• New in the News


    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.


    Pure Michigan Small Business Relief Initiative 

    The grant application for small businesses to apply will open on December 15, 2020 at 9:00 A.M. ET. Grants will be awarded in the amount of up to $15,000 per eligible business on a "first-in" basis. Grant funds will assist eligible small businesses directly impacted by COVID-19 meet urgent working capital needs including payroll expenses, rent or mortgage payments and utility expenses in the following industries:

    • Restaurants, bars and other food and beverage service providers
    • Travel and tourism destinations including lodging providers and hospitality businesses
    • Live event venues and movie theaters
    • Conference and meeting facilities
    • Ice skating rinks, indoor water parks and bowling centers
    • Gyms, fitness centers and indoor recreation facilities


    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.

    ​MDDHS Extends Epidemic Order 12 Days to Ensure COVID-19 Surge is Stabilizing 

    The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has extended by 12 days the epidemic order that restricts indoor social gatherings and other group activities. The additional 12 days will allow the department to determine the full impact of the Thanksgiving holiday on the spread of COVID-19 across Michigan.

    MDHHS continues to urge families to avoid indoor gatherings, and only two households may gather inside, with strict protocols recommended. Individuals should wear masks consistently whenever they are inside with individuals not in their household, and are recommended to pick only a small group to see regularly. Bars and restaurants must remain closed for dine-in service, but can remain open for outdoor dining, carry-out and delivery. Gyms are open for individual exercise with mandatory masking and additional strict safety measures. Casinos, movie theaters and group exercise classes remain closed. Professional and college sports meeting extraordinary standards for risk mitigation may continue without spectators. Colleges, universities and high schools will continue with remote learning, with no in-person classes.

    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.

    MDHHS Issues Three-Week Epidemic Order to Save Lives, Protect Frontline Heroes During Fall COVID-19 Surge (11-15-20)

    Governor Whitmer issued new restrictions, effective Wednesday, November 18, 2020. These rules are expected to remain in effect until December 8, 2020.

    ·     Dine-in service at bars and restaurants is prohibited (outdoor dining is allowed).

    ·     Retail store capacity is capped at 30%.

    ·     In-person work is only allowed when doing that work remotely is not possible.

    ·     Theaters, movie theaters, stadiums, arcades, bowling centers, ice skating rinks and indoor water parks must close.

    ·     Group fitness classes are prohibited.

    ·     Indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people, but only two households are permitted to gather.

    ·     Outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people.

    ·     Funerals are limited to 25 people.

    ·     High schools, colleges and universities must move to distance learning; school sports are suspended.

    Pause to Save Lives Infographic (11-15-20)


    Michigan Department of Health & Human Services Covid-19 Epidemic Order Update Oct. 29

    Oct. 29 Epidemic Order Infographic

    Oct. 29 Epidemic Order Fact Sheet

    Oct. 29 Epidemic Order Social Gathering Guidance


    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


    Michigan Chamber Pre-recorded Webinar: "Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness" https://webinars.michamber.com/products/paycheck-protection-program-loan-forgiveness?_zs=IRbOb1&_zl=9hQ97

    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.