payments the week of April 26, 2020. The benefits will be retroactive to the week ending April 4. For more information about the FPUC, please visit the DWD page here.

Question: My daughter just started a new painting business prior to the coronavirus. They have not been able to get any jobs as a result. Is there any place where they can find help with their rent and gas/electric bills since their business had not even gotten off the ground yet?

Answer: The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development launched the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Program, which is a new temporary federal program that provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), including:
*Individuals who are self-employed.
*Certain independent contractors.
*Individuals with limited recent work history.
*Other workers not covered by regular UI.

Based on the scenarios provided by the DWD here, your daughter may qualify for PUA. She would be able to apply online to determine eligibility here.

Additionally, we are regularly updating our Small Business Resources page, which can be found here. This page highlights the various other loans and grants available for small businesses. Depending on your daughter’s situation, she may want to look into one of the options found there, including the Dane County Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program.

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HEALTH INSURANCE

Question: The NY Times reported that 11 states are now letting uninsured people sign up for Obamacare. Is there a chance this will happen in Wisconsin as well, and if so, when can we expect it to go into effect?

Answer: Unlike the 11 states named in the article, Wisconsin doesn’t run its own exchange. The federal government runs its exchange, and therefore we don’t have the ability to open a special enrollment period. The federal government would have to do that for all of the 32 states it manages. The CARES Act that passed last week did not include opening up open enrollment for the Marketplace at the federal level. There have been discussions that it could be included in the next piece of legislation passed to give relief during the COVID-19 outbreak, but that is uncertain.

However, if you are looking to join the Marketplace because you recently lost your job or lost coverage, you would likely be eligible. According to HealthCare.gov, “you may be able to enroll in a Marketplace health insurance plan for 2020 if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. You’re eligible if you have certain life events, like getting married, having a baby, or losing other health coverage.” To learn more about the “Special Enrollment Period,” click here.

If you have questions about eligibility or have other questions, you can receive free assistance here.

To explore all of your options in the area, a map can be found here.

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INSURANCE POLICIES

Question: What should we look for in our insurance policy to see if this situation would qualify for a claim? 

Answer: It is important to fully understand what your insurance policy covers, so we would encourage you to reach out directly to your insurance agent or broker to discuss your coverage. 

For many businesses, their first-party property insurance policies will include coverage for not only property damage but also for lost profits resulting from that damage. The coverage for lost income often covers loss resulting from things like: damage to the property of a customer or supplier or a supplier’s supplier (contingent business interruption), government action such as evacuation orders (order of civil authority) and damage to properties that attach customers to the policyholder’s business (leader property). 

The main question to ask when it comes to property insurance coverage for all COVID-19-related loss is whether the presence of the virus can cause or constitute property damage and whether such damage played a role in the loss of income. Make sure to connect with your insurer to understand your specific coverage and be sure to keep proper records of losses (income and expense) resulting from the outbreak’s impact.

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FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

Question: When I read the Family Leave Act, what I think it says is I must pay staff that are home with school-age children. I have already paid them two weeks sick time; do I need to keep paying them at the 2/3 rate? They only work 24 hrs/wk. and have not asked to be paid. My business is fewer than 25 people.

Answer: The new changes made to the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) program as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) require that an employers with 500 or fewer employees provide up to 12 weeks of leave. The first two weeks are technically unpaid, as those are accounted for with the two weeks guaranteed paid sick leave. The remaining weeks are paid up to 2/3 of the employee’s compensation, but no more than $200 per day or $10,000 total.

Note that you would receive a tax credit for the full amount of the benefit paid to the employee.

Additionally, employers with fewer than 50 employees may qualify for an exemption if the benefit would jeopardize the viability of the business. “A small business may claim this exemption if an authorized officer of the business has determined that:

*The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;

*The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or

*There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.”

For additional guidance, see Questions 58 and 59 here.

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WEDC ASSISTANCE

Question: I see in today’s Chamber Recovery Update: April 21, 2020 a note about WEDC’s RESTART 72 grant program. I don’t see any details about it. Are those published or yet to come?

Answer: The short answer is that we are still waiting on the full details of the RESTART 72 program as it pertains to the Wisconsin Ready portion of the recently announced “Badger Bounce Back” plan. As background, the RESTART 72 program was first mentioned in the Governor’s April 1 legislative proposal and is envisioned as a more flexible program to help businesses reopen after the public health emergency than the Small Business 20/20 program. While the Governor’s proposal asked the Legislature for $150 million to fund these programs, they advised him that he should use the $1.9 billion that the State of Wisconsin is receiving from the CARES Act. The Treasury Department released spending guidance for those funds on April 22, so we expect some announcements in the near future.

Per the Governor’s legislative proposal, it is likely that this program, administered through the WEDC, would provide grants to small businesses for a variety of things, including perishable inventory, helping employees return to the workforce or building customer confidence and convincing them to return. However, as the full details of this program as part of the “Badger Bounce Back” have not been made public at this time, we do not know for certain what the mechanisms of this program will look like yet.

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PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT

Question: I am researching cleaning and PPE suppliers outside of our normal vendors, specifically for securing disinfectant wipes for our business when we plan to reopen. Are there any recommended local suppliers for restocking office cleaning supplies?

Answer: There are quite a few Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce members who have been working hard to source cleaning supplies and PPE for businesses during this time. We would encourage you to look over this list to find local businesses who have available resources. We have also been regularly highlighting member offerings on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) and in our regular email communications.

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PROPERTY TAXES

Question: Has the payment of property taxes for small businesses in Madison, Dane County and Wisconsin been extended?

Answer: This is a matter of state law. Local leaders across the state, including Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, asked the Legislature to allow municipalities this flexibility.

Wisconsin Act 185, signed by Gov. Evers on April 15, allows taxing jurisdictions to waive interest and penalties on property taxes due between April 2 and Oct. 1 as long as they are paid in full by Oct. 1. The county and taxing jurisdiction must first adopt resolutions authorizing the waiver and setting the terms for establishing hardship, which can be set generally or on a case-by-case basis.

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ZONING

Question: Do I still need a permit from Zoning to put out a portable sign (a.k.a. sandwich board) to identify curbside pick-up or to advertise that my business is open?

Answer: On March 27, 2020, the City of Madison’s Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development’s Building Inspection Division issued a release stating that “in an effort to accommodate the community and respond to temporary changes in business requirements and needs, enforcement of public right-of-way and private property portable A-frame sign licensing and permitting rules will be temporarily relaxed, until business closure orders have been lifted.”

Simply put, this means that you will not need to obtain a valid license before you display any portable sign in the public right-of-way or on private property during this time period.

The City does ask that you follow these guidelines during this time period: *Only place a sign in front of your place of business, not at a nearby street intersection, across the street or in a boulevard area.
*Do not block the sidewalk, sidewalk ramps at intersection corners, fire hydrants or other similar features, and do not lock or otherwise attach a sign to a feature in the public right-of-way.
*Place signs at least 10 feet from a driveway opening and 25 feet from a street intersection to maintain vision clearance safety for pedestrians and vehicles.
*Do not place signs in the public right-of-way if you have space on your private property. City staff will relocate signs placed in the right-of-way back onto private property, if observed.

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MAIL DELIVERY

Question: If my business is deemed non-essential, will the Post Office continue to try to deliver my mail to my business address? Can I get it rerouted to my home address? Do I have to pay for that? And how do I arrange that?

Answer: The U.S. Postal Service has created several webpages providing USPS-specific coronavirus information: a General Statement, Updates on Coronavirus for Business Customers and Updates on Coronavirus for Residential Customers.

One of the questions on the Residential Customers page is, “How is USPS Handling Mail for Closed Businesses?” Here is their answer:

“Mail on the delivery route is returned to the Delivery unit and will be held for 10 days under current policies. Customers can request a temporary hold for their mail up to 30 days. Caller Box customers should contact their local office to discuss how they will be handling the pickup of this volume. Any high volume customer will be contacted to discuss pickup options as well.”

It is possible to temporarily reroute your mail using the USPS “Change of Address” process, which you can do online here.

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BUSINESS SUPPORT

Question: Are there organizations locally that are supporting the emotional side of business ownership right now? Having to lay off employees was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, and I am just looking for support from others who are having a similar experience.

Answer: This is a great question that we are glad you are asking. Please know that you are not alone in asking this question or thinking about this. Supporting the emotional side of business ownership is something that we are interested in and actively working to find a solution for, so if you’d like to be a part of building something like this, please send your ideas and/or information to ask@madisonbiz.com.

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COMPASSIONATE CARE

Question: What does compassionate care refer to regarding visitors to nursing homes?

Answer: Compassionate care is medical and emotional care for patients with terminal diseases and may include hospice care. Individuals should defer to each facility for their guidance and policies.

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CERTIFICATES OF ORIGIN

Question: If I have a shipment that requires a certificate of origin, how can I have one affixed to my documents?

Answer: If you need a Certificate of Origin, please reach out to Pattie Fowler from our team at pattie@madisonbiz.com and she will be able to help.

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DONATION OPPORTUNITIES

Question: I am a restaurant owner who has excess food that I’d like to donate. Do you know anyone who is taking it?

Answer: Currently we know that FEED Kitchens and Healthy Food For All may be able to take some unused restaurant product. They will not accept opened or unsealed food products and priority will be given to items that are not short-dated.  

If you have food that follows these basic guidelines that you would like to donate, please send an email with the subject line “Restaurant food for donation” to feedmanager@feedkitchens.org and include an itemized list of products you have available.

Question: I have two unopened boxes of 100-count latex gloves. Where can I donate these items? 

Answer: Currently, Public Health Madison & Dane County’s EMS Services is in need of masks, paper and/or cloth gowns. If you have any of these products, please reach out to Carrie Meier at meier.carrie@countyofdane.com or (608) 444-4827 to coordinate a drop-off. 

Additionally, Housing & Homelessness Services is requesting donations for the following items:

–Hand Sanitizer
–Face Masks (surgical)
–Gloves (especially latex-free)
–Thermometers – Forehead reading
–Clorox wipes
–Paper towel
–Bleach spray
–Toilet paper
–Food: Fresh fruit, grab & go snacks for kids, single-serving food
–Diapers (sizes 2-6)
–Baby Wipes
–Disposable goggles or face shields 

If you are able to donate any of these items, please reach out to KNeuschel@publichealthmdc.com or tkoppmueleer@cityofmadison.com to coordinate a drop-off. 

Please note that due to Infection Control requirements, unsolicited items, including hand-sewn cloth masks, will not be accepted.

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