*NEWEST INFORMATION WILL BE AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE*
Governor Cuomo today announced Empire State Digital, a new initiative accelerating New York State-based small businesses' ability to grow their online presence through a first-in-the-nation program with leading global e-commerce enablers, including Shopify, Square, Clearbanc, and Etsy. The partners selected by Empire State Development to participate will offer specialized solutions such as education, free resources, marketing support, and discounted pricing that is unique to the needs of New York's small businesses.
Empire State Digital is an invitation for businesses to explore the benefits of expanding beyond physical brick and mortar location to an online marketplace through the program partners.
Partners benefits Include:
- First 90 days free for new brick and mortar merchants registering before November 30, 2020
- Free access to Shopify Point-of Sale (POS) Pro features until October 31, 2020
- Free* contactless payment Shopify Tap & Chip Reader for new POS retailers (*limited supplies)
- $500 in Shopify app store credits for new Shopify POS brick-and-mortar retailers
- 24/7 support, including access to online educational resources and possible eligibility for Shopify Capital
- Educational workshops for small businesses, including restaurants and retailers, interested in going online and dedicated office hours in English and Spanish
- Build a free website with Square Online
- Free processing on up to $1,000 in credit card transactions for the first 180 days after joining Square
- Educational content on improving the financial health of your business
- Discounted rates on funding
- Free company valuation and track growth week-over-week
- Educational content on how to start a successful online business
- Free listing credits for new sellers
Details on the program can be found at Empire State Digital's website which includes additional services available to small businesses from Empire State Development's statewide resource partners, including hands-on assistance, training and counseling.
On Oct. 1, 2020, New York launched COVID Alert NY – the official Exposure Notification App created by the New York State Department of Health in partnership with Google and Apple. Now you can use your phone in the fight against COVID-19 and get exposure alerts, without compromising your privacy or personal information.
What is COVID Alert NY?
COVID Alert NY is New York State’s official Exposure Notification App. This is a free smartphone app for anyone 18+ that lives and/or works in New York available for download in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store starting October 1st. The COVID Alert NY app notifies users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Upon receiving an exposure notification, the app will encourage users to contact their physician or the State Health Department hotline (1-833-227-5045) to get more information about quarantining and testing.
Anyone who downloads the app does not have to worry about being tracked, identified or having their personal information shared. The app is completely anonymous and does not track your location or movement. No personal data is collected. COVID Alert NY uses Bluetooth proximity-enabled exposure notification technology provided by Apple and Google which is safe and secure.
What can you do?
The COVID Alert NY app puts the power in the hands of New Yorkers to protect their neighbors, friends, family and community at large. Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19. The more New Yorkers using the COVID Alert NY app, the more effective it will be as a tool to fight against COVID-19.
On 9/24/2020, Empire State Development (ESD) announced that Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) recipients are now eligible to receive low-interest loans from the New York Forward Loan Fund (NYFLF). This conditional change will provide the Fund's network of lenders and financial institutions with greater flexibility and enable them to provide more small businesses with working capital to cover expenses associated with reopening. This change makes additional resources available to small businesses who received $50,000 or less in PPP assistance. Small businesses who did not receive any federal assistance are still eligible and encouraged to apply as well.
Eligible small businesses and small residential landlords can apply for a 60-month, no-fee loan with a 3% fixed interest rate. Eligible non-profits can apply for a 60-month, no-fee loan at 2% fixed interest. The maximum loan amount is $100,000. Loan funds can be used for working capital including payroll, operating and emergency maintenance, property taxes, utilities and costs associated with refitting physical space to follow social distancing guidelines. More information is available online at nyloanfund.com.
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today, 9/14/20, announced $88.6 million in federal CARES Act funding is available to assist child care providers through NY Forward grants as they adjust their programs amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is in addition to $30 million made available in the spring and $48.3 million recently awarded to assist child care providers with reopening or restructuring their physical plans to meet new social distancing requirements. The $88.6 million in grant funds will be used as follows:
Twenty million will support child care scholarships for children of essential workers. Essential workers include first responders such as health care providers, pharmaceutical staff, law enforcement, firefighters, food delivery workers, grocery store employees and others who are needed to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Child care costs will be covered for families of essential workers whose income is less than 300 percent of the federal poverty level - or $78,600 for a family of four - and will be paid up to market rate for each region statewide. The funding will support 5,400 children in child care for 14 weeks.
Another $20 million is being made available for rental assistance for school-based child care programs that have been displaced by the pandemic. It will support 2,300 school-age child care programs with $2,000 in monthly rental assistance for four months. Programs may also use the funding for transporting children to the new location.
Twenty million would support grants for closed child care programs to reopen or restructure under new guidelines for social distancing. This may cover partitions, short-term rental space, supplies or broadband access.
The remaining $28.6 million will provide grants for child care providers to pay for half of the cost (up to $6,000) to open a new classroom. Temporary funds would be phased out in the second and third months as parents enroll more children in child care.
Child care providers may apply for the funding at https://ocfs.ny.gov/programs/childcare/. Applications will be posted later this month and will be accepted on a rolling basis until December 31, 2020.
August 4, 2020 - Today the Governor announced that Rhode Island has been added to the 14-day travel quarantine list and that Delaware and Washington DC have been removed from the list. The full, updated travel advisory list is below:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
The travel advisory quarantine applies to any person that arrives from a state with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day rolling average or a state with a 10% or higher positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average.
People caught violating the advisory risk civil penalties ranging from $2,000 to $10,000, Gov. Cuomo said last month.
There are exceptions to the travel advisory for essential businesses. Guidance on travel to these states for essential employees can be found at https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.
GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES MORE THAN $2.3 MILLION AWARDED THROUGH NEW YORK FORWARD LOAN FUND
Program Offers Funding to Businesses, Non-Profits and Landlords That Did Not Receive Federal COVID-19 Assistance
Applications Still Being Accepted at nyloanfund.com
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that more than $2.3 million has been awarded to support 61 businesses and residential landlords with COVID-19 related costs and expenses through the New York Forward Loan Fund. Applications are still being accepted and businesses from qualifying industries, including agriculture, construction, food services, retail, education services, manufacturing and transportation, are encouraged to apply.
"The pandemic's impact on small businesses was especially damaging and we're not going to leave them behind - they are the backbone of New York's economy and central to our recovery." Governor Cuomo said. "The New York Forward Loan Fund is providing critical assistance to alleviate lost revenue and offset reopening-related expenses, getting these businesses back on their feet and contributing to New Yorkers' efforts to build back our state and local economies even stronger than before."
The New York Forward Loan Fund was created to provide working capital loans to small businesses—focusing on MWBEs—small residential landlords and non-profit organizations that did not receive funding from the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The fund continues to accept and process applications; to date, more than 9,300 eligible applications have been received.
Eligible small businesses and small residential landlords can apply for a 60-month, no-fee loan with a 3% fixed interest rate; while eligible non-profits can apply for a 60-month, no-fee loan at 2% fixed interest. The maximum loan amount is $100,000. Loan funds can be used for working capital including payroll, operating and emergency maintenance, property taxes, utilities and costs associated with refitting physical space to follow social distancing guidelines. More information is available online at nyloanfund.com.
Seven banks have pledged support for the New York Forward Loan Fund: Apple Bank, BNB Bank, Evans Bank, HSBC, M&T Bank, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo. Additionally, the fund has received philanthropic commitments from the BlackRock Charitable Fund, Citi Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The New York Forward Loan Fund was established with support from Calvert Impact Capital. The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) is administering the fund, and Connect2Capital is hosting applications.
The Department of Health has issued an emergency rule, which was effective as of July 9, addressing the enforcement of social distancing measures. The rule imposes requirements on businesses, employees, and customers regarding the wearing of face coverings:
- Any person who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or face-covering.
- Any employee who is present in the workplace will be provided and shall wear a mask or face covering when in direct contact with customers or members of the public, or when unable to maintain social distance. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees.
- Business operators and building owners and those authorized on their behalf must deny admittance to any person who fails to comply with this section and must require or compel such persons’ removal.
The entire emergency rule can be viewed here Version OptionsCOVID-19 ResourcesHeadline.
On July 4, 2020, President Trump signed into law an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program. The program was set to expire on June 30, but the law extends it through August 8. Roughly $130 billion is still available to small businesses and non-profits. Visit the Small Business Administration’s web site for more information at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program
The NY Business Council announced that late Friday Governor Cuomo issued an executive order clarifying whether employees quarantined as a result of the travel advisory described below would qualify for NYS emergency paid sick leave. In short, employees who voluntarily travel to any of the states designated as having a COVID-19 infection rate that exceeds the established criteria - who then becomes quarantined by a public health official as a result - would not be eligible for NYS emergency paid sick leave.
The order requires employers to provide advance notice of the travel advisory, the possibility of quarantine, and the potential loss of paid sick leave benefits if an employee were to become quarantined. Employers should provide a general notice to all employees that this type of travel could result in loss of benefits.
A sample notice could read:
To all employees:
By order of the Governor, anyone traveling to a state (after June 25th) with positive test rates higher than 10 per 100,000 residents, or higher than a 10% positive test rate, over a seven day rolling average, and which the commissioner of the department of health has designated as meeting these conditions is required to quarantine for 14 days. On Friday, the Governor issued an Executive Order clarifying that employees who travel voluntarily to any of these states shall not be eligible for benefits under the New York State emergency paid sick leave law. Employees should be aware that voluntary travel to any of these states could result in loss of pay during the required quarantine.
The list of impacted states will be updated frequently and can be found on the Department of Health website.
The Department of Health Guidance provides exemptions for ’essential’ workers, such as anyone employed in an essential business as defined by Empire State Development Corporation. Those employees could avoid quarantine and return to work upon receiving a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of their return to NYS and following established protocols regarding face coverings, social distancing, etc.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, posted a revised, borrower-friendly Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application implementing the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020. In addition to revising the full forgiveness application, SBA also published a new EZ version of the forgiveness application that applies to borrowers that:
- Are self-employed and have no employees; OR
- Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees; OR
- Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19, and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.
The EZ application requires fewer calculations and less documentation for eligible borrowers. Details regarding the applicability of these provisions are available in the instructions to the new EZ application form. Both applications give borrowers the option of using the original 8-week covered period (if their loan was made before June 5, 2020) or an extended 24-week covered period. These changes will result in a more efficient process and make it easier for businesses to realize full forgiveness of their PPP loan.
Congress has passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, which has meaningful impact on the loan forgiveness aspect of the program. If a business originally turned away funds or did not apply for PPP because they did not anticipate meeting the forgiveness requirements, they may now have a better opportunity to apply and take advantage of the program.
Key changes to the program include:
- The forgiveness period is now 24 weeks (originally 8 weeks)
- The minimum amount that must be spent on payroll is now 60% (originally 75%). This means that business owners can spend up to 40% on non-payroll costs, such as rent, utilities and mortgage interest (1% interest on loan amount remaining after forgiveness)
- The loan maturity is now 5 years (originally 2 years)
- The deferral period has been extended so that payments are not required until loan forgiveness has been determined.
Outdoor Dining Guidance
General guidance can be found at https://forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries under “Outdoor and Take-Out/Delivery Food Services.”
Please find the detailed guidance at:
The guidance for Phase II businesses continues to be updated in anticipation of a formal announcement by the state that they can officially reopen.
Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Orders, the following businesses will remain closed during Phase II:
- Malls, specifically, any indoor common portions of retail shopping malls with 100,000 or more square feet of retail space available for lease; however, any stores located within shopping malls, which have their own external entrances open to the public, separate from the general mall entrance (e.g. strip malls), may open;
- Dine-in and on-premise restaurant or bar service, excluding take-out or delivery for off-premise consumption;
- Large gathering/event venues, including but not limited to establishments that host concerts, conferences, or other in-person performances or presentations in front of an in-person audience;
- Gyms, fitness centers, and exercise classes, except for remote or streaming services;
- Video lottery and casino gaming facilities;
- Movie theaters, except drive-ins; and
- Places of public amusement, whether indoors or outdoors, including but not limited to, locations with amusement rides, carnivals, amusement parks, water parks, aquariums, zoos, arcades, fairs, children’s play centers, funplexes, theme parks, bowling alleys, family and children’s attractions.
Specifics guidelines, business plan templates, and attestations for these industries can be found at https://forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries.
Businesses now being allowed to reopen and having posted guidelines include:
- All Office-Based Jobs
- Real Estate Services
- Essential and Phase II Retail - In-Store Shopping
- Vehicle Sales, Leases, and Rentals
- Retail Rental, Repair, and Cleaning
- Commercial Building Management
- Barbershop and Hair Salon Services
Specifics guidelines, business plan templates and attestations for these industries can be found at https://forward.ny.gov/phase-two-industries and should be reviewed and completed prior to reopening your business. This includes the affirmation that you are following the state guidance.
The Finger Lakes Region has now begun to undertake the process of Phase 1 reopening. The recently launched New York Forward website forward.ny.gov is live and provides detailed information and updates on the metrics for reopening as well as business resources and guidance.
Businesses and individuals reopening in Phase 1 must read the State’s detailed industry-specific reopening guidance and provide affirmation of business compliance with those guidelines. Each re-opening business must also develop a written Safety Plan outlining how its workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. A Safety Plan Template and complete industry-specific reopening guidance with attestation form can be found here: https://forward.ny.gov/industries-reopening-phase
For help determining whether or not your business is eligible to reopen, use the reopen lookup tool. You can also scroll down to findthe detailed industry business guidance for each phase.
COVID-19 Test Sites in Ontario County
Ontario County Public Health advises all businesses to call the test center prior to going to the site. This information is current as of 5/11/2020, but it is constantly changing and each site has different guidelines to follow.
The Ontario County Office of Economic Development continues to monitor the ever-changing environment we face as we work through the complexities presented as a result of COVID-19. We continue to engage with local, state, and federal leaders, as well as local partners, to provide you with the most accurate and current information available.
ESD has set up a web portal for individuals with business-related COVID-19 issues and questions. We encourage you to take advantage of this system on the ESD website which is updated with the latest available guidance and information regarding COVID-19.
The Ontario County Economic Development Corp. is offering to defer principal payments for six months on its existing loans. If your business would like to participate, please Email Sue Vary.
We are updating our website, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts daily.
A new link has step-by-step instructions for self-employed individuals to file a UI claim:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.8 of March 20, 2020 required non-essential businesses in New York State to reduce their onsite workforce by 100%. Only organizations and entities that were deemed essential by the Executive Order are exempt from these restrictions. Empire State Development (ESD) has updated its formal guidelines regarding essential businesses as of April 9, 2020. Please note that ESD’s guidance is subject to change as the State adapts its response to combating COVID-19.
Be advised that any previous designation or determination by ESD that a firm is an essential business that is inconsistent with the revised guidance is no longer valid.
Any business with a pending essential designation request must refer to the updated guidelines for a determination. If your business is included in the list of essential businesses, you do not need to request a designation. If your business is still not captured by the updated guidelines, you may resubmit a designation request to ESD through the agency’s online process here Version OptionsCOVID-19 ResourcesHeadline.
ESD’s complete guidelines can be found on ESD’s website and below. Updated guidance is underlined.
GUIDANCE – as of April 9, 2020
State and local governments, including municipalities, authorities, and school districts, are exempt from these essential business reductions, but are subject to other provisions that restrict non-essential, in-person workforce and other operations under Executive Order 202.
For purposes of Executive Order 202.6, “Essential Business,” shall mean businesses operating in or as:
1. Essential health care operations including
2. Essential infrastructure including
3. Essential manufacturing including
4. Essential retail including
5. Essential services including
6. News media
7. Financial Institutions including
8. Providers of basic necessities to economically disadvantaged populations including
All non-essential construction must safely shut down, except emergency construction, (e.g. a project necessary to protect health and safety of the occupants, or to continue a project if it would be unsafe to allow to remain undone, but only to the point that it is safe to suspend work).
Essential construction may proceed, to the extent that:
At every site, it is required that the personnel working on the site maintain an appropriate social distance, including for purposes of elevators/meals/entry and exits. Sites that cannot maintain appropriate social distancing, as well as cleaning/disinfecting protocols must close. Enforcement will be conducted by state and local governments, including fines up to $10,000 per violation.
Construction may continue solely with respect to those employees that must be present at the business location/construction site in support of essential business activities. No other employees/personnel shall be permitted to work in-person at the business location/construction site. Any other business activities being completed that are not essential are still subject to the restrictions provided by Executive Order 202.
As noted above, local governments, including municipalities and school districts, are allowed to continue construction projects at this time as government entities are exempt from these essential business restrictions. However, to the greatest extent possible, local governments should postpone any non-essential projects and only proceed with essential projects when they can implement appropriate social distancing and cleaning/disinfecting protocols. Essential projects should be considered those that have a nexus to health and safety of the building occupants or to support the broader essential services that are required to fulfill the critical operations of government or the emergency response to the COVID-19 public health crisis.
11. Essential services necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation and essential operations of residences or other businesses including
12. Vendors that provide essential services or products, including logistics and technology support, child care and services including but not limited to:
14. Professional services with extensive restrictions
Pursuant to Executive Order 202.10, all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reasons (e.g. worship services, parties, celebrations, or other social events) are canceled or postponed. Congregate services within houses of worship are prohibited. Houses of worship may only be used by individuals and only where appropriate social distancing of, at least, six feet between people can be maintained. Further, individuals should not gather in houses of worship, homes, or other locations for religious services until the end of this public health emergency. If possible, religious leaders should consider alternative forms of worship, replacing in-person gatherings with virtual services, such as phone or conference calls, videoconference calls, or online streaming.
Restrictions on requesting designation as an essential business:
Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Orders, the following businesses are specifically enumerated as non-essential and are, therefore, unable to request a designation:
For more information on New York’s response to COVID-19 and guidance on cleaning and disinfection of facilities, please refer to the New York State Department of Health’s webpage.
Additional information can be found on the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.