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CARES Act Aims To Boost Businesses

In addition to expanding unemployment insurance for independent contractors, the federal CARES Act also includes several measures aimed at supporting private businesses and coordinating manufacturing during the coronavirus outbreak.

In a news release by the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier (MAST), the federal economic stimulus plan was outlined to include the following:

¯ $1.5 billion for economic adjustment assistance to revitalize local communities, including hard-hit industries like tourism and manufacturing supply chains. This includes low interest loans for businesses;

¯ $1 billion for the Defense Production Act, allowing the Department of Defense to invest in manufacturing capabilities that are key to increasing the production rate of personal protective equipment and medical equipment for healthcare workers;

¯ $27 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to research vaccines, therapies and diagnostics related to coronavirus. $3.5 billion of this has been allocated to advance vaccine development;

¯ $50 million provided for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help small and medium sized manufactures recover by finding value within the supply chain and expanding markets;

¯ $10 million for the National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals to support new techniques and countermeasures to fight the virus.

The CARES act establishes federal guidelines related to the manufacturing of personal protective equipment, and any business with supplies willing to contribute are asked to contact New York State at COVID19supplies@esd.ny.gov. Donations to the federal response can be made through contacts at www.fema.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-donations. The bill also provides for the start of a manufacturing grant competition through Fuzehub. Six companies will compete for a total of $400,000 in grants to produce masks and ventilators.

It will take some time to see how the federal stimulus plan effects local manufacturing, but interest parties can follow the progress through the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and MAST meetings each Monday at 3:30 p.m. Those meetings can be accessed at https://www.gotomeet.me/TTranum, or via phone at 1-571-317-3122.

“It is too early to understand the full impact or implications of the CARES Act,” said Todd Tranum, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce president and CEO and executive director of MAST. “The underlying purpose of the programs are to help businesses stay afloat, keep people employed where possible while providing a safety net for those dislocated from their jobs.”

As public health officials continue to stress social distancing to slow the spread of the virus, the majority of local businesses remain focused on workforce retention and financial assistance.

“Every business I have spoken to are very concerned about maintaining their workforce and filling open positions with the additional available benefits,” said Katie Geise, Executive Director for the Chautauqua Workforce Investment Board. “One universal concern is individuals fearing not staying home to go to work and potentially endangering themselves and their families’ health. Another universal concern is the amount of (unemployment insurance) and (pandemic unemployment assistance) an individual may be eligible to collect being comparable to an open position’s wage.”

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