Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act Thoughts and Resources From Bridget Pulsifer - Mills & Nebraska

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Dear FBMA Member,

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting us from multiple directions with no clear end or solution. As the leading Alliance of building material dealers and suppliers in the United States, your FBMA is first and foremost dedicated to the safety of our members, their employees and clients. Secondarily, we will support each member company with alternatives to help sustain businesses through the pandemic, help identify opportunities to re-build and serve the industry and work together to maintain a reliable flow of goods through our network of manufacturer members.

I believe the members of the Florida Building Material Alliance will serve our state through a rebuilding of our communities - just as we have adapted and survived for over 100 years. Our country's path to a speedy recovery lies in keeping our supply chain open and strong as we will continue to support our communities throughout the COVID crisis.

It is important to the building, construction and maintenance industries that we continue to supply needed materials to maintain a strong housing, construction and remodel industry. This includes products that provide structural integrity, fire and wind protection, exterior and interior security for the homes and facilities we support, as we fight this pandemic.

Lawmakers in Washington struck a compromise on a major fiscal stimulus package to help combat the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill, packs in a lot, with upward of $2 trillion slated to provide important support for the economy. While it may take some time to see results of this broad-ranging stimulus, here’s a look at what you can expect in the near term. Additionally, please refer to the UBS attachment for options providing economic relief and assistance to small businesses.

  1. Support for small businesses - in the form of more than $350 billion, including forgivable loans to help keep the business afloat, a paycheck protection plan and grants.
  2. Expanded unemployment benefits - Unlimited funding for Temporary Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation to provide workers laid off due to COVID-19 an additional $600 a week, on top of state benefits, for up to four months. This includes relief for self-employed individuals, furloughed employees and gig economy workers who have lost work during the pandemic. This key support could bring the bill’s value over the $2 trillion mark.
  3. Fortified healthcare - $150 billion is allocated to hospitals and community health centers to provide treatment and equipment to fight coronavirus, including updated OSHA standards for workers.
  4. Enhanced education - $30 billion to bolster state education and school funding, as well as deferral of federal student loan payments through the end of September.
  5. State and local government funding - $150+ billion allocated to “state stabilization funds” to support reduced state and local tax receipts.
  6. Other provisions - provides a $500 billion buffer for impacted and distressed industries, including the airlines, mass transit and the postal service.

The North American Retail Hardware Association, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association's and the Door and Hardware Institute advocacy's have positively shown where Alliances such as the FBMA are qualified to be an ESSENTIAL BUSINESS. This is recognized by the inventories we maintain as lumber and building material dealers and hardware stores and the technical personnel that supports the safety and well-being of our local communities each and every day.

If the state government should decree a shelter in place policy, we request and support our classification of our lumber and building material dealers and associate member manufacturers and suppliers be listed as "ESSENTIAL". FBMA members (who choose) will remain open to service the construction and community needs of our Florida clientele. Our member lumber and building material yards, hardware stores, fabrication plants, distribution centers, and delivery teams are in place to serve our active construction sites and special needs for code compliance, security and safety. Our employees are informed and prepared to take extra safety measures and adhere to CDC guidelines. WE ARE HERE TO SERVE OUR COMMUNITIES.

We must continuously monitor updates from the CDC on the COVID-19 virus and are following guidance from local authorities. I am sure you are very aware of the cleanliness and separation aspects of this virus. Please see provided attached examples from the CDC.

As we face this challenge, these are suggested actions to apply within your company:

  • Communicate and follow CDC guidelines to safeguard against further spread of illness
  • Utilize a consistent protocol for assessing workers' health prior to shift start and adhere to the CDC risk assessment chart
  • Communicate with clients and inform them of the actions being taken to maintain safe operations on their behalf
  • Communicate detailed guidelines to contractors, subcontractors & suppliers to reinforce the importance of housekeeping and other wellness procedures on a customer and/or project-specific level
  • Monitor and proactively address the impacts of supply chain challenges and impacts on construction schedules
  • Conduct daily transparent briefings with your staff to share information and update resources for employees to help them stay informed, remain calm, and focused on their well-being

There are federal requirements recently mandated through the Families First Care Act, passed in response to COVID-19. This provides for those directly impacted by COVID-19 for emergency paid sick leave. Modifications have also been made to the standard FMLA though this act. Please find attached, the official poster provided by the Secretary of Labor which details how to provide paid time to employees who are sick, caring for sick or those with childcare issues due to schools being closed. Please post within your company and share the details with your employees so they are informed. If you have employees who must utilize the emergency pay through this act, you will pay them and be reimbursed by the government through your payroll tax filings and year end federal tax filing. FBMA will provide more information on this Act within the next week. The Families First Care Act is effective for these qualifying situations from April 1st, 2020 – December 31st, 2020. Please see mandatory poster attached.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security - CARES Act:

The legislation passed by Congress contains several provisions to provide emergency assistance for Small Businesses affected by the pandemic. The next step is for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue guidance to banks on how and when to provide much needed loans to our small business clients under the Act.

This is our current understanding of the provisions in the bill for Small Business owners:

  • Paycheck Protection Loan Program expands loan eligibility under the SBA 7a program with the intention to assist businesses with covering costs related to payroll (including healthcare and certain related expenses), mortgage interest, rent, leases, utilities and interest on existing debt.
  • Borrowers will need to certify that they’ve been impacted. There will be no personal guarantees or collateral associated with the loan. Detailed application requirements are still to be determined.
  • Loan amount maximum is 2.5 times average monthly payroll or up to $10 million.
  • There will also be a payment deferral and loan forgiveness program.

You should be very proud to be part of the FBMA as our members have served the Florida market for over 100 years – surviving World Wars, hurricanes, fires, multiple economic booms and busts - and we will persevere through this pandemic. Our deep foundational values will guide our actions and keep us safe, focused, and transparent. Please feel free to reach out to the office or anyone on the executive board if we can be of service during this challenging time.

Respectfully,
Bridget Pulsifer
Mills & Nebraska
FBMA Chair

Attachments:

  1. SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus
  2. DEO - Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Application
  3. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Information Sheet - Lender
  4. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Information Sheet - Borrowers
  5. Paycheck Protection Program Application Form
  6. UBS Coronavirus Relief Resources for US Business Owners
  7. Key Provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act
  8. Employee rights Poster
  9. Questions in the workplace during COVID-19
  10. Small Business Paycheck Protection Program33
Bridget Pulsifer - Mills & Nebraska 4/1/2020

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