Jodie Perry

Jodie Perry, president & CEO of Richland Area Chamber & Economic Development (Richland Source file photo)

MANSFIELD -- We’re walking this road alongside you (metaphorically) as each day brings new information, requests and resources regarding COVID-19.

To those who are sharing ideas and resources and answering questions…thank you…and please keep them coming! Thanks to all who took our survey. There is still time (owners/managers only please). I will forewarn you that today is long, and packed with info. I highlighted topic areas to make easier to read. Okay, here are today’s updates…

From the Governor

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As I write this Wednesday, Gov. DeWine just finished addressing the business community. He has made three requests of all businesses – no matter your size and type:

-- Please do a temperature check of every employee, every day prior to them coming into work.

-- Please ensure an aggressive cleaning regimen for your surfaces and ensure the ample availability of soap and water and sanitizer for your employees and customers.

-- If an employee is sick, send them home. Period.

I spoke to Richland Public Health and they know that it may be difficult to obtain thermometers in this time. They are saying do the best you can, with what you have, to protect employees. Send them home when possible.

From Richland Public Health

The team at Richland Public Health sends this important information regarding how businesses handle employees who want to return to work.

“Our public health nurses have been fielding many questions regarding employers requesting testing before employees can return to work. Employers can send employees home sick, but it is not a requirement for employees to be tested for COVID-19 before returning back to work.”

If you listened to the governor today, you heard the clear language on the shortage of tests, which are being reserved for only the sickest. Please ensure that your HR teams are not requiring a test for every employee – that is only putting greater strain on the health care system.

Here is a great checklist about handling employees during these challenging times from the Ohio Department of Health. Please share.

Please Remember Mental Health During this Time

To say that what is going on is mentally taxing…that’s an understatement, we all feel it. We must be careful to remember our mental health during this time, especially as we are physically separated. The team at the Richland County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board sends along some important resources for you and your employees.

A one-page sheet of Richland County Resources

COVID-19 Mental Health Considerations

Talking to kids about the Coronavirus

How to Manage Anxiety & Stress

SBA Disaster Lending

We’ve been getting lots of questions about the SBA Disaster Lending program. I have several updates on this today. In case you haven’t heard it, the State has filed the package with the SBA. While you’re waiting on the declaration, you should start working on gathering the information needed.

Barrett Thomas has compiled some great information below for people. This slide deck is the most complete and most official document describing the SBA disaster loans called Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) that will soon be available to Ohio businesses. This document covers what businesses and non-profits are eligible, valid uses of funds, how to apply, what the application entails and how to apply. The worksheet is still good to help you start thinking through what you might ask for.

Geographic eligibility: Your business must have a physical location in a disaster affected area. That will come as a declaration for the whole state of Ohio, which we expect on 3/19/2020. You may not apply prior to that time. You can check the status of Ohio’s eligibility by searching Ohio on this link https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/Index

Applying early: Get your application in as early as you are able. To assist with that, please review the slides in the attached deck that refer to the documentation needed to apply. If you’d like to see exactly what data will be required on each document refer to this link https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Information/PaperForms

Getting started on the monthly sales figures, and personal financial statement might be especially helpful.

Apply online! The link above is to the paper forms just so that you can know what information is requested. Your application will be processed much faster online.

Credit: SBA has a credit scoring methodology to help them assess a business’s creditworthiness. This will be a major factor in their decision to lend or not.

Repayment: I’ve been told the main factor in the EIDL decision process will be the ability to repay the loan. This is not grant money and the government needs to be repaid.

Loan Amounts: The actual loan amount you qualify for is something you’ll talk about with an SBA lender, but there is no prepayment fee, and no requirement to take the money you’ve been approved for if you don’t need it. Having said that, attached here is a worksheet that you can use to start approximating numbers.

Patience: I’ve been told applications can take up to a month to process. The only direct lending that the SBA does is this disaster program, so they don’t have a lot of capacity in this area. Additionally, they’ve never had a disaster that impacts the entire country, and nearly every business. They will be inundated with applications (again, apply early). They are looking for internal process changes that will make for a more automatic process, but that is still forthcoming.

Unemployment Resources

From the team at OhioMeansJobs - First, it’s extremely important to note that people need to file for unemployment either online or via phone. There are no in-person applications. To speed up applications, the state has provided a number for mass layoffs. Please see this memo for more info.

We understand there are long waits however, the only way to register is to use the website or phone number at 1-877-644-6562. The web site is: http://unemployment.Ohio.gov or for Hearing Impaired TTY Service dial toll-free: 1-888-642-8203

Individuals can access this contact information 24 hours/7 days a week.

If people have registered for unemployment insurance in the past and have forgotten their PIN number, the number to reset their PIN is 1-866-962-4064, otherwise, they will have to wait on a letter with their new PIN assignment to complete their application.

SharedWork Ohio

SharedWork Ohio is an alternative to layoffs for employers. It allows workers to remain employed and employers to retain their staff during times of reduced business activity. Under a SharedWork Ohio plan, employers reduce hours to avert a layoff.

The participating employee works the reduced hours, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services provides an unemployment insurance benefit proportionate to their reduced hours.

Interested employers should provide the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services with a list of participating employees and specify their normal weekly hours of work, not to exceed 40 hours and not including overtime. Part-time employees may be eligible, but all employees in an affected unit must have their hours reduced by the same reduction percentage. For more information, please visit JFS.Ohio.gov/SharedWorkOhio.

A Plea for Personal Protective Equipment

If you have listened to the State updates, you have heard that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in very short supply. Our local EMA Director, Rick Evans, is sending out a plea to businesses that may have this material to donate to them for first responders on the front lines of this crisis.

That would include things like surgical masks, N95 masks, gloves, gowns, and more. Please call EMA at 419-774-5686 to arrange for pick up or drop off. This is an urgent need to protect our responders. Please help if able.

Update on Our Office Operations

As of Wednesday morning, the Chamber team has moved to 100 percent remote work. But we are still 100 percent here to serve you. Call our office at 419-522-3211 and you can get connected through to us.

To save you from listening to the whole menu each time, here is a cheat sheet of extensions:

Patrick Clinage (Executive Assistant & Sector Coordinator) ext. 101

Jodie Perry (President & CEO) ext. 102

Nikki Lewis (Foundation Manager) ext. 103

Angie Fanello (Marketing & Communications Coordinator) ext. 104

Lisa Duckworth (Program & Events Manager) ext. 105

Ashley Meyer (Member Services Coordinator) ext. 110

Barrett Thomas (Economic Development Director) ext. 111

Clint Knight (Workforce Development Director) ext. 112

SCORE – Ext. 120

Jessica Gribben (Economic Development Liaison – Shelby/Northern Richland Cty) - 419-342-4159

Final Thoughts

“This is the real thing. This is not a drill.” – Dr. Amy Acton, Director, Ohio Department of Health

I’ll be honest with you, those words continue to bounce around my brain. The governor and Dr. Acton have become increasingly frank in their daily updates. I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’ve cried many times over the past few days. We're having many tough conversations, and it weighs heavily on my heart. But I believe them.

It is imperative that we listen and when we have a choice - stay home. I know that is an impossible choice for some people. I know that many of you are on the front lines – in medical, in supply chain, in public safety, in financial services, in essential services, and we are so appreciative of your sacrifice.

Since I closed the other day with a Lord of the Rings quote, let me share another from The Two Towers.

“It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

"But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come, and when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.

"But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back. Only they didn’t, because they were holding on to something…That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”

We are fighting together, and when it’s done, we will rebuild together. Believe.

Onward!