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SMALL LOCAL BUSINESSES MUST COMPETE ONLINE NOW: THE CHAMBER CAN HELP

Almost all consumers have purchased something online. Whether it’s a household item, apparel, or event tickets, we have become used to buying online. But not all businesses are prepared to sell online. That’s where the Chamber of Commerce can make a big difference for your business right now.

Working with an innovative provider, the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce is creating a local marketplace online, where small local businesses can compete with the major online retailers. This new platform will also help local businesses reach new customers. It works as both an e-commerce sales platform and a marketing platform that will allow small local businesses to contain their costs around online retail and help them reach thousands of high-value customers.

As we continue to watch the trends, we have seen that Barron’s predicts an enormous 80% increase in e-commerce holiday spending over 2019, while Adobe Corp. estimates online sales to jump by over $51.1-billion just during the holiday shopping weekend from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday. Adobe Analytics reports that online sales in the U.S. in September alone increased 43% over the year, reaching $60.4 billion. That is just above the August growth of 42% over the year. As pandemic shopping continues to evolve, it is abundantly clear that more and more consumers are buying online. We cannot allow all of those sales to go to big box retailers. The Chamber’s objective is to make sure that small locally owned businesses are in the mix and competing with major online retailers.

Before the holiday season, the Chamber of Commerce will be rolling this new marketplace out to consumers. Before we do that, we want to be certain that many local businesses are participating. The greater the participation, the more product and service offerings that will be available, and the better the customer experience will be. We all know that we gain return customers when they begin with a great experience.

If you have considered online retail in the past for your business but found it cost-prohibitive, the Chamber can help. This new program is exactly what you need. Businesses can learn more about how easy it is to sell and market online by visiting our website at www.chautauquachamber.org/shoplocalchq or call our office at 484-1101 or 366-6200.

NEW YORK SICK LEAVE LAW TAKES EFFECT

The New York State Sick Leave (NYSSL) law officially took effect Sept. 30, but employees are not entitled to use the benefits until Jan. 1, 2021. Under the new law, employers have to provide paid or unpaid leave, depending on their size.

Employers with four or fewer employees in any calendar year with a net income up to $1 million the previous tax year will have to provide employees with up to 40 hours of unpaid sick leave in each calendar year. Those same small employers with net income greater than $1 million will have to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave.

Employers with between five and 99 employees, regardless of income, will have to provide up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year; and those with 100 or more employees will have to provide up to 56 hours of paid sick leave each calendar year.

NYSSL will accrue at a rate of one hour of every 30 hours works, unless an employer elects to frontload all sick time at the beginning of the year. Employers may set reasonable minimum increments, which cannot exceed four hours. Unused sick leave must be carried over to the following year.

NYSSL can be used for employee’s or covered family members mental or physical illness, injury, diagnosis, care, treatment, or preventive care. It can also be used for absences related to the employees or covered family members status as a victim of domestic violence, family offense, sexual offense, stalking, or human trafficking. “Family member” is broadly defined to include an employee’s child (biological, adopted, or foster child; a legal ward; or legal guardian) or a spouse, domestic partner, parent, sibling, grandchild, or grandparent.

Employers must choose an accrual method and be prepared to start tracking accrual, providing information upon request regarding accrual, and be prepared to carry over accrued time for employee use starting Jan. 1, 2021. It is strongly recommended that employers review all current policies to make sure they comply, and that employee handbook information is clear.

Chamber member businesses can access additional information and guidance through HR360.com. If you need login information for the HR360 library of information, please email swebster@chautauquachamber.org.

IT’S ENROLLMENT SEASON: CONTACT THE CHAMBER FOR HEALTH INSURANCE

The Chamber has a demonstrated history of providing strong customer support along with a variety of health insurance plans and ancillary benefits to our members. For some businesses the New York State of Health is the best fit for their needs. In some cases, a better fit is for us to work directly with the carrier to help facilitate the insurance your business needs. We are constantly looking at and implementing innovative ways to lower costs and provide the most cost-effective insurance possible for our members. To learn more about the Chamber’s health insurance and ancillary offerings please contact our Director of Finance and Insurance Services, Holly McBride, at 499-6607 or hmcbride@chautauquachamber.org.

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