Dear Chamber Members,
Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your Greater Sumter Chamber Team includes: Governor McMaster Announces “Accelerate SC” Task Force, US Senate Close To Deal on Additional PPP Funding, ICYMI: Call with US Senator Lindsey Graham Recap, Virtual Business after Hours
Accelerate SC Task Force: In a press conference this afternoon, Governor McMaster announced the formation and membership of the economic revitalization task force called “Accelerate SC.” Revised estimates now predict that the peak of new COVID-19 cases in South Carolina was on April 15 and the peak in deaths was April 9. The Accelerate SC task force will develop a plan to move South Carolina toward a phased-in revitalization path as healthcare data indicates it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Accelerate SC includes representatives from various business and industry sectors. For a full list of members, click here. The plan will consist of five categories: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information. The group’s first meeting will be on Thursday of this week – details TBD.
New Executive Order: Governor McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-28, which reopens public beaches and waterways effective Today, April 21st at 12:00 pm, allowing local governments to decide whether to close beaches within their jurisdictions. The order also reopens certain retail stores, effective Monday at 5 pm, including:
- Furniture and home-furnishings stores
- Clothing, shoe, and clothing-accessory stores
- Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores
- Department stores, with the exception of hardware and home-improvement stores
- Sporting goods stores
- Book, craft, and music stores
- Flea markets
- Florists and flower stores
*All stores are required to (1) limit occupancy to five customers per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20 percent occupancy, whichever is less; (2) ensure customers are not congregating within six feet of one another, and (3) implement all reasonable steps to comply with CDC and DHEC sanitation guidelines.
US Senate Democrats and Republicans are close to a deal on the details of additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The package, expected to be passed tomorrow in the Senate by unanimous consent, will likely allocate over $400 billion total including funding for:
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)
- Hospital assistance
- COVID-19 testing
The US House could also take a vote on the package as soon as Wednesday of this week but are expected to come back to Washington for an in-person vote.
To Recap: The PPP was originally passed as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Response, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The program went into effect on April 3rd and authorized up to $349 billion for job retention and certain other expenses at businesses employing less than 500 people. Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards for low-interest loans up to a maximum of $10 million. Part of the loan may be forgiven and not counted as income, as long as the money is spent on certain operating expenses the first eight weeks after the loan originated. The original funds were fully allocated by April 16th.
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently released updated loan approval numbers through 12:00 pm on April 16th.
- Approval of 1,661,367 loans
- Approval of $342.3 billion in loans (does not reflect the amount required for reimbursement to lenders per statute within the CARES Act.
- 4,975 lenders have processed approved loans
- Overall average loan size is $206,000
- Top five sectors receiving loans:
- Construction (13.12%)
- Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (12.65%)
- Manufacturing (11.96%)
- Health Care and Social Assistance (11.65%)
- Accommodation and Food Services (8.91%)
In South Carolina:
- Approval of 22,933 loans have been approved
- Approval of $3.81 billion in loans
The Greater Sumter Chamber Team will continue to monitor developments at the federal level and to work with the SBA’s South Carolina District Office and the SC Bankers Association in order to assist members and provide up-to-date information about the evolution of the PPP.
Yesterday, there were nearly 400 people who tuned in the our Zoom call with US Senator Lindsey Graham facilitated by the SC Chamber of Commerce. Senator Graham, the Senior US Senator for South Carolina, was integral in the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the most significant relief package in American history, designed to help businesses and the economy during this time of crisis.
Key points from the call include:
- Hopefully, by summer the country will be entering Phase 2 (Mitigation) of the President’s reopening plan
- Senator Graham’s hope is that they can continue to fund the PPP program if our small businesses remain under restrictions (such as dine-in eating)
- Changes he is pushing for in PPP include directing the money down to the main street level, rather than it going to large franchises.
- Foreign-owned companies DO qualify for PPP – any business who receives conflicting guidance is encouraged to contact the SC Chamber and we will connect them with Senator Graham’s office to get the issue cleared up.
- One of Senator Graham’s main goals is to eliminate the possibility that individuals receive more per week on employment than they would have at their job – he says the additional $600 per week on top of $327 max in SC has led employees to choose unemployment over remaining on the payroll of their employer
- Drug therapy is going to be the key to actually beating COVID-19 – we need both COVID-19 tests and antibody tests as well as a vaccine before we can actually say we’ve conquered it.
4. Virtual Business after Hours
Last Thursday the Chamber hosted a virtual business after hours where several issues were discussed, to include how this pandemic is effecting their business and what the Chamber can do to help with recovery. The Chamber decided to host this each Thursday until our community has recovered. Register here for this week’s program where the topic of discussion will be “Re-opening Sumter”.
These and other resources for businesses are available on our website here.
As always, we will keep you up-to-date on any further information as it becomes available. Please feel free to reach out to us here with questions.
Have a great day,
Chris Hardy, CCE, IOM
President & CEO