Concord has been rated one of the safest and best places to live, not only in New Hampshire, but in the country.
Quiet streets threaten small businesses and the health of our economy.
Members, friends and community,
Events related to the rapidly evolving Coronavirus sent shockwaves through our communities. Kids were sent home from school. Restaurants and bars were closed. Travel plans altered. As Concord and the world brace for the challenges associated with COVID-19, serving New Hampshire’s business community and our members has never felt more vital.
With that in mind, we are sharing information here that is hopefully helpful to all of you including what the state is doing, what we’re doing, and resources offered for stable businesses who want to minimize impact on staff and customers, businesses looking at temporarily closing or reducing staff, individuals who may temporarily lose their job and/or income, as well as additional ways you can help our community during this challenging time.
Do you need health insurance?
Affordable Care Act enrollment open for those who need health coveage
If you are one of the many who lost your job and your employer-provided health insurance, you may qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday, Jan. 28, President Joe Biden signed an executive order instructing the Department of Health and Human Services to open a new special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act from Feb. 15 to May 15, 2021. President Biden’s order extends the period that marketplace-eligible consumers can enroll or update their existing application through HealthCare.gov. Those already enrolled in the Affordable Care Act may also change their coverage under the ACA during this period. Call 1-800-318-2596 with questions and view the “NH residents who have recently lost their employer-sponsored health insurance″ section of this blog below.
All NH residents can be tested for #COVID19 at fixed testing sites across NH, in addition to ConvenientMD and through your provider. Call 271-5980 or visit https://t.co/xmi2DJpt3Z to set up a test. pic.twitter.com/JVPgNAMjz5— DHHS PIO (@NHDHHSPIO) June 1, 2020
Vaccinations against Coronavirus (COVID-19) will be available to the public through the state of New Hampshire through a phased approach. New Hampshire is currently administering COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1. Scheduling your vaccine appointment will be dependent on supply.
Those in Phase 1 can get a COVID-19 vaccine now through March, according to a time frame estimate based on vaccine doses allocated to the state from the federal government and vaccine uptake. Phase 1A includes high-risk health workers, first responders and older adults living in residential care settings. Phase 1B includes people 75 years or older, medically vulnerable at significantly higher risk with 2 or more conditions (family caregivers of those medically vulnerable persons not including 16 years old and under), residents and staff of residential facilities for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, corrections officers and staff working in correctional facilities and first responders and health workers not already vaccinated. Residents aged 65 and older can schedule a vaccination appointment through vaccines.nh.gov now.
The State of New Hampshire will begin accepting vaccination appointments for individuals within Phase 2a on Friday, March 12, 2021. Phase 2a of the state’s vaccination plan includes roughly 50,000 teachers, other school employees and child care workers, while phase 2b includes anyone age 50 and older.
Visit NH.gov/COVID19 for updates and/or contact your healthcare provider for more information.
Have you been vaccinated against COVID-19? The CDC shared this helpful guidance about what's safe for vaccinated people to do with others and in the community.
The State of New Hamsphire's COVID-19 Business Guidelines web page features useful information on steps to take if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, employer travel, screening and exclusion guidance, COVID cleaning and disinfecting recommendations and more.
Watch our COVID-19 Vaccination Information for Employers webinar discussing how to address the COVID-19 vaccine in the workplace. Sheehan Phinney attorneys provided an informative overview that is available 24/7 on our website as a complimentary resource, along with a PDF of the presentation.
Governor Chris Sununu issued an order on Jan. 15 extending New Hampshire's statewide mask mandate through March 26, 2021 issuing the following statement, "With high case rates, hospitalizations, and fatalities, our health care system is still under an immense amount of pressure. To loosen or eliminate the tools we have utilized with success so far is the wrong approach to fighting this pandemic. The light at the end of the tunnel is within sight—but we must remain vigilant and we cannot let up now."
BREAKING: Gov. Chris Sununu is imposing a statewide mask mandate, starting Friday, in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 in New Hampshire. The mandate will apply to all indoor public spaces and outdoors when social distancing cannot be maintained. https://t.co/f4wRrGlE8Z pic.twitter.com/ZOTlYyj6y5— WMUR TV (@WMUR9) November 19, 2020
It's still important to maintain social distancing of 6' when around others not from your household and to wear face masks outdoors when social distancing is not possible.
You can support NH businesses by complying with this mandate - if COVID cases rise, forcing another shut down, many do not have the resources to reopen. Let's keep our economy going and be thankful to all the restaurants, hotels, shops and venues who worked hard to shift models for us. https://t.co/IdIfgehpJ4— Concord Chamber (@concordchamber) August 12, 2020
Concord City Council voted to extend the City of Concord's face coverings ordinance through June 1, 2021 during their January 2021 meeting.
The Concord City Council has determined that to continue to reduce the spread and infection of COVID-19, it is in the interest of the health and safety of all Concord citizens, residents, visitors, businesses, and the employees of our City and businesses, to wear face coverings while inside a retail establishment. This includes, but is not limited to, department stores, drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and retail or wholesale stores.
“Face covering” is defined as a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers at least the nose, mouth, and surrounding areas of the lower face. A face covering may be factory made, homemade, or improvised from ordinary household material.
Customers (ages five and older) are required to wear a face covering at all times when inside a retail establishment. A face covering is not required to be worn by any person in which doing so may pose a risk for health-related reasons. However, in these cases, special effort should be taken to maintain physical distance of at least six feet from other individuals.
Members of the public utilizing City trails, sidewalks and other pedestrian public ways, or public recreational lands, are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when a physical distance of six feet cannot be maintained from other individuals, but not required.
Education will be the first step in enforcement. Penalties for non-compliance are as follows: 1st offense—a written warning, 2nd offense and subsequent offense—a $15 fine. The failure to pay the penalty within ten (10) days shall result in the fine doubling. The failure to pay the penalty within twenty (20) business days shall result in an additional fee or four times the original fee. Failure to pay the penalty fee after twenty (20) business days may also result in the issuance of a summons to appear in court to answer to the charge of violating the ordinance.
More information about the ordinance, including printable posters for businesses and a set of FAQs, are available on the City of Concord’s website.
Members in retail and grocer categories: Fellow member @NHRetailers is sharing some helpful guidance from the State regarding facemask asks and enforcement. #MaskUp #KeepNHOpen #WeLoveOurMembers #COVID19Vaccines #MaskMandate https://t.co/5AzpmAVqZX— Concord Chamber (@concordchamber) January 13, 2021
Our COVID-19 schools dashboard is now live. This centralized website lists every school across NH with information on the number of cases within the schools, if there are clusters of illness, and if the school has reached an outbreak status. View here: https://t.co/MmxGfK0Kl8 pic.twitter.com/ASLf6PkLIx
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) September 1, 2020
We're back! Service resumes August 16. Visit our website for the new schedule, and learn about the extra safety precautions we’ve instituted to keep our passengers and employees safe. https://t.co/hb0UnEi5f0 pic.twitter.com/dE5BX4Oq4p— Concord Coach Lines (@concordcoach) August 6, 2020
CAT issued a service alert for Monday, Jan. 18 through Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021: State House and Eagle Square bus stops will move to Storrs Street under the Storrs Street Parking Garage. Signs will be posted at the temporary stops.
Manchester-Boston Regional Airport announced that it has achieved Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accreditation, the gold standard for prepared facilities. It is the first and only airport in New England to achieve the cleaning industry’s gold star accreditation. Under the guidance of GBAC, a Division of ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, Manchester-Boston Regional Airport has implemented the most stringent protocols for cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention in its facility.
We are proud to announce our #GBACSTAR accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a Division of @ISSAWorldwide , for outbreak recovery, response, and prevention. https://t.co/Ob1ibxZy5n #LiveFreeandFly pic.twitter.com/nQ5HNoNMXl— Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (@flymanchester) December 30, 2020
Glenn and Susanne Currie Small Business Challenge Grant
The Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce recently announced the Glenn and Susanne Currie Small Business Challenge Grant, grant opportunities of up to $2,000 for small businesses located in Concord, N.H. that are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly those who have been less successful in accessing adequate funding through the CARES Act, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or other state and federal resources. The Glenn and Susanne Currie Small Business Challenge Grant is made possible through the generosity of Concord residents Glenn and Susanne Currie, and supported by Northeast Delta Dental, Merrimack County Savings Bank, Bangor Savings Bank, Ledyard National Bank and Grappone Automotive Group. Funds are limited. Qualifying small businesses should apply no later than Wednesday, March 24, 2021 through the Chamber’s website. For more information, call (603) 224-2508 or email the Chamber.
2021 COVID RELIEF BILL
New Hampshire Small Business Development Center shared some highlights from the 2021 COVID Relief Bill including the additional $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), PPP Forgiveness changes, Debt relief program for SBA borrowers, Employee Retention Tax Credit, Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance, Grants for Shuttered Venues and Childcare Stabilization Grants. Bookmark this page for guidance on all of the above along with links for free upcoming webinars and helpful business resources.
Businesses across the United States can now apply for new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The funds are part of the relief package signed into law on Dec. 27. The program is open to both first-time and returning borrowers, as long as they were open for business by Feb. 15, 2020. New Hampshire businesses and business organizations can apply for the latest federal Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan program at any bank or credit union beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021.
SBA is reopening the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for First Draw Loans the week of January 11, 2021. First Draw PPP Loans can be used to help fund payroll costs, including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay for mortgage interest, rent, utilities, worker protection costs related to COVID-19, uninsured property damage costs caused by looting or vandalism during 2020, and certain supplier costs and expenses for operations.
First Draw PPP Loans made to eligible borrowers qualify for full loan forgiveness if during the 8- to 24-week covered period following loan disbursement:
• Employee and compensation levels are maintained;
• The loan proceeds are spent on payroll costs and other eligible expenses; and
• At least 60 percent of the proceeds are spent on payroll costs
Second round PPP Loans include options for fund use from eight to 24 weeks, and the money can be used for more things; for example, to pay for personal protective equipment and other safeguards and health remedies needed to comply with local regulations. Businesses with 300 employees or fewer can apply for the loans. Businesses that received PPP funds last year can reapply.
The PPP Program is available until March 13, 2021 or until the money runs out or is refunded. Don't delay your application or feel discouraged if you applied and were passed over before. Borrowers can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, eligible non-bank lender, or Farm Credit System institution that is participating in PPP. We're proud to recommend our Bank & Banking Association members for assistance applying for a PPP Loan.
One other little known but key change in the new law is that those participating in the PPP can also take advantage of the Employee Retention Tax Credit, though not for the same expenses as claimed under PPP. The new law gives credit on payroll taxes, so they can be realized immediately for some, quarterly for others, and with a credit of up to 80% an applicant can end up getting as much as $14,000 per employee. It is also retroactive to last year.
The U.S. Small Business Administration's website features helpful content pertaining to second draw PPP loans along with this Forbes article, “PPP Loans Are Back: Here's What You Need to Know.”
First Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Borrower Overview - revised Jan. 8, 2021
The Chamber has been in contact with our federal delegation to advocate for stimulus spending that goes to local smaller businesses in need that might not typically be on the federal radar screen.
We’ve adjusted programming to free up Healthcare professionals so they can service those in need.
We’ve embraced new technology and live streamed events like our 2020 Pinnacle Awards Ceremony, our Forum with NH's Commissioners and even our Business Showcase, which became New Hampshire's firt virtual trade show where attendees could rotate through digital “rooms” and engage directly with our exhibitors!
We've also offered complimentary online events on important topics throughout the pandemic like Reducing Liability Risk During COVID-19, Business Interruption Insurance in the COVID-19 Environment, Communicating with Clients, Customers and Other Constituents in a Crisis, Technology to Cultivate a Delightful, Productive, and Secure Remote Culture and much more. You can view these programs in full on our Webinars for businesses page anytime, register for upcoming topics and view previously presented informative webinars all at no charge.
Join us this Friday at 9 a.m. for a complimentary #webinar : Surviving COVID-19 in 2021 – How to Maximize Your #PayrollTaxCredits and Prepare #PPP Round 2. @CheckmateNH— Concord Chamber (@concordchamber) January 20, 2021
Register now: https://t.co/mmxf5u5gNL #COVID19resources #applyingforPPP #businessresources #NH #ConcordNH pic.twitter.com/QpSiqLBNSo
Join us on 1/26 for a preview of what's to come in the #NH #legislativesession and an overview of federal COVID-19 funding that is in effect right now. #webinar @OrrReno— Concord Chamber (@concordchamber) January 14, 2021
Register: https://t.co/ju6xuXhYxI pic.twitter.com/t0E7Csopwq
Join us for a complimentary #webinar discussing how to address the #COVID19 #vaccine in the workplace. @SheehanPhinney attorneys will give and overview and answer attendee questions during this complimentary webinar.— Concord Chamber (@concordchamber) January 14, 2021
Register: https://t.co/7wvEOeg8sN pic.twitter.com/O35sQpvKHV
New to webinars or Zoom? Check out our blog, "Tips for joining a Zoom webinar."
We’ve reformatted upcoming events to a virtual format—scroll down for updates.
We’ve contacted members to find out what they’re doing to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus on their business and updated the online business directory with new and revised services. Want to update your profile? Let us know if you have implemented changes to serve customers that we can help promote.
Listen to our next Talk Concord podcast episode featuring Tim Sink from @concordchamber talking with Economic Dev. Director Suzi Pegg about what they have been doing for businesses & the community during COVID-19: https://t.co/ie2jGGVq8H— City of Concord, NH (@CityOfConcordNH) October 22, 2020
Reach out to fellow members for tech solutions that facilitate online meetings and work from home methods.
Follow peers online—small business owners, restauranteurs, nonprofit, local and state leaders are posting their learnings with valuable resources online. Follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. and/or subscribe to their e-newsletters for informative updates.
Apply right away for the newly expanded Payroll Protection Program and keep your employees (details above).
NH Employment Security also offers WorkShare as an alternative to layoffs during a difficult time:
Employers keep trained workers and are able to get up and running to full capacity faster, without having to rehire and/or train staff.
Employees keep their jobs and receive unemployment benefits while their hours are reduced rather than eliminated; they stay partially employed instead of becoming unemployed.
Eligible WorkShare participants will receive a percentage of their weekly benefit amount equal to the percentage of the hour reduction. Weekly benefit amounts may be reduced for additional hours worked. Reductions shall be made when an employee works for a non-WorkShare employer(s) and earns more than $128.
Employees maintain their health benefits at their employer. Retirement contributions made by an employer on behalf of the employee will be based on hours worked. Any other fringe benefits may be continued or discontinued at the discretion of the employer and must be addressed in the plan.
For more information on WorkShare: Call (603) 528-9360 or email WorkShare@nhes.nh.gov.
Apply for an SBA Federal Disaster Loan - available to Businesses, Private Nonprofits, Homeowners and Renters. Specify Economic Injury in regards to business losses. The interest rate is 3.75 percent for small businesses and 2.75 percent for private non-profit organizations. SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years and are available to entities without the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.
Use NH Employment Security's Return to Work program:
A voluntary program that provides a structured, supervised training opportunity to unemployed individuals in NH. Eligible claimants may continue to collect unemployment compensation while in training. The training program may be up to six weeks, and a maximum of 24 hours per week. Claimants must continue to file weekly continued claims to receive benefits and conduct a work search during non-training time unless otherwise exempted.
Use NH Employment Security's Work Now NH program:
NH Employment Security will be working with WorkNowNH recipients to connect those that are job ready with available job opportunities. For those that are not job ready, they will be offered the support they need to become job ready as quickly as possible. To be eligible for WorkNowNH, participants must be a Granite Advantage beneficiary (set at 138% of the Federal Poverty Level), or Traditional Medicaid recipients. The following employment supports services are available for eligible participants:
To learn more about the program and/or eligibility requirements, contact WorkNowNH@nhes.nh.gov.
Look at Job postings from fellow members on our website. (Members, please post your open positions!).
Look at Job postings and resources on NH Employment Security’s website.
Use the Chamber Rx card to help lower the cost of prescriptions for you or your pet. There’s no cost and no paperwork. Simply present it at check-out.
Call 2-1-1 if you have questions about Coronavirus and want to talk to someone. Granite United Way's 211 NH initiative is there 24 hours a day to connect people with the resources they need in times of crisis.
You may qualify for State assistance programs like Cash, Medical, SNAP (Food Assistance), Child Care, Medicare Beneficiary and Long Term Care Assistance.
Health coverage options are available for people who have recently been laid off or lost their employer sponsored health insurance benefits. In addition, a NEW special enrollment period is open now through May 15. https://t.co/VC887pY0M3 pic.twitter.com/EX97Evp0xc— NH Insurance Department (@NHInsuranceDept) March 3, 2021
If you are now receiving low or no income:
You can enroll in the Granite Advantage Health Care Program or other Medicaid programs if you are low or no income and need health coverage. There are also Medicaid programs available for children, pregnant women, and the medically frail. Learn more about the Granite Advantage Program on the Department of Health and Human Services website. You can enroll in the Granite Advantage Program or Medicaid coverage through NH Easy or HealthCare.gov.
There are several Medicaid Managed Care plans to choose from. Do your research to make sure that the plan you choose includes your preferred medical providers.
Apply for an individual plan on HealthCare.gov:
If you are one of the many who lost your job and your employer-provided health insurance, you may qualify for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. On Thursday, Jan. 28, President Joe Biden signed an executive order instructing the Department of Health and Human Services to open a new special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act from Feb. 15 to May 15, 2021. President Biden’s order extends the period that marketplace-eligible consumers can enroll or update their existing application through HealthCare.gov . Those already enrolled in the Affordable Care Act may also change their coverage under the ACA during this period. Call 1-800-318-2596 with questions.
Typically, HealthCare.gov has Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) for people who may have recently lost their employer sponsored health insurance coverage, and other qualifying life events. You can apply for the SEP 60 days before you know your coverage will end and 60 days from the date you lost coverage. With the exception of President Biden's special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act from February 15 until May 15, 2021, if you do not apply 60 days from the date your health insurance terminated, you will not be able to take advantage of the SEP.
Three-quarters of NH residents insured through the Marketplace qualified for financial assistance. There are two types of assistance available, depending on your income level. Premium Tax Credits are available to help offset premium costs, based on a sliding scale that goes up to 400% of the federal poverty level. Cost Sharing Reductions lower the amount of out-of-pocket costs, such as deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance, a person or family must pay. These discounts are available for households with an income up to 250% of the federal poverty level, but can only be used with Silver level plans bought on HealthCare.gov. After completing an application on HealthCare.gov, you will learn how much assistance you qualify for, based on your tax household income.
Although this is a period of high anxiety and stress, take some time to do your research. There are many things to consider when selecting a health plan. Anthem, Ambetter by NH Healthy Families, and Harvard Pilgrim sell individual health plans on HealthCare.gov. There are different “metal levels” or tiers, depending on how much you are willing to spend each month on premiums versus how much you are willing to pay out of pocket for medical services. In addition, make sure that the plan you choose includes your preferred medical providers and prescription drugs. You can do this research on HealthCare.gov after applying for a plan or through a resource on the NH Insurance Department’s website .
You can get free enrollment help. HealthCare.gov offers a "Find Local Help" tool that you can use to look up free help in your community, including enrollment assisters and insurance agents. Free enrollment assistance is also available through a Federal Navigator by calling 1-877-211-NAVI or by visiting NH Navigator.
To start your new insurance plan, you must pay your first month’s premium by the insurance company’s due date. There are grace periods , but it may be helpful to set a reminder each month to pay your premium. If you do not pay your premium, your plan can be terminated.
COBRA & NH State Continuation Options:
When your insurance coverage is terminated, your insurance company is required to notify you of your rights. If your employer had 20 or more employees, you can select COBRA or NH State Continuation. If your employer had fewer than 20 employees, you can select NH State Continuation. These options allow you and your dependents to continue on your employer’s group health (medical and dental) benefit plan at the employer’s full price, plus a 2% administrative fee. Find more resources on COBRA and NH State Continuation on the Insurance Department’s website.
The State of New Hampshire launched 3 new platforms to help:
NHResponds.org : Secure online registration system for medical and non-medical volunteers. Whether you are a healthcare provider, administrative specialist, a retired professional - anyone ready to help your community - New Hampshire needs you.
VolunteerNH.org : If you are interested in volunteering to support NH communities during the COVID-19 outbreak, please apply.
NHeconomy.org/ppehelp : New portal for companies who can donate, or produce supplies for lab, testing, and diagnostics; personal protection equipment (PPEs), or medical or scientific expertise. Please notify the state if you can help.
New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA) created a The New Hampshire Hospitality Employee Relief Fund (NHHERF) to support employees of the hospitality industry who have been impacted by COVID-19. You can give here.
Donate to Granite United Way : GUW established a dedicated COVID-19 Relief Fund where 100% of your donation will go directly to help people across the state. You can give by texting GUWHELPS to 41444 or by clicking here .
NH Charitable Foundation created a Community Crisis Action Fund to support nonprofits assisting the most vulnerable and industries like emergency response, health and child care on the front lines of COVID-19 . Donate at www.nhcf.org.
Volunteer for Meals on Wheels NH and help deliver food to vulnerable people in the state like seniors who are isolated in their homes.
Businesses can participate in the New Hampshire Nonprofit Response Fund created by NHCDFA and NHBFA to support New Hampshire nonprofits through deferred loans and grants to qualified nonprofits. Businesses that want to participate in the Fund will receive a 75% state tax credit that can be used for up to 5 years.
Order take-out, delivery and curb-side pick-up from participating restaurants, cafés and coffee shops. Our online membership directory has the latest information on who is offering those services for customers, in the Greater Concord area and tourist regions like the Lakes and White Mountains.
Entertainment venues – purchase gift cards, make a donation, purchase tickets to a future show and donate the cost of ticket sales if events are cancelled.
Nonprofit organizations – make a donation and donate the cost of ticket sales if fundraising events are cancelled. If you are healthy, volunteer for organizations, homeless and animal shelters who might be facing a critical staff shortage. Sponsor online and rescheduled events.
Retail – Please help them thrive when, how and where you can. While stores are temporarily closed due to the Governor's stay in place order, there are lots of local retailers with shopping-enabled websites and active social media accounts ready to do business. Buy online from Baron’s , Celeste Oliva , Cobblestone , Company C , Endicott Furniture posts all their furniture online with a reference number for any questions, Fifty Home , Gibson’s Bookstore , Gondwana , Granite State Candy Shoppe , Indigo Blues & Co. , League of New Hampshire Craftsmen Concord Gallery store, Lilise Designer Resale , Runner’s Alley , True Confections Candies & Gifts , Who Doesn’t Want That? . Viking House is “only a phone call away” and offers free local delivery – they will even ship your gifts for you! Buy a bike or put one on layaway at S&W Sports , and ask about discounted skis and boards at the latter. Buy gift certificates from any of the above along with Arnaldo Joseph , Cole Gardens , Concord Antiques , Joe King’s , Marshall’s Florist , Things are Cooking and Zoe & Co . Share their products on social media and why you love being a customer.