Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chamber shifted to remote work on March 17. The entire Chamber team continues to adhere to all public health guidance from Governor Kay Ivey and Mayor Steven L. Reed. While our operations look and feel different, our mission has not changed.
We are working as hard as ever in the midst of a great crisis to connect, engage and serve our membership and the River Region business community. We are awaiting the “all clear” so we can return to our normal operating status, but rest assured, in the meantime, your Chamber remains at work for you so YOU can keep working.
The Chamber’s overall mission is to catalyze leaders to improve the economic prosperity and quality of life in the River Region. We leverage partnerships and connect people to the critical resources they need to launch, grow and thrive. During this unprecedented time, the Chamber is still doing just that by monitoring and disseminating vital information as well as advocating for key legislation regarding relief and recovery for our local small business community.
Every Chamber staffer has been diligently working behind the scenes to provide current and relevant resources regarding COVID-19. Over the past two months, the Chamber has launched a new COVID-19 website, scheduled programming and calls with experts to discuss and review loans, legislation and recovery efforts, all while continuing to offer mission-critical programming and events that align with the Chamber’s 2020 goals and initiatives.
Early on, the Chamber realized how crucial it would be to leverage its partnerships and unique assets to combat and survive the COVID-19 pandemic. By joining forces with community stakeholders, elected leadership, military partners, the public and private sectors, including state officials, Montgomery has aligned significant resources and initiated a plan for business continuity, while also playing a key role in advocating for legislation, relief and recovery. The ultimate goal has been to keep Montgomery working.
A holistic approach to keep local small businesses, and the community, engaged and informed has been the mission. Each entity has played a significant role in the effort, but by rallying together, as one, the team has provided the critical infrastructure needed to establish processes and protocols to manage the crisis, while also serving as a clear, concise voice for relief and recovery efforts.
Advocating for Critical Resources
The Chamber has been working daily with our Congressional delegation and staffers to advocate for the issues and relief measures that can most help Montgomery and the River Region as our members continue to navigate the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
In late March, Congress passed the $2.2T Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, designed to provide emergency assistance and healthcare response for individuals, families and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. The legislation is very broad but includes a number of key provisions relevant for a wide variety of businesses, industry sectors and individuals.
Below you’ll find a few highlights of the legislation as well as information regarding an expanded small business loan program that was included, the Paycheck Protection Program, administered through the Small Business Administration through local financial lenders.
- Loans to help cash flow for “small” businesses and nonprofits with 500 employees or less; the amount of the loan can be up to 2.5 times your average monthly payroll (up to a maximum of $10 million); importantly, a significant portion of these loans will be forgiven for businesses that retain or rehire employees between now and June 30.
- $500 billion for loans to struggling businesses and governments
- Adding $600 per week to unemployment benefits
- $1,200 per person to adults earning less than $75,000 per year, plus
- Expands eligibility and increases availability of 7(a) Loans (“Paycheck Protection Program”)
- Provides loan forgiveness for certain qualifying expenditures
- Makes available Emergency Economic Injury Disaster grants for up to $10,000 per business in the form of a loan advance
- Increases the maximum loan for an SBA
- Express loan from $350,000 to $1 million through December 31, 2020
- Requires Veteran’s fee waivers for the 7(a) Express loan program to be permanently waived.
- Creates an Employee Retention Tax Credit (an advance tax credit for employers subject to closure due to COVID-19)
- Allows for a delay in payment of employer payroll taxes
- Provides tax modifications for operating losses during tax year 2020
- Eliminates tax limitation on losses for taxpayers other than corporations during tax year 2020 (farm losses and excess business losses)
- Modifies credit for prior year minimum tax liability of corporations
- Amends the changes to the family and medical leave and sick leave policies established by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to limit the total amount employers may have to pay under each benefit
For small businesses and other entities, the Payroll Protection Program is of particular interest. Not only does the loan provide immediate cash to keep your business afloat, but an amount equal to the total of your payroll, health insurance costs, mortgage interest and rent incurred for eight weeks after your loan will be converted to a grant upon submission of documentation.
The qualification requirements are simple, and the loans are designed to be approvable in a single day. All current SBA 7(a) lenders are eligible lenders for the Paycheck Protection Program. As a result of the CARES Act, the Department of Treasury has authorized additional lender categories, including nonbank lenders, to help meet the needs of small business owners. Small business owners are encouraged to contact their local lending institution to inquire about application for a small business loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.
*EDITOR’S NOTE: This information was current at the time of print, but we know information and resources are changing daily, so be sure to stay current and up-to-date by checking the MACC COVID-19 Relief & Recovery page on montgomerychamber.com/covid-19*
The Chamber created and launched a mini website, montgomerychamber.com/ covid-19, which houses up-to-date information regarding Chamber operations, business continuity planning, COVID-19 media and releases, and it also fuels the community with critical resources and direct links to key government, organization, association and community websites.
- OPERATIONS UPDATE - Get the latest updates on all Chamber activities, programs, facilities and in-office operations.
- RESOURCE GUIDE - This extensive resource guide provides links to local information, top press announcements, and available resources to #keepMGMworking.
- RELIEF & RECOVERY - Stay up-to-date with legislation regarding business financial assistance, loan programs, stimulus packages, recovery information and unemployment.
- SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS - Get real-time updates on the local hospitality industry with this listing of restaurant, attraction and hotel information, along with news on pharmacies, grocery stores and banks.
- JOB BOARD - Several local and national companies are looking to hire additional employees NOW in the mist of COVID-19, so the Chamber is tracking the openings and is updating this list daily.
- NEWS & UPDATES - View COVID-19 news and announcements from the Chamber, City, County, State, community partners and emergency management agencies.
- VIDEO & MEDIA - Hear from the Chamber, the local business community and our elected leaders as they continue to provide updates and resources to #keepMGMworking.
Throughout this crisis, Montgomery companies and individuals are finding ways to give back, donate or innovate and adapt while they navigate the “new” normal and respond to COVID-19. Check out the list below and visit the Doing Good Together page on montgomerychamber.com/covid-19 for these stories and more.
- Local Businesses & Organizations Stepping Up to Donate Food, Products or Services
- Mr. Ashraf Hijaz, Owner of Beauty and Beyond Stores in Montgomery, donated 3,000 masks and gallons of sanitizer to the EMA, which were provided to local police and first responders.
- Hyundai Hope On Wheels expanded its support for COVID-19 drive-thru testing to 11 children’s hospitals with $2.2 million.
- HMMA donated lunches to River Region healthcare providers.
- Local small business, The Locker Room, shifted its focus and has tailors making masks for an adopted COVID-19 Unit at Baptist Hospital.
- Milo’s launched the Alabama Strong Initiative to feed Alabama’s children.
- Tang’s Alterations and the Montgomery Chinese Organization are producing masks from scrap material and donating them locally.
- Alabama Shakespeare Festival is producing masks for hospitals to help combat COVID-19 crisis.
- Beasley Allen provided meals to all Montgomery hospital ER And ICU nurses.
- Genpak Montgomery and Genpak Hope Hull donated thousands of to-go containers to two area nonprofits.
- Kyser Builders and Kyser Property Management donated Dreamland BBQ box lunches to healthcare workers at Baptist East.
- Montgomery Catholic family donated 3D printed masks to community.
- Chappy’s Deli launched “Food for the Front Lines” campaign to deliver donated meals to River Region healthcare workers.
- The Shoppes at EastChase joined forces with neighborhood restaurants Pies + Pints, BurgerFi, Frutta Bowls and Dillard’s to deliver lunches to Baptist healthcare workers.
- Auburn University Montgomery Open Dorms to Healthcare Workers
- Montgomery Businesses Innovate and Adapt During the COVID-19 Crisis
- Prevail sent coffee to Montgomery medical workers and is offering new delivery options.
- Several local creatives began hosting virtual painting classes (Barb’s on Mulberry), offering take-home cookie kits (How Sweet Cookies) or offering take-home pizza kits (Bibb St Pizza).
- Cahawba House innovated and adapted to COVID-19 by shifting the restaurant to a market for local goods called Bama Bonafide Bodega.
- Capri Theatre is offering movie rentals from the comfort of your living room.
- Leroy started offering cocktail kits for pickup and is serving up its entire selection to take home.
- Vintage Year is serving up family meal deals for pickup.
- Sa Za extended its delivery area and is providing menu options for pickup.
- The Alabama Shakespeare Festival launched the Play On series featuring ASF actors and their favorite Shakespeare monologues.
- Get Help, Give Help
- Several nonprofits and local organizations are lending a helping hand and giving back to those in need.
- The YMCA’s Brown Bag Bus provided Meals During COVID-19.
- MPS is providing meals for students while schools are closed for COVID-19.
- Childcare for essential workers is available through the YMCA.
WE'RE HERE FOR YOU. 2020 CALENDAR OF EVENTS & CHAMBER PROGRAMMING
Like most of you, the Chamber is navigating uncharted territory, but it is also working very hard to launch mission-critical events and programming for our members and the community. We encourage you to monitor and check our website calendar daily, as we update our COVID-19 expert calls and webinars, our Work Together Business Studio events, as well as other Chamber programming and events that were temporarily postponed and will be rescheduled.
Around the world, the hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Montgomery’s hotels, attractions, restaurants, retailers and tourism-related services have taken a hit, and the Chamber’s Destination Marketing team has been by their side, working to understand the national trends, projections and solutions that continue to evolve. The team has spent hours working on direct and indirect solutions to address the industry’s needs and to communicate directly on behalf of our partners to elected leadership and the public. Here’s a snapshot of those efforts:
- Conducted daily outreach calls to partners to monitor economic and employment impacts.
- Coordinated a call-in for hoteliers to speak directly with Mayor Steven Reed about their challenges and to ask questions.
- Created a landing page on visitingmontgomery.com with a directory of COVID-19 Related Resources and Information specifically for meeting planners to ensure they know that Montgomery is open for future business after COVID-19.
- Coordinated a desktop app, (diningatadistance.com/Montgomery), a mobile app (https://alabamafd.glideapp.io/) and a directory of restaurants offering take out, to-go and curbside services and worked with local media to publicize these solutions.
- Sales team worked with previously scheduled meetings and events to rebook in Montgomery as early as possible.
- Continued to sell Montgomery, successfully booking new business within the next 18-24 months.
As we move through this unprecedented time together, know the Chamber is here for you now more than ever. Connecting people to people and people to resources is what we do best, and we will continue to do that now and far beyond this crisis. We are leveraging community resources and partnerships daily to help small businesses and our community respond to and recover from COVID-19.
Your continued partnership and investment in us are critical as we continue to advocate for legislation, tax credits and relief that will help keep Montgomery working, employees employed and help accelerate Montgomery’s recovery.
WATCH, LISTEN & LEARN:
Videos & Media - Throughout the crisis, the Chamber has leaned on experts in the field, as well as our local elected officials to keep the community engaged and informed. A copy of each video and recorded call or webinar is located on our website at montgomerychamber.com/videos.
- Anna B. Buckalew, President & CEO, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
- Mayor Steven L. Reed, City of Montgomery
- Ronda Walker, Vice Chairman, Montgomery County Commission
- Arthur DuCote, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman
- Doug Singleton, Montgomery County Commissioner
- Recorded Calls & Webinars:
- Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Secretary of Labor, Fitzgerald Washington, Alabama Department of Labor
- How to Swim Your Best Race in Choppy Waters: Dr. Kevin Elko
- Navigating Your Business Through COVID-19: Willie Durham, State Farm; Nan H. Lloyd, CPA, EA, CTC, Associated Business Services; Dr. David R. Thrasher, Montgomery Pulmonary Consultants, P.A.
- Stay Strong! Lead Well! Series with Tasha M. Scott, Founder of Maximized Growth, LLC
- Virtual Town Hall with Senator Doug Jones
- Montgomery Chamber to Host First Small Business Connect Call Live Call-In Opportunity Links Experts and Area Small Businesses Facing COVID-19 Impacts
- Conversation with Congresswoman Terri Sewell