Thursday News Rundown, April 16

Hey hey, it's Thursday, April 16. Read today's collection of news impacting the Ithaca-Tompkins County community and beyond.

Forgivable Micro-Loans to Support Small Businesses in Tompkins County Impacted by COVID-19 Announced


ITHACA: The Ithaca / Tompkins County COVID-19 Small Business Resilience Fund (SBRF) represents the collaboration of local economic development agencies and community partners who created the fund and pledged $390,000 to capitalize it. These local partners include: Tompkins County Development Corporation (TCDC), Ithaca Urban Renewal Agency (IURA), Cornell University, City of Ithaca, Tompkins County Area Development (TCAD), The Tompkins Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance (DIA), and the Tompkins County Workforce Investment Board (TCWIB).


Alternatives Federal Credit Union (AFCU) will manage the intake and application process and disburse approved loans within three days of the execution of agreements. A loan review committee composed of local economic development professionals will review applications for eligibility and select applications that best meet program criteria and priorities. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis in batches beginning on April 15 with initial weekly loan approvals by April 21 and initial loan closings by April 25, 2020. Applications will be reviewed and processed until the funds are exhausted.


Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, speaking about the fund, said: “Local small businesses have been hit hard, and we all need to do what we can to support them and give them a fighting chance to withstand the COVID-19 crisis. Fortunately, we have an incredibly creative, collaborative and resilient community. This fund is just one more example of how we are coming together to support our local small businesses and I’m proud that the City has been able to play a role in pulling this together with our partners on behalf of businesses throughout Tompkins County.”


Cornell University is contributing $100,000 to the Small Business Resilience Fund. “Ithaca is one of the best small cities in America, in part because of its beauty, diversity, and strong community spirit,” said Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack. “Our small businesses are the backbone of our local life, drawing people to Ithaca from around the region, and serving as employers and economic drivers, as well as contributors to the common good. “Cornell University is pleased to support the Small Business Resilience Fund and we stand united with all who are working to help to address our community’s pressing needs in this challenging time.”


ABOUT THE SBRF

The Tompkins County/City of Ithaca COVID-19 Small Business Resilience Fund (SBRF) will provide forgivable loans up to $5,000 for working capital to microenterprises and small businesses experiencing hardship related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Loans will carry a zero-interest rate, an 18-month term, and will be forgiven for businesses open and in operation on December 1, 2020 that have complied with the program rules.

The primary goal of the fund is to provide emergency relief to help business owners retain their businesses and their employees. The fund seeks to be a bridge of support before additional state and federal resources become available and mandated social distancing is relaxed. Among other priorities, the fund aims to support ground floor storefront businesses open to the general public and businesses located in established commercial districts.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Principal place of business must be located within Tompkins County.

  • Business must have been in operation on or prior to February 15, 2020.

  • Businesses must have 25 or fewer employees.

  • Business must have $2.5 million or less in annual gross revenues.

  • Business must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Business is public-facing (e.g. retail, coffee shop, food service) and is directly impacted by new public health requirements related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Business has experienced 25% or more decline in revenues since March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund is open to businesses throughout Tompkins County. Interested businesses can visit the City of Ithaca’s Website for COVID-19 Business Resources or bit.ly.coicovid to download the full program guidelines and information about how to apply. For general inquiries, contact Kathleen Clark, Business Development Manager, Alternatives Federal Credit Union, (607) 216-3423 or kclark@alternatives.org.

SSI Recipients to Receive Automatic COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments; SSI Recipients with Dependent Children Should Still Go To IRS.gov to Provide Their Information

The Social Security Administration announced today that Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients will receive automatic Economic Impact Payments directly from the Treasury Department. Treasury anticipates these automatic payments no later than early May.

SSI recipients with no qualifying children do not need to take any action in order to receive their $1,200 economic impact payment. The payments will be automatic.

SSI recipients who have qualifying children under age 17, however, should not wait for their automatic $1,200 individual payment. They should now go to the IRS’s webpage at www.irs.gov/coronavirus/non-filers-enter-payment-info-here and visit the Non-Filers: Enter Your Payment Info section to provide their information. By taking proactive steps to enter information on the IRS website about them and their qualifying children, they will also receive the $500 per dependent child payment in addition to their $1,200 individual payment. If SSI beneficiaries in this group do not provide their information to the IRS soon, they will have to wait until later to receive their $500 per qualifying child.

“This is great news for SSI recipients, and I want to remind recipients with qualifying children to go to IRS.gov soon so that you will receive the full amount of the Economic Impact Payments you and your family are eligible for,” said Andrew Saul, Commissioner of Social Security. “I also want to thank the dedicated employees of the Treasury Department, the Social Security Administration, and the Internal Revenue Service for making this happen and working non-stop on this issue.”

Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries (who don’t normally file taxes) will also qualify for automatic payments of $1,200 from Treasury. These payments are anticipated to start arriving around the end of April.

The Treasury Department, not the Social Security Administration, will make these automatic payments to beneficiaries. Recipients will generally receive the automatic payments by direct deposit, Direct Express debit card, or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their SSI or Social Security benefits.

For those SSI and Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries, with dependent children, who use Direct Express debit cards, additional information will be available soon regarding the steps to take on the IRS website when claiming children under 17.

Please note that the agency will not consider Economic Impact Payments as income for SSI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months.

For more information about Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries, please see the agency’s April 10th press release: New Guidance about COVID-19 Economic Impact Payments for Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Beneficiaries from Social Security Commissioner Andrew Saul

The eligibility requirements and other information about the Economic Impact Payments can be found here: www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payment-information-center. In addition, please continue to visit the IRS at www.irs.gov/coronavirus for the latest information.

The agency will continue to update Social Security’s COVID-19 web page at www.socialsecurity.gov/coronavirus/ as further details become available.

Chemung Chamber Webinar Clarifies Federal CARES Act Provisions


ELMIRA: On Tuesday, April 14, Stephen McAllister with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce offered an informative webinar that provided a clear and concise summary of the legislation surrounding the federal CARES Act. The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated $350 billion to help businesses across the nation. The webinar, hosted by the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce as part of the Chemung Canal Trust Company Educational Series, covered major provisions for employers, including changes to taxes, the Employee Retention Credit, paid sick and family leave programs, loans, and financial support for businesses of all sizes.


Stephen McAllister is the Executive Director of the Eastern Region for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Steve works with chambers of commerce, members of Congress in each state, their staffs, trade associations, and the media across the region to support the U.S. Chamber’s agenda. The U.S. Chamber’s goal is “to generate stronger, more robust economic growth, create jobs, and expand opportunity for all Americans.” Steve’s experience includes work on legislative initiatives and promoting policies on a number of federal and state issues.

A recording of the webinar is available online for all local businesses to review. Businesses may also download a copy of the slides to follow along. For additional resources, please contact the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce.


The Chamber will continue to offer webinars throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to keep the business community informed and empowered. To stay current with virtual events, visit www.chemungchamber.org, email info@chemungchamber.org to subscribe to the Chamber’s mailing list, or follow the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce on social media.

ABOUT THE CHEMUNG COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

For more than 100 years, the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce has been the leading voice of business in the region. Through efforts in such diverse areas as local, State, and Federal legislation, small business concerns, tourism promotion and economic development, the Chamber works daily to enhance the economic well-being and quality of life in Chemung County. With nearly 20,000 employees representing more than 500 member firms, the Chamber is the largest full-time, professionally staffed business organization in the region. It is governed by a representative group of members serving as the Board of Directors. The mission of the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce is to represent the business community in the promotion of the prosperity and the quality of life throughout its service area.

Hangar Theatre offers virtual classes and promotes donation-matching opportunity


ITHACA: Ithaca’s Hangar Theatre will begin more virtual educational programming next week, offering Creative Play and Hopeful Reading online classes.


Next week, Hangar Theatre will begin offering the following online classes for kids grades 3-6 and for high schoolers in grade 10 to adults:


  • Creative Play is a class for kids grades 3-6 focused on games and exercises to release creative spirits while kids remain indoors. Teaching artist Elizabeth Seldin will connect students with each other virtually, and they will put on a short play as a group.

This class will run daily from 2:00-3:30pm, April 20-24. Participation fee is $75, but financial aid and scholarships are available. More info here.

  • Hopeful Reading is a class available for grade 10 to adult to read and discuss themes, intentions, and the tools used in the scripts for the shows programmed for the Hangar’s 2020 season. Hangar Theatre Artistic Director Michael Barakiva’s sessions will include text analysis, insights into artistic planning, and approaches to theatrical interpretation.

This class will be held on Tuesdays from 3:30-6:00pm, April 21-May 19. Participation fee is $75, but financial aid and scholarships are available. More info here.


Education Director Shirley Serotsky indicates they are preparing to offer their next series of classes--so they would love feedback from the community. She can be contacted by email at Education@Hangartheatre.org.


Additionally, an anonymous donor has pledged to match all donations up to $30,000 to the Hangar Theatre to help the theatre survive closure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Donations must be made by May 5 to be matched, and can be made here.

Recycling and Materials Management says: Please Put Cardboard in Recycling Bin


ITHACA: Tompkins County Recycling and Materials Management (TCRMM) would like to ask residents to put cardboard in their recycling bin rather than stacking it to the side. This would allow recycling collectors to touch fewer surfaces while picking up recycling bins and dumping their contents into the recycling truck.


Although COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, surface transmission is a possibility according to the Centers for Disease Control. Recycling collectors are outfitted with personal protective equipment, but containing all of your recyclables in your bin is a simple precaution that reduces the risk of surface transmission from residents to collectors.


As an added step, residents can disinfect their recycling bins after setting them out. TCRMM would like to thank residents for taking steps to protect themselves and others in the community during this period of social distancing.


More information about recycling is available at recycletompkins.org.


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