COVID-19 Resources

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber is continuing to monitor information associated with COVID-19 and committed to assisting the business community during this national pandemic. The following list of resources will be continually updated. 




Ohio Response: 

Ohio Department of Health is coordinating the COVID-19 response in conjunction with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state and local offices. The Ohio Department of Health has a call center ready to answer questions about COVID-19, staffed from 9am to 8pm daily: 1-833-4-ASK-ODH



Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services (ODJFS):
SharedWork Ohio is a voluntary layoff aversion program. It allows business owners to cut employee pay between 10 percent and 50 percent and provides a portion of the benefit the employee would receive through unemployment to that employee. This program is designed to allow employers to reduce payroll costs during times of business decline, without having to lay off employees.
Ohio law prohibits individuals from receiving unemployment benefits if they refuse to accept offers of suitable work, or quit work, without good cause. Employers that have workers who refuse to return to their jobs or quit work are asked to let ODJFS know so it can make accurate eligibility determinations. To report these occurrences, please click here.


Assistance:



JobsOhio:

JobsOhio is committed to supporting the well-being of Ohio businesses, especially now as they navigate the changing landscape created by the Coronavirus disease 2019.
This page provides a list of resources for Ohio businesses, and will be continually updated as more resources are made available.


Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation (BWC):


Ohio Department of Transportation:
In an effort to assist in the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Ohio Department of Transportation has approved a special blanket permit for haulers
 carrying heavy or oversized loads of food, non-alcoholic beverages, medical supplies, cleaning products and other household goods.

The federal government has also cut red tape around obtaining or renewing Commercial Drivers' Licenses and other licenses to prevent interruption of essential shipping. The Ohio Department of Public Safety and the Public Utilities Commission have adjusted their enforcement practices to avoid confusion.

Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new permit from the Ohio Department of Transportation, allowing food vendors to temporarily serve food at Ohio's 86 rest areas. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) temporarily lifted regulations prohibiting commercial activity at rest areas, with limited exceptions. The permit is of no cost to the vendor, and can be found on ODOT's website.



Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation:
The Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation has developed a website specifically geared toward matching essential businesses with Ohioans who are able and willing to work as an essential employee during the COVID-19 crisis. Applicants can search through jobs in their area, region and the entire state through two main links: one for essential businesses and one for job seekers.



Self-Employed Workers:
A useful guide for independent contractors or self-employed individuals to help them access assistance under the Federal CARES Act is now available. This includes loans through the Paycheck Protection Program and the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, as well as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The guide was published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Additional Loans for Ohio Small Businesses:
JobsOhio, Peoples Bank (headquartered in Marietta) and the recently-merged First Federal Bank and Home Savings Bank (headquartered in Defiance and Youngstown) announced a new partnership to support those banks' existing small business clients in Ohio. The application is available here.

The partnership will help small businesses maintain operations and payroll during the COVID-19 pandemic. JobsOhio has committed up to $50 million to assist Peoples Bank and First Federal Home Savings Bank.

"This assistance bolsters each bank's ability to provide additional financing on favorable terms for local businesses in good standing that would otherwise not be able to access this credit due to the COVID-19 crisis," said Gov. Mike DeWine. "I thank these Ohio banks and JobsOhio for their partnership, which will get much-needed capital in the hands of small businesses that are so critical to Ohio's economy."

Only businesses with existing relationships with these banks are eligible. That includes businesses whose owners have a personal banking relationship. Eligible businesses can use the loans for working capital, including payroll, rent, mortgages or other fixed debts, utilities and other bills.


Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services:
The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services announced the launch of a new mental health COVID CareLine for Ohioans. Trained staff will be available to provide emotional assistance to anyone struggling with mental health concerns due to the ongoing stress of the pandemic. The number to call is 800-720-9616. All calls will be confidential.

Meanwhile, the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board has coordinated with several agencies to provide assistance.


Responsible RestartOhio Plan:
Additional information:

The general safe business practices that all businesses must follow as they reopen are:
  • Requiring face coverings for all employees, and recommending them for clients and customers at all times;
  • Conducting daily health assessments or self-evaluations of employees to determine if they should work;
  • Maintaining good hygiene at all times, such as hand washing and social distancing;
  • Cleaning and sanitizing workplaces throughout the day and at the close of business or between shifts; and
  • Limiting capacity to meet social distancing guidelines.


Ohio Grants:
DeWine announced that nearly $16 million in grant funding is available for local law enforcement agencies, probation and parole offices, local courts, victim service providers and adult, juvenile and community corrections agencies. This funding was awarded to the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) as part of the CARES Act. OCJS will accept applications on a continual basis while funding is available. More information is available here.



Legal Protection for Ohio Businesses:
The Regional Chamber threw its support behind two bills pending in the Ohio General Assembly that would help businesses as they reopen. House Bill 606 and Senate Bill 308 would provide businesses with legal protection from Coronavirus-related lawsuits. Both bills will have their second hearings this week.


National Response: 

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Most current updated information can be found at the CDC Coronavirus (COVID-19) page. The page offers guidance for the public on how to protect yourself, what you can do if you think you are sick and what you need to know.
The CDC recently issued a recommendation that citizens wear face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.



U.S. Department of Labor:
The Department of Labor is providing ongoing guidance to employers on how this emergency affects both the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will help the U.S. combat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The Department of Labor has released the following information about FFCRA:


The Department of Labor is requiring all employers to make the Employee Rights poster, which provides information about paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA, visible to its employees.

 

Occupational Safety and Health Administration:
This page offers information for workers and employers on prevention and safety in the workplace.
 

Internal Revenue Service (IRS):
The IRS has a page for taxpayers impacted by the Coronavirus.

 

U.S. Department of Treasury: 


Federal Communications Commission (FCC):

Scammers are constantly adapting and the recent COVID-19 emergency is no exception. The FCC has learned of a number of ways fraudsters are seeking to take advantage of consumers and has worked to develop a COVID-19 scams page. This page will be continually updated and includes tips to assist consumers with protecting themselves and their loved ones. 

With so many companies instituting work-from-home policies for their employees, this FCC page with links on optimizing home broadband connection is seeing increased use and importance.



Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):
In order to increase cash flow to providers of services and suppliers impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has
expanded its current Accelerated and Advance Payment Program to a broader group of Medicare Part A and Part B suppliers.

For businesses that receive Medicaid reimbursements, there is an updated FAQ document that is now available.



Coronavirus Emergency Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARE) Act allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn.


The CARES Act resulted in changes to Department of Labor paid leave provisions. The major change is to allow particularly vulnerable people to claim leave without illness.
The prepublished draft for the federal register is available here.

According to an article published in the CFO Dive newsletter, businesses accepting forgivable loans made available in the CARES Act may lose tax benefits made available in the CARES Act. 

SHARED WORK PROGRAM: The CARES Act contained a provision that allowed 100 percent federal reimbursement of certain state Short Term Compensation (STC) or "shared work" payments. STC is a concept in which employers, in an effort to reduce layoffs, reduce hours for a pool of employees and an STC payment can help keep the employee whole. The DOL issued new guidance. Click here for the news release.





Social Response: 

The following social groups have been created to collaboratively provide information to the community:



Utility and Service Providers: 

Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation:
In an effort to assist those organizations engaged in disaster relief, the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation is currently taking requests through its web portal for projects related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses are encouraged to apply as soon as they have a plan in place to help with food, emergency assistance or other COVID-19 related issues. Please visit the Foundation page to learn more about funding priorities before completing the eligibility quiz. Any non-profit IRS-designated 501(c) organization can apply.


Business Recommendations: 



Industry Association Resources: 



SBA Response & Other Financial Resources: 

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is providing business owners with low-interest working capital loans of up to $2 million for businesses that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) through the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Additional guidance is available for businesses and employers, as well as access to other SBA information and programs.


For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center:
Phone: 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339)
Emaildisastercustomerservice@sba.gov



Local SBA Assistance is available at:
Ohio SBDC at Youngstown State University - Small Business Development Center
One University Plaza, 100 West Wood Street, Youngstown, OH 44403
330-941-2140

SBA Cleveland District Office
1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 211, Cleveland, OH 44115
216-522-4180  //  216-522-2038



The SBA and SBDC also provide a variety of export assistance services and loan programs to companies dealing with trade disruptions caused by COVID-19. For more information, contact Mousa Kassis at 330-941-2145.

The U.S. Senate approved additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), as well as the SBA Economic Disaster Loan Program. Called stimulus "3.5," the House is expected to vote on this on Thursday, April 23. Click here to urge your member of Congress to support this desperately needed funding.

APRIL 24 UPDATE: Now that Congress approved a stimulus recharge, these links are important for small businesses seeking to use the Paycheck Protection Program and the Emergency Injury Disaster Loans. Keep in mind, there is some speculation that the new money will run out almost immediately after it is available.
New Paycheck Protection Program guidance came out on Thursday from the U.S. Treasury Department. 


"EZ" Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Application:
After receiving a letter from numerous business organizations including the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the Small Business Administration (SBA) implemented a streamlined process that will help many Valley businesses.

The SBA recently released a three-page "EZ" Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application requiring less documentation and fewer calculations than previously required. Form 3508EZ applies to borrowers who meet any of these criteria:

  • Applied for the PPP loan as self-employed, an independent contractor or a sole proprietor with no employees.

  • Did not reduce salary or wages for any employee by more than 25 percent and did not reduce the number of hours their employees (excepting laid-off employees who refused an offer to return).

  • Did not reduce salary or wages for any employee by more than 25 percent during the covered period and experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19.

The instructions and sign-on letter can be found here.



Local Banking Resources:
The DeWine-Husted Administration has worked with representatives from Ohio's banking community. These companies recognize the hardships that many Ohioans are facing, and they have committed to working through creative ways to help. Ohioans can be confident that banks, both big and small, will be there for them as we move through the crisis and are offering a number of measures to help customers.

  • Banks and credit unions across the state are taking steps to offer loan payment deferrals, fee waivers or refunds and extend credit lines to both businesses and individuals. Many banks are also suspending foreclosures where possible. Recent federal guidelines give financial institutions more tools to help Ohioans and the banking industry has welcomed these changes.

  • Banks are also showing customers how to protect themselves from Coronavirus-related scams and are encouraging Ohioans to use digital banking features like mobile apps, online banking or banking by phone. If you need help, please reach out to your bank for assistance.

  • Learn more at ohiobankersleague.com and ohiocreditunion.org.



Export Import Bank of the United States:
The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) is announcing relief provisions for exporters and financial institutions located throughout the United States that may have been affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus). EXIM is offering the relief measures, including waivers, deadline extensions, streamlined processing and flexibility, to customers for an initial period of 30 days (with the possibility of a further extension of the period, at EXIM's discretion) to enable businesses and financial institutions that participate in our programs to return to their business concerns and EXIM-related obligations at an appropriate time without penalty.


Trumbull County's Revolving Loan Fund Program:
The Trumbull County Commissioners offer businesses located within the County, outside the Cities of Warren, Niles and Girard, low-interest financing through Trumbull County's Revolving Loan Fund Program. This unique financing tool offers loans to small businesses operating in Trumbull County that have been negatively affected by the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. 

Retail, commercial and entertainment businesses that rely on customers making purchases at their establishments are especially affected; this program is designed to provide relief to those types of businesses. Businesses must demonstrate hardship caused by the COVID-19 virus outbreak.

The Trumbull County Commissioners' goal is to create access to working capital for COVID-19-impacted businesses. Businesses are eligible to apply for funds which will be used to pay for normal business expenses that have been made more difficult due to declining revenues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses must have a physical location in Trumbull County, outside the Cities of Warren, Niles and Girard and have experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19. Funding is limited and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.



Training/Retraining Options: 

Ohio Technical Centers:
Ohio Technical Centers provide post-secondary career and technical education (CTE) at 54 career centers centers across Ohio. These institutions offer programming in the skill trades (i.e. HVAC, Phlebotomy, Police Training, EMT, etc.) that prepare adult learners for certificates, industry-recognized certifications and state licenses.



Community Colleges:
Ohio's two-year college system is made up of 23 technical and community colleges. These institutions allow students to complete the first two years of a bachelor's degree and/or pursue a technical certificate, Associate degree or microcredential. At an affordable rate, employers can utilize two-year colleges for upskilling and retraining their employees in a variety of skills. Two-year colleges also offer certification prep and customized training in Ohio's most in-demand industries.


Universities:
Ohio is a national leader in postsecondary education with 14 public universities and 51 private colleges and universities. Many universities offer certificate programs that can be completed in less than a year, giving employees the opportunity to upskill in the short-term.
 

Microcredentials:
Microcredentials indicate an understanding or mastery in a specific skill or set of skills. Most microcredentials can be earned online and in a self-paced format. They provide an opportunity for employee development that leads to increased business productivity without the time commitment of other traditional educational programs.


TechCred:
TechCred helps Ohioans learn new skills and helps employers build a stronger workforce with the skills needed in a tech-infused economy. TechCred offers employers up to $2,000 in reimbursement for every technology-focused credential earned by an employee, up to $30,000 per employer per round. Credentials can be offered by a provider of the company's choice and many of these trainings can be completed online.
 


OhioMeansJobs:

OhioMeansJobs centers are located within each of Ohio's counties and assist job seekers, employers and youth with job search assistance, employee recruitment, job training and more. Many of these centers help subsidize the cost of employee training and upskilling through their Incumbent Worker Training and On-The-Job Training programs. Employers can connect with their local OhioMeansJobs center to connect with new talent or learn more about opportunities to upskill their current workforce.

The OhioMeansJobs website provides all Ohioans with access to free online training and assessments, including courses on business and computer topics such as Microsoft and Adobe products. 



LinkedIn Learning:
LinkedIn Learning is an online tool where users can take courses to earn business, creative and tech skills. LinkedIn Learning has over 15,000 expert-led courses and is available for free to any Ohioan with a valid public library card.


eBasedAcademy:
The eBasedAcademy is an online learning platform hosted by OhioMHAS. From behavioral science to the science of addiction, eBasedAcademy offers classes from Ohio's top educators, professors and professionals. Through the eBasedAcademy you can earn Continuing Education Credits in a variety of fields, including psychology, nursing and social work.


Other free online education and training sources:



Pennsylvania Resources: 

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's COVID-19 Business Resources webpage houses a variety of information for companies located in PA.






What You Can Do:

Ohio Department of Health suggests that the best thing you can do in the face of COVID-19 is to take precautions to protect yourself, your family and your community:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; day hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Clean "high-touch" surfaces daily. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, desks, tablets, etc.