Chamber Advocacy Around Employer Vaccine Mandate

Chamber Advocacy Around Employer Vaccine Mandate

This week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s OSHA sent its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on the vaccine mandate for large employers (those with 100 or more employees) to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. While the rule could go into effect after approval immediately, it may provide a period of time for employers to understand the rule and come into compliance. Since Vermont has a state plan, the Vermont Chamber is advocating for the following three requests:

  1. We encourage the Vermont Department of Labor’s VOSHA to take the full 30 days allowed to review the federal ETS which will also provide time for employers to understand the full scope of the rule and align resources to comply with the ETS.
  2. We urge VOSHA not to add any additional requirements or levels of compliance as we anticipate this change will be a significant challenge already.
  3. Allowing varied testing options for employers will be a key to compliance. The constricted availability of tests and slowed timeline for returning results will have a detrimental impact on an employer’s ability to facilitate this mandate. The recent news that the supply chain for tests will be adjusted to allow for greater access is certainly welcome. We hope that the federal ETS allows for rapid testing and we encourage VOSHA to endorse that direction if provided for in the federal rule.

As information becomes available for the ETS and more specifically, VOSHA’s response, the Vermont Chamber will disseminate this information to employers to ensure strong compliance. We are proud of Vermont’s standing as a national leader in vaccination rates and will continue to do our part to maintain healthy and safe workplaces. If you have questions or further information for our team, please connect with our Membership Engagement Director Sophia Yager by email.

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EIDL Application Update

EIDL Application Update
The SBA began processing applications for additional loans of up to $2 million per property through its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program on October 8. View the SBA FAQ sheet, watch AHLA’s webinar recording and apply online.
 
The SBA shared the following tips based on different loan scenarios:
  • Application was processed in DCMS 2.0: If a borrower’s application number began with 2000 and did not have rapid portal access for the original loan, it was processed in DCMS 2.0 and the increase will be as well. If the borrower has not already received their maximum eligible loan amount, they should submit their increase request to CovidEIDLIncreaseRequests@sba.gov.
  • Borrower has received maximum eligible loan amount: The “request more funds” button will not appear in the EIDL portal for those who have already borrowed the maximum amount for which they are eligible. Borrowers who believe they are eligible for additional funds should review the “How Much Can I Borrow?” question in SBA’s FAQ and may submit an increase request to CovidEIDLIncreaseRequests@sba.gov.
  • The borrower’s previous increase request was declined: The “request more funds” button will not appear in the EIDL portal if the most recent increase request was declined. Borrowers who believe they were declined in error or were declined because they failed to submit information or documents requested by a loan officer should review the FAQ and apply for reconsideration by emailing PDC.Reconsideration@sba.gov.
  • The borrower has a loan application or increase request in process: If a borrower currently has a loan application or increase request in process, including in reconsideration, the “request more funds” button will not appear in their EIDL portal. Borrowers should not submit a new request before their current application or increase has been processed. Doing so might result in their application being flagged as a duplicate. If borrowers are in the “submitted deal” stage of their current application or increase request, the loan officer working their account will give them the option to receive a larger increase if they are eligible for additional funds. If they are in the “approved” stage or later, they need to wait until their loan or increase has been funded and submit a new increase request at that time using the “request more funds” button in their portal.
 
For additional questions, please contact SBA at 800-659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov

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Thanking Our Building Bridges Fund Contributors

Thanking Our Building Bridges Fund Contributors

The Vermont Chamber’s Building Bridges Fund helps impacted businesses continue to participate in our advocacy, education, and marketing.

Contributions provide a dual benefit for small businesses and the Vermont Chamber, allowing them to participate in our programming and helping us maintain our powerful advocacy voice which is proven to help move all businesses toward economic recovery.​

The Vermont Chamber extends sincere thanks to all who have contributed our Building Bridges Fund.

Since we launched the fund in 2020, 40 impacted small businesses were helped, 34 Vermont Chamber members contributed, and together, we raised more than $20,000.

Learn more and make your contribution here.

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Impact of “Build Back Better Act” on Restaurants

Impact of "Build Back Better Act" on Restaurants

The $3.5 trillion “Build Back Better Act” makes important investments in things that will benefit our country and the restaurant industry. But the bill does not replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), and it raises taxes on small businesses at a time when the restaurant industry truly cannot bear more financial strain. Watch the NRA’s 5-minute explainer video to learn how the tax changes would affect your bottom line.

To compound this, a new NRA survey of the state of the industry highlights the outlook that a recovery from the pandemic could be prolonged well into 2022. The NRA released a letter to congressional leaders sharing the survey and their strong objections to the Build Back Better Act as written. 

Congress must hear from restaurants to ensure RRF receives more funding. Reach out directly to Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Bernie Sanders and tell your story, or use this form to send a note to Vermont’s Congressional Delegation. Additionally, you can help bolster Vermont Independent Restaurants’ (VTIR) advocacy for the replenishment of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund by signing this petition.

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Chamber Welcomes New Board Members

Image of new Board Members
Vermont Chamber of Commerce Welcomes New Board Members
Image of new Board Members
Board Members Teresa Kajenski, Kathy Austin, Mané Alves, Roger Nishi, and Keith Jones (Not pictured: Chiuho Sampson)

The Vermont Chamber of Commerce welcomed six new Directors to the Board: Mané Alves of Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Company, Kathy Austin of Community National Bank, Keith Jones of National Life, Teresa Kajenski of Fothergill Segale & Valley, Roger Nishi of Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, and Chiuho Sampson of A Single Pebble. The Vermont Chamber also thanks continuing Board Members, who are listed on the organization’s Board of Directors page.

Collectively, the Board is committed to helping further the Vermont Chamber’s mission to ensure a thriving Vermont economy. In 2021, significant legislative priorities advanced that will help businesses recover from the pandemic. With continued challenges ahead, the Vermont Chamber is dedicated to ensuring businesses across the state recover and Vermont’s economic future is bright.

Incoming Chair of the Vermont Chamber Board Peter McDougall, President of Paul, Frank + Collins P.C., said, “Over the last decade, Vermont Chamber leaders have focused on diversifying the Board of Directors to reflect the state’s business makeup. In addition to ongoing efforts to diversify leadership, the Vermont Chamber will continue working towards meaningful change in support of equity and inclusion.”

The Vermont Chamber’s current Board of Directors consists of 48% women, 48% men, 4% gender nonbinary or gender nonconforming individuals, 17% BIPOC individuals, 17% immigrant, refugee, asylee, and/or foreign-born citizens, and 8% LGBTQIA+ individuals. Board members work in varied industries across 10 of Vermont’s 14 counties.

Vermont Chamber of Commerce President Betsy Bishop said, “It is important that all Vermont businesses see themselves and their needs reflected in our leadership and work. We welcome and thank all our Board Members who will help us strengthen Vermont’s economy and be committed to our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts.” 

Chair of the Vermont Chamber’s DEI Task Force Willie Docto, Co-Owner of Moose Meadow Lodge, said, “The Board is committed to integrating DEI programming into the Vermont Chamber’s work for sustainable, collective impact. We are creating an action plan and will partner with others to further this work.”

Vermont Chamber Membership Engagement Director Sophia Yager is leading the outreach effort with an intentional focus on BIPOC businesses to gather a greater understanding of needs so the Vermont Chamber can organize resources to support all businesses. You can connect with Sophia Yager by email to learn more and get involved.

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Feel Fall in Vermont

Feel Fall in Vermont

By Vermont Chamber Vice President of Tourism Amy Spear

Have you ever picked crisp apples fresh from an orchard, been surrounded by bright red and orange mountains, or hiked through a towering corn maze?

In Vermont, you can do all that and more on an ordinary fall day. This year, visitors can enjoy the season in a distinctly Vermont way – with activities and attractions that draw in people from around the globe.

Our state has options everyone will love.

  • Delicious food and drink

After shopping and cider sampling at Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury, enjoy a meal at Apple Core Luncheonette & Brew, which offers homemade breakfast and lunch seven days a week.

Stop by Citizen Cider’s Tasting Room in Burlington for flagship hard ciders and seasonal limited releases, all made from apples sourced locally. The full food menu has something for everyone, featuring items made with their infamous cider.

  • Stay somewhere serene

The Essex Resort & Spa, a centrally located luxury resort, is the perfect home-base for exploring Vermont in the fall from north to south. End the day at on-site restaurants or spend an afternoon unwinding at the spa.

Or stay at Manchester’s Equinox Golf Resort & Spa. Located in the heart of the Green Mountains, this iconic resort is steeped in history. Surrounded by natural landscapes, this destination is beautiful in every season, but is especially stunning during fall.

  • Get active in fresh air

Featuring one of the best corn mazes in the state, kids and adults of all ages enjoy hiking through the towering corn at Hathaway Farm in Rutland and the challenge of solving a maze.

Shelburne Orchards

Enjoy apple picking and cider donuts while taking in the view of Lake Champlain on Shelburne Orchards’ 60-acre family owned and operated apple orchard.

You can also use our trip planning tool at VermontVacation.com to narrow your search and discover unique accommodations, restaurants, attractions, and recreation.

If you’re traveling, why not visit the most vaccinated state in the country?

Last month, Vermont had the highest vaccination rate in the country. If you’re going to travel this fall, why not come to one of the safest states in the nation?

Vermont has a tradition of welcoming visitors to our state. In the wake of Covid-19, the state continues to offer safe travel guidance to visitors and Vermonters. Before you come, take a few minutes to learn what our state leaders are recommending regarding masking and physical distancing.

Community care is at the heart of Vermont life. When you visit, we know you’ll feel the Vermonter spirit in our safety measures and in every smile and wave.

While you stay, play with us by sharing on social media with hashtags #ThisIsVT and #VermontFall.

We would love to see and share your photos this fall. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce tourism team will share your Instagram posts in our stories from our Visit Vermont account.

We’ll also be creating an album with your photos on our Facebook page.

Every year, Vermont sees more than 13 million visitors to the state.

As you plan your visit, be sure to check your plans carefully by reading updates on lodging and business websites. Due to staffing shortages, their hours of operation and policies may have changed.

We are so excited to welcome you to Vermont.

Amy Spear, of Killington, is the Vice President of Tourism at the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, whose mission is focused on creating an economic climate conducive to business growth while enhancing Vermont’s quality of life.

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Investing in Vermont’s Future: Community Conversations

Investing in Vermont’s Future: Community Conversations

Thanks to remaining federal stimulus funds and a surge in state revenues, Vermont is currently in a position to make unprecedented investments in its economic future. The Legislature is gathering ideas at planned open discussions to inform policy and budgetary work related to these future investments.

This is an opportunity to meet with State House leaders and voice your concerns about the economic future of Vermont. Vermont is facing a housing crisis that continues to exacerbate the workforce shortages plaguing virtually every sector. These upcoming discussions with key leaders are your chance to share experiences and express your informed views about the future of local businesses in Vermont.

The first two regional discussions will be held virtually. Future opportunities will be announced posted on the Speaker and Pro Tem’s websites.

  • Addison County Conversation, Thursday, September 9th, 5:30-6:30pm. Register here.
  • Windsor County Conversation, Sunday, September 12th, 1:00-2:00pm. Register here.

This could include discussing the impacts of increased taxation and regulation on business operations – particularly for small businesses, the ongoing challenges related to the workforce shortage crisis, and more.

To guide your remarks in advance of these conversations, consider:

  • How could the State use available funds in a manner that supported the existence and growth of Vermont’s business community?
  • How do the current high costs of business operations impact your ability to provide greater benefits to your employees?
  • How would additional regulatory burdens and taxation impact your business?
  • What barriers, regulatory or otherwise, are impacting the lack of housing in your community?
  • What additional actions could the State take to incentivize the in-migration of essential workers?
  • What specific investment could the State make to reduce your operating costs? For instance, the Unemployment Trust Fund was drawn down during the height of the pandemic and employers are obligated to refill the fund – would State investments that offset some of that obligation be meaningful to you?

If you have questions or would like to discuss your views in advance of these events, please contact Vermont Chamber Director of Government Affairs Charles Martin.

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Apply for PPP Forgiveness

Apply for PPP Forgiveness

Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers are reminded to apply for forgiveness within 10 months after the last day of the covered period. A borrower can apply for forgiveness once all loan proceeds for which the borrower is requesting forgiveness have been used. More information is available from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Visit the SBA PPP Direct Forgiveness Portal to apply. This portal is made available by the U.S. Small Business Administration to streamline forgiveness processing for PPP Borrowers. The SBA also offers live customer service to borrowers at 877-552-2692.

The Vermont Chamber and other business organizations tirelessly advocated to prevent the Legislature from taxing 2021 PPP loans. Learn more about our advocacy here and find staff contacts here.

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New Free Resources for Restaurants

New Free Resources for Restaurants
September is National Food Safety Month with the National Restaurant Association and ServSafe. This year’s theme is Know Safe & Show Safe and programming will be highlighting cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting standards with five weeks of education.
 
The weekly themes include:
  1. Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting
  2. Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Equipment
  3. Cleaning and Sanitizing Dishes
  4. Cleaning and Sanitizing Your Operation
  5. Develop and Implement a Cleaning Program
 
Access new free resources focused on cleaning and sanitizing here.

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2 Questions in 2 Minutes – Business Recovery

2 Questions in 2 Minutes - Business Recovery

Take two minutes to learn how Vermont businesses are doing now that pandemic restrictions are lifted, and what they still need to recover.

You can connect with our President Betsy Bishop at bbishop@vtchamber.com.

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