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Employer Guidance for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Am I Essential? Health Prevention Tips
Best Practices Industry Updates
Employer Planning Pesticide Training
Federal Help Promoting Power of Plants
Financial Help Resources
Guide to CARES Act Ways to Stay Informed


IGIA is closely monitoring the development of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Illinois. We know you take the health and safety of employees and customers very seriously, and want to do everything possible to keep people safe while keeping our industry moving.  We must all monitor and comply with Federal, State, and Local advisories and precautionary measures. You should closely monitor employee health and, as the CDC advises, actively encourage sick employees to stay home.  Limit close contact between employees and clients for the safety of all involved.

Am I Essential?  Am I Allowed to Stay Open During the Stay-At-Home Order?
CLICK HERE


WAYS TO STAY INFORMED

NALP Coronvirus Podcasts - CLICK HERE

Crisis Management for Small Business Owners
April 7th at 12:00 pm
Now more than ever, successful entrepreneurs must be equipped with crisis management skills in order to survive. In this one-hour webinar, Accion’s Rowan Richards, will share the five key elements of crisis management for small business owners. This conversation will cover everything from cash flow usage to negotiations with vendors to employee management, and everything in between.  Running a small business can be hectic and stressful in the most mundane times, but the COVID-19 health crisis is creating economic effects that most entrepreneurs have never seen before. The challenges are many, but luckily, so are the resources and support systems for small business owners.  REGISTER HERE

AmericanHort Webinar: What Loans, Grants, and Business Relief are Available?  CLICK HERE TO ACCESS RECORDING

Dr. Bridget Behe's Connect-2-Consumer Podcasts
Marketing in Turbulent Times Part 1 - CLICK HERE
Marketing in Turbulent Times Part 2 - CLICK HERE

AmericanHort Webinar:  Legislative & Economic Update - CLICK HERE TO ACCESS RECORDING

AmericanHort Webinar: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act - Answering Tax and Labor Questions
CLICK HERE TO ACCESS RECORDING

Garden Center Webinar: Zero-Contact Sales: How to Get Through the Spring Season
CLICK HERE TO ACCESS RECORDING

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Financial Help

Illinois Approved for SBA Disaster Assistance Loans

Illinois has been approved for SBA loans for Illinois small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The low-interest loans offer up to $2 million in assistance per eligible small business or non-profit organization that applies. These loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The interest rate for businesses without credit available elsewhere is 3.75%, and the non-profit rate is 2.75%. According to the Small Business Administration, loans are available with long-term repayments to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Nursery producers are not eligible for this assistance under SBA guidelines. Business owners and non-profit leaders can apply for the loans on the SBA website CLICK HERE  

3-Step Guide to Applying for a Loan - CLICK HERE    Fact Sheet - CLICK HERE

Emergency Loan Funds for Illinois Small Business Outside of Chicago

DCEO and IDFPR have established the Illinois Small Business Emergency Loan Fund to offer small businesses low interest loans of up to $50,000. Businesses located outside of the City of Chicago with fewer than 50 workers and less than $3 million in revenue in 2019 will be eligible to apply. If awarded the loan, the business will owe nothing for six months and will then begin making fixed payments at a below market interest rate for the remainder of a five-year loan term.  CLICK HERE

Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program

To support small businesses in downstate and rural counties across Illinois, DCEO is repurposing $20 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to start up the Downstate Small Business Stabilization Program. This Fund will offer small businesses of up to 50 employees the opportunity to partner with their local governments to obtain grants of up to $25,000 in working capital. These grants will be offered on a rolling basis. Local governments can apply on behalf of businesses with 50 employees or less. Only units of local government recognized by the Illinois Constitution and able to support economic development activities on a sufficient scale are eligible to apply for Economic Development grant funding.  This includes cities, villages, and counties.  CLICK HERE for more details and scroll down the page to Downstate Small Business Stabilization.

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Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Response Legislation

President Trump has already signed three bills into law to address the fallout from Coronavirus containment and mitigation efforts across the nation.

Part 1: The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act
This legislation provides emergency funding for federal agencies to respond to the coronavirus outbreak including funding for loans to support affected small businesses.

Part 2: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
This legislation expands job-protected leave for American workers and expand unemployment insurance programs, among other relief initiatives. Click here for a high-level summary of the law’s paid leave-related provisions. 

NEW Department of Labor Guidance - The Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees face when responding to COVID-19, and its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act. Your business must be in compliance beginning April 1, 2020.

ATTENTION EMPLOYERS: This poster is required to be posted in workplaces beginning April 1 to keep your employees informed about leave related to COVID-19. CLICK HERE FOR ENGLISH     CLICK HERE FOR SPANISH

Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers
Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employee Paid Leave Rights
Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements
COVID-19 and the Fair Labor Standards Act: Questions and Answers
COVID-19 and the Family and Medical Leave Act: Questions and Answers

Understanding the FFCRA Legislation by Harvest Group's Steve Cesare - CLICK HERE

Part 3: Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)
This aid package is significantly larger than the previous two coming in at $2 trillion. The package is meant to infuse an abundance of cash into the economy to protect workers, provide loans for small businesses, put cash in the hands of consumers, boost programs to help those in need of relief through mortgages and other debts, provide significant funding for those industries and businesses most severely impacted.  The act allocated almost $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program, the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Importantly, these loans may be forgiven if borrowers maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore their payrolls afterward. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act

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Illinois Department of Public Health Hotline for COVID-19

Call 800-889-3931 with questions or to report a suspected case of the virus. Translation services available.


Illinois Pesticide Licensing and Testing

Pesticide Applicator Training and Testing Clinics jointly administered by the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and University of Illinois Extension are cancelled for the remainder of the clinic season. These cancellations include the Peoria, Champaign, Moline, Matteson, Collinsville, Springfield, Alsip, Carterville, Skokie, Des Plaines, St. Charles and Springfield and DeKalb on-site testing locations. The University of Illinois Extension has initiated the process of contacting each individual registered for clinics. The Illinois Department of Agriculture will extend applicator, operator and dealer licenses that expired December 31, 2019. These licenses will now be valid through December 31, 2020. Training and testing opportunities will be available for individuals not currently licensed as applicators. CLICK HERE for more details and Q&A.

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Resources

AmericanHort
Coronavirus
Resource Center
CLICK HERE
NALP Coronavirus
Resource Center
CLICK HERE
SBA Disaster 
Loan Assistance for
Illinois Businesses
CLICK HERE
 
Irrigation Association
Coronavirus
Resource Center
CLICK HERE
State of IL Corona
Virus Updates
 
CLICK HERE
COVID-19 and 
Unemployment
Benefits 
CLICK HERE
OSHA Guidance 
on Preparing Workplaces 
for COVID-19 
CLICK HERE
DOL Issues 
Guidance on COVID-19 
and the FMLA
CLICK HERE

Coronavirus and
the Greenhouse Industry:
What We Know So Far
 CLICK HERE
Q&A from NALP
Coronavirus 
Webinar
CLICK HERE
CDC Interim Guidance 
for Businesses
and Employers
CLICK HERE
U.S. Department of
Labor Guidance on
Unemployment Flexibilities
During COVID-19 Outbreak
CLICK HERE

CDC Approved
Antimicrobial
Cleaning Products
CLICK HERE

Expanded Family
Medical Leave Act
Q&A from Dept of Labor
CLICK HERE
Landscape Industry
Guidance for Business
Operations During
COVID-19 
CLICK HERE


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Best Practices

Coronavirus Best Management Practices for the Green Industry - CLICK HERE

NALP Landscape Industry Guidance for Business Operations - CLICK HERE

Approved Disinfectants for COVID-19 - CLICK HERE

Sample Safety Plans
Sun Valley Landscaping Safety Plan - CLICK HERE
Pacific Landscape Management Safety Plan - CLICK HERE

Garden Centers
Alternative Shopping Options - CLICK HERE
Curbside Pickup and home delivery option - EXAMPLE HERE
Curbside and Concierge Options - CLICK HERE
Marketing Help from Dr. Bridget Behe - CLICK HERE
How retail store managers can respond safelyCLICK HERE 

Tracking Coronavirus Costs - CLICK HERE

OSHA Recording - COVID-19 is a recordable illness. OSHA recordkeeping requirements at 29 CFR Part 1904 mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log. Note that while 29 CFR 1904.5(b)(2)(viii) exempts recording of the common cold and flu, however, COVID-19 is a recordable illness when a worker is infected on the job. Visit OSHA’s Injury and Illness Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements page for more information.

Maintain Social Distancing Signage - CLICK HERE

Print and post the CDC fact sheets in high traffic areas of your business as a reminder for everyone.

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The Decision to Continue Doing Business

As a business owner, you need to evaluate how to continue moving forward as this situation evolves.  As you carefully balance both the health and welfare of your employees and customers, and the need to remain viable as a business, only you can determine what services you will continue to offer in these uncertain times. Each segment of our industry is operating under different circumstances and with different requirements that should guide you to decide if your team works and under what conditions. It goes without saying that your decision-making should include consideration of the health and safety of your team members, customers, and community.

Should you feel that your team can resume work, there have been some concerns posed about employees being stopped on the way to and from work.  We have been assured through communications that law enforcement is not enforcing things in this way.  But, we also know that every municipality is different and that this situation is fluid.  To provide greater peace of mind, you may choose to provide something on your company letterhead advising that your employee has authorization to work and providing the owner or manager's contact information for any questions. 

<PLACE ON YOUR COMPANY LETTERHEAD>

DATE

To Whom It May Concern:

The bearer of this letter is an employee of <YOUR COMPANY NAME HERE> and their work has been defined as an essential business function as outlined in Governor Pritzker’s COVID-19 Executive order No.8 issued on Friday, March 20. Should you have questions, please contact <SUPERVISOR NAME> at <PHONE NUMBER>.

Sincerely,
<NAME AND TITLE OF COMPANY OWNER>

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Employer Action

  • Talk with your employees about the virus, how it spreads, and how to prevent getting infected. Communication is important. Remain calm and provide accurate information based on facts.
  • Print the CDC fact sheets and post them in high traffic areas - CLICK HERE
  • Be sure the workplace is stocked with plenty of soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, tissue, and cleaning supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect your workplace, with special attention to high-touch surfaces (tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, sinks, cabinet doors)
  • Communicate with employees that they should stay home if they are sick. Employees sometimes come to work believing they will face punishment or firing if they miss work. Be sure your employees understand that their health and that of their co-workers’ comes first. Communicate and make a plan to cover for sick employees.
  • Be ready to answer questions from the public/customers about what your company is doing to address the issue. For example "We have established a plan that we are adapting based on guidance from state and local officials. We monitor employee health daily, continue to clean and disinfect our workplace paying special attention to individual PPE, and are continually monitoring the situation to make changes when needed."
  • If your company works directly with the public, you may consider a proactive strategy that would encourage customers that you remain open for business (while continually monitoring state and local guidelines) and that your company is available to help them use this time to beautify the outdoor space at their home or office.  If you have a retail space, communicate the steps your team is taking to keep the area safe for customers and employees serving them. 

Business Planning Considerations

  • Establish a plan for increased employee absences in the next few weeks. With schools closed, possible family members affected by illness, and other unexpected challenges at home, you may have have higher levels of employee absenteeism. 
  • Cross-train personnel to perform essential functions so that the workplace can operate even if key staff members are absent.
  • Explore whether you can establish policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting for some employees) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees.
  • Be prepared to change your business practices if needed to maintain critical operations (e.g., identify alternative suppliers, prioritize work, or temporarily suspend some of your operations if needed).
  • Carefully monitor the local conditions as they adapt and update your policies, procedures, and strategies as needed.  The reputation of your company is so important and a critical component of that is communication with both employees and customers. 
  • Collect your receivables as quickly as possible, determine your monthly burn rate, and look into securing a SBA loan that can go up to $2 million.
  • Secure your vehicle’s equipment and inventory, monitoring frequently, and carefully record any losses for insurance purposes.  Criminal activity will likely increase during these trying times.

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Health, Wellness, and Economic Benefits of Plants

With so much sad and scary news in the media, consider the benefit of sharing the uplifting news about power of plants with your audience. Here are links to information on the benefit of plants that you might weave into your communication plans.  Please be sure that you stay mindful of the situation in your local community and with the constantly changing nature of this situation so that your messaging is not seen as insensitive, but as hopeful. 

The Benefits of Plants - various resources and research available from Dr. Charlie Hall, AmericanHort Chief Economist

Plants Do That - National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) - Get the Word Out
The Power Of Plants: Enriching Lives, Creating Jobs, Building Wealth, Saving Money - Infographic #1
Where We Live - Infographic #2
Where We Learn - Infographic #3
Where We Heal - Infographic #4
Where We Work - Infographic #5

What's Your Plant Power - Seed your Future - Bloom! CLICK HERE

Hashtags - #plantsdothat, #plantpower, #plantsomething

GET MORE RESOURCES

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What is the Industry is Saying

NEW The Return of the Victory Garden - As the coronavirus pandemic worsens, one way garden centers are dealing with the fallout is by dusting off a term from the past and encouraging customers to plant victory gardens. The term was coined during World War I by the National War Garden Commission and promoted through propaganda posters advocating that civilians “Sow the seeds of victory”...Read More

NEW [Contractors] Responding to the Coronavirus - We asked about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on your businesses. You responded. Nationwide, companies are being forced to adjust to unexpected consequences of the coronavirus. Some companies are seeing some surprising benefits, while others are operating cautiously as they fear the worst is yet to come. Here's some of what you've told...Read More

NEW It's Time to Pivot: Words from Jeffrey Scott - Man, this has been an interesting week, with my home town New Orleans blowing up with corona, and my friend’s circle catching it as well. One is a pilot, not the best profession for these times.  So what do you do? Sit back and lament or chin-up and look for the opportunities ahead? Last week I spoke to an esteemed contractor and client...Read More

NEW Sound Off: How Landscaping Companies are Dealing With the Coronavirus - With the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) across the nation, many businesses have been forced to shut their doors due to the government deeming them non-essential during this time. However, numerous landscaping companies would not take this ruling lying down, and over the past few weeks, the NALP continued...Read More

Little Prince of Oregon Nursery Partnership Offers Financial Incentive to IGCs - As garden centers across the United States shut their doors to comply with shelter-in-place orders and social distancing measures in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19, Little Prince of Oregon Nursery has launched a new online referral program to help businesses maintain service...Read More

5 Things to Know About the Families First Coronavirus Response Act - After it was introduced on March 11, passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 14 and by the Senate on March 18 — President Donald Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law. The bill provides paid sick leave requirements and paid family leave requirements...Read More 

How to Protect Your Business During the Coronavirus Outbreak - It’s too soon to make it official, but Charlie Hall, professor and Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M says the country is likely in a recession. In a March 23 webinar hosted by AmericanHort, he discussed strategies that green-industry firms should adopt to successfully weather this situation...Read More

Survey reveals coronavirus impact on the ornamental horticulture industry - Sales for ornamental growers are expected to be down around 50% this year with some expecting a far greater fall in sales. Ninety-six percent of countries responding predict their industry...Read More

Greenhouses Brace for Coronavirus Impact - The green industry is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with events like the California Spring Trials canceled, other events pushed back and the day-to-day of life changed. Businesses are feeling it too...Read More

Lawn & Landscape Early Survey Results - Lawn & Landscape sent a survey on March 20 to our readers. These numbers were collected the evening of March 23 after approximately 1,300 people responded. We plan on sending a similar survey out in a couple...Read More

AmericanHort Outlines How Businesses Can Navigate COVID-19 - AmericanHort is working hard to help all businesses involved in horticulture, including greenhouse growers, retailers, nurseries, and others, deal with the fallout of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Read More

Keeping Up With the Numbers - Greg Herring knows the numbers tell a story, and when it comes to COVID-19, the numbers only continue to get more daunting. Herring, the founder and CEO of The Herring Group, a consultant company, hosted a free webinar...Read More

Landscapers Stress Importance of Industry Amid COVID-19 Business Restrictions - As state governments continue to impose restrictions on businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, landscaping and irrigation professionals are among many...Read More

Candid Feedback from Our Landscape Industry Clients Dealing with COVID-19 - It's been a tough couple of weeks for all of us in the lawn and landscape industry. As I've been talking to dozens of industry peers and clients, one question has been asked repeatedly: "What are you hearing from other companies?" I thought I would share their candid feedback with all of you. CLICK HERE

Allan Armitage: Why Gardening Needs to be Part of the Coronavirus Solution - As I write this column, the coronavirus and the insidious COVID-19 effects have resulted in changes to our lives that were unfathomable just a few weeks ago. The virus has become an animate object that is full in our faces, and like objects in a side view mirror, it is closer than it appears. You are probably...Read More 

Steve Cesare: Understanding the FFCRA Coronavirus Legislation - Recently-passed legislation related to the Coronavirus has a significant impact on all companies with fewer than 500 employees. The Emergency FMLA Expansion Act... READ MORE

The Garden Center Group Suggests 'Essential Business' Messaging for IGCs - As state governments determine what qualifies as an 'essential business' in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus, The Garden Center Group has released a statement...Read More

Reacting to COVID-19: What Landscaping Companies Can Do During This Uncertain Time - In a recent webinar hosted by the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), experts weighed in on what landscapers across the country...Read More

How Landscape Companies are Handling COVID-19 Concerns - Amid the cancellation of public events, professional sports events, concerts and a variety of other gatherings due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many companies are in the process...Read More

How IGCs are Managing Stores During the Coronavirus Outbreak - Across North America, IGCs are handling the coronavirus in different ways, and many are sharing announcements for their plans across their websites and social media pages. As of March 16, many...Read More

AmericanHort Addresses Coronavirus Concerns - On March 17, AmericanHort released a statement that it is working on addressing green industry concerns in regard to the coronavirus pandemic. President and CEO Ken Fisher noted AmericanHort is working...Read More

Steve Cesare: Response to the Coronavirus - Due to the constant media attention, numerous business owners from across the country have contacted me regarding the need for an acceptable response to employee and client inquiries about the...Read More

How to Respond to COVID-19 as a Business Owner - Last week I told you the sky was not falling. It isn’t, but a lot has changed in the past week, and this will help you get prepared. With the fast-moving coronavirus, you need to change and adapt your plans...Read More

Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis - The Covid-19 crisis has now reached a new critical phase where public health systems need to act decisively to contain the growth in new epicenters outside China. Clearly, the main emphasis is and should be on... CLICK HERE

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Health Prevention Tips

Be sure your employees have the right information.  While there is currently no vaccine to prevent this virus, there are simple steps that can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Maintain Social Distancing Signage - CLICK HERE

Print and post the CDC fact sheets in high traffic areas of your business as a reminder for everyone.

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