Your Chamber at Work - March 23, 2020
Mar 23, 2020
FROM THE KC CHAMBER'S PRESIDENT AND CEO
Stay home KC!
By now you’ve heard that the Core 4 governments of Kansas City, Missouri; the United Government of Kansas City,Kansas/Wyandotte County; Johnson County; and Jackson County have issued orders to shelter-in-place. We applaud this coordinated regional approach – it’s critical for our collective health and safety. It will, as The Kansas City Star editorialized, save lives. It will also benefit our local hospitals which are already reporting short supplies of testing supplies and protective equipment for their employees.
We’ll still be able to go to the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the doctor’s office. For details, here are the links to information from KCMO, KCK/Wyandotte County, Jackson County, and Johnson County.
These are difficult and strange times for all of us, but I’ve been heartened by the many expressions of the “Kansas City Spirit” that I’ve seen – from the customer-led cheers for the checkers at the grocery store to the many ways our businesses and residents are responding to help flatten the coronavirus curve.
It seems to me that, at least for the next week or so, we’re in a sprint – responding to the sudden urgency of the crisis we face. I think we’ll soon move into a marathon – the routines we’re developing now will be with us for awhile.
It’s definitely not business as usual, but, like you, we at the Chamber are adapting to this new reality. (Thank heaven for technology!) We’re trying to address urgent needs while making sure we’re a resource for you for the long term. We’re converting those events we can into virtual sessions; organizing webinars on all sorts of helpful subjects; and working with our local, state, and federal elected officials and agencies to address needed health and economic efforts.
The Chamber is working with the Civic Council and Kansas City Area Development Council as we all confront this unprecedented situation. Together, we sent a letter last Friday to Missouri Governor Mike Parson telling him about the need for statewide social distancing and asking him to take the steps necessary to flatten the curve. Our three organizations, along with economic officials from Kansas and Missouri, have also developed and sent a survey to our members regarding the impact of the coronavirus on their companies. It was sent to the primary contact at each company. To respond, click here.
I’ve always been taught to look for the good in any situation. Though it’s not always easy, I will say what a pleasure it’s been to sit down nightly for dinner with my two teenage boys. That’s not happened in a long while!
Finally, please know that the KC Chamber is here for you. We’re ready to help in whatever way we can – just reach out.
Thanks and be well.
COVID-19 RELIEF MEASURES & ADVOCACY UPDATE
The KC Chamber policy team has been in close contact with local, state and federal policymakers to stay on top of available relief measures for our businesses and citizens and keep them updated on greater Kansas City needs and challenges during this evolving health and economic crisis. Below is a brief summary of business assistance opportunities and chamber advocacy measures relative to the coronavirus crisis.
SBA Disaster Loans: Saturday the states of Missouri and Kansas were granted eligibility by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to allow small businesses and nonprofits in the states to apply for low-interest disaster loans for working capital. These loans, known as Economic Injury Disaster Loans, offer up to $2 million in relief to help pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other bills that small operations are struggling to pay because of COVID-19. For information on the loans and where to apply for aid online, please visit this page on the SBA’s website.
Kansas Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency Fund: Last Friday Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced the establishment of the of the Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency (HIRE) Fund to assist hospitality businesses seeking emergency loans in response to the economic impact of COVID-19. This program, administered through the Kansas Department of Commerce and NetWork Kansas, offers loans up to $20,000 at 0% interest for a three-year term. Use of the funds includes, but is not limited to commercial loan payments, commercial lease payments, payroll, utility bills, accounts payable, and inventory. For more information, please visit www.kansascommerce.gov/HIREfund or the Chamber’s website here: https://www.kcchamber.com/current-topics/coronavirus-resources
Unemployment Insurance: Kansans and Missourians unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic are eligible for unemployment insurance. Eligibility and rules vary by the state. Unemployed Kansans are eligible for up to 16 weeks. Unemployed Missourians are eligible for up to eight weeks and, with a waiver submitted by their employer, for up to 16 weeks with work search requirements waived during the pandemic. Please use these links to find out more Kansas and Missouri.
Federal Assistance: Since March 6 the US Congress has passed two phases of a multi-pronged approach to provide relief assistance to businesses and individuals economically impacted by the coronavirus. Use this link to see a complete summary of the federal relief packages: https://www.kcchamber.com/current-topics/bizteam-alert-congressional-legislation-031820
These measures include:
- Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020 with $8.3 billion in emergency funds to combat COVID-19 including funding for research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to prevent or treat COVID-19, and support to federal, state, and local public health agencies to respond to the COVID-19, funding for the FDA for countermeasures and vaccines and funds for loan subsidies to help small businesses.
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020 that will provide free COVID-19 testing, expand FMLA to up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave for cases relating to COVID-19, fund grants for states to expand unemployment benefits, virus outbreak, provide funding for food banks and suspend work requirements for recipients of SNAP.
Coronavirus “Phase 3” in Progress: The “Phase 3” economic relief package, estimated to be over $2 trillion, was negotiated throughout the weekend. While the US House bill has not yet passed, there seems to be some bipartisan agreement on the Senate side for a “Phase 3”relief package including: $350B in small business interruption relief with expanded loan forgiveness; $100B to health care and health care infrastructure; $500B to other hard hit industries including $58B to passenger and cargo airlines; among other measures. These numbers and corresponding provisions will change as the House and Senate continue negotiations.
Tax Filing for 2019:
- The Treasury Department is pushing back the tax filing deadline to July 15. If you are able, the IRS asks you to file your tax return by April 15—especially if you’re expecting a refund
- The IRS is deferring IRS payments by $300B for 90 days
- Individuals can defer up to $1M dollars; companies up to $10M
- Taxpayers may still delay tax filings for six months (as normal) by filing an extension
Chamber COVID-19 Advocacy:
As the Chamber continues to advocate on behalf of its members’ and their workforce in this time of crisis. Chamber leadership and staff have been communicating daily with local, state and federal policy makers keeping them apprised of business conditions in the region and tracking their updates on COVID-19 relief assistance and safety measures. Below is a thumbnail summary of some of the advocacy communications the Chamber has been using to keep our members and policymakers up to date.
- Testimony to KCMO City Council 03.18.2020: The Chamber provided this testimony to the Kansas City Missouri City Council members sharing our 2020-21 city budget concerns relative to the evolving health and financial impacts of the coronavirus.
- BizTeam Alert on Congress "Phase 2" Coronavirus Relief Package: We sent this public policy alert last week to members of the KC Chamber BizTeam circle keeping this chamber advocacy group updated on some federal and state business relief opportunities. We will continue to provide these updates as needed. If you would like to be added to the KC BizTeam alert group please contact John Jenks at firstname.lastname@example.org
- COVID-19 Regional Impact Briefing for Missouri & Kansas Legislators: The Chamber policy team last week provided midweek updates on the regional COVID-19 challenges and needs to our local state legislative delegations and legislative leadership in both states. Please use these links to view the communications.
- Federal Request for Health Care Relief: This weekend the Chamber called on Congress to provide immediate assistance to our regional health providers including Federal Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and other safety net providers. This communication was compiled at the request of some of our congressional delegation and with the assistance of several area hospitals and clinics in an effort to keep our full congressional delegation apprised of the critical health and economic situation our health providers are facing.
- SBA Disaster Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19: The Chamber provided a breaking news update to all chamber members as soon as the federal Small Business loan application process became available for businesses of 500 or fewer employees.
- Congressman Cleaver Small Business Disaster Assistance Packet was distributed to all Chamber members late last week.
- Kansas Hospitality Industry Relief Emergency (HIRE) Fund: Notice of the availability of economic relief for businesses in the Kansas hospitality industry was sent to all Kansas Chamber members on Friday.
SUPPORTING LOCAL RESTAURANTS
Restaurants across the Metro are hurting right now as they have closed their dining rooms and figuring out what the next several months look like. Fortunately, you can still support them. If you haven’t seen it yet, CurbsideKC.com is a fantastic resource to help you support these small businesses right now. You can find restaurants across the Metro that are offering delivery and curbside pickup. From Shawnee to the Northland to Downtown KC, many of our Chamber member restaurants are listed here. If you own a restaurant that isn’t listed yet, don’t worry. There’s a place where you can upload your own information. It’s a delicious way to support local businesses.
HELP THE COMMUNITY BLOOD CENTER
Because of COVID-19, hundreds of community blood drives over the next few months have been cancelled. The blood supply is at a critical level and the need is urgent. Although drives have been cancelled, people can still head to any of CBC’s seven donor centers to donate. The CBC is taking steps to minimize exposure to COVID-19. In addition to deep-cleaning the facilities, staffers are wearing gloves for all donations. They are also asking donors to self-screen before coming in to donate. Please do not present to donate if you have:
- a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing)
- had close contact with someone diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 in the last 14 days
- been diagnosed with or suspected of having COVID-19 until 28 days after your illness has resolved
The CBC provides blood supplies for 90% of our area hospitals across both sides of the state line. You can schedule an appointment here or call (816) 753-4040.
SESAME STREET IN COMMUNITIES: CARING FOR EACH OTHER
One of the most trusted names in early childhood has a new tool to help parents and caregivers. Sesame Street in Communities (SSIC) is launching the Caring for Each Other initiative – a long term commitment to supporting families during the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. You can visit SesameStreet.org/caring for resources designed to help parents and caregivers provide comfort, manage anxiety, and foster learning at home – including virtual and printable activities. SSIC will continue to release new content on this page over the next few weeks focusing healthy habits, dealing with health emergencies, different ways to say hello, and more. The KC Chamber is proud to be a partner with SSIC as we work to advocate for our youngest Kansas Citians and teach them resiliency during difficult times.