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COVID-19 RRC: Newsletter

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COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center

Economic Recovery Bridge Grants

Find program information and grant guidelines about the recently-announced Economic Recovery Bridge Grants from ACCD.

Vermont Forward Plan

The Vermont Forward reopening plan provides a framework for a phased return to unrestricted travel, business operations, and event gatherings.

Economic Recovery Bridge Grants Announced

Find program information and grant guidelines about the recently-announced Economic Recovery Bridge Grants from ACCD.

Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Find the latest information about who is currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Vermont. Learn more about getting the COVID-19 vaccine and how to schedule an appointment.

Tourism and Hospitality Worker Vaccine Clinics Announced

In partnership with the Vermont Chamber of Commerce and the Department of Tourism and Marketing, the Department of Health will host walk-in COVID-19 vaccine clinics for restaurant, hospitality, and tourism workers. The initial wave of clinics will take place at seven locations, with each site offering Johnson & Johnson vaccines for tourism and hospitality workers on a walk-in basis. Clinics will be staged at restaurants, lodging properties, ski resorts, and other tourism attractions in an effort to bring the vaccine directly to the workers of this sector.

SBA Program Information Resources

For more information on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program (SVOG), the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, the Community Navigator pilot program and all other resources available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), visit their COVID-19 relief page.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) Update

The U.S. Small Business Administration's RRF program has received more than 147,000 applications from women, veterans, and socially- and economically-disadvantaged business owners requesting a total of $29 billion in relief funds, and more than 266,000 applications overall representing over $65 billion in requested funds nationwide. Though the program, which was allocated $28.6 billon in funding, is oversubscribed, money remains in the $500 million carve out for the smallest restaurants with revenues up to $50,000. The application portal remains open for these businesses.

Vaccination in the Workplace Forum

On Thursday, April 29th, the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center offered a forum for employers to learn more about the human resources and legal issues around requiring or encouraging workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Panelists discussed workplace vaccination policy considerations, requesting proof of COVID-19 vaccination, and best practices for communicating with employees about these policies, among other topics. A recording of the event is now available.

Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program Reopened

The Vermont Housing Finance Agency is accepting applications again from Vermont homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This latest round of program funding provides grants for up to 12 months of past-due mortgage and property tax payments for eligible Vermont homeowners. For mortgage assistance, visit www.vhfa.org/map or call (888) 714-2260 to learn more and apply. A separate rental assistance program is available through the Vermont State Housing Authority at erap.vsha.org.

Emergency Broadband Benefit

The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a Federal Communications Commission program that will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount on the purchase of a computer or tablet.

Paycheck Protection Program Deadline Extended

The deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been extended until May 31st. The Vermont District Office of the SBA continues to offer two weekly webinars on First and Second Draw PPP loans and PPP loan forgiveness. ACCD encourages businesses to sign up for their newsletter to get the most timely updates to the PPP and Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program.

Sole Proprietor Stabilization Grant Program

A second round of sole proprietor grants from Vermont Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) are available. This additional funding will offer grants of between $1,500 and $10,000 to qualifying sole proprietors on a first come, first served basis. The application for this new round of funding opened on April 5th. Businesses can find technical assistance resources at the grant program website.

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.

COVID-19 EIDL Deferment Period Extended

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, until 2022.

All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.

All SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.

Community Development Block Grant CARES Act Funding (CDBG-CV)

The Department of Housing and Community Development is accepting applications from municipalities throughout Vermont for CDBG-CV funding through the Municipal Public Facility and Service Program for activities related to COVID-19. Nearly $1.8 million remains to assist communities and non-profits with grants for public facility and service projects that have an unmet need due to COVID-19. Applications must be submitted by the municipality where the project is located. Funding will be on a first come, first served basis and will be awarded through a competitive application process. Grants range from $5,000 to $200,000. Projects serving 70% low- and moderate-income individuals, as well as projects in an area-wide, low- and moderate-income community, will be prioritized. Contact Nathan Cleveland at nathan.cleveland@vermont.gov for more information.

Housing Support Services

If you are struggling with your mortgage, rent, utilities and other housing expenses because of COVID-19, your local Home Ownership Center can help. They have HUD-approved counselors on staff and available to help you obtain the assistance you need to keep your home. These housing counseling services are provided to any household affected by COVID-19.

Your location will influence which Homeownership Center can provide assistance to you. Find the Homeownership Center that covers your region.

Cultural Facilities Grants

Cultural Facilities Grants, offered by the Vermont Arts Council, applications for awards of up to $30,000 to Vermont nonprofit organizations and municipalities to increase the physical capacity to provide cultural activities for the public are now being accepted through June 7th.

Vermont Products Marketing Opportunity

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM) is seeking food, beverage and retail businesses to be a part of the Vermont Building at the Eastern States Exposition, home of the Big E fair. In 2019, 1.6 million people attended the Big E, held in West Springfield, Massachusetts, making this a great event to showcase Vermont products to the southern New England audience. For more information and to apply for booth space, visit the AAFM website.

New Resource to Promote Upcoming Events

The new VermontVacation.com events calendar is almost ready, and we hope businesses and event organizers can help populate it for launch to the public. If you have an event happening after May 15th, you can fill out the event submission form now so that your event will be available when the new calendar officially launches. Don’t have an event? Make sure your business is listed on the trip planning directory by signing up. Events and business listings must be tourism-related and appropriate for out of state visitors.

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.

Farm to School Grants

The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Grant reimburses 80% of the cost of CSA shares. The Farm to School Vision Grant supports innovative ideas that address emergent issues within farm to school. The Farm to School Child Nutrition Implementation Grant provides financial and technical assistance to education organizations looking to advance their farm to school programs.

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.

Amtrak Service in Vermont Resumes July 19

The Vermont Agency of Transportation has announced the upcoming resumption of Amtrak service in the state. Visitors and Vermonters alike will soon be able to travel between East Coast cities and Vermont. The Vermonter connects Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Hartford, and stops in Massachusetts and New Hampshire to one of nine Vermont communities. The Ethan Allen Express links New York and Vermont via the scenic Hudson River Valley. Current safety protocols include contactless boarding and enhanced surface cleaning, and trains are equipped with onboard air filtration systems. Additionally, all change fees are waived for reservations made by September 6, 2021, allowing greater flexibility with travel plans.

EIDL Update

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.

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

Find unemployment insurance, workforce development, and workplace safety information for employees and employers from the Vermont Department of Labor.

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.

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.

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.

Visit ThinkVermont.com for more inspiration and information on living, working and doing business in Vermont.