Updated Sector Guidance
Be sure to check back periodically for any new updates to sector guidance information on the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Safe Executive Order. The newest updates will be marked in red.
Changes to PPP to Further Promote Equitable Access to Relief
President Joe Biden has announced changes to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) intended to ensure equitable access to relief. Changes include instituting a 14-day period, starting Wednesday, February 24th, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief through the program. Additional help is also on the way for sole proprietors, independent contractors, and self-employed individuals to receive more financial support. Read the full memo for a full list of crucial changes to this program. For Vermont businesses without a trusted lender, the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) stands ready to support businesses in need.
Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Update
The Small Business Administration (SBA) has released more information about the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) Program. The program includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, including live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theater operators, and talent representatives. Although the SVOG is not active yet, organizations can prepare in the meantime. The SBA recently released an FAQ guidance document to help answer questions, and a "Quick Start Guide for New Grantee Registration" is available for assistance with registering in the System for Award Management (SAM). The SBA's Vermont District Office is hosting an informational webinar about SAM on Thursday, February 25th at 11:00am. There is no registration for this event.
Targeted EIDL Advance Update
The Small Business Administration has begun rolling out the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance, which provides businesses located in low-income communities with additional funds. Applicants do not need to take any action at this time. The SBA will reach out to those who qualify. An FAQ document has been posted with additional information.
Town Meeting Guidance Announced
In-person annual town meetings are strongly discouraged this year. Unlike some municipal meetings, annual town meetings cannot be conducted remotely because they require citizen participation and voting, a constitutional right. Municipalities choosing to conduct in-person meetings or elections must conduct those meetings in a manner that complies with physical distancing, building capacity limits, and cloth facial covering mandatory requirements issued during the State of Emergency. Read the full guidance for town meetings.
COVID-19 Stimulus Equity Fund
The Stimulus Equity Fund is Vermont's COVID-19 relief fund for those who were excluded from the federal stimulus due to their immigration status. Applications are now being accepted through March 1st. If you were ineligible to receive a 2020 federal coronavirus stimulus payment due to your immigration status, you may be eligible for relief from this program.
Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030
The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets have released the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030. Working with over 1,500 Vermonters over 18 months, the plan lays out a vision and 15 goals for advancing the agriculture and food systems in Vermont.
Vermont Everyone Eats Relaunches
ACCD has allocated $1.6 million to Southeastern Vermont Community Action, the Everyone Eats Program Administrator, to relaunch the program. Though this allocation only funds three weeks of programming, partners across the state including the Scott Administration and the Legislature are working together to identify additional funding opportunities. In 2020, Everyone Eats funded over 530,000 meals, injecting $5.3 million into local restaurants and nearly $500,000 to Vermont farms and food producers.
Technical Assistance Program Available
ACCD encourages all businesses to look into free technical assistance options now available through the Small Business Recovery Technical Assistance Program. Business support remains available in a variety of areas being provided by the state’s 12 regional development corporations, Champlain College, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, Northern Community Investment Corporation, and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.
COVID-19 Guidelines Research Study
Researchers at the University of Vermont are conducting a survey to study how Vermonters as well as out of state residents that recently traveled to the state are understanding and responding to Vermont’s COVID-19 guidelines. Complete the online survey and be entered to win one of ten $25 gift cards to a local Vermont business.
Guidance Clarification for Vermont Emergency Economic Recovery Grants
ACCD guidance had previously stated that all businesses receiving a Vermont Emergency Economic Recovery Grant must spend the grant money by December 30, 2020. We are pleased to clarify that if a business obtains an Emergency Economic Recovery Grant for qualifying losses incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020, the awarded grant funds are not required to be spent by the business by December 30, 2020.
Paycheck Protection Program Reopens
The U.S. Small Business Administration is currently offering First Draw PPP loans (for first-time program participants) and Second Draw PPP loans (for certain businesses that have previously received a PPP loan). Learn more about the program.
PPP Webinars with the SBA Vermont District Office
PPP Forgiveness Webinars
- Tuesdays, 11:30am – 1:00pm
- Join online
- Call-in at 202-765-1264 (Code: 986 011 495#)
PPP First and Second Draw Webinars
- Wednesday, 9:00am – 10:30am
- Join online
- Call-in at 202-765-1264 (Code: 142 718 62#)
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that the deadline to apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for the COVID-19 Pandemic disaster declaration is extended to December 31, 2021 as a result of the recent COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress. For full details, visit the SBA website.
Resource Guides to Help Small Businesses
The pandemic has hit small businesses hard and understanding where to turn to for support can be a challenge in and of itself. For this reason, a few resources are now available in one place to help guide business owners in this time of need. The Vermont Everyone Eats program has put together resources for the restaurant community and the Department of Mental Health has put together a business resource page for any business in need of mental health support with tips to stay mentally healthy.
Emergency Staffing Jobs Available
The State of Vermont is developing a hiring pool of candidates who will be assigned as needed in the event of staffing shortages due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Currently, this is focused on long term care facilities, and positions include those such as Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Licensed Nursing Assistants, and unlicensed caregivers. Individuals who are new to the field, as well as those who are recently retired or who only work part-time currently, are encouraged to apply. For more information, or to find volunteer opportunities, visit www.covidstaffing.vermont.gov.
Unemployment Insurance Update
Unemployment Insurance programs under the CARES Act have been extended with recent COVID-19 economic relief legislation. Programs include Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which has been reinstated to provide an additional $300 per week to claimants. Full details and updates to these programs are available at the Department of Labor website.
Signage for Businesses and Communities
ACCD has signage available for businesses and communities to help educate customers and visitors as to the guidance and restrictions in place. New signage has been added to reiterate specifically the need to quarantine for those returning to the state, or for those who are visiting the state.
Forevergreen Virtual Concert Series
The Department of Tourism and Marketing’s five-part virtual concert series featuring local Vermont musicians, as well as regional and national acts who have an affinity for the state, is available on-demand.
Northern Vermont Recovery Loans
The Vermont Community Loan Fund has launched the Northern Vermont Recovery Loan Fund, serving manufacturing, tourism, agriculture, forestry and wood products, education and early care, and nonprofits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Business owners from Vermont’s six northernmost counties – Caledonia, Essex, Franklin, Grand Isle, Lamoille and Orleans – are eligible. Loans include flexible terms and low- to no-cost debt financing, along with business coaching services and support.
Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act
Consider how the re-opening process and operational changes might impact compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The health and safety guidance provided by ACCD does not negate any obligations as outlined by the ADA. Refer to A Primer for Small Business for additional information.
Upcoming VT PTAC Webinars
Whether your business is new to government contracting or is a seasoned vendor, VT PTAC is offering a series of webinars featuring workshops and insights to help all businesses find pathways to government contracts.
Restaurant Industry Survey
The Vermont Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with Vermont Independent Restaurants, is conducting a short survey to continue to learn about the impacts of COVID-19 on the restaurant industry. Data collected will be used for continued restaurant relief and recovery advocacy work. The survey takes less than 3 minutes to complete.
Restart Plan Templates Available
The Work Smart and Stay Safe initiative requires businesses that closed for 7 days or more to adopt or create a sector-specific reopening and training plan before reopening. Restart plan templates are available and can help businesses establish best practices as they reopen and train employees on safety precautions and protocols.
PPE Survey for Businesses
Various Vermont business organizations have come together to launch a survey for employers to help quantify the use, demand (current and future), and supply of masks/face coverings around the state. Participation in the survey will help inform ongoing efforts to assist Vermont employers in securing the masks/face coverings and other PPE they need to operate safely.
Recovery Resource for Communities
The Local Support and Community Action Team, a committee of the Economic Mitigation & Recovery Task Force, is developing strategies to speed long-term community recovery. Their new website shares stand-out examples of best practices and other news in the Vermont community recovery.
Archived Q&A Webinars for Municipalities
Find previous question and answer webinars with Deputy Secretary Ted Brady that covered best practices, tools, and resources for municipalities. This event series was jointly hosted by the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT) and ACCD.
Resources for Vermont's Creative Sector
The COVID-19 outbreak brings particularly uncertain and challenging times for Vermont's creative sector, and the Vermont Arts Council is working to enable artists and arts and culture organizations to respond effectively. Visit the Council's COVID-19 Resource Page to find information about special funding opportunities, recovery and response events for the creative sector, and how to stay connected through virtual art experiences while social distancing, and more.
Mandatory Safety Training
All employees returning to work according to the Phased Restart Work Safe Guidelines, including those already working, must complete a mandatory training on health and safety requirements as provided by VOSHA, or another training program that meets or exceeds the VOSHA-provided standard. The Department of Labor has posted training materials in both online and printable formats. Completed training certificates should kept on hand by each employer.