Beautiful Sunset Scenery of Sedona, Arizona

 April 7, 2021

“SHUTTERED VENUE” GRANT APPLICATIONS OPEN APRIL 8 

The Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) program is contained in amended form in the American Rescue Plan Act. The program includes over $16 billion in grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance.

Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees.

These grants are for live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, museums, motion picture theatre operators, and talent representatives including those owned by local governments or community colleges. This includes nonprofits and for-profits. 

To prepare, in addition to registering in the System of Award Management database, you should reference the application checklist and eligibility requirements.

SEDONA STATEMENT ON ARIZONA’S LIFTING OF COVID RESTRICTIONS URGES CONTINUED USE OF MASKS, SOCIAL DISTANCING

The City of Sedona has issued a statement regarding Governor Ducey’s lifting of COVID restrictions and mask orders. The statement includes remarks from Mayor Moriarty encouraging businesses and citizens to continue following CDC guidelines regarding masks and social distancing. You can read the statement here.  

DUCEY RESCINDS COVID RESTRICTIONS, BUSINESSES OKed TO RESUME “NORMAL OPERATIONS” 

Governor Ducey issued a press release and Executive Order March 25, 2021 announcing that Arizona businesses can resume normal operations, effective immediately. This includes: hotels and resorts, restaurants and bars, fitness centers, pools, waterparks/tubing, movie theaters and attractions. This new order repeals EOs from 2020 including: 09, 36, 40, 43, 47, 52, and 59.

Key changes for our industry include:

  • All events over 50 people no longer need the approval of local governments.
  • Events should continue to follow safe practices and CDC recommendations.
  • Business guidance also transitions from requirements to recommendations.
  • Governor Ducey is providing businesses with the ability to continue requiring masks and social distancing at their discretion.
  • Questions about these changes can be submitted to the Arizona Office of Tourism: recovery@tourism.az.gov.

According to the AOT, several positive data points enabled these changes:

  • 10 weeks of declining cases.
  • Opening of vaccine appointments to all Arizonans over 16.
  • Mass distribution of the vaccine: 3,041,773 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to 1,927,278 individuals in Arizona, including 1,185,986 who have been fully vaccinated.
  • A recent CDC evaluation ranking Arizona among the best states in the nation for getting the COVID-19 vaccine to vulnerable communities.
  • President Biden’s recent promise that every American will be able to be vaccinated by May 1.

According to the governor’s news release, “Some local governments have implemented “mandates,” however, they have rarely, if ever, been enforced. Under this latest action, those local mandates will be phased out. Mask usage is still encouraged, especially in groups that are not vaccinated.”

According to Governor Ducey’s accompanying  Executive Order, businesses and nonprofits “still maintain the right to institute and enforce policies to mitigate against COVID-19 spread including the use of face coverings and physical distancing and retain the right to refuse service to those who do not comply with the policies.”

This is good news for the ongoing recovery of Arizona’s economy and tourism industry. In making the announcement, the AOT Director Debbie Johnson states her office will  continue to market safe and responsible travel to ensure that we keep moving forward on this positive path.

Restaurant Recovery Legislation Offers Grants to Independent Restaurants

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief legislation signed into law in March includes $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, offering direct relief for independent restaurants. Eligible businesses include “food service or drinking establishments, including caterers, brewpubs, taprooms and tasting rooms, that are not part of an affiliated group with more than 20 locations.”

The funding is in the form of  forgivable grants, and local independent restaurants can use the resources for payroll, benefits, mortgages, rent, utilities, maintenance, supplies, protective equipment, cleaning materials, food, paid sick leave and any other expenses deemed essential. The fund is modeled on the RESTAURANTS Act, first introduced in 2020. Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema was one of the original co-sponsors of the Act. 

Erika Polmar, Executive Director of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, said she’s hopeful that restaurants will have grants in hand this spring. “The Small Business Administration is not in the business of offering grants in this manner and so they have to build a whole new system,” she said. She expects to see more information, including, hopefully, grant applications, in April.

As more information emerges, we will keep Sedona independent restaurateurs informed. 

Congress Passes COVID Relief Bill 2021

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 Relief Package passed Congress on March 10, 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 includes federal assistance and supports recovery of small business and the tourism industry. Here are some key points to know about the plan:

  • $350 billion to states and local governments, with explicit authority given to allow funds to aid the travel and tourism industry.
  • $3 billion for Economic Development Administration grants, with 25% ($750 million) set aside for communities affected by job loss in travel and tourism.
  • Extends the Employee Retention Tax Credit through the end of 2021 and adds enhancements for businesses experiencing at least a 90% decline in revenue.
  • $7.25 billion to the Payroll Protection Program and allows larger nonprofits to qualify.
  • Extends a $300 per week jobless aid supplement until Sept. 6. It also makes an individual’s first $10,200 in jobless benefits tax-free.
  • The bill includes $1,400 in direct payments to individuals and families. The amount begins to lessen at $75,000 in income for individuals, capped at individuals who make $80,000. The thresholds for joint filers are double those limits. Eligibility will be determined on most recent filed tax return.
  • $12.7 billion for a national vaccination program, which creates community inoculation centers nationwide along with mobile units for hard-to-reach areas.
  • $50 billion to improve testing and contact tracing capabilities.

You can read an initial news report here. As details emerge on specifics, including resources that can help you access funds, we will keep you informed.

Sedona has been fortunate to experience a stronger recovery and lower unemployment than other areas and economic sectors in the U.S., but too many people are still out of work or underemployed. This is exciting news for local business as we continue on our road to recovery.

Vaccine Distribution

Coconino and Yavapai County Health Departments are administering COVID-19 vaccinations for eligible residents. Make an appointment and stay updated on vaccine allocations, administration and locations in Coconino County and Yavapai County Health Department websites. To find COVID-19 testing sites near you, put in your ZIP code at Arizona Department of Health

Are your “Mask Up, Sedona” and Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready messages readily visible to your customers? Now is a good time to check and if you need additional or replacement posters, you can download them here. Let’s not let our guard down.

Governor Ducey Executive Orders Online

Governor Ducey has issued numerous COVID-19 Executive Orders that impact the business community. You can see all the COVID-19 Executive Orders here.

COVID-19 Relief Bill Information

The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) is accepting first and second draw applications through Community Financial Institutions. You will find the list of lenders at this link.

The terms of the relief programs are complex and require study and preparation. Among the top-line features:

  • The Employee Retention Tax Credit has been broadened and extended to July 1, 2021.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications are extended through the end of 2021 and EIDL grants of up to $10,000 are available.
  • An SBA debt relief program goes into effect in February regarding SBA 7 (a), 504 and microloans.
  • SBA lending programs have received new funding.
  • SBA grants for “shuttered venues” such as cultural institutions are available.
  • The PPP program continuation has been extended to March 31, 2021.
  • New rules are in place for PPP loan forgiveness.
  • The Yavapai College Small Business Development Center has prepared an excellent synopsis.

If you are not a client of the SBDC, now is a good time to consider joining and receive free business planning, counseling, access to funding and other business assistance. To become a client, please register and a business analyst will contact you.

If you are interested in any of these resources, you should prepare your financial information prior to applying.

  • Financial Statements -Work on getting these up to date and in order. These will be needed for the application process.
  • Connect with your local banker to understand their process for applying for some of these funds as well.

If you are a client of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), reach out to your business analyst for assistance and any questions.

Sedona Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force

The Sedona Chamber of Commerce has formed a Tourism Economic Recovery Task Force representing a range of Sedona businesses to guide the Sedona Chamber’s recovery strategy and to serve as a resource for City of Sedona and Verde Valley leaders. The Task Force is meeting regularly and we will keep you updated on this page. 

Take Advantage of Promotional and Marketing Opportunities

Please visit the Benefits of Partnership page to see all your Sedona Chamber benefits including ways to promote your business with free and paid opportunities. Please contact us if you have any questions about your benefits.

Arizona Commerce Authority Webinars Prepare you for 2021

The Arizona Commerce Authority is continuing its popular webinar series. Check out free webinars on a host of ways to improve your business performance in 2021.

Mitigation Requirements For Events

Under Executive Order 2020-43 issued in June, organized public events with more than 50 attendees are prohibited in Arizona, with the option for local jurisdictions to selectively approve events of greater than 50 people only if they implemented enhanced mitigation measures, which include:

  • It is determined that safety precautions consistent with guidance issued by both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ADHS are in place.
  • The event organizer has committed to implementing and enforcing these precautions.
  • If an event is approved, the local jurisdiction must publicly post the mitigation measures on their website and dedicate resources to enforcing mitigation measures.

As was the case before, a local city, town or county may deny a request for an organized event due to public health concerns related to COVID-19.

Steps for Employers in Handling COVID-19  

The Arizona Department of Health Services has published COVID-19 workplace guidance with directions on what to do if someone has symptoms, is awaiting test results, and when isolation is required. The guidance is specific to the types of COVID-19 tests, enabling you to act quickly and correctly.

An accompanying flow chart offers a step-by-step guide to assessing the most appropriate actions. 

Free Enhanced COVID AWARE Food Handler’s Certificate

Coconino County’s Health and Human Services and Northern Arizona University’s Economic Policy Institute are offering a FREE online Enhanced Food Handler’s Training and Testing program for food service employers and employees. The training teaches best practices as they relate to COVID-19. Upon completion, employees receive an Enhanced Food Handler’s Certificate. Businesses who complete employee training receive a Certified COVID AWARE decal to display on their business window. 

Start the program here.

Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready Campaign Continues to Grow 

277 businesses have volunteered to implement posted safety practices and are now listed on SedonaSafeCleanReady.com. We are also encouraging residents and visitors to practice the guidelines. 

By signing on, you get immediate access to Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready logos and posters letting customers know you are operating responsibly and educating them on interacting safely with you and your employees.

We are promoting Sedona | Safe.Clean.Ready through social media, blogs, free media and paid advertising. The City of Sedona is helping with A-frame signs and variable message boards. 

Signing up takes just a few moments. Act today!  

Send ekeider@sedonachamber.com photos of your safety practices, so we can share what you are doing!

The Arizona Office of Tourism Provides Guidelines for Tourism Industry Businesses

The Arizona Office of Tourism shared Travel-focused Pandemic Data Resources


FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE


Apply for City of Sedona Grant Funding Now Through April 29

The City of Sedona invites 501(c) organizations to apply for city grants typically ranging from $2,000 to $20,000. Grant applications are available for programs, activities or events developed by 501(c) organizations that provide a public service or benefit, and are consistent with the city’s funding priorities. Grant applications will be distributed by request only. For more information or to receive an application, fill out the request form here

Apply for SBDC Small Business Makeover

The Small Business Development Center at Yavapai College is powering a Small Business Makeover for qualifying businesses in the area! Four businesses will be selected to receive a full business makeover, while 60 other businesses will be selected to receive a mini-makeover. Whether your business needs a website makeover, marketing and strategy overhaul or operations improvement, the SBDC will bring in a team of experts to help revitalize your small business. 

To get started you must:

  • Have been in business for at least three years. 
  • Must permanently reside in Yavapai County, not a subsidiary or a branch. 
  • Have up to $15MM in annual revenues and/or less than 500 employees. 
  • Describe how COVID-19 has impacted your business. 
  • Not be involved in any legal proceedings. 
  • Have not received ongoing coaching in the last five years from the Yavapai College SBDC. 

Click here to apply! There are two more rounds left: April 30 and May 31. After your application is received, members from the SBDC will reach out to confirm eligibility, discuss program details, guidelines and expectations. 

Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) was awarded $289 million from the COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress. This funding will be used toward direct payments for rent, rental arrears, utilities, utility arrears, and other expenses related to housing stability incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Beginning February 23, renters and landlords in the twelve Arizona counties listed will be able to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) using the online ERAP portal. Applications will be accepted through the program’s expiration on December 31, 2021 or until funding is exhausted. Click here to view the Emergency Rental Assistance Program details and eligibility requirements.

Arizona Community Foundation Non-Profit Support

The Arizona Community Foundation has established a COVID-19 Community Response Fund to help non-profit organizations who provide critical care and need emergency funding to meet the surge in demand. Apply for or donate to the fund at azfoundation.org.

SBA Disaster Loan Update 

The SBA is accepting applications for the EIDL Loan and Advance Programs.  Check it regularly. Non-profit organizations are also eligible for SBA Disaster Loans. Nonprofits should contact Northern AZ SCORE and United Way of Yavapai County for assistance.

Senior Core of Retired Executives Offer FREE Business Advice 

Free SCORE business advisory services for COVID-19 business advice, and  recovery planning. Contact Wade Bell at wade.bell@scorevolunteer.org


LOCAL ATTORNEYS EXPLAIN


Aspey, Watkins & Diesel PLLC explain topics to help businesses related to COVID-19

Some of the topics include:  

Click here to view all topics


EMPLOYMENT & PAYROLL RELIEF


Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act from the US Senate 

Click here for the Small Business Guide and Checklist, provided by the US Chamber of Commerce

US Senate Committee on Small Business provides Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses here.

CARES Act Eligibility Guide

CARES Act FAQs

New Guidance from Department of Labor on Leave Rules

The U.S. Department Of Labor just published guidance for explaining paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

Relief for laid off and unpaid employees:  Arizona@Work is a resource for temporary employment services. Your laid off employees should register at Arizona Job Connection. The Arizona@Work icon is on the upper left.

Here you will find the Sedona Emergency Community Resource Directory

Arizona Unemployment Insurance: The CARES Act includes additional funding for state unemployment insurance and may waive some restrictions such as waiting periods. Your laid off unpaid employees can begin the process of applying for benefits at AZUI.gov

NOTE – the Northern Arizona Council of Governments recommends entering COVID-19 as the ‘Reason for Separation.’

Your laid off employees can get help navigating the services above by calling NACOG’s  West County One Shop at 928.778.1422 or 928.308.4832, or the East County One Stop at 928.649.6867 or 928.649.6868, or visit their websites: nacog.org and yavapaiatwork.com.


VISITOR CENTER & CHAMBER OPERATIONS


Visitor Center: The Visitor Center at Forest and 89A is open 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. We will continue to operate as follows:

Chamber Administrative Office: The Chamber offices at 45 Sunset Drive is open by appointment only. Staff are keeping regular hours, available by phone, and email while keeping communications and services going full blast.

Please bookmark to regularly review and share the Sedona Travel Advisory page and our Updates to Sedonans.


ADDITIONAL BUSINESS RESOURCES


City of Sedonasedona

City of Sedona Covid-19 information and resources


County & Stateaz-1

Coconino County Health and Human Services information

Yavapai County Health Services website

Arizona Department of Health and Human Services information

Arizona Commerce Authority

Arizona Department of Economic Security

Unemployment Insurance Fact Sheet from the Department of Economic Security


Centers for Disease Control and Preventioncdc_logo

CDC website on coronavirus

CDC’s travel notices

Tips on coronavirus prevention