As businesses adapt to today’s temporary commercial restrictions, the OWB is consolidating resources crowdsourced from our community to deal with immediate circumstances while also developing new programs to prepare for the emerging opportunities to come.
OWB’s educational priorities reflect a more expansive outlook during this global emergency. Recognizing the industry’s urgent need for timely, accurate information on the federal government’s evolving financial aid packages, the OWB’s Finance Committee has designed a webinar scheduled for tomorrow, April 9, at 10 a.m. featuring bankers and attorneys with insights for Oregon’s mid-sized and smaller family wine businesses.
During the session, the speakers will refer to this application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) as well as this form for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). If you are wondering which lenders participate in the PPP, click here to search by zip code.
Register here to join Thursday morning’s webinar. If you want to view the session later, it will be recorded.
One thing that has caused some confusion is the conflicting reports about whether one should apply concurrently for both the PPP and an EIDL. The Small Business Administration is communicating now that businesses are permitted to apply for both PPP loans and EIDL but that they cannot use them for the same purposes.
You have probably seen breaking news this week announcing steps being taken to further strengthen PPP. On April 6, the Federal Reserve created a new lending facility making it easier for banks to get the SBA-insured financing flowing. And just in the past couple of days, congressional leaders in Washington, D.C., have outlined their intention to make a secondary infusion of approximately $251B on top of the $349B establishing PPP in the CARES Act, which was signed less than two weeks ago on March 27. It is hoped that this follow-on funding will enable businesses to retain workers beyond the eight weeks referenced in CARES.
Winery and vineyard owners could also find it helpful to talk with their tax advisors and accountants about other federal benefits such as Employee Retention Credits and Refundable Payroll Tax Credits.
A final point on the financial packages: Senator Wyden was in touch April 3 by conference call with leaders in Oregon’s ag. sector including Rogue Valley winemaker Eric Weisinger. Eric expressed his concern about the EIDL program and language in the application that seems to make many farmers and agricultural businesses ineligible for Economic Injury Disaster assistance. Shortly after that call, both Oregon senators released this joint press announcement committing to correcting that agricultural exclusion.
Looking beyond government financing programs, the OWB is also working with industry veterans to create new discussion forums for dialogue on topics such as managing vineyards more efficiently this season while also building more enduring resiliency into grower operations and business designs for the future. OWB will also be sponsoring a separate working group focused on the three-tier distribution model exploring the dynamics that will transform links in that value chain over the next few years.
At the same time, we continue scouting for educational opportunities of more immediate interest. For example, we have coordinated with DTC experts VingDirect to sponsor Reaching Out to Customers, a 3.5-hour online course.
This class is designed for tasting room hosts and managers to help them create an ongoing communication plan to engage customers, sell wine, and continue relationships. Valued at $399, our sponsorship allows any Oregon wine industry member to attend for just $25. Register here to receive your link to the course when it launches on April 14.
Not specific to COVID-19, OWB’s longstanding commitment to scientific research is alive and well. Industry volunteers from around the state have not been delayed by the current crisis and have just completed their annual review of project applications, 48 this year, in an effort to narrow the field to those most worthy of your tax dollars consistent with the OWB’s Strategic Plan for Research.
OWB’s media relations effort is shifting to fulfill new requests from writers around the world looking for inspiring examples of innovation and ingenuity in customer service and brand-building. Here are some samples of what we are sending to writers. You can email Sally Murdoch to add something distinctive about how your team is staying in touch with consumers or ways you are supporting your community.
If you haven’t yet viewed the OWB marketing team’s COVID-19 consumer messaging, click here. In addition to that web page promoting near-term sales, OWB also invited some fresh perspectives and thoughtful guidance from several industry marketing experts in a series of teleconferences.
This group encouraged us to look out further, so we have scoped a program to leverage consumer interest in Oregon wine and set the stage for return visits to wine country when your businesses re-open. More on that program soon.
In closing, I’ll refer you to some resources provided by your industry colleagues and our affiliated partners that may be helpful on a range of issues stemming from COVID-19:
For some information on social distancing in agricultural operations and other topics, take a look at this from the Oregon Farm Bureau.
Oregon Winegrowers Association’s legal counsel, Davis Wright Tremaine, suggests looking at this link from the U.S. Department of Labor with details on paid leave for your employees as well as medical or family-related absences from work. DWT provides this as well with answers to some FAQs that followed the passage last month of H.R. 6201, known as the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”
And DWT shares these practical considerations on managing during the emergency along with this from the CDC offering interim guidance for employers when dealing with issues related to COVID-19.
The Oregon Wine Council forwards this link to the NFIB’s recorded webinar from last Friday reviewing loan programs for small businesses and this three-pager with safety and health advice for agriculture employers and workers from California’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health with useful tips for Oregon growers and winemakers.
SAIF (Oregon’s not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company) has a $10 million coronavirus worker safety fund to help employers make workplaces safer. More than 53,000 SAIF policyholders across the state are eligible to apply. Click here for more information.
Thank you all for these contributions and your willingness to share knowledge to keep everyone informed when it matters most.