• 04/24/2020 11:10 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    UPDATE: The latest relief package detailed below has now passed the House. The bill now moves to the President for signature. If you have not yet applied for a loan as a part of the PPP and are eligible, we recommend that you do so quickly. You can view a detailed layout of the loan options available to you in our comparison here.

    The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) ran out of money last week, and yesterday the Senate passed an interim relief package replenishing funds for the program, which was previously created to keep keep workers employed during the current pandemic.

    The funding came as a part of a $484 billion package that is meant as a stopgap measure in advance of additional major relief legislation in the coming weeks. $310 billion was allocated to the PPP, with $60 billion of that allocated for smaller businesses without existing banking relationships.

    Other measures in the bill include:

    • $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) fund, with $50 billion allocated for loans and $10 billions for grants
    • $75 billion for healthcare providers treating COVID-19 patients
    • $25 billion for coronavirus testing and contact tracing

    The bill also requires the federal government to develop a  “strategic plan related to providing assistance to states for testing and increasing testing capacity.”

    The bill now moves to the House for a vote, which could come as early as Thursday. Stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for additional updates.

  • 04/23/2020 4:20 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has released a report by the Digital Information Task Force, which is focused on formulating recommendations to improve the availability of digital and geospatial information about historic properties in an effort to inform federal project planning.

    The report, originally presented to Chairman Aimee Jorjani at the ACHP business meeting in March, outlines 5 major recommendations:

    • Make the Administration, Congress, agency officials, and the public aware of how digital information, including geographic information systems (GIS), increases the effectiveness and efficiency of project planning and helps avoid harm to historic properties.

    • Identify opportunities for funding and resource enhancement.

    • Enable cultural resources GIS data exchange between states, tribes, local governments, and federal agencies.

    • Address data management impediments to increase GIS availability.

    • Properly manage access and secure sensitive data.

    Each recommendation is accompanied by recommended actions in the full report. The ACHP notes that they will "carry out these tasks to implement the report’s recommendations in cooperation with federal and preservation partners over the coming months."

    Access the full report here, and the ACHP press release provides additional information as well. 

  • 04/23/2020 3:32 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Are you interested in being a leader in your industry? Now is the time to step up - ACRA is seeking dedicated members who are interested in serving on the Board of Directors. ACRA’s board of directors consists of 7 officers, 3 designated seats based on firm size, and 11 at-large members.

    Positions that are up for election in 2020 include:

    • Vice President – Government Relations
    • 3 At-Large Seats

    Each nominee must be employed by a firm in good standing with ACRA. Candidates must also be able to commit to quarterly board meetings, including in person at the Annual Conference in the fall. Board members will also be recommended to serve on at least one committee.

    Nominees’ applications are examined by the Nominating Committee to assure that they are current members in good standing and that they can perform the basic requirements of the position for which they are applying. Candidates will be announced to the membership in late May, and voting will take place electronically in June.

    How to Apply?

    Just two simple steps:

    1. Submit a one-paragraph biography, including a photo.
    2. Submit a second paragraph that answers the following questions, keeping each answer short and concise:
    • Relevant Experience. Please list any experience, education, or employment that may be relevant to serving on the ACRA Board of Directors.
    • Interest. Why are you interested in serving on the Board?
    • Contribution. What contribution do you feel you can make? What one or two desirable qualities (those listed above or other qualities) will you bring to the organization?
    • Vision. What is your vision of how ACRA can better serve the industry and its membership in the future?

    Send your nominating files to Kim Redman with a subject line that begins “Board Nomination.” Be sure to include the position you would like to run for in the body of the email. Nomination deadline is Friday, May 22, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EDT.


  • 04/21/2020 4:11 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Safety and Human Resources for CRM During COVID-19

    April 30, 2020 | 2:00 - 3:00 PM (EDT) | Register Now

    CRM firms have all adapted differently to the current pandemic. Some have focused on data processing and report writing from the office, and others have maintained strong field operations with new safety measures. All firms have had to follow changes to federal laws that may impact required employee benefits. These changes in safety and human resources policies bring with them questions associated with contract fulfillment, project staffing, project cost, and ethics that have not been faced by many CRM providers.

    Join us for a webinar on Thursday, April 30 at 2:00 pm EDT that will provide a preliminary conversation about the safety and human resources implications of the current environment. Our webinar will feature two brief presentations: one on the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and its implications and requirements for human resources policies at CRM firms and the second on best practices for field and office safety during the pandemic.

    Following the presentation we will host a Q&A session to explore best practices and creative solutions to problems faced as the situation continues to unfold. Both firm owners and employees will learn about the paid leave requirements in the federal relief bills, increased safety measures in the field, and how you can go beyond just the legal requirements in both areas.

    This webinar is free for ACRA members, and non-members can register for just $10. Space is limited - register now to reserve your spot!

    Register Now

  • 04/20/2020 3:35 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) is offering additional courses on their eLearning portal and a free introductory webinar series due the COVID-19 pandemic. From the ACHP:

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) recognizes that many of our partners working remotely are better positioned to engage in remote learning and is therefore pleased to remind you that we offer a variety of distance learning opportunities that may meet your needs.

    The ACHP has seven courses available for FREE on the eLearning portal and has just added a 60-minute course, "What Now? Protecting Historic Properties in Disaster Recovery." It also recently posted an overview of Section 106 highlighting opportunities for Native Hawaiians and Native Hawaiian Organizations to participate in the process. Go to https://www.achp.gov/training/elearning to learn how to access the eLearning courses. Or, if you've already created an account, go directly to https://achp.golearnportal.org/ to begin learning today!

    In May 2020, we're offering a FREE Stay-at-Home Webinar Series of four webinars to introduce decision makers, project managers, consulting parties, and others with limited experience to the principle requirements of Section 106 review. The schedule for the series is as follows:

    • May 7 - 3 pm Eastern time - What is Section 106? A blended learning Q&A
    • May 14 - 3 pm Eastern time - Defining the Area of Potential Effect
    • May 21 - 3 pm Eastern time - e106 and Section 106 Documentation
    • May 28 - 3 pm Eastern time - Planning for Successful Section 106 Agreements

    Find out more and register for one or all four of the webinars at https://www.achp.gov/training/webinars.


  • 04/17/2020 3:43 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    In this challenging time, how can you envision and prepare for a better future, a stronger career, and sustained impact in your field? ACRA would like to help by providing active members FREE access to professional leadership development courses tailored to the opportunities and challenges of cultural heritage and historic preservation, including a culminating professional certificate.

    We are partnering with the ARCUS Leadership Program. ARCUS seeks to support emerging leaders in cultural resource and public history disciplines by providing online coursework and networking around core leadership skills and knowledge, with a special focus on supporting the growth of diversity, inclusion, equity, and access.

    For the next 6 months, Cultural Heritage Partners, PLLC, the SRI Foundation, and American Express are underwriting the full cost (usually $2,500) of your access to all 25 ARCUS short-courses. All employees of ACRA member firms are eligible to partake in this new resource at no additional cost.

    ARCUS courses cover a broad array of leadership topics, including community outreach, public speaking, financial management, fundraising, team building, advocacy, and many more.

    This offer is available to firms with an active ACRA membership, including students. Check out the full course list here, and contact us for the discount code.


  • 04/16/2020 3:52 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As we continue to weather the current pandemic, many CRM firms have had to adjust their workflows to allow for employees to efficiently work from home. With workers being based in the field normally, the firms themselves are often well-suited to make these changes - but what about the industry as a whole? Dr. Chris Nicholson, Director of Digital Antiquity*, has shared his thoughts on technology and accessibility of archaeological data in a recent blog post:

    CRM work is very much a client-based professional service based on federal regulations and is steeped in technology. In the CRM world today, if a SHPO isn’t physically open for an extended period of time nor has an online presence, how do you go about conducting gray literature reviews, even if you are able to go into the field? Having documents archived digitally and made accessible thus becomes incredibly important for compliance work to continue. Likewise, SHPOs who may receive digital documents may not be in a position to store them in a manner that facilitates their access within the organization, limiting their ability to help companies or agencies meet their compliance requirements.

    The financial impact to archaeology likely pales in comparison to the overall economic impact that the Covid-19 pandemic will ultimately have on our nation’s economy, but the impact to the field of archaeology and historic preservation will nonetheless be felt. This period of confinement/social-distancing has given me a chance to reflect a bit on many things personally and professionally, but from a strictly professional perspective, working from home reminds me that not all organizations have the cyber-infrastructure that allows them the flexibility to work remotely with digital documents.

    Read the full post on the tDAR website, and let us know your thoughts on how accessibility could change as a result of the pandemic below.

    *Digital Antiquity oversees the use, development, and maintenance of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), an international repository for the digital records of archaeological investigations, organizations, projects, and research.

  • 04/15/2020 1:36 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT), a part of the National Park Service (NPS), has published a series of videos and a Preservation Practice Brief on COVID-19:

    • COVID-19 Basics: Disinfecting Cultural Resources

      The first video in the series provides basic information about the virus itself and how it is spread. It continues by talking about how long the virus remains on surfaces and what we can do to help deactivate the virus. To disinfect cultural resources, our emphasis is on isolation and allowing the virus to dissipate naturally. Cleaning and disinfection methods are also discussed. 

    • COVID-19 Basics: Personal Protective Equipment 

      The second video in the series addresses the items needed for personal protection. The broadcast addresses risk assessment, protection, use of personal protective equipment, disinfection, homemade masks, and advice on how to help our communities.

    • COVID-19 Basics: Re-Entry to Cultural Sites

      The current and third video in the series focuses on preparing to reenter cultural sites once the pandemic is ending and businesses reopen. This presentation discusses issues associated with re-entry and use of a cultural site and precautions we need to take in order to safeguard ourselves and visitors. The video addresses the following questions: What plans do I need before returning, to work? What needs to be in the plan? What does the re-entry team, do? How do we and preventing recontamination from COVID-19? What do we do the first day back?

    You can access all of the NCPTT resources on their Technical Resources page, and be sure to check out our discussion post on implementing precautions for coronavirus in CRM work settings by Dan Cassedy.

  • 04/14/2020 5:12 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team


    Your Congress in Action is a new series that highlights the Capitol Hill news that affects CRM firms the most. This information is sourced from the Coalition for American Heritage, news articles, and more. Be sure to subscribe to the ACRAsphere to ensure you don't miss an update.

    • The roll out of the CARES Act assistance to small businesses was rocky. There have been complaints about small businesses having difficulty accessing the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds and banks that weren’t ready to accept applications. The program was funded at $349 billion and is estimated to run out of money by this week.
      • Republicans in Congress want to pass a narrowly-focused bill to add $251 billion to the PPP. Democrats counter that they support additional funds for the PPP, but also want to include additional funds for state and local governments, hospitals, and food stamp recipients. The two sides are at a stalemate. At this time, infrastructure is not included in the negotiations for the next relief package.
    • The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) issued a blanket extension through May 29, 2020 for federal agency use of emergency Section 106 procedures regarding undertakings that respond to emergency and disaster declarations on the outbreak of COVID-19. The extension applies to projects that respond to COVID-19 under the national emergency declared by President Trump on March 13, 2020, and other COVID-19 emergencies or disaster declarations that have already been issued by the President, a tribal government, or the governor of a state, or may be issued by any of them while the extension is in place.
    • In the CARES Act, the Federal Reserve Bank established a “Main Street facility” to support bank lending to small and mid-sized businesses with up to 10,000 employees. Businesses with existing loans could get the amount of the loan increased. Unlike the PPP loans, a loan obtained through this program would not be forgivable. Participation in the Main Street facility program does not disqualify businesses from using PPP loans as well.

      This program would provide a way for the federal government to quickly provide funds to businesses. However, non-profits are currently ineligible for this assistance. The Federal Reserve is not ruling out assistance to nonprofits in the future, but there is no guarantee that they will be allowed to participate.

      The Federal Reserve is offering an opportunity for stakeholders to provide input about their financing needs during the crisis. Nonprofits and other stakeholders have until Thursday, April 16, to provide input here
    • For the next relief bill that follows the current one in discussion, preservation stakeholders have been considering requests for additional funding for SHPOs, THPOs, and competitive grant programs. The requests would be in addition to the current appropriations. Stakeholders are encouraged to focus on funding for existing programs rather than new programs. Infrastructure appears to be on hold for this bill as well.
    • There has been no additional news regarding CEQ’s proposed revised regulations for NEPA. Some members of Congress have voiced their concern over the revisions. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress has 60 days to review a new federal regulation issued by a government agency such as CEQ and, by passage of a joint resolution, to overrule the regulation.


  • 04/10/2020 10:59 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    We have shared the specifics on the various loan programs created by the coronavirus relief packages, but with their quick implementation, many CRM firms may still have questions. 

    The majority of CRM firms qualify as small businesses, and two programs in particular could help CRM firms feeling the economic effects of the pandemic: the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL).

    We have included a comparison chart of the two programs below to help firms get a better idea of the options available. The chart includes answers to some of the questions we have heard most frequently from CRM firms. 

    ACRA recommends that you be in close contact with your bank at this time. Each bank is requiring different documentation for PPP loans, and your bank can quickly walk you through the process of applying. Your bank can also help you determine which loan is right for you, or recommend if your firm is eligible for both. 

    Paycheck Protection Program Economic Injury Disaster Loans
    Program Basics
    The PPP is a loan that covers payroll expenses and is administered by SBA-approved lenders (banks). While each lender has different application requirements, a PPP loan generally requires less documentation than an EIDL. An EIDL is traditional loan that covers 6 months of operational expenses and is administered directly by the Small Business Administration (SBA). This loan does require the amount of documentation generally associated with traditional loans.
    Are sole proprietors eligible?
    Yes. Yes.
    Who else is eligible?
    Small and medium-sized businesses that were in operation on or before February 15, 2020 with 500 or fewer full- or part-time employees are generally eligible to apply for this loan. Independent contractors do NOT count towards your employee count as they are eligible to apply on their own.

    U.S. businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, tribal businesses, sole proprietors, contractors, ESOPs, small agricultural cooperatives with fewer than 500 employees or meeting current SBA size standards.

    Affiliation rules do apply, which is important when the SBA is determining whether a business's affiliations preclude them from being considered small. Generally, affiliation exists when one business controls or has the power to control another or when a third party (or parties) controls or has the power to control both businesses.

    What can I use this loan for?

    Payroll expenses, including health insurances premiums and costs

    Employee salaries

    Mortgage interest

    Rent and utilities

    Interest on debt incurred before February 15, 2020

    Payroll

    Fixed debts

    Accounts payable

    Other expenses that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact

    How much can I get from this loan?

    2.5 times your monthly payroll costs (up to $10 million).

    The US Chamber of Commerce has a helpful guide to assist you in calculating your average monthly payroll costs as a part of the PPP, including for seasonal employers.

    The maximum loan size is $2 million.

    Applicants who apply for this loan may request an advance of up to $10,000 from the SBA. The advance will be distributed within 3 days. There is no obligation to repay the grant.

    What is the interest rate?
    The SBA has set a fixed 1% annual percentage rate. 3.75% for businesses, 2.75% for non-profits.
    What are the additional loan terms?
    The PPP is a 2-year loan with all payments on the unforgiven portions deferred for the first 6 months. Interest is still accrued during the deferral. An EIDL is a loan for up to 30 years. The first payment is due 1 year after the loan origination date.
    What collateral is required?
    No collateral is required. The SBA will place a UCC lien against the assets of the business.
    Is a personal guarantee required?
    No.

    Yes, for loans greater than $200,000.

    Is this loan eligible for forgiveness?

    Up to 100% of the principal amount and any accrued interest of the loan may be forgiven if you use the proceeds on qualifying expenses.

    The amount forgiven is reduced based on failure to maintain the average number of full-time equivalent employees versus the period from either February 15, 2019, through June 30, 2019, or January 1, 2020, through February 29, 2020, as selected by the borrower.

    The amount forgiven is also reduced to the extent that compensation for any individual making less than $100,000 per year is reduced by more than 25% measured against the most recent full quarter. Reductions in the number of employees or compensation occurring between February 15, 2020, and 30 days after enactment of the CARES Act will generally be ignored to the extent that reductions are reversed by June 30, 2020.

    Only up to 25% of the forgiven loan amount can be for non-payroll costs.

    The loan itself is not eligible for forgiveness.

    However, as mentioned above, $10,000 forgivable grant may be provided in addition to the EIDL to be used for paid sick leave, payroll, increased costs due to interrupted supply chains, rent or mortgage payments, repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses. For applicants subsequently receiving a PPP loan, PPP forgiveness will be reduced by the amount of this grant. Your loan does not need to be approved in order to receive this grant.

    How do I get forgiveness?

    You must apply through your lender for forgiveness on your loan. In this application, you must include:

    Documentation verifying the number of employees on payroll and pay rates, including IRS payroll tax filings and State income, payroll and unemployment insurance filings;

    Documentation verifying payments on covered mortgage obligations, lease obligations, and utilities;

    Certification from an officer of your business or organization that is authorized to certify that the documentation provided is true and that the amount that is being forgiven was used in accordance with the program’s guidelines for use.Is a personal guarantee required?

    N/A

    Can I apply for both loans?
    Yes. SBA guidance allows you to apply for a PPP loan in addition to an EIDL, so long as you don't use the funds from each loan for the same expenses. For example, if you decide to apply for a PPP loan and use those funds strictly for payroll, you can not subsequently use funds from an EIDL for payroll, as well.
    How can I apply?
    You must apply for this loan through your existing bank. Banks began accepting applications for businesses and sole proprietorships on April 3, and independent contractors and self-employed individuals can begin submitting applications on April 10. NOTE: most banks are requiring those applying for loans to be existing customers. You can apply directly with the SBA now at https://covid19relief.sba.gov/.





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