Latest Updates 03.27.2020


THE CARES ACT

  Small Business Program Overview

The new law establishes a Paycheck Protection Program to assist qualifying small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals through the Small Business Administration’s 7(a) loan program.  $349 billion is authorized for 7(a) lending from Feb. 15 through June 30, and SBA would fully guarantee the loans.  Loans would be available during the covered period for:


Any business, nonprofit, veterans group, or tribal business with 500 or fewer employees, or a number set by the SBA for the relevant industry.  We’re seeking clarification on this point – whether SBA will implement the loan program using the traditional size standard for engineering, or something broader.

Sole proprietors, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed workers would be eligible.

Eligible recipients could receive loans up to $10 million or 250% of their average monthly payroll costs, instead of $5 million, with interest rates capped during the covered period at 4%.  Loans can be used to cover eligible payroll costs -- salaries, commissions, regular paid leave, and health-care benefits -- as well as mortgage interest and utility payments. Firms would be required to make a “good faith certification” that funds will be used to retain workers, maintain payroll, and pay for rent and similar expenses.  Funds cannot be used to compensate individual employees at an annual rate above $100,000, or to pay for emergency sick or family leave under the second coronavirus response package.

  • Loan Forgiveness – key elements

    • Recipients of SBA-guaranteed loans under the Paycheck Protection Program can apply for loan forgiveness over eight weeks for eligible payroll costs and for mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments -- SBA would pay lenders for any canceled debt plus accrued interest.
    • Loan forgiveness would be reduced for businesses that fire employees or cut their pay.
    • Canceled debt would be excluded from borrowers’ gross income for tax purposes.
    • The measure also would authorize and provide $17 billion for the SBA to pay the principal, interest, and associated fees for loans under the 7(a)504, and microloan programs for six months.

    Disaster Loans

    The package provides $10 billion to expand the SBA’s disaster loan program from Jan. 31 through Dec. 31 to cover businesses, cooperatives, employee stock ownership plans, and tribal businesses with 500 or fewer employees, as well as sole proprietors and independent contractors.  The measure also authorizes SBA to advance up to $10,000 to existing and newly eligible disaster loan recipients within three days of receiving their applications. Recipients could use the advance funds to pay sick leave to employees affected by Covid-19, retain employees, address interrupted supply chains, make rent or mortgage payments, and repay debt. They wouldn’t have to repay the advance funds.

  • NEW Paycheck Protection Loan Program (added 03.27.2020)
  • NEW Coronavirus Supplemental Appropriations Summary (added 03.27.2020)
  • NEW CARES Section By Section (added 03.27.2020)
  • NEW U.S. Department of Labor
  • NEW DOL Families First Coronavirus Act Poster
  • NEW Guidance from the Department of Labor on the paid leave requirements in HR 6201. 
  • NEW The IRS released a set of FAQs related to the delay in 2019 tax payments and tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020.
  • NEW ACEC National Coronavirus Resources

Federal Action

The White House and Senate negotiators reached a deal late last night on a $2 trillion stimulus package. A vote in the Senate is planned for today, and House Democrats are expected to support the deal with a vote to follow.

Details are slowly emerging -- the plan includes $500 billion for loans and assistance to companies, including $50 billion for loans to U.S. airlines, as well as state and local governments. It’s also reported to have over $350 billion to aid small businesses.  For individuals, the package would provide direct payments to lower- and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult, as well as $500 for each child. The bill would add $600 per person per week onto the base maximum unemployment benefit for four months.

The bill includes $150 billion to ramp up health care capacity. State and local governments would receive $150 billion, with $8 billion set aside for tribal governments.  Any company receiving a government loan would be subject to a ban on stock buybacks through the term of the loan plus one additional year, and there would be limits on executive bonuses.

We’ll get more information out to you as the bill text becomes available.  We’re also encouraged to hear that lawmakers are already talking about a 4th stimulus package, and specifically referring to infrastructure as a key component.


ACEC National Convention Update

To the ACEC Community:

ACEC National is focused on helping the engineering industry navigate through this uncertain time. The health and safety of our members, their families and our exhibitors is paramount in our minds as we consider the timing of our Annual Convention and Legislative Summit in Washington, DC next month.

We have been notified that the Marriott Wardman Park hotel will close its doors until the end of May. Given the hotel’s decision to cease operations, we have cancelled the Annual Convention and Legislative Summit and we are now assessing options on moving forward with a virtual convention, and likely postponing our advocacy program and the Engineering Excellence Awards Gala to a later date. More details on these rescheduled events will be forthcoming soon. 

Please see the FAQ section below for details on our refund policy and cancelling your hotel reservations.

  1. Will I get a full refund of my Convention registration fee?  Yes, ACEC will refund all Convention attendee registrations in full.  We will issue all refunds in the manner in which you paid.  We ask for your patience in processing as it could take at least a couple of weeks for you to receive your refund.
  2. How should I cancel my room reservation at the Marriott Wardman Park?  If you booked through the ACEC hotel reservation link or called in and referenced ACEC when booking your reservation, the hotel will send a message to that email address with an easy way to cancel your reservation online. 
  3. Can I get a refund on my airline reservation? Please note that flight reservations must be cancelled by the individual who booked the reservation. It is up to the individual airlines if they will waive change fees or issue credits for the entirety of tickets.
  4. Does the cancellation of the ACEC Convention mean that the Engineering Excellence Awards Gala is also cancelled?  We are researching dates to reschedule the EEA Gala to September.  We will keep any seats and sponsorships purchased intact for the rescheduled event.
  5. Will the Virtual Convention that is being planned include the usual ACEC committee meetings and Board of Directors meeting?  Yes.  The model for the virtual event will include a Committee Day and a Conference Day.
  6. Will there be sponsorship opportunities for industry partners at the Virtual Convention? Yes, these are being developed to be offered throughout the event. More details will be forthcoming soon.

If there is anything ACEC National can do to assist your firm, do not hesitate to reach out to us. You can contact me directly at ldarr@acec.org or reach out to our VP for Marketing and Communications, Jeff Urbanchuk at jurbanchuk@acec.org

Until then, we recommend that you stay tuned to the ACEC website (https://www.acec.org/conferences/coronavirus/) and ACEC’s TwitterLinkedIn and Facebook pages for up-to-date information.  

Sincerely,

Linda Bauer Darr
President & CEO


Upcoming Business Continuity Seminars
 
Human Resources Best Practices and Question and Answer Forum
Hosted by ACEC IL Members Kristy Allen (CMT) Mina Biggs (Hanson) and Jon Howaniec (Clark Dietz)
Thursday, March 26th 11:15 am
Register for this free event by clicking here.
 
IT Best Practices for Telework and Question and Answer Forum
Hosted by ACEC IL Members Amar Rajpurkar (Parsons), Laura McGovern (Benesch) and Brian Welker (CMT) with additional hosts being added.
Thursday, March 26th 2:00 pm
Register for this free event by clicking here.
UPCOMING WEBINARS
Marketing Yourself: Building Your Brand
4/8/2020 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
The practice of engineering involves people doing business with people, which makes your personal interactions, brand, and goals important to both your career path and the value you offer to clients.
In this introductory webinar, we'll discuss the components of marketing and how they relate to understanding yourself and others, deciding on your path, and creating your future
REGISTER:HERE
Marketing Your Firm: Building the Business
4/22/2020 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
When it comes to professional services like engineering, everyone in the firm is a marketer, regardless of the role. That's because each of us are responsible for creating value for clients, living our firm's brand, and helping secure future work.
This webinar will address how to understand your audiences and their priorities alongside your firms firm's goals and areas of focus, establish strategies and key measures, and create compelling written content that positions you and your firm for success.
REGISTER: HERE

Governor’s Executive Order

 As you know, Governor Pritzker issued a Stay At Home Executive Order for Illinois residents. The Executive Order begins March 21st and will go through April 7th. While the order encourages non-essential businesses to close and asks those workers to stay home, it also recognized Infrastructure and Public Works Programs as “essential”, a designation shared by the Department of Homeland Security. This designation covers the planning, construction and delivery of all public works projects.

If you have any questions on this order or in the event that there is a work stoppage on a public works project and the Executive Order is cited, please contact Kevin Artl at kevin@acecil.org


Illinois Industry Recommended Best Practices for Covid-19

The following summary of best practices have been developed from various sources to assist association members in managing their worksites to ensure the continued maintenance and construction of essential Illinois transportation infrastructure. This summary is intended to be used as a resource only, and not to be relied upon as legal or official guidance. Individual companies are encouraged to consult with legal, safety, insurance, labor, and HR professionals to determine the appropriate practices for their respective operations.

  To view, click here


Business Guidance
The ACEC Business Insurance Trust has provided two new documents for ACEC Members providing guidance on insurance issues as well as navigating state restrictions. 
 
Greyling Brief: Navigating State Restrictions and Limitations on Business Activity
Greyling Report on Insurance Coverage Issues Related to the Coronavirus Pandemic

IDOT

  • IDOT is continuing to advance work both on the construction and design levels. 99% of their design and planning team will be working remotely and those that do not have access to telework capabilities and/or IDOT mainframe will shortly.
  • Embedded consultants will be getting access and direction shortly if they have not already.

  •  Districts will have a rotating member of Leadership in the office while others work remotely.

  • Contracts are being executed and the PTB 195 will be released as scheduled as of now—the same holds true for construction lettings. There will be no in-person interviews for PTB 195 but be prepared for some teleconference interviews.

  • Local Road Agreements will continue to be processed but be patient as this may take some time to scale up remotely.

  • Overall—IDOT is committed to keeping all elements of the capital plan moving forward and ensuring payment continues, but we will all need to be patient.

CDB


At this time, CDB has suspended all construction and procurement activity along with most design.


Tollway


The Tollway Board is scheduled to meet (via Teleconference) on March 26 th .


IMPORTANT: Information and Communication with IDOT and Tollway


In an effort to maximize communication while minimizing disruption to these agencies, we are asking that you send any questions you may have on agency processes, issues, etc. to me at kevin@acecil.org . I will interface with the agencies and report back to everyone on guidance and answers. In short, we want to treat this like inquiries on a PTB or PSB so that IDOT or Tollway is not inundated with multiple questions on the same topic. Answers and guidance will be emailed to all members and posted on social media platforms when applicable.


National Updates


  • California issued a Shelter in Place order, but according to ACEC California, those engaged in the construction industry are exempted.

  • At this point, the only state that has halted construction is Pennsylvania.


New Federal Legislation


Below is a quick summary with links to the package released by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell yesterday. National is in the process of vetting this with various ACEC committees and coalitions, but the package does include a number of policy changes advocated by ACEC over the past week. The hope is that McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer can work out a compromise today or over the weekend, with a vote to follow early next week. Please give this a look and let us know what questions you have, or if you have recommendations for additional initiatives.


One key point that ACEC will continue to emphasize in outreach to the White House and to Congress is the need to ensure that infrastructure – and related design and construction activities – are considered essential functions at the state and federal level, and that a robust infrastructure component needs to be a part of the economic stimulus and recovery agenda.


Summary of the CARES Act ( draft legislative text )


Division A: Small Business Loans


  • Expansion of existing Small Business Administration loan guarantee program.

  • Employers with 500 employees or fewer eligible to apply for loans through SBA-certified financial institutions.

  • Maximum loan amount of $10 million, based on applicant’s average monthly payroll; mortgage, rent and utility payments; and other debt obligations over the previous year.

  • Conditional upon business retaining their employees and payroll levels during the covered period (March 1, 2020, through June 30, 2020), the portion of the loan used to cover payroll and payments on pre-existing debt would be forgiven.

Senate Small Business Committee summary .


Division B: Tax Relief for Individuals, Families and Businesses


  • Checks of up to $1200 individuals/$2400 joint filers, phased out at incomes of $99,000 individuals/$198,000 joint filers.

  • Tax filing delayed from April 15, 2020 to July 15, 2020.

  • Delay of estimated tax payments for individuals (including passthrough owners) and corporations to October 15, 2020.

  • Employers and self-employed individuals can defer paying the employer share of the Social Security payroll tax (6.2%) over the following two years – half due by December 31, 2021 and the other half due by December 31, 2022.

  • Allows a company to carry back net operating losses from 2018, 2019 or 2020 to be carried back for five years.

  • Temporary increase in interest deducibility for businesses from 30 percent to 50 percent for 2019 and 2020.

Senate Finance Committee summary .


Division D: Health Care/Labor


  • Clarifies the limits on paid emergency leave and emergency sick leave in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (HR 6201).

  • Expands the authority of the Department of Labor to exempt firms with fewer than 50 employees from the paid leave requirements in HR 6201.

  • Allows employers and the self-employed to receive an advance tax credit from Treasury for emergency paid leave and sick leave under HR 6201instead of having to be reimbursed on the back end.

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee summary .


Resources Available


The Office of Management and Budget released a memorandum that identifies steps to help ensure contractor safety while maintaining continued contract performance in support of agency missions.


The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a "COVID-19 Resource Guide - Agency Actions & Information" - read it here


Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Agency released guidance on identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19 response. Read it here (released on 3/19/20)


US Army Corps of Engineers Commander LTG Todd Semonite has laid out the Corps' road ahead for retrofitting buildings into medical facilities. Watch: https://youtu.be/csfCKuy5HH8 

IRS, Treasury and Labor announce informal guidance on implementing the paid leave provisions in H.R. 6201 in this press release.


DOD memo released: Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce   


Learn from these A/E Business Thought Leaders on ways to manage your business challenges related to the virus. Business Continuity Planning During Uncertain Times- ACEC/MA Web Briefing . This is available on-demand from our platform for free and you can access the recorded web seminar here .


Small Business Administration Launches Disaster Loan Program


The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


Applicants can apply on-line directly to the SBA by clicking here.


Below is some background on the program and additional information and resources.


Small Business Administration Presentation on Loan Program.

SBA Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus

3 Step Process for Disaster Loans

SBA Disaster Assistance for Business Fact Sheet


As Congress continues to advance stimulus and recovery legislation, it is expected that there will be considerable funding available, but it is recommended that you submit applications as soon as possible. In addition, you can also amend your application throughout the process should you seek greater assistance.


PPE Donations

The Illinois State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is asking ACEC Members to donate any extra N95 masks, gloves, gowns or face shields that are not needed for its own employee's protection to assist with COVID-19 response operations.

If your company has any to donate, please send an e-mail to Gene Felchner at SEOC.IDOTH@illinois.gov to coordinate a process to pick up any donated PPE. Thanks very much for your consideration.