• 04/09/2020 5:16 PM | Dan Cassedy

    I know everyone is scrambling now to try to maintain their business operations while protecting their employees and complying with government directives.  We have all seen various tips and guidelines, but I thought it might be helpful to share the Task Hazard Analysis (THA) that AECOM has put together to provide additional guidance for our employees (see attached document).  This includes a summary of job steps, potential hazards, and possible actions that can be taken to mitigate those hazards.   These include activities such as Driving To and From Job Sites, Working Around Others, Handling Shared Equipment and Tools, Exposure during Lunch and Bathroom Breaks, Exposure at Hotels, etc.

    AECOM has begun to implement this THA and treats it as a living document to be constantly evaluated and refined as our crews make on-site safety observations that are specific to COVID-19.  For example, on a recent architectural history survey, our field team noted that the crew maintained utilization of their own equipment (clipboards, papers, cameras, PPE, etc.), did not share things (everything from pens to the safety/tailgate sign-in sheet), and maintained physical distances.  They also observed that property owners were friendly but are perhaps not as cognizant of safety measures that are being taken in more urban areas, and  daily tailgates meetings were conducted from individually driven cars parked about 15-20 feet away from each other.

    The ACRA Health & Safety committee would love to hear feedback from others who are also in the front lines of trying to make all this work. How has your firm implemented additional health & safety guidelines? Let us know in the comments below!

  • 04/08/2020 2:11 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Join us for another FREE members-only virtual happy hour on Monday, April 13 at 5:00 pm EDT.

    All employees of ACRA member firms, from field technicians to owners, are welcome to grab a drink of their choice and join ACRA President Nathan Boyless and Executive Director Amanda Stratton online. We can talk about the industry response to COVID-19, get ideas from your peers about continuing to operate in the current climate, or even just vent about the challenges you have experienced. Simply sign up here and we will send you a link to join!

  • 04/07/2020 2:57 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Many CRM firms are classified as essential employees, and thus are still working during the current pandemic. Continuing to operate requires additional health and safety measures, which can come with significantly increased costs. ACRA has a way to help firms owners and employees lessen those costs!

    The ACRA Savings Marketplace can help both owners and employees save money during this time. The heightened health and safety measures may require booking additional hotel rooms or car rentals - the Marketplace provides significant discounts on these. It even has a new section with discounts on all items needed to work from home.

    All employees can use this for personal savings as well. As even shopping for essentials has moved primarily online in recent weeks, the deals in the Marketplace have increased significantly. Many of these discounts are with sites and programs you are already shopping: Amazon, Instacart, CVS, and Target are some of the major brands participating. There are even discounts on distance learning such as ABCMouse.com!

    Your firms's ACRA membership can help you save money both personally and professionally - be sure to let your employees know about the ACRA Savings MarketplaceAll employees of ACRA member firms - including operational staff like accounting and HR - are eligible to access this resource. 

  • 04/02/2020 2:11 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    Heritage Business International, L3C (HBI) has released the results of its U.S. CRM Office Managers’ Sentiment Survey for the first quarter of 2020:

    Each quarter, the survey asks office managers of companies providing heritage compliance services if their invoices will be less, the same, or more in the next quarter, in six months, and in a year. An index of 50 is the same, greater than 50 is growth, and less than 50 is contraction.

    At the U.S. national level, the next-quarter index is 25.7.

    At the U.S. national level, the six-month index is 32.6.

    At the U.S. national level, the one-year index is 37.5.

    “These are the first data on the pandemic impact to the heritage compliance sector. Office managers believe there will be a significant contraction in invoice totals, not just for the next quarter, but over the next year” said Christopher Dore, Ph.D., a consultant and the survey manager at HBI.

    Because of the pandemic, HBI is making the report available for free by using checkout code crmdata4u. The full survey report that includes trends, regional data, historical data, and some state data can be downloaded here.

  • 04/02/2020 12:08 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    UPDATE: The ACHP has 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 coronavirus disease (COVID -19). More on this here.

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) has granted the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) an extension of emergency section 106 procedures for undertakings responding to coronavirus outbreak. From the press release:

    The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation granted the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) its request to extend the time period when it can use the emergency provisions of Section 106 for the review of projects that are a direct response to emergency and disaster declarations on the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Unless extended, such emergency provisions are applicable only within 30 days of an emergency or disaster declaration. This extension adds six weeks to that period.

    “It is vital for the ACHP to work with its federal partners, using the emergency provisions for National Historic Preservation Act reviews, to help protect the welfare of the public,” ACHP Chairman Aimee Jorjani said. “We invite all federal agencies to contact us with questions and allow us to assist them in achieving their objectives during this difficult time.”

    The ACHP granted the extension under 36 C.F.R. § 800.12 of the regulations implementing Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act through May 29, 2020, for projects that respond to COVID-19 under the national emergency declared by President Trump on March 13, 2020; major disasters declared by President Trump for states; 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.

    The extension applies to Responsible Entities, state and local governments that assume authority for environmental reviews under HUD regulations and HUD program offices that conduct environmental reviews. Under many HUD programs, federal environmental and historic preservation responsibilities are delegated to such state and local governments. Responsible Entities include state or local government entities that receive funds from various HUD programs such as the Community Development Block Grants. As one of HUD’s longest-running programs, it provides funds for local community development activities related to affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development.

    The Section 106 emergency procedures may only be used for projects that respond to COVID-19 emergencies or disaster declarations. Such projects may include establishment of testing centers, conversion of existing facilities to treatment and quarantine facilities, and acquisition of buildings that could be adapted for group living.

    The release also notes that HUD may approach the ACHP for further extensions as needed. The letter from ACHP to HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary John Bravacos is available here.

  • 04/01/2020 2:50 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Paycheck Protection Program, established as a part of the CARES Act, provides 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. It is retroactive to February 15, 2020 to help bring workers who have been laid off already back onto payrolls. 501c3 non-profits are also eligible for this program.

    Guidance on the program has just been released, which we have included below (it can also be downloaded as a separate document here). A draft application is available here. Banks will start accepting applications this Friday, April 3. If your firm is interested in participating in this program, you should have your application ready for submission on Friday morning as it has been suggested that the $349 billion allocated will likely not be enough for all interested businesses. You can access more information at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/paycheck-protection-program-ppp.

    Paycheck Protection Program Guidance


    The Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone.

    The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as:

    • The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the 8 week period after the loan is made; and
    • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

    Payroll costs are capped at $100,000 on an annualized basis for each employee. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.

    Loan payments will be deferred for 6 months.

    When can I apply?

    • Starting April 3, 2020, small businesses and sole proprietorships can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
    • Starting April 10, 2020, independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply for and receive loans to cover their payroll and other certain expenses through existing SBA lenders.
    • Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans as soon as they are approved and enrolled in the program.

    Where can I apply? You can apply through any existing SBA lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Other regulated lenders will be available to make these loans once they are approved and enrolled in the program. You should consult with your local lender as to whether it is participating. Visit www.sba.gov for a list of SBA lenders.

    Who can apply? All businesses – including nonprofits, veterans organizations, Tribal business concerns, sole proprietorships, self-employed individuals, and independent contractors – with 500 or fewer employees can apply. Businesses in certain industries can have more than 500 employees if they meet applicable SBA employee-based size standards for those industries.

    For this program, the SBA’s affiliation standards are waived for small businesses (1) in the hotel and food services industries; or (2) that are franchises in the SBA’s Franchise Directory; or (3) that receive financial assistance from small business investment companies licensed by the SBA. Additional guidance may be released as appropriate.

    What do I need to apply? You will need to complete the Paycheck Protection Program loan application and submit the application with the required documentation to an approved lender that is available to process your application by June 30, 2020. Click HERE for the application.

    What other documents will I need to include in my application? You will need to provide your lender with payroll documentation.

    Do I need to first look for other funds before applying to this program? No. We are waiving the usual SBA requirement that you try to obtain some or all of the loan funds from other sources (i.e., we are waiving the Credit Elsewhere requirement).

    How long will this program last? Although the program is open until June 30, 2020, we encourage you to apply as quickly as you can because there is a funding cap and lenders need time to process your loan.

    How many loans can I take out under this program? Only one.

    What can I use these loans for? You should use the proceeds from these loans on your:

    • Payroll costs, including benefits;
    • Interest on mortgage obligations, incurred before February 15, 2020;
    • Rent, under lease agreements in force before February 15, 2020; and
    • Utilities, for which service began before February 15, 2020.

    What counts as payroll costs? Payroll costs 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.

    How large can my loan be? Loans can be for up to two months of your average monthly payroll costs from the last year plus an additional 25% of that amount. That amount is subject to a $10 million cap. If you are a seasonal or new business, you will use different applicable time periods for your calculation. Payroll costs will be capped at $100,000 annualized for each employee.

    How much of my loan will be forgiven? You will owe money when your loan is due if you use the loan amount for anything other than payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities payments over the 8 weeks after getting the loan. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.

    You will also owe money if you do not maintain your staff and payroll.

    • Number of Staff: Your loan forgiveness will be reduced if you decrease your full-time employee headcount.
    • Level of Payroll: Your loan forgiveness will also be reduced if you decrease salaries and wages by more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 annualized in 2019.
    • Re-Hiring: You have until June 30, 2020 to restore your full-time employment and salary levels for any changes made between February 15, 2020 and April 26, 2020.

    How can I request loan forgiveness? You can submit a request to the lender that is servicing the loan. The request will include documents that 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 lender must make a decision on the forgiveness within 60 days.

    What is my interest rate? 0.50% fixed rate.

    When do I need to start paying interest on my loan? All payments are deferred for 6 months; however, interest will continue to accrue over this period.

    When is my loan due? In 2 years.

    Can I pay my loan earlier than 2 years? Yes. There are no prepayment penalties or fees.

    Do I need to pledge any collateral for these loans? No. No collateral is required.

    Do I need to personally guarantee this loan? No. There is no personal guarantee requirement. ***However, if the proceeds are used for fraudulent purposes, the U.S. government will pursue criminal charges against you.***

    What do I need to certify? As part of your application, you need to certify in good faith that:

    • Current economic uncertainty makes the loan necessary to support your ongoing operations.
    • The funds will be used to retain workers and maintain payroll or to make mortgage, lease, and utility payments.
    • You have not and will not receive another loan under this program.
    • You will provide to the lender documentation that verifies the number of full-time equivalent employees on payroll and the dollar amounts of payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities for the eight weeks after getting this loan.
    • Loan forgiveness will be provided for the sum of documented payroll costs, covered mortgage interest payments, covered rent payments, and covered utilities. Due to likely high subscription, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs.
    • All the information you provided in your application and in all supporting documents and forms is true and accurate. Knowingly making a false statement to get a loan under this program is punishable by law.
    • You acknowledge that the lender will calculate the eligible loan amount using the tax documents you submitted. You affirm that the tax documents are identical to those you submitted to the IRS. And you also understand, acknowledge, and agree that the lender can share the tax information with the SBA’s authorized representatives, including authorized representatives of the SBA Office of Inspector General, for the purpose of compliance with SBA Loan Program Requirements and all SBA reviews.

  • 03/31/2020 4:42 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, ACRA is committed to supporting its member firms through our programs and information distribution. Please continue to visit the ACRAsphere and ACRA on Facebook and LinkedIn for the latest on the industry and resources for your firm.

    Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has issued a constituent services resource toolkit that efficiently lays out the programs created in the three relief/stimulus pieces of legislation that have passed thus far:

    • The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
    • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act
    • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

    While the toolkit summarizes all of the aspects of the programs, including those for individuals, CRM firms will find the sections on emergency paid leave and small businesses particularly helpful. In these sections, you will find fact sheets, guidance, and FAQs on eligibility, requirements, and terms of emergency paid leave, new SBA loans, and the paid sick and family leave tax credit.

    The toolkit also provides information on the programs and services specifically designed for tribal communities in the bills. If you firm works frequently with tribal communities, you can pass this toolkit on for their use.

    Access Speaker Pelosi's Full Toolkit Here

    Additionally, the Department of Labor has published a series of FAQs regarding the paid leave requirements outlined in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Some of the employer questions/answers in the FAQ include:

    • What is the effective date of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act?

      The FFCRA’s paid leave provisions are effective on April 1, 2020, and apply to leave taken between April 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

    • As an employer, how do I know if my business is under the 500-employee threshold and therefore must provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

      You have fewer than 500 employees if, at the time your employee’s leave is to be taken, you employ fewer than 500 full-time and part-time employees within the United States, which includes any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any Territory or possession of the United States. In making this determination, you should include employees on leave; temporary employees who are jointly employed by you and another employer (regardless of whether the jointly-employed employees are maintained on only your or another employer’s payroll); and day laborers supplied by a temporary agency (regardless of whether you are the temporary agency or the client firm if there is a continuing employment relationship). Workers who are independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), rather than employees, are not considered employees for purposes of the 500-employee threshold.

      Typically, a corporation (including its separate establishments or divisions) is considered to be a single employer and its employees must each be counted towards the 500-employee threshold. Where a corporation has an ownership interest in another corporation, the two corporations are separate employers unless they are joint employers under the FLSA with respect to certain employees. If two entities are found to be joint employers, all of their common employees must be counted in determining whether paid sick leave must be provided under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and expanded family and medical leave must be provided under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

      In general, two or more entities are separate employers unless they meet the integrated employer test under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA). If two entities are an integrated employer under the FMLA, then employees of all entities making up the integrated employer will be counted in determining employer coverage for purposes of paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and expanded family and medical leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

    • If providing child care-related paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave at my business with fewer than 50 employees would jeopardize the viability of my business as a going concern, how do I take advantage of the small business exemption?

      To elect this small business exemption, you should document why your business with fewer than 50 employees meets the criteria set forth by the Department, which will be addressed in more detail in forthcoming regulations.

      You should not send any materials to the Department of Labor when seeking a small business exemption for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave.

    • How do I count hours worked by a part-time employee for purposes of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

      A part-time employee is entitled to leave for his or her average number of work hours in a two-week period. Therefore, you calculate hours of leave based on the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work. If the normal hours scheduled are unknown, or if the part-time employee’s schedule varies, you may use a six-month average to calculate the average daily hours. Such a part-time employee may take paid sick leave for this number of hours per day for up to a two-week period, and may take expanded family and medical leave for the same number of hours per day up to ten weeks after that.

      If this calculation cannot be made because the employee has not been employed for at least six months, use the number of hours that you and your employee agreed that the employee would work upon hiring. And if there is no such agreement, you may calculate the appropriate number of hours of leave based on the average hours per day the employee was scheduled to work over the entire term of his or her employment.

    • When calculating pay due to employees, must overtime hours be included?

      Yes. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires you to pay an employee for hours the employee would have been normally scheduled to work even if that is more than 40 hours in a week.

      However, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act requires that paid sick leave be paid only up to 80 hours over a two-week period. For example, an employee who is scheduled to work 50 hours a week may take 50 hours of paid sick leave in the first week and 30 hours of paid sick leave in the second week. In any event, the total number of hours paid under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act is capped at 80.

      If the employee’s schedule varies from week to week, please see the answer to Question 5, because the calculation of hours for a full-time employee with a varying schedule is the same as that for a part-time employee.

      Please keep in mind the daily and aggregate caps placed on any pay for paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave as described in the answer to Question 7.

      Please note that pay does not need to include a premium for overtime hours under either the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act or the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

    • What records do I need to keep when my employee takes paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave?

      Private sector employers that provide paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave required by the FFCRA are eligible for reimbursement of the costs of that leave through refundable tax credits. If you intend to claim a tax credit under the FFCRA for your payment of the sick leave or expanded family and medical leave wages, you should retain appropriate documentation in your records. You should consult Internal Revenue Service (IRS) applicable forms, instructions, and information for the procedures that must be followed to claim a tax credit, including any needed substantiation to be retained to support the credit. You are not required to provide leave if materials sufficient to support the applicable tax credit have not been provided.

      If one of your employees takes expanded family and medical leave to care for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19, you may also require your employee to provide you with any additional documentation in support of such leave, to the extent permitted under the certification rules for conventional FMLA leave requests. For example, this could include a notice that has been posted on a government, school, or day care website, or published in a newspaper, or an email from an employee or official of the school, place of care, or child care provider.

    The FAQ also covers questions employees may have, including how sick leave and expanded family and medical leave interact, what records are needed, and how telework factors in.

    Access the Labor FAQ Here

  • 03/30/2020 4:04 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    If your firm is beginning to feel the economic effects of the COVID-19 epidemic, or if you want to be prepared for when you do, ACRA has been sharing information and resources meant to help you understand how you can take advantage of the programs in the recent legislative packages.

    Last week Congress passed the CARES Act, which provides direct relief to both businesses and individual Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the majority of CRM firms considered to be small businesses under federal size standards, the CARES Act specifically applies to ACRA members.

    The CARES Act established the Paycheck Protection Program, which would provide 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance through 100 percent federally guaranteed loans to small employers who maintain their payroll during this emergency. If the employer maintains payroll, the portion of the loans used for covered payroll costs, interest on mortgage obligations, rent, and utilities would be forgiven. It is retroactive to February 15, 2020 to help bring workers who have been laid off already back onto payrolls.

    The office of Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA) has shared another helpful summary for small businesses to determine whether they are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program and how to access the aid: 

    Is your small business struggling due to the recent coronavirus epidemic?

    • Your business may be eligible for a new Paycheck Protection Loan.
    • This 4% interest rate loan is 100% guaranteed by the SBA.
    • Physician practices are eligible, no matter how they are structured.

    Who is eligible?

    • Businesses and 501(c)(3)s with less than 500 employees.

    Where can you get this loan?

    What can you use the loan amount for?

    • Payroll costs - Group health care benefits
    • Employee salaries - Interest on any mortgage obligation
    • Rent
    • Utilities
    • And any other debt obligations occurred before Feb. 15, 2020.

    How much can you borrow?

    • The maximum amount is the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll based on last year’s payroll.

    How long will it take to receive the money?

    • The SBA has authorized lenders to process, close, and service loans without SBA approval, giving you the means to invest in your business immediately.

    What if you can’t pay it back?

    • First, all payment on principle, interest, and fees will be automatically deferred for six months.
    • Second, for businesses that retain their staff up until June 30, 2020, this loan will be forgiven.

    Can the entire loan be forgiven?

    • No, only the portion of the loan used to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities can be forgiven.
    • In addition, only 8 weeks can be forgiven.

    Employee retention credit – how will this work?

    • The Employee Retention Credit provides a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages per employee (including health benefits) paid by certain employers during the coronavirus crisis.
      • The credit is available to employers:
      • whose operations were fully or partially shut down by government order limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to coronavirus, or
    • whose quarterly receipts are less than 50% for the same quarter in the prior year.
    • Wages paid to employees during which they are furloughed or otherwise not working (due to reduced hours) as a result of their employer’s closure or economic hardship are eligible for the credit.
    • However, for employers with 100 or fewer employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, regardless of whether they are furloughed or face reduced hours.
    • To prevent double dipping, employers that receive Small Business interruption loans are not eligible for the credit. Additionally, wages that qualify for the required paid leave credit are not eligible for the credit.
    • The credit is for wages paid by eligible employers from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

    Read more about the CARES Act and how it affects ACRA members in our posts over the last week, and stay tuned to the ACRAsphere for additional information.

  • 03/27/2020 12:16 PM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    UPDATE: The bill has now been passed by the House and signed by President Trump. The programs detailed below and in this post will now be available to small businesses.

    The House of Representatives is working to pass the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, which previously

    passed the Senate on Wednesday. The bill is expected to be signed by President Trump quickly once passed by the House.

    The House Committee on Small Business has provided a helpful guide to assist small business owners and employees alike understand the provisions of the bill, including how the House version differs from the Senate. The overview of the guide:

    American small businesses are facing an unprecedented economic disruption due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, with reports of small businesses experiencing major difficulties. Due to the nature of this economic disruption, the existing disaster recovery programs for small businesses are insufficient. The CARES Act represents more than $376 billion in relief for struggling small businesses, which falls into two main buckets: Access to Capital and Small Business Support.

    Access to Capital

    • $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay employees and keep them on the payroll.
      • These loans are open to most businesses under 500 employees, non-profits, the selfemployed, startups, and cooperatives.
    • $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers. SBA will pay the principal and interest for the next 6-months on SBA-backed loans.
      • Today, that would help 320,000 small businesses and any new borrowers in the 7(a) or 504 programs.
    • $10 billion in immediate disaster grants. Using the current economic injury disaster loan program, SBA can provide up to $10,000 to applicants within 3 days of applicants selfcertifying they are eligible.

    Small Business Support

    • Requires SBA to provide additional language resources to ensure small business owners can access the resources they need as easily as possible.
    • $265 million in funding for resource partners, including Small Business Development Centers and Women’s Business Centers to provide training and counseling to businesses impacted by Coronavirus.
    • A waiver of the WBC matching requirement to alleviate the need to fundraise during the emergency.
    • $10 million for Minority Business Development Agency grants to train and counsel minority-owned firms impacted by Coronavirus.
    • $675 million to provide SBA with the resources it needs to staff up and administer these new and enhanced programs.
    • Finally, this will increase the number of small businesses that qualify for streamlined bankruptcy process, by nearly tripling the debt cap to $7.5 million to help American small businesses that will need to reorganized due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The guide goes on to break down the specific provisions of the bill applicable to small businesses:

    • Paycheck Protection Program - Section 1102
    • Entrepreneurial Development - Section 1103 
    • State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Support – Section 1104
    • Women’s Business Center Matching Waiver – Section 1105
    • Loan Forgiveness – Section 1106
    • Direct Appropriations – Section 1107
    • Minority Business Development Agency – Section 1108
    • Emergency Economic Injury Grants – Section 1110
    • Increasing Access to SBA Through Multiple Language Support – Section 1111

    • 6-months of Principal and Interest Relief - Section 1112

    • Small Business Bankruptcy Enhancement – Section 1113

    Each section outlined above includes a clarification on how the House and Senate versions of the bill differ in regards to small business provisions. Because members of both chambers worked closely together to craft this legislation, differences between the two versions are small. The primary difference identified by Chairwoman Nydia Velasquez (D-NY) concerns the Emergency Economic Injury Grants:

    We worked closely with our Senate counterpart to ensure their package included this grant program, which was funded at $10 billion. It will provide up to 1 million small businesses with emergency relief. While not as high as the House package, now that the program is in place, we can push for additional resources in the future.

    We have included the basics of the programs both above and in the post on the Senate passage of the bill, and please review the House Committee on Small Business guide for specifics on the differences between the two versions of the bill. The Committee Republicans have also put together a helpful summary and FAQ of the CARES Act which can be found here.

    We will continue to provide updates to the ACRAsphere and social media as the legislation progresses.

  • 03/26/2020 9:21 AM | ACRAsphere Blog Team

    The Senate passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, late Wednesday night after days of negotiations and blockages. The latest in a series of coronavirus relief packages provides $2 trillion to provide resources to fight the virus and the associated economic fallout. Funding is set aside directly for the airline and hospital industries, and $367 billion is made available for small businesses. From Business Insider:

    "Small businesses, or companies with 500 employees or fewer, would get $367 billion. The firms would be encouraged to maintain payroll, and costs including mortgage interest, rent, and utilities may be forgiven if certain requirements are met.

    The Treasury Department would disclose terms for loans made to all firms, while a new inspector general would oversee the offerings."

    The Senate Small Business Committee has also provided a summary of the small business provisions in the bill:

    Paycheck Protection Program

    The stimulus includes nearly $350 billion in funding for a provision to create a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that will provide small businesses and other entities with zero-fee loans of up to $10 million. Up to 8 weeks of average payroll and other costs will be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. Principal and interest is deferred for up to a year and all borrower fees are waived. This temporary emergency assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury can be used in coordination with other COVID-financing assistance established in the bill or any other existing SBA loan program.

    The bill requires the SBA Administrator to set a cap on how much a bank can earn to process loan applications and prioritize underserved borrowers, including those in rural communities, minorities, women and veterans.

    Emergency Economic Injury Grants

    The stimulus includes $10 billion in funding for a provision to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL) within three days of applying for the loan. EIDLs are loans of up to $2 million that carry interest rates up to 3.75 percent for companies and up to 2.75 percent for nonprofits, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years. The loans may be used to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses.

    The EIDL grant does not need to be repaid, even if the grantee is subsequently denied an EIDL, and may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintaining payroll, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or pay business obligations, including debts, rent and mortgage payments. Eligible grant recipients must have been in operation on January 31, 2020. The grant is available to small businesses, private nonprofits, sole proprietors and independent contractors, tribal businesses, as well as cooperatives and employee-owned businesses.

    A business that receives an EIDL between January 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020 as a result of a COVID-19 disaster declaration is eligible to apply for a PPP loan or the business may refinance their EIDL into a PPP loan. In either case, the emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000 would be subtracted from the amount forgiven in the payroll protection plan.

    The bill provides $562 million to ensure that SBA has the resources to provide Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to businesses that need financial support.

    Debt Relief for Existing and New SBA Borrowers

    The stimulus includes $17 billion in funding for a provision to provide immediate relief to small businesses with standard SBA 7(a), 504, or microloans. Under this provision, SBA will cover all loan payments for existing SBA borrowers, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. This relief will also be available to new borrowers who take out an SBA loan within six months after the President signs the bill. The measure also encourages banks to provide further relief to small business borrowers by allowing them to extend the duration of existing loans beyond existing limits; and enables small business lenders to assist more new and existing borrowers by providing a temporary extension on certain reporting requirements. While SBA borrowers are receiving the six months debt relief, they may apply for a PPP loan that provides capital to keep their employees on the job. The six months of SBA payment relief may not be applied to payments on PPP loans.

    The stimulus also includes a permanent fix that allows SBA to waive fees for veterans and their spouses in the 7(a) Express Loan Program, regardless of the President’s budget. Under current law, SBA may only waive fees on 7(a) Express loans to veterans when the President’s budget does not project a cost above zero for the overall 7(a) loan program.

    Paid Leave for Government Contractors

    The stimulus includes a provision that provides paid leave for employees working on small business contracts with the federal government. The measure allows agencies to modify the terms of a contract to reimburse small business contractors for the cost of providing paid leave, including sick leave, to employees or subcontractors unable to perform work on-site due to a facility closure and cannot telework.

    Read the full Business Insider article here, and the full summary from the Senate Small Business Committee is available here. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives, where it must pass before it can be signed into law by the President. We will continue to provide updates on how these bills affect the CRM industry here on the ACRAsphere and via social media, so stay tuned.

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