Wednesday Update
March 27th, 2020
Massachusetts Announces State Income Tax Filing Deadline Being Extended to July 15
“Massachusetts will move the state personal income tax filing and payment deadline to July 15, consistent with the federal government, in order to provide additional flexibility to filers during this crisis,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “In partnership with our colleagues in the Legislature, we are committed to providing this flexibility to taxpayers in a way that protects the Commonwealth’s strong fiscal footing that we have all worked hard to develop over the past several years.”
Massachusetts RMV Enforcing No Walk-In Policy
The RMV will be strictly enforcing a No Walk-In Policy. Only Customers with Appointment Reservations Will Be Served for Required In-Person Transactions
Effective today, Friday, March 27 the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) is enforcing a strict no walk-in policy at its eight service centers that are open to the general public. The only transactions that will be processed at service centers are those that require an in-person transaction, including Commercial Driving Licenses or Permits (CDLs/CLPs), some new registrations, out-of-state conversions and new Mass IDs. Customers who need to complete these transactions will be required to make an online appointment reservation, and customers arriving without an appointment will be asked to leave and make an appointment online to return at a future date.
Appointment reservations can be made online at in the myRMV Online Service Center under “Make or Cancel a Reservation.” Customers who make an appointment will receive a confirmation email that they should be prepared to show on arrival at their designated time at a specific service center. Customers can also call the Contact Center at 857-369-8000 to make a reservation.
The eight RMV Service Centers that are open for reservations are:
  • Boston
  • Brockton
  • Fall River
  • Lawrence
  • Pittsfield
  • Plymouth
  • Springfield
  • Worcester
LET US KNOW YOUR BIGGEST COVID-19 CONCERNS VIA A SHORT SURVEY
DEVELOPING OUR NEXT STEPS VIA COMMUNITY INPUT
We at the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce and Discover Central Mass are concerned about our businesses and organizations as we are all navigating uncharted waters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is the link to the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CovidBizResponse

Our goal with this questionnaire is to better understand your business needs so that we can properly advocate on your behalf to federal, state, and local officials. We are communicating regularly with these leaders as we seek to craft solutions that will assist businesses, save jobs, and help those who have been adversely impacted by this crisis – from both a health and economic perspective.

Please take a few minutes to let us know how best we can support you.

Thank you,
  • Worcester Chamber & Discover Central Mass
FSA Makes Changes to Farm Loan, Disaster, Conservation and Safety Net Programs to Make it Easier for Customers to Conduct Business
Dear Farming Community:
I am writing to you today with an important update from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) county offices are open by phone appointment only until further notice, and FSA staff are available to continue helping agricultural producers with program signups, loan servicing and other important actions. Additionally, FSA is relaxing the loan-making process and adding flexibilities for servicing direct and guaranteed loans to provide credit to producers in need.
FSA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only. While our program delivery staff will continue to come into to the office, they will be working with our agricultural producers by phone and using email and online tools whenever possible.
FSA is delivering programs and services, including:
  • Farm loans;
  • Commodity loans;
  • Farm Storage Facility Loan program;
  • Disaster assistance programs, including signup for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (this includes producers now eligible because of losses due to drought and excess moisture in 2018 and 2019);
  • Safety net programs, including 2020 signup for the Agriculture Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage programs;
  • Conservation programs; and
  • Acreage reports.
What to Expect from the $2 Trillion Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Package, Expected to be passed over the weekend
The U.S. Senate passed a roughly $2 trillion coronavirus response bill intended to expedite relief across the nation's economy. This is the third such aid package from Congress and is meant to keep businesses and individuals afloat during this unprecedented time.

It is anticipated the U.S. House of Representatives will vote today (Friday) or tomorrow on this bill. If passed, it will go to the president for his signature.

Small Business Benefits
The bill includes:
· $10 billion for emergency micro-grants of up to $10,000 for small businesses;
· $350 billion forgivable loan program through the U.S. Small Business Administration for companies with 500 or fewer employees;
· $17 billion to cover six months of payments for small businesses already accessing SBA loans;
· Changes to rules for expenses and deductions meant to make it easier for companies to keep employees on the payroll and stay open in the near-term.

The bill establishes a fully refundable tax credit for businesses of all sizes that are closed or distressed to help them keep workers on the payroll. The goal is to get those employees re-hired or put on paid furlough to ensure they have jobs to which they may return. The credit covers up to 50 percent of payroll on the first $10,000 of compensation, including health benefits, for each employee.

For employers with more than 100 full-time employees, the credit is for wages paid to employees when they are not providing services because of the coronavirus. Eligible employers with 100 or fewer full-time employees could use the deduction even if they aren't closed.

The SBA will deputize local banks to help administer these SBA funds to local businesses. Eligible and interested companies should contact their current local bank to inquire as to how they can apply for the low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loan.

More information will be provided from the Chamber in the days to come as this bill makes its way through the House of Representatives.
Webinar: Coronavirus Economics
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 2pm PDT, 5pm EDT
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NEED Executive Director, Jon Haveman, will introduce Scott L. Baier, Chair of the Clemson Department of Economics, who will lead a discussion of the potential impact of the Coronavirus on the U.S. economy. Dr. Baier, a frequent speaker on the U.S. economy, will discuss how the coronavirus can affect the economy, highlighting particularly vulnerable industries and workers. He will also discuss policy options for addressing the economic impact and the likely efficacy of those policies. Following a 30 minute presentation, Drs. Baier and Haveman will take Q&A from the audience. The webinar is scheduled to last for 60 minutes.
In order to reserve your spot, please register.

To register by ZOOM, please click here: Register

If you can't make the webinar, please look for a video of the webinar on the NEED website after 4/1/2020.
Thank you for your interest in NEED's activities!
Hope you'll join the webinar.
A Message about the Family First Act from Valley Insurance Partners
?Families First Coronavirus Response Act - Employee Notice -Poster questions
On March 18, 2020, President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (The Act) into law. The Act requires employers to provide paid leave for some employees related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, among other measures. The leave provisions of The Act take effect April 1, 2020
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Below are links to the DOL Poster and Q&A on how to deliver to your employees.
Do not forget to refer to the Resource Center for compliance support and updates. The link below will take you there. This is where you will find all your compliance answers to everything Covid-19.

Contact with questions:
Mike McMullin
Valley Insurance Partners, Inc.
Ph:508-377-0235
MDAR: Urban Agriculture Program and Food Ventures Progarm Requests Bids
?The Massachusetts Urban Agriculture Program FY2021 RFR posted to COMMBUYS
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“MDAR”) seeks proposals for funding projects that will commercial urban food production in the Commonwealth.
MDAR’s Urban Agriculture Program is seeking to award grants statewide to promote strategies addressing food insecurity, to expand and create new economic opportunities and to increase access to fresh, local produce in urban neighborhoods.
  • Application deadline is 4:00 PM on May 28, 2020
  • For questions regarding the RFR, applicants can email Rose.Arruda@state.ma.us .
  • Applicants are responsible to refer to the COMMBUYS link for any changes or updates to the RFR.
The Massachusetts Food Ventures Program FY2021 RFR posted to COMMBUYS
Application deadline is 4:00 PM on May 28, 2020
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“MDAR”) seeks proposals for funding projects that will advance the Massachusetts Food Ventures Program (“MFVP”), to increase access to fresh, local produce in urban and rural communities and provide economic opportunities that promote job creation enterprises or new businesses. MDAR is seeking to award grants statewide, primarily in communities of low or moderate income, to individuals or entities with experience developing and supporting food businesses.

MDAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – MDAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit MDAR’s website at www.mass.gov/agr.
Looking for Working Capital Assistance?
APPLY ONLINE TODAY!

Please visit SBA.gov/MA for up to date information on loan packages from emergency guaranteed loans up to 10 million dollars and emergency bridge loans $25,000.00 or less. Some include payment deferments are up to 12 months.
Help with immediate relief!
An Important Request from Milford Regional Medical Center Remains
We are seeking out donations from businesses concerning medical supplies, especially masks and PPE. I’m sure you are aware of the shortages. We have appreciated the response from our community so far, but the need is great, supply is short, and we need your help.
Donation of medical supplies can be made by calling 508-422-2228 or email foundation@milreg.org.
Milford Regional Medical Center truly appreciates any help you can give us.
To Our Blackstone Valley Manufacturers:
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Critical Need for PPE (Personal Protection Equipment)
Are you able to help?

As many of you may already be aware, the State Senate has reached out to request assistance in procurement and production of critical need medical personal protection equipment, including masks, gloves, gowns, and eye protection. There is also a very critical shortage of ventilator equipment, urgent need to adapt the current equipment, including ventilators to work with more than one patient and to produce large numbers.
These critical needs have been identified as the Covid-19 crisis is beginning to accelerate in Massachusetts. The national strategic supplies have only been able to deliver to states about 10% of requests. Two Boston hospitals already have nearly 100 staff (each) on quarantine from exposures to individuals carrying the virus. The CDC has revised criteria to allow a wide variety of respirators along with less protective masks to be used in medical care.
Would you reach out to contacts in your circle who may have production capacity, stores that could be shared, or technical knowledge and skills that could assist.
The State Senators for our region are Senators Mike Moore and Ryan Fattman. Their emails are Michael.Moore@masenate.gov , Ryan.Fattman@masenate.gov but you may also reach out to Jeannie at jhebert@blackstonevalley.org
As a reminder, the BVCC Office is closed to in person meetings this week, but please do not hesitate to contact the staff of the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce. We are here to ensure your questions get answered, and your business needs are met.

Remote contact info:

Jeannie Hebert President & CEO cell #: (508) 981 5782 jhebert@blackstonevalley.org
Liz O’Neil Programs and Events Coordinator loneil@blackstonevalley.org
Julia Juskavitch Marketing Coordinator jjuskavitch@blackstonevalley.org
Marcia Decker and Judy Curtis Administration bvadmin@blackstonevalley.org