Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.com

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Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comSmall Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comPosted: 30 May 2020 05:22 AM PDT More than 40 Lehigh Valley small business owners Saturday will be offering virtual deals on what they say will be one of their biggest shopping sales annually.Small Business Saturday typically is timed for following Black Friday in November. The nationwide effort for the past decade encourages communities to shop local as it kicks off the busiest shopping season of the year.The chamber is moving this year to hold the event twice -- this time with social distancing -- as many businesses struggle to survive financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors on March 19. Restaurants were then forced to offer menu items by takeout only with curbside pickup or delivery.Lehigh Val…

FTC sends warning letter to alternate SBA websites that mislead small business owners - AZFamily

FTC sends warning letter to alternate SBA websites that mislead small business owners - AZFamily


FTC sends warning letter to alternate SBA websites that mislead small business owners - AZFamily

Posted: 22 May 2020 07:59 AM PDT

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The Federal Trade Commission is warning two companies related to an 'alternate' SBA website that they may be misleading consumers who believe they are visiting a government website for information about small business loans.

The website in question is SBA.com, which is run by a private company, IT Media. The FTC says the web address is similar to SBA.gov, the U.S. Small Business Administration's website, which could cause confusion for consumers.

When small business loans related to coronavirus relief efforts were first announced, SBA.com posted information about loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), and funneled businesses owners right to a lender it partners with. One Arizona business owner, who asked that we not use his name in our report, said he did not realize he was on the 'wrong' SBA site until he had already handed over personal information.

Alternate 'SBA' website adds to confusion over small business loans

Small business owners applying for aid should beware of scam or alternate websites attempting to get their information.

According to a warning letter the FTC sent to IT Media, SBA.com "may be unlawfully misleading small business consumers about federal loans or other temporary small business relief."

"IT Media should take immediate action, including by reviewing and monitoring all advertising and marketing used by, or on behalf of, IT Media in any form (including websites, social media, emails, telemarketing, and text messages), to ensure all deceptive claims are removed," the warning letter said. "You also should act immediately to remediate any harm to small business consumers stemming from such claims."

When 3 On Your Side reached out to SBA.com, the company forwarded us the letter they sent to the FTC defending themselves. It is several pages long, and says the company "has taken extraordinary steps to prevent reasonable consumers from believing that there is any connection between SBA.com and any government entity." The letter also argues thousands of businesses obtained successful PPP loans that originated on the site.

It's unclear if SBA.com will make any additional changes to its website as a result of the FTC's warning.

The FTC sent a similar warning letter to Lendio.com. The company did not immediately respond to 3 On Your Side's request for comment.

House to Vote on More-Flexible Small Business Loan Program - NACS Online

Posted: 21 May 2020 10:15 PM PDT

WASHINGTON—The U.S. House is expected to vote next week on altering the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to provide more flexibility to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, USA Today reports. The changes will help struggling companies stay afloat and keep workers on the payroll as pandemic closures continue. The U.S. Senate is expected to support the measure.

Reps. Chip Roy and Dean Phillips sponsored the proposal which would lengthen the time businesses would have to bring workers back later than the initial June 30 deadline. The bill would also give more time for the loan forgiveness period because some companies will not be able to reopen as fast as others.

In addition, the proposal would provide more flexibility in how they spend the money because many can't spend 75% on their payroll within the eight-week period original specified in PPP. "These common-sense solutions will provide the flexibility necessary to weather the storm and prepare for uncertain times ahead," said Phillips.

Meanwhile, a recent survey found that more than 50% of small businesses are interested in PPP fund forgiveness, CNBC reports. The National Federation of Independent Business survey showed frustrations mounting because of a lack of clarity from the Small Business Administration (SBA) on how to use PPP funds in order to receive loan forgiveness.

Small business owners with PPP loans say the requirements for loan forgiveness are challenging and confusing, including the eight-week window for compliance. Both the U.S. Treasury Department and the SBA provided a forgiveness application last week for borrowers and indicated additional clarification would be coming for borrowers and lenders.

"Owners have questions about how to spend the funds and what they can spend the loan on as many of the terms and conditions are broad and unclear when applied to specific business operations. Nearly three-fourths of small business borrowers find the terms and conditions of the PPP loan difficult to understand with 22% finding them very difficult," the report said.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.

DeLeo plans to prioritize transportation, budget, small business - The Boston Globe

Posted: 21 May 2020 04:35 PM PDT

House Speaker Robert DeLeo spelled out a to-do list for the Legislature as the state rebounds from COVID-19 that included more transportation revenue, shoring up the state's shaky finances, and boosting the struggling restaurant sector.

During remarks on a Zoom call on Thursday with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, DeLeo said he is appointing a new committee of House members to identify and guide legislation that can help the state bounce back from the coronavirus. He named representatives Ron Mariano as chairman and Joseph Wagner as vice chairman for the committee. DeLeo didn't go into much detail, other than to describe its main missions: mitigating economic hardship and job losses, and stabilizing small businesses.

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"If we're going to recover as a state, to get back to where we were, and I know we're going to do that, then we're going to need your help and we're going to need your input," DeLeo told the chamber members. "We're going to come back as strong as ever, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that."

Transportation: In early March, just before the pandemic shut down businesses across the state, the House passed a long-awaited revenue package to boost transportation. Included in that bill: a 5-cent-per-gallon increase in the tax on gasoline, a 9-cent increase in the diesel tax, and a $1 increase in the state fee on individual Uber and Lyft rides. The money would be used to fix the aging MBTA system, address road congestion, and help regional transit agencies. DeLeo said he still wants a bill to pass this year, because the transportation system still needs money to fund improvements, despite the sharp reduction in commuting caused by COVID-19.

Like the chamber, DeLeo wants more information from Governor Charlie Baker's administration about the protocols and service levels for the MBTA in subsequent phases of the governor's reopening plan. And he said the Legislature should keep the fiscal and management control board that oversees the T going beyond its June expiration date.

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State finances: Normally, the House would have adopted a budget proposal for the new fiscal year that begins on July 1 by now. But it has held off until it learns more about what kind of federal aid might be available. DeLeo said he expects the Legislature will pass a partial budget to get through July, at least, while state lawmakers await clarity from Washington.

Last week, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation estimated that state tax revenues will fall by $6 billion, or nearly 20 percent, in the next fiscal year, from the revenue outlook that state leaders established in January. DeLeo conceded that the Legislature will likely tap into the state's $3.5 billion rainy day fund, but he doesn't want to draw down too much and put the state's credit ratings at risk.

Restaurants: Few sectors of the economy have been hurt more by the pandemic than the restaurant industry. DeLeo said he is repositioning a restaurant promotion commission established by the Legislature last year, alongside $2 million in state funding, to focus on "restaurant recovery" as the industry confronts the new challenges posed by COVID-19. In particular, DeLeo wants the Legislature to make it easier for restaurants to offer outdoor dining with alcohol, and to waive interest charges on delayed meal tax payments to the state.

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Child care: DeLeo said he worries the Legislature's progress on expanding child care to support the workforce and help at-risk children could be undermined by COVID-19. He is creating a task force focused on early education and child care, led by Representative Alice Peisch, to ensure providers can support families and workers amid the pandemic and to explore the impacts on programs in communities of color, in particular.

Telehealth: Lawmakers have struggled to pass legislation that would ensure extensive insurance coverage for "virtual" doctor visits, similar to what's available for in-person visits. DeLeo said the pandemic is underscoring the benefits of telemedicine, and he is hopeful that a telehealth bill might be "one of the more good items to come out of COVID-19."


Jon Chesto can be reached at jon.chesto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

EDA's $50M small business grant program will set aside $15M for firms in Opportunity Zones - ROI-NJ.com

Posted: 22 May 2020 04:38 AM PDT

The $50 million Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program that will be formally approved by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on Friday morning will set aside $15 million specifically for companies located in Opportunity Zones, ROI-NJ has learned.

The set-aside is a way the program, which is an expanded version of the $5 million program the EDA offered in April, has been designed to reach a far greater number of small businesses, especially businesses in underserved communities.

Home-based businesses and sole proprietorships also will be eligible this time — another step toward increasing the program's reach, ROI-NJ has learned.

The program will provide grants up to $10,000 for qualified businesses.

The decision to specifically include businesses in designated Opportunity Zone areas was saluted by Luis De La Hoz, the chair of the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.

"This is most needed," he said. "More than 60% of our businesses have not been able to gain access to grants. This $15 million will be a big help."

John Harmon, the CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, was thrilled.

"This is what we've been waiting to hear," he said. "This is phenomenal; this is going to impact lives.

"When the governor talked about stronger and fairer — this speaks unequivocally to the fairer side."

The Opportunity Zone program provides tax incentives for individuals who reinvest unrealized capital gains into high-impact, long-term projects in high-poverty communities across the country.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) was one of the co-sponsors of the bill.

Last week, Gov. Phil Murphy said the state was committing $50 million of the money it received from the CARES Act —with details to be determined by the EDA.

Those details —including how, when and where to apply — will become known later Friday. The EDA is holding a virtual board meeting at 10 a.m. to formally approve the program.

Read more from ROI-NJ on coronavirus:

Read more from ROI-NJ

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