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    Governor Whitmer Announces Michigan Economic Jumpstart Plan

    Governor Gretchen Whitmer unveiled the Michigan Economic Jumpstart Plan which would allocate a portion of the federal relief funding to support and invest in working people and small businesses in Michigan. Under the governor’s plan, the state will increase incentives to boost wages to attract applicants, provide grants to small businesses to ramp up hiring, and expand access to childcare for families with young children who want to return to work but cannot.


    June 1, 2021 Gatherings and Face Mask Order

    FAQs for the June 1, 2021 Gatherings and Face Mask Order


    Fully vaccinated Michiganders are no longer required to wear masks starting Saturday 5/15/21

    Fully vaccinated Michiganders are no longer required to wear a mask or face covering indoors or outdoors, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced May 14, 2021.The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its mask order to align with the new guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s latest guidance on face coverings. The new order would take effect at 9a.m. Saturday, May 15.

    Under the updated order, state officials said Michiganders who are outdoors will no longer need to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status. While indoors, fully vaccinated Michiganders will no longer need to wear a mask, but residents who are not vaccinated, or have not completed their vaccinations, must continue to wear a mask or face covering. After July 1, the broad indoor mask mandate will expire.

    Whitmer encouraged Michigan residents to get vaccinated, saying the message is clear.

    "With millions of Michiganders fully vaccinated, we can now safely and confidently take the next step to get back to normal. The message is clear: vaccines work to protect you and your loved ones. If you have not yet received your vaccine, now is the time to sign up. This pandemic has been one of the toughest challenges of our lifetimes, but we came together as a state to persevere," Whitmer said in a written statement.

    On Thursday, the CDC released updated guidance recommending “fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically distance in any setting, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance.”


    Michigan Hits 55 Percent Vaccination Rate; In-Person Work Allowed to Resume May 24

    Governor Whitmer announced on Tuesday evening that 55 percent of Michiganders had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The announcement marks the first milestone of the Governor’s “Vacc to Normal” plan thereby allowing in-person work to resume across all sectors on May 24.

    April 16, 2021 - Gatherings and Face Mask Order

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services extended its current epidemic order Friday, April 16, 2021.

    In a written statement, health officials said they were also expanding mask requirements to children ages 2 through 4.

    "Michigan continues to implement smart health policies and mitigation measures to fight the spread of COVID-19,” Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director, said. “This includes the requirement to wear a mask while in public and at gatherings, limits on indoor residential social gatherings larger than 15 people with no more than three households, and expanded testing requirements for youth sports.”

    Unemployment Extended Benefits Program Ends April 17

    Due to the state of Michigan’s lower unemployment rate, the U.S. Department of Labor notified the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency to confirm that the state’s Extended Benefits (EB) program will no longer be payable after the week ending April 17, 2021. Extended Benefits are only available when Michigan’s total unemployment rate averages 6.5 percent or higher for three consecutive months. The Agency has begun notifying the 16,000 claimants currently receiving Extended Benefits to ensure they are aware that the week ending April 17, 2021, is the last payable week for these benefits.

    Michigan extends COVID workplace emergency rules that cover remote working, safety protocols

    The emergency rules require employees to work remotely when feasible to reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19 in the workplace.

    In-person work is allowed for jobs that can’t be done otherwise, but remote work is strongly recommended, Michigan officials said.

    Businesses that resume in-person work have to maintain a written COVID-19 preparedness and response plan and provide thorough training to employees. That training must cover workplace infection control practices, how to use personal protection equipment, steps to notify the business about COVID-19 symptoms and how to report unsafe working conditions.

    “It’s important to note that the emergency rules implement workplace safeguards for all Michigan businesses,” MIOSHA Director Bart Pickelman said. “The rules also include requirements for specific industries, including manufacturing, construction, retail, health care, exercise facilities, restaurants and bars.”


    MDHHS Eliminates 10-Day Quarantine Option for ‘Close Contact’

    In a new Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) increased its mandatory quarantine period for individuals exposed to someone with COVID-19. The FAQ specifies that, due to increasing case rates and variant spread in Michigan, MDHHS is reinstating a standard 14-day quarantine for close contacts of COVID-19 cases. This will remove the option of reducing quarantine to 10 days, effective April 5, 2020.

    Shuttered Venue Operators Grant 
    The U.S. Small Business Administration is launching a splash page for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal today in anticipation of opening applications for the much-anticipated critical economic relief program on Thursday, April 8, 2021.
    “Help is here for venue operators hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. The SBA has worked diligently to build the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program from the ground up to assist and address the diverse eligibility requirements of each type of applicant and we will open for applications on April 8,” SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said. “The SBA knows these venues are critical to America's economy and understands how hard they've been impacted, as they were among the first to shutter. This vital economic aid will provide a much-needed lifeline for live venues, museums, movie theatres and many more.”
    Prior to the official SVOG application opening, the SBA will host a national informational webinar to highlight the application process for potential eligible entities from 2:30 to 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Those interested in participating can register here.


    Restaurant Revitalization Fund
     An eligible business may receive a tax-free federal grant equal to the amount of its pandemic-related revenue loss, calculated by subtracting its 2020 gross receipts from its 2019 gross receipts. If the business is not in operation for the entirety of 2019, the total is the difference between 12 times the average monthly gross receipts for 2019 and the average monthly gross receipts in 2020 (or a formula from SBA). If the business is not in operation until 2020, it can receive a grant equal to the amount of “eligible expenses” subtracted by its gross receipts received (or a formula from SBA). If the business is not yet in operation as of the application date, but it has made “eligible expenses,” the grant would be made equal to those expenses (or a formula from SBA)

    Click HERE for more information.


    Latest Resources

    The latest, most reliable and relevant information about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.


    March 2,2021 Gatherings and Facemask Order

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Tuesday that the state is increasing occupancy limits for bars, restaurants, and entertainment and retail venues; and allowing visits to nursing homes, under specific guidelines.

    "Restaurants and bars can open at 50 percent capacity, up from 25%, Whitmer said. Capacities also were increased at retail. casinos, gyms, stadiums and other entertainment and recreational facilities. Capacity limits also were increased for gatherings at home.

    State officials said the new orders also extend the curfew to 11 p.m., starting March 5.

    Capacity Limits Fact Sheet

    Social Gathering Guidance


    March 2, 2021 Requiremenrs for Residential Care Facilities Recession of December 8, 2020 Order

    Visitation Order Special Cases 

    Visitation Order Fact Sheet


    Economic Injury Disaster Loans

    Funds are still available if you apply prior to December 31, 2021 for U.S. Small Business Association Disaster Loans.  The loan amount will be based on your actual economic injury and your company's financial needs, regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.   

    Use of proceeds

    • Working capital and normal expenses
    • Example: Continuation of health care benefits, rent, utilities, and fixed debt payments.



    The Michigan Employment Security Act, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Continued Assistance Act (CAA) require individuals collecting unemployment insurance benefits to be available for suitable work and accept an offer of suitable work. In situations where an employer makes a bona fide offer of work to an employee or to return to their customary employment, the employee may lose unemployment benefits if he or she refuses to return to suitable work without good cause.

    Wages, workplace safety, and other factors are considered in determining whether work is “suitable.” Employers must follow current state and federal requirements and guidance to maintain a safe workplace in general and due to COVID-19 pandemic. This includes adhering to the following Michigan laws:

    • Michigan Stay Home, Stay Safe Orders
    • Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MiOSHA) guidelines
    • Michigan Safe Start Plan

    Suitable Work
    It is not considered suitable work if the employer is unable or unwilling to provide a safe workplace required by current state and federal law and guidance. The burden of proof is on the employer to prove that the workplace is safe and in compliance with appropriate workplace safety laws and guidelines.

    Reporting an Employee Refusing to Return to Work
    Both employers and employees have an obligation to report offers and refusals of suitable work to the UIA. Employees should notify UIA during their biweekly certification if they have refused an offer of work.
    If an employee refuses an offer of suitable work, the employer can notify UIA in one of the following ways:

    1. A new “Return to Work” link will be available in MiWAM to report a claimant’s “Refusal to Return to Work.” Visit www.michigan.gov/uia and log into your MiWAM account.
    2. The new “Report Refusal of Offer to Work/Return to Work” link will also be available at UIA Home Page at www.michigan.gov/uia.

    If you have questions, visit www.michigan.gov/uia for tools and resources. You can also access your MiWAM account to chat with an agent Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Visit our website for hours of operation. TTY service is available at 866-366-0004. You can also contact Customer Service at 1-866-500-0017, Monday through Friday, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.



    Dining During COVID-19

    Feb. 8 Epidemic Order Infographic

    Feb. 1 Indoor Dinging Guidelines Infographic

    Indoor Dining Reopens February 1; Caution and Focus on Enhanced Ventilation Recommended Concessions and personal services also allowed under new MDHHS epidemic order

    Following last week’s announcement about the plan to reopen indoor dining, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) released its next epidemic order, which continues the department’s fact-based approach to reopening activities, and goes into effect on Monday, Feb. 1. The order will allow for indoor dining at restaurants with certain requirements; concessions at casinos, movie theaters and stadiums; personal services requiring mask removal; and non-residential gatherings of up to 10 people from two households. The new order will last until March 29, 2021.


    Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) - Update

    SBA, in consultation with the Treasury Department, has recently released additional PPP guidance and resources:

    1.      Procedural Notice - PPP Borrower Resubmissions of Loan Forgiveness Applications Using Form 3508S, Lender Notice Responsibilities to PPP Borrowers, and Offset of Remittances to Lender for Lender Debts (Released 1/15/21)

    2.      Procedural Notice - Paycheck Protection Program Excess Loan Amount Errors (Released 1/15/21)

    3.      How to Calculate Maximum Loan Amounts for First Draw PPP Loans and What Documentation to Provide – By Business Type (Released 1/17/2021)

    4.      Helpful Reminder for This Round of PPP - Make sure the PPP First Draw Loan number is included in the Second Draw PPP Loan application

    As part of the Second Draw Borrower application, Applicants must enter the SBA loan number of the First Draw PPP loan (i.e. the loan that was originated in 2020). SBA loan numbers have the following format to help borrowers identify the SBA loan number of their first PPP loan: XXXXXXXX-XX (i.e. eight numbers followed by a dash and then two more numbers).  PPP lenders should make SBA loan numbers easily accessible to their borrowers.

    5.      Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans: How to Calculate Revenue Reduction and Maximum Loan Amounts Including What Documentation to Provide (Released 1/19/2021)

    Reminder – First Draw PPP Loans Under Review May Be Delayed Getting Second Draw PPP Loan number.

    As described in SBA’s interim final rule on SBA Loan Review Procedures and Related Borrower and Lender Responsibilities, SBA may review any PPP loan, as the Administrator deems appropriate. If a borrower’s First Draw PPP Loan is under review by SBA and/or information in SBA’s possession indicates that the borrower may have been ineligible for the First Draw PPP Loan it received or for the loan amount it received, the lender will receive notification from SBA when the lender submits an application for a guaranty of a Second Draw PPP Loan and will not receive an SBA loan number until the issue related to the unresolved borrower’s First Draw PPP Loan is resolved. SBA will resolve issues related to unresolved borrowers expeditiously.


    SBA Announces Reopening of PPP for Jan. 11, Outlines New Guidance
    The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will reopen the week of January 11 for new borrowers and January 13 for second draw borrowers. For companies interested in applying for a new PPP loan, we strongly urge you to promptly consult with your financial institution and tax advisor to ensure you have the latest information as elements are still evolving, and are prepared to act as the loan funds become available.
    Key updates to this round of funding include:
    Borrowers can set their loan covered period to be any length between eight and 24 weeks to best meet their needs.
    Loans will cover additional expenses, including operations expenditures, property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures.
    Eligibility is expanded to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, direct marketing organizations, among other types of organizations.
    Greater flexibility for seasonal employees.
    Certain existing PPP borrowers can request to modify their First Draw PPP Loan amount.
    Certain existing PPP borrowers are now eligible to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.
    For more information on SBA’s assistance to small businesses, visit sba.gov/ppp or treasury.gov/cares.


    MDHHS Begins Cautious Re-Opening of High Schools and Indoor Entertainment, Modifying Successful "Pause" (12/18/20)

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its epidemic order today to allow indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked, as this has been scientifically shown to slow the virus. This includes in-person learning at high schools and indoor entertainment venues. Casinos, bowling centers and movie theatres will be allowed to reopen with total capacity capped at 100; food and drink concessions closed; and social distancing requirements in place. The new order is effective Monday, Dec. 21 and will last until Friday, Jan. 15

    December 18 - Gatherings and Face Mask Order


    Special Low Interest Loan Fund

    The pandemic has impacted so many of our local businesses and the Chamber has worked very hard to identify any sources that can provide relief. 
     If you are in need of a special loan to help you get through this challenging time, The Van Buren County Economic Development Corporation and Board of Commissioners have approved 20 Working Capital Loans for small businesses in the amount of $20,000.00 with an Interest Rate of 2.00% (Interest Only in Year One).  The term of the loan is 5 years and there are no application or early pay-off fees.  The only requirement is that you retain one full-time or 40-hour part-time equivalent job(s).  To apply Contact Zach Morris for more details:

    SBDC Michigan- Keeping Your Business Strong

    Small businesses in Michigan have been hit hard by COVID-19. The Michigan SBDC is here to help. NEW SERVICES have been added during this time to support your business. Whether you are implementing new processes or pivoting your strategy, you don’t have to face it alone. Contact the SBDC at Western Michigan University to learn how to apply for these no cost services — 269-387-6004 or email: sbdc-kzoo@wmich.edu* *There are a limited number of packages available for some services. Requests are on a first come, first serve basis. Limit one service per SBDC client. 

    Schedule a FREE Workplace COVID-19 Safety Consultation 

    Businesses across the state can now schedule free COVID-19 safety consultations as a part of the new Ambassador program partnership with NSF International and MIOSHA. Ambassadors are conducting outreach to statewide businesses to offer education and support to implement regulations on workplace safety.


    MIOSHA Issues New FAQ Allowing Shortened Quarantine Period Aligned With New CDC Guidelines

    December 8, 2020 -Over the last few days, many Michigan Chamber members have questioned whether they can follow the new CDC guidelines that allow for a shortened quarantine period for COVID-19 if no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.  The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MISOHA) issued a frequently asked question (FAQ) document today on the topic.

    CDC Announces Alternatives to 14-Day Quarantine Period

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday announced alternatives to its two-week recommended quarantine for people who have been exposed to COVID-19.


    SBA Provides Simplified Process for PPP Forgiveness for Loans $50,000 or Less The U.S. Small Business Administration released a simplified loan forgiveness application for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans of $50,000 or less. This action streamlines the PPP forgiveness process to provide financial and administrative relief to the more than 100,000 small businesses here in Michigan that have received PPP loans to date. Borrowers with loans of $50,000 or less are also now exempt from reductions in loan forgiveness amounts based on reductions in full-time equivalent (FTE) employees or in salaries or wages. Information on new instructions for PPP borrowers of $50,000 or less can be found here, with the new, simpler form for PPP forgiveness available here.

    Supreme Court Denies Whitmer’s Request to Extend Pandemic Related Executive Orders

    State Issues Additional Order Related to Masks, Gatherings, Occupancy

    EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-176: Safe Start - Rescission of Executive Orders 2020-160 and 2020-162

    Public Guidance for Contact Sports

    EXECUTIVE DIRECTIVE 2020-08:  COVID-19 and enforcement by state departments and agencies


    Michigan Supreme Court Issues Decision On Whitmer’s Emergency Powers

    Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision late Friday finding Governor Whitmer lacks the power to issue executive orders in response to the COVID-19 without consent from the Legislature.

    At this point, there are more questions than answers as it relates to the Supreme Court’s decision. Although the Attorney General announced Sunday that she will not enforce any of the Governor’s COVID-19 Executive Orders, this doesn't mean all COVID-19 related rules and regulations will remain null and void. We expect this to be sorted through in the coming days and weeks as the Legislature and Governor begin negotiating statutory changes and the Governor pursues different paths for reissuing some of these orders through different channels (e.g., administrative rules and regulations). Read More


    Small Business Association of Michigan Guide: "The Small Business Owner's Guide to Remote Work" https://sbam-impexium.informz.net/sbam-Impexium/data/images/Small%20Business%20Owner's%20Guide%20to%20Remote%20Work.pdf

    Michigan.gov Futures for Frontliners Free Tuition Program for Essential Workers https://www.michigan.gov/frontliners/

    Michigan Small Business Restart Program
    In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, the State of Michigan has allocated $100 million of CARES Act funding to implement the Michigan Small Business Restart Program to support the needs of Michigan Businesses directly impacted by COVID-19.

    Small Business Administration Announces New Application Deadline for Paycheck Protection Program
    If you missed the initial round of PPP funding, there is still an opportunity for your business. The new deadline to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program loan is August 8, 2020. Details regarding the loan are included below and additional information can be found (here).

    $15 Million in Agricultural Safety Grants Provide Critical Relief to Michigan’s Farms and Food Processors
    In response to the economic impact of COVID-19, the State of Michigan has appropriated $15 million of federal CARES Act funding through PA 123 to implement the Michigan Agricultural Safety Grant Program. These grants will provide critical funding to Michigan’s agricultural processors and farms to mitigate risks of the COVID-19 virus across the state’s food production industry. A total of $10 million in grants will be available to processors statewide, with $5 million going to farms statewide. Applications will go live beginning July 15, 2020 with funding awarded on a first come, first serve basis to eligible applicants.

    Resuming Business Toolkit
    The Resuming Business Toolkit is designed to assist employers in slowing the spread of COVID-19 [1] and lowering the impact in their workplace when reintegrating employees into non-healthcare business settings. Not sure whether you’re ready to resume business? Use CDC’s decision tools [2-3] as a start.

    Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act
    On June 3, the Senate passed the House version of the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, which will:
    Give businesses 24 weeks to spend their PPP loan proceeds instead of 8 weeks.
    Require that only 60% of proceeds be spent on payroll expenses, versus the previous 75% constraint. 
    Extend the deadline that businesses must rehire workers, from June 30 to December 31.
    Provide a loan repayment term of five years instead of two years for any loan dollars not forgiven.
    Allow borrowers to defer the employer share of Social Security taxes (6.2%), regardless of whether the borrower receives forgiveness or not. 50% of deferred Social Security tax would be due in 2021, with the other 50% due in 2022.

    Congress Agrees On Favorable Changes To Paycheck Protection Loans: What Does It Mean For Borrowers?
    The Senate unanimously approved H.R. 7010, a bill that will dramatically alter several critical terms of the recently-enacted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The bill, which passed the House last week and now heads to the President’s desk for signature, will provide much needed relief for borrowers as they seek forgiveness of their loan amounts.

    Solicitation of Services
    The Michigan SBDC, through U.S. SBA CARES Act funding, is requesting proposals from service providers to perform activities to address the needs of small businesses impacted by COVID-19

    Four Steps to Sustain Your Restaurant During COVID-19
    Right now, there are relief programs being launched daily to help small businesses like yours recover from the pandemic disaster. Explore the options, but do not make any reactive decisions. Take some time to assess your situation and try to find the best course of action.

    New online dashboard provides COVID-19 risk and trend data, helps inform MI Safe Start plan 
    A new, online dashboard launched today that visually illustrates COVID-19 risks and trends in Michigan, providing residents with important information about the pandemic status where they live and work.

    Statewide Platform to Connect Michigan Employers with PPE Producers, Suppliers as Non-essential Businesses Begin to Re-open 
    With efforts to re-engage Michigan’s economy underway through recent executive orders signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Pure Michigan Business Connect program through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation has developed a portal specifically designed to support the personal protective equipment (PPE) needs of Michigan businesses as they start the process of re-opening.

    COVID-19 Workplace Checklist
    Van Buren and Cass County businesses and entities may need this guidance to reopen or expand current services. Under the recent guidance, Van Buren/Cass District Health Department strongly encourages these businesses and entities to take the following actions to ensure the safety of employees and customers. This guidance covers universal screening, social distancing practices, and what to do if an employee tests positive. This is basic guidance. The Governor’s Office along with the Michigan Economic Recovery Council (MERC) may provide additional, more detailed and industry-specific guidance on reopening.

    Guidance For Businesses Reopening
    As the curve continues to flatten and many businesses reopen their doors, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) within the Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) issued workplace guidelines for employers and employees and created a new hotline, 855-SAFEC19 (855-723-3219), to answer guideline questions and further protect Michigan’s workforce from the spread of COVID-19.

    MI Safe Start Plan
    Outlines how we will begin to re-engage while continuing to keep our communities safe. Re-engagement will happen in phases. Those businesses that are necessary to protect and sustain life are already open. As we move into lower-risk phases, additional business categories will re-open and the restrictions on public gatherings and social interactions will ease.

    Expanded Work Share Program Helps Employers Bring Back Workers from Unemployment and Restart Their Operations 
    As Michigan businesses begin to reopen, employers are urged to utilize the State’s Work Share program which helps employers experiencing economic pain due to COVID-19 retain their workforce and bring back employees from lay-off as they restart their businesses.

    MIOSHA: MIWISH Grants Available for Small Employers
    The MIOSHA Workplace Improvement to Safety and Health (MIWISH) Grant Program awards qualifying employers a dollar-for-dollar match – up to $5,000 – to purchase safety and health-related equipment and equipment-related training. The goal of the program is to create a safer and healthier work environment and reduce the risk of injury and illness to workers in Michigan. Complete the MIWISH application at michigan.gov/mioshagrants. If you have any questions regarding the MIWISH grant or application, please contact (517) 284-7811 or Email: BirsenS@michigan.gov.

    Grants to Manufacturers Looking to Retool and Produce Critical Health and Human Service Supplies 
    PMBC COVID-19 Emergency Access and Retooling Grants program will provide a total of $1 million in grants to Michigan small businesses and nonprofits. Immediate funding up to $150,000 will be awarded to qualified manufacturers looking to produce supplies needed in response to COVID-19. If you are producing PPE and want to be listed as a vendor, click here.

    SCORE Remote Mentoring is Available
    Due to the coronavirus outbreak, SCORE mentors will meet with clients remotely. Mentors are available to participate in remote mentoring sessions via phone, email, and video. If you already have a SCORE mentor, ask them if you can use a remote mentoring method for your sessions.

    Free, Confidential Business Advice from Michigan SBDC
    Access small business consulting, training and market research at no-cost through the Michigan SBDC. To get started, please select your county from the list below and follow the prompts to complete the online request for business services.

    There is currently a mandatory update to federal posters in response to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. During the stay at home order, employers should post it in an intranet or email it to all employees. Once the order is lifted it must be posted through December 31.

    Full Toolkit
    The Michigan Chamber continues to update its toolkit with resources for chamber members.