Coronavirus Resources for Employers

Updated 7/13/2021 at 8:45 a.m. Updates in bold

We appreciate the ongoing support of all of our members, including our Visionary Members: Bloomsburg University, First Columbia Bank & Trust, First Keystone Community Bank, Geisinger, Kawneer, PPL Electric Utilities, USG, & SEKISUI KYDEX
 

Business Operations

All mitigation orders for businesses except masking were lifted on Memorial Day, Monday, May 31st.  

Restaurants, bars, stores, salons, gyms, theaters, event venues, nightclubs, and other businesses can operate at 100% capacity, and crowd-size limits are lifted on all indoor and outdoor gatherings.

The order requiring universal face coverings was lifted statewide at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, June 28.  

The department continues to urge Pennsylvanians to follow CDC guidance for wearing a mask where required by law, rule, and regulations, including healthcare, local business and workplace guidance. For the protection of themselves and others, individuals who have not yet been vaccinated or are partially vaccinated are still encouraged to wear a mask when in public. The CDC requires individuals to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs, such as airports and stations. In addition, all individuals should still follow guidance at workplaces, local businesses, long-term care facilities, hospitals and other healthcare facilities, prisons, and shelters. 

The Chamber of Commerce is recommending that employers continue following CDC guidance, which includes masks for unvaccinated individuals.

 


Vaccination and Testing

 

Vaccination

The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Geisinger in encouraging eligible individuals to get vaccinated. Resources to help employers communicate with their employees about vaccination are available from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management, provides recommendations for developing a workplace vaccination strategy.

Vaccine Distribution

Geisinger is offering vaccines to anyone age 12 or older either by appointment or through a walk-in clinic. Click here for information. 

Click here to find vaccination sites statewide. 

Columbia County EMA is assisting Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties with COVID-19 vaccination appointments.  Those eligible should call 570-389-5735, Monday through Friday only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Provide name, date of birth, address and phone number.  Someone from Susquehanna Valley Medical Specialties will call back to schedule an appointment. The clinic expects to experience a large volume of inquiries and asks callers to allow ample time for a call back. Callers who are not contacted within 72 hours are asked to call again. Another way to schedule an appointment time for their vaccination, patients simply need to log on to our website at svmedspec.com and click on our Covid-19 vaccination link to enter their contact information.

Individuals needing a ride to a vaccination appointment can call 1-800-632-9063 to schedule a free ride with rabbittransit.

Testing

Geisinger offers both symptomatic testing and testing for travel.  Visit here for details.

If you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, contact your physician for a referral to a testing site.


Financial Assistance

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled an updated guide for the latest Federal programs. 

Federal programs

– The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is now closed. Applications are no longer being accepted.

– The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Small businesses and nonprofit organizations may qualify for EIDL loans with a 3.75% fixed rate for companies and a 2.75% fixed rate for nonprofits. Businesses can apply directly with the SBA for EIDL loans.

Businesses needing assistance in applying for an SBA loan can contact the Small Business Development Center network.

Columbia & Luzerne County businesses – wilkes.edu/sbdc
Montour County businesses – bucknell.edu/sbdc

The Employee Retention Credit is extended through December 31, 2021. The new credit, beginning January 1, is 70% on $10,000 in wages per quarter (or a maximum $28,000 per employee through December 31, 2021).

The new law expands eligibility to include employers who experienced a decline of more than 20% in a qualifying quarter.

Employers can also apply to the PPP program and take advantage of the tax credit program, provided the same wages are not used.

The IRS has issued updated guidance on utilizing ERC.

The Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grant program provides assistance to live venues that were harmed by COVID-19 restrictions. The SVO grant program will distribute $16 billion in funds to live venue operators, including eligible movie theaters, concert spaces, museums and performing arts organizations.

SVO grants are being administered directly by the SBA. Click here for program details and to apply. 

Local programs

– SEDA-Council of Governments (SEDA-COG) has created a loan program with funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. For-profit businesses can apply for loans of at least $10,000 with an interest rate of 3.25%. Funds can be used for working capital and can be disbursed based on past working capital expenses. No payments are due in the first six months. 

There is a $500 underwriting fee and a $100 filing fee.

For more information, visit https://seda-cog.org/covid-19/ or contact SEDA-COG’s Business Finance Department at cwca@seda-cog.org.

– The Chamber’s low-interest loan program is offering loans of up to $10,000 for members at 3% interest for 30 months, with interest only payments for the first 12 months. If you are interested in the Chamber’s loan program, contact Fred Gaffney at the Chamber of Commerce at 570-784-2522 as funds are limited.


Unemployment, Benefits & HR Issues

 

 

The PA Department of Labor and Industry provides UC guidance for employers with impacted employees.


Small Business Recovery Program

The Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Zeigler College of Business has established a Small Business Recovery Program (SBRP) to assist local businesses in recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We know these are challenging days for small businesses throughout the region, and the Zeigler College of Business wants to be a partner to help solve those problems,” said Todd Shawver, dean of the Zeigler College of Business.”

The SBRP will assist regional small businesses with any aspect of their business, except for financial assistance. These services can include, but are not limited to:
• Professional sales assistance
• Social media and marketing strategy
• Business strategy redevelopment
• Cost structures and monitoring
• Tax guidance
• Open to customizing services depending on business needs.

Anyone wishing to access the services of the SBRP can do so by filling out a request form


Department of Labor & Industry Issues UC Fraud Guidance

From PA Chamber of Business and Industry

Responding to skyrocketing claims of Unemployment Insurance Fraud, the PA Department of Labor and Industry has provided employers with helpful tips for reporting fraudulent claims. When responding to a Notice of Claim Filed that you believe to be fraudulent, keep the following tips in mind:

  • L&I does not need any of the person’s actual employment information for identity theft situations. The fields on the response form do not need to be completed unless the system requires it (e.g., start date, end date, termination date).
  • The “Reason for Separation” field is always required. For identity theft claims, you should enter the reason as “Still working full-time.”
  • For employers using the new benefits system, a step-by-step guide is available here.
  • For employers not yet able to log into the new system but enrolled in SIDES, a guide is available here.
  • Employers who have hired a Third-Party Administrator (TPA) for unemployment matters can disregard any Notices of Application as the administrator should handle this matter.

The Department also wants to remind employers:

  • Appealing the financial determination is not the appropriate way to report a fraudulent claim. As the employer, you should respond to the claim notices but should not file a fraud report.
  • Ultimately, you will not be charged for benefits paid to fraudulent, identity theft-related claims. Once benefits are denied, your account will be credited.

The Department also noted they are implementing additional verification processes for the UC claims process. Earlier this year, L&I announced that it was expanding a partnership with ID.me, an identity verification vendor, to dissuade fraudsters targeting the UC system.

On July 22, The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce co-signed a letter with other chambers from across the state calling for immediate action to address the UC fraud that has become rampant. The letter was sent to Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Auditor General, Treasurer, Secretary of Labor & Industry, and Secretary of Revenue. 

Free Program Helps Restaurants Understand Employee Retention Tax Credit

Pandemic shutdowns significantly affected restaurant owners and operators last year. Because of these shutdowns, the industry needed financial relief. In this free educational session hosted by the National Restaurant Association, Randy Crabtree, CPA, Co-Partner of Tri-Merit Specialty Tax Professionals will help restaurants navigate the nuances of how to claim the Employee Retention Tax Credit, provide real life examples of what to expect, and share additional ways to get money back through other tax credits and incentives.

Please note that this webinar will be offering one (1) CPE credit to attendees who acknowledge they’d like to receive it through the registration form.

Key Takeaways:

How to identify if your restaurant is eligible for Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)
What to expect from the application process
How to maximize your tax credits & incentives

Click here to register.

Member News- July 21, 2021

BTE Presenting Free Play in Bloomsburg Town Park

School’s out for the summer, and the New Mexico air is hot, even in the darkest part of the night. But 8-year-old Sheila and her scrappy pack of pals aren’t going to let the summer heat get them down. When their fantastical junkyard fort draws the attention of a mysterious furry stranger, this band of misfit kids suddenly find themselves deep in the desert, face to face with the walking, talking critters who live there. It’s a whirlwind adventure about humans’ effect on the environment and the animals with whom we share the planet. And, spoiler alert: somebody swallows a cactus! Presented outdoors at Totsburg in Bloomsburg Town Park, The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus features a cast of BTE members and friends. This unique twist on traditional fable-style storytelling will captivate the imaginations of audiences of all ages.

There are lots of chances to catch this exciting family adventure in Bloomsburg Town Park.
Thursday, July 22nd, 11AM
Friday, July 23rd, 7PM
Saturday, July 24th, 7PM
Tuesday, July 27th, 11AM
Wednesday, July 28th, 11AM
Thursday, July 29th, 11AM
Friday, July 30th, 7PM
Saturday, July 31st, 7PM

Performances of The Girl Who Swallowed a Cactus are free of charge to all audiences thanks to underwriting from the Columbia County Commissioners and longtime Summer show sponsor, Renco Ace Hardware.


Attorney Julie Steinbacher Earns LLM Degree in Elder Law and Estate Planning

Attorney Julie Steinbacher, CELA®, the founding shareholder of the elder care and special needs law firm of Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak, recently completed her LLM degree in elder law and estate planning from the Western New England School of Law.

An LLM is a Master of Law degree, and a graduate qualification in the field of law. It was created for attorneys to further expand their knowledge or study a specialized area of law, and is generally a one-year program if studying full-time. The elder law and estate planning LLM from Western New England is the only live, interactive and online program of its kind in the United States. 

Julie becomes the second attorney at the firm to add an LLM degree to her resume. Attorney Amos Goodall also has an LLM in elder law. The LLM is also just the latest item to be added to her resume. Earlier this year, she was named a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC), a national organization of more than 2,500 attorneys and law professors, becoming one of just 96 ACTEC fellows in Pennsylvania, and two of only five from the northeast and north central portion of the state ranging from the Poconos and west through State College (Amos is one of the others).

Along with Amos and Attorney Brittany Smith, Julie is also one of three Certified Elder Law Attorneys (CELA) at Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak, one of just 67 in Pennsylvania and of just over 500 in the entire country. The CELA is given by the National Elder Law Foundation and is frequently referred to as the “gold standard” for elder law and special needs practitioners. Julie has a “superb” AVVO rating for attorneys and last year was also named a Super Lawyer® for the first time in Thomson Reuters’ annual listing of the same name. Earlier this year, Julie was named to the Pennsylvania Business Central Top 100 People list for the second straight year and the fourth time overall.

Julie has lectured extensively for several organizations including the Elder Law Institute, Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and many more, and is the president of Estate & Long Term Care Planning, Inc. She has also authored several books in a Protect Your Family series that informs people about planning for the second half of life. In 2020, Julie, along with Attorney Jenna Franks, co-published the 2021 Supplement to the Pennsylvania Trust Guide. A Magna Cum Laude graduate of Widener University School of Law, Julie founded the law firm Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak in 2002. She sits on the board of Hope Enterprises, Inc. and is also a trustee for the YWCA of North Central Pennsylvania.

Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak is an elder care and special needs law firm offering quality representation to clients throughout Pennsylvania. Since its beginning in 2002, the firm has dedicated itself to practicing law with extraordinary standards of ethics and values. The vision of the firm has been to provide individuals and their families with a unique plan to protect their assets for their spouses and future generations, while providing for their immediate and long-term needs. More information, including resources and seminar information, can be found at www.paeldercounsel.com. To schedule your appointment, call 1-800-351-8334.


McKonly & Asbury Expands Leadership Team; Hires Director of Client Engagement and Growth, Robert Duffield

 McKonly & Asbury – one of Central Pennsylvania’s premier accounting and business advisory services firms – is pleased to announce the expansion of their leadership team by welcoming Robert Duffield as Director of Client Engagement and Growth. Rob will be joining the firm on July 19, 2021, and brings a tremendous depth of experience in growing client-focused relationships, establishing strong business connections, and directing strategic growth. 

“We are thrilled to have Rob join our team to spearhead our business development efforts across the region,” said Michael Hoffner, Managing Partner of McKonly & Asbury. “Rob is joining McKonly & Asbury at an exciting time in our history, and the focus and understanding he brings to growing a professional services firm, coupled with the development of people and enhancement of culture will contribute significantly to our clients, our people, and our firm’s goals in the coming years. McKonly & Asbury has always had a value-based approach to the accounting, tax, and advisory services we offer, and Rob is uniquely positioned to help us bring these services to our clients as they seek to become increasingly competitive in an expanding marketplace.”

Rob joins McKonly & Asbury with more than 20 years of experience as a performance-driven sales and marketing professional, most recently with a large professional services firm. Earlier in his career, he was a Senior Account Executive with a professional staffing firm focused on placing finance and accounting, human resources, IT, engineering, and administrative services professionals. 

“I am honored to be joining the team at McKonly &Asbury,” said Duffield. “For nearly five decades, the firm has enjoyed a stellar reputation for excellence, providing profound business insights to our clients and being actively involved in the communities we serve. The leadership team continues to expand in new and exciting directions, while always maintaining our core commitment to excellent responsiveness to our clients. This is an incredible opportunity for me to leverage the professional skills learned over a lifetime of teaching, coaching, sales, marketing, team building, and more, to bring incredible value to our clients, our employees, and our firm.”


BIDA Holds its 59th Annual Meeting

Berwick Industrial Development Association, a leader in economic development focusing on industrial development and manufacturing, is excited to have held its annual meeting in person at the Forge Pub & Eatery.
This was the 58th meeting in 59 years, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced B.I.D.A. to cancel the meeting in 2020.
Board President, Dan McGann, presented to the audience the work that B.I.D.A. was able to accomplish despite the pandemic. Those accomplishments were assisting business and industry during the pandemic with navigating the changing guidelines and restrictions as well as the financial assistance that was offered through state and federal agencies.

B.I.D.A. closed on two properties within the Complex perimeter that had previously been sold to others. One of which was the former Ingredion manufacturing facility, which is now the satellite facility for Dyco, Inc.

Berwick is experiencing growth and development with our existing business and industry, not to mention the numerous inquiries that are coming in every month looking at our region and as much as we want to recruit new business, right now that would adversely affect our existing employers. The central northeast region of Pennsylvania needs “skilled labor”; which means, those trained in the vocational/industrial arts: welders, pipe fitters, building and trades, HVAC, plumbers and machinists.

B.I.D.A. Board President McGann told the B.I.D.A. board of directors, members and guests, “You all have homework, we need everyone to encourage our youth to seek education and training in vocational studies…to also encourage adults to gain the necessary training for the jobs we have now and going into the future…”.

Mr. McGann, also asked for people to encourage family and friends that may have moved out of our region to “come home”. Berwick alone has lost 10% of its population over the last ten (10) years.

Kelly O’Brien, Executive Director for B.I.D.A., wanted the audience to know that B.I.D.A. does so much more than manage a physical industrial complex. B.I.D.A. provides services to entrepreneurs, small and mid-size companies and large corporations with access to resources, facilitating project development, strategic planning, as well as working with colleges and universities locally to formulate research and development projects that include product development.

Congressman Meuser presented at the event, he reiterated McGann’s call for increasing interest in the vocational trades. The Congressman also stated his commitment to the region as a whole and will be working with B.I.D.A. as we continue to move into the future. “Workforce development is a challenge”, Congressman Meuser stated and explained that he put forth a bill for a new jobs tax credit, which is up for approval this budget cycle.

State Representative Dave Millard, a long-standing supporter of B.I.D.A., stated that the work that B.I.D.A. does for business and industry is invaluable. The Representative discussed the strength and resilience of the businesses in the region and how that resiliency shows in the strength of our economy. “Communicating with leaders like Kelly [O’Brien, Executive Director] … [W]orking hand in hand to overcome any challenges is what builds that resiliency. I pledge to continue to work with B.I.D.A. and our community leaders to make our region better and stronger.”, stated Millard.
Commissioner Dave Kovach also attended and represents Columbia County at B.I.D.A. board meetings monthly.

Commission Kovach gave recognition to the administrative staff of B.I.D.A. for the work that they do on a regular basis, ensuring that the work of the organization is done effectively and efficiently and that the businesses in our region are taken care of. “There are opportunities coming to our region and Kelly [O’Brien] is taking advantage of those opportunities. B.I.D.A. is an economic driver for our region.”, Kovach stated. B.I.D.A.’s Stacy Whitmire, Controller, received her notary public during the pandemic and B.I.D.A. now offers notary services.

The overarching message of the annual meeting and the distinguished guests is the need for and the support for vocational training and education and the demand for employment in industry. Our region is hiring in every industry sector and those jobs must be filled before we can set our sights on the new business and growth that is knocking on the door of the Central Northeast region of Pennsylvania.

Repeal of Overtime Expansion Becomes Law

From PA Chamber of Business & Industry

Governor Wolf opted to neither sign nor veto H.B. 336, the Administrative Code bill that is one of four bills accompanying the state budget passed in late June. Without action by the governor, legislation passing the General Assembly becomes law after 10 days.

Among the bill’s key provisions is a one-sentence entry worked out as a compromise between the Republican legislature and the Governor’s office that nixed a regulation promulgated in 2019, which would have significantly expanded the scope of individuals mandated by the state to receive overtime compensation.

Chamber Partnering with Members to Host Job Fair

The Northeast Pennsylvania Business Center, in partnership with The River 105 & 103.5, The Good Insurance Group, and The Columbia Montour Chamber of Commerce, is hosting an in-person job fair at the Bloomsburg Fairgrounds.

The event will be held Saturday, August 28th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., one week prior to the $300 per week Federal unemployment compensation bonus ending.

There is a limit of 40 employers and applications will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. Booth spaces can be purchased in 10’ increments. Chamber members receive a $25 discount.

Interested employers can download the application at npbcjobfair.com