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May 21, 2020
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 Inside this issue
  Executive Directors Message  



The current pandemic has created a great deal of stress and strain on the small business community. Yet, it seems nothing has created more angst and apprehension than seeking loan-forgiveness from the PPP program and how to navigate the regulatory "transition back" to normal.
Our staff has dedicated any number of hours to answering Members' PPP-related inquiries.  With the June 30th program deadline looking just five weeks away, the daily stream of questions has not let up. And that's not without good reason. While many PPP recipients are thankful and appreciative of the financial assistance they've received, the available guidance is limited. The unveiling of the actual loan forgiveness application last week has only created new questions and a fresh round of hand-wringing.
Looking further out, as the State slowly loosens the restrictions on the business community, there are still many practical questions that need to be addressed. While we all believe common sense would dictate any further opening of the economy, there is nothing common about this pandemic.
With this in mind, NJGCA is pleased to announce that we will host two informational webinars on both "PPP Forgiveness" and "Best Practices" over the next few weeks. Our goal is to help you avoid possible pitfalls as we ever-so-slowly get back to business-as-usual. With no historical examples to draw from, it's important for members to prepare for the challenges ahead. 
As such, please mark your calendars for our first webinar on PPP Forgiveness next Thursday, May 28th at 1:00pm. Attorney Alicyn Craig, our trusted Member Benefit Partner and legal counsel from MARC Law, will present insight on the process and answer your questions. You can click HERE to register for the webinar now.
Alicyn has been a terrific resource for our members, and we're appreciative of her time and insight. Nevertheless, there's no way to know every obstacle or dilemma you are facing. 
As such, we're giving you a homework assignment and are asking you to submit your PPP loan forgiveness questions between now and next Thursday. We know everyone's time is valuable and limited. Getting your questions ahead of time will allow the presentation to run efficiency and help us compile glaring (and repetitive) issues to hone in on. You can submit your questions to nick@njgca.org, with "PPP Webinar Question" in the subject line.
It is important that you understand this process and the rules so you can maximize your loan forgiveness. To do that accordingly means planning ahead to avoid mistakes. We hope you'll join us and better prepare for what's to come, and protect your establishment. 
While the businesses NJGCA represents are essential and have been allowed to remain open throughout this shutdown, almost all have seen significant drops in revenue as customers remain at home. The only way business is going to improve is for more motorists to hit the road again. On Monday, Governor Murphy released more details about what the order of steps will be, as his Administration currently sees them. These details were a little more concrete than all of his previous announcements, but there are still a lot of specifics to be determined. Also unknown is what the timeline is for each of the provisions of the plan to be enacted. He did not give any specifics for what metrics they will be looking at to determine when to allow each new activity, although his comments implied they would take weeks to roll out, perhaps longer.
The list is not exhaustive, and there have been a handful of provisions announced in the last few days that are not featured on the chart. This week marked the end of Stage 1. It's possible the governor may wait as long as two weeks to see if there is any increase in cases before moving onto the items in Stage 2, although he has been deliberately vague. While criticism of his handling of the crisis was almost nonexistent in April, over the course of May it has been growing, specifically as it relates to the reopening process. More and more legislators are being publicly critical and even Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) has voiced concern over the speed of the economic plan. Frankly, the details of this plan could certainly have been developed and released at the start of the month. The New Jersey Business Coalition, which NJGCA has been actively involved with and includes over 80 different trade groups representing virtually all of the state's employers sent this letter to the governor and the Legislature asking that the economy be given higher priority than it appears the governor is giving it.
This week saw the reopening of certain outdoor businesses, like driving ranges and batting cages. Of particular note to some members is the authorizing of in-person sales at both new and used car dealerships, as well as motorcycle and boat dealerships. There are restrictions tied to their operations, you can read more about them by reading the Administrative Order.
Some aspects of normal life may still be very far off. According to data from the governor's office, 25% of all NJ workers are currently working from home (including all NJGCA staff). None of the three stages mention bringing back office work for anything other than "critical" work. Some major companies like CNN and the NY Times have already told their employees they will not be coming back to the office until at least September. That's a huge part of the market that will not be commuting to work anytime soon, which means not buying as much gas, stopping in for their morning coffee, or putting as many miles on their vehicle.
The state Treasurer recently released the April state revenue update. The two taxes on motor fuel are down about 25% collectively relative to April of last year. While that may seem less than expected, the Treasurer also stated that April revenue collections are generally based on economic activity from March, where more than half the month was still operating under normal economic conditions. The gas tax is something that is important to us with regard to how we compare with neighboring states. Eric has done a quick analysis with the revenue numbers that are available at this point. Revenues were strong for the first three quarters of the fiscal year, but based on the declines members have reported and the fact that a return to normal looks many weeks away at least, we could see gas taxes rise as much 5¢ a gallon. The ultimate picture could be better or more likely worse. We have our eye on this issue and will present these numbers to the Treasury to see what can be done to mitigate the effect that this has on the Transportation Trust Fund. The only positive out of this is the fact that the neighboring states that we compete with are also going to be in the exact same boat as New Jersey. They may view the drops in revenue and the low retail gas prices as an excuse to increase their taxes as well. Time will tell what happens with this, but we will be keeping our eye on this.
We have sent our thoughts to our allies in Washington D.C. on the possibility of another Cash for Clunkers program. Again, we don't know how this will shape up at the moment. There are some who think that this will be a big boost for auto manufacturers and the thousands that they employ. However, we are adamantly opposed to this for a number of reasons, one of which is that the vehicles that they would be classifying as clunkers are likely to be perfectly good vehicles that simply need maintenance and repairs that our members provide. I don't want the government taking revenue from you in order to boost revenue for the car manufacturers. Additionally, we would not want our members taking on any possibly risky debt that this program incentivizes. There's a host of reasons that this is a bad idea and we will pursue every one of them. 
As previously predicted, we have received updated extension numbers from State officials on drivers' licenses, vehicle registrations, and inspection stickers. You can view the various extensions HERE.
We have continuously been reporting to you on the various EMV delays issued as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Our last update mentioned Discover joining the bandwagon in issuing an extension, and today we can report that MasterCard has followed suit, which was the final holdout of the major credit card companies. The major credit card companies had been reluctant to delay the EMV requirement since they already agreed to a three year delay from October 2017 to October 2020. Now, all companies require the changes to be made by April 2021. However, I want to warn you all not to expect any further delays. If and when you are able (and if you have not already done so), you should be making appointments with installation companies to do this ASAP, as they will book quickly once pandemic restrictions relax. You can read more about this HERE.
Finally, I want to wish you all a happy Memorial Day. This is a day of remembrance for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms, of which we are especially thankful for today in these times. I hope while you are all celebrating however you can, you can take a minute to pause and give thanks to all of those who are making sacrifices for us and our people today. 

Be Well -  
Sal Risalvato
Executive Director




  Training Class Schedule  

All classes held at NJGCA HQ -- 4900 Route 33 West, Wall Township, NJ 07753

Two-Day Emissions Inspector Training Class
April 22nd & 23rd

Want your technicians to become a NJ Emissions Inspector? We can help!

Our new two-day class will provide all the information for becoming a NJ Emissions Inspector. Day one will consist of written test training and the State will administer the written test the very same day at our offices. Day two will be a hands-on training course to prepare you for the hands-on test. Class will run from 7:00am to 4:00pm on day 1. Class will begin at 12:30 PM on day 2. Cost is $479 for members.

April class registration click here




  News Around The State  

Retailers Struggle With Coronavirus Staffing Costs
Early in the coronavirus quarantine, major U.S. retailers offered extra pay to frontline workers. Some gave a temporary $2 hourly increase, a one-time pay bonus or both. Now, many are ending or planning to stop paying those higher wages to employees in stores, warehouses and on the road, the Wall Street Journal reports. Amazon, Kroger and Rite Aid are among those stopping the bonus pay, although workers and unions are pushing back, saying they still face extra risks on the job. . .With the temporary raises set to expire, retailers must weigh several factors, including the desire to do right by workers and retain them, as well as the need to control operating costs and stay competitive.

A Wave of Small Business Closures Is on the Way. Can Washington Stop It?
One of the great threats to the post-pandemic economy is becoming clear: Vast numbers of small and midsize businesses will close permanently during the crisis, causing millions of jobs to be lost. The federal government moved with uncharacteristic speed to help those businesses - enacting the Paycheck Protection Program, with $669 billion allocated so far. But there is a problem. The structure of the program is not particularly well suited to the type of crisis that millions of businesses face. The program may have bought businesses some time, but in its current shape it will not enable many of them to remain solvent long enough to emerge from the other side of the pandemic in some viable form. Rather, it is more tailored to what the crisis looked liked when shutdowns first took place in the olden times of March 2020, when it seemed that business closures would be a short-term blip and everyone might be able to get back to normal by summer. It was intended to cover eight weeks' worth of expenses, of which 75 percent must apply to payroll, for firms with under 500 employees. Now it is looking likely that many businesses will face revenue shortfalls for many months.

Self-Serve Beverages at C-Stores Coming Back Online
Wawa has begun to restart its self-service coffee and fountain drinks after shutting down the service during the pandemic, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The chain has resumed self-service beverages in about 60 stores nationwide and plans to expand to other areas in coming weeks. Locations include stores in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, the Inquirer reports, citing a Wawa spokesperson. In March, Wawa shuttered its self-service stations and had employees pouring drinks for customers.

Wawa Reinstates Self-serve Coffee At Several Stores, Including In South Jersey, Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
You can pour your own coffee again at some Wawa stores. The self-service option was suspended in March to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, but in the last week 60 Wawa stores have begun allowing customers to pour their own coffee and fountain drinks again, a company spokesperson said. She did not specify which locations have made the change, but said they include stores in South Jersey ("near or in Cape May County"), the Reading area, Maryland, and Virginia. While Philadelphia is not included in the list of markets, Wawa said it plans to expand self-service into other areas in the coming weeks. The company said it is seeking customer and associate feedback, and that so far it has been positive.

162 N.J. Workers Have Filed Federal Complaints About Unsafe Working Conditions During Pandemic, Records Show
New Jersey's workers allege their employers haven't provided enough protective gear, are making them work near sick colleagues or otherwise are flouting federal regulations meant to stem the spread of the coronavirus, according to an NJ Advance Media review of federal records. In total, New Jersey workers filed more than 160 health and safety complaints with the federal government's Occupational Health and Safety Administration, or OSHA, federal records show. The 162 individual complaints amount to 190 allegations of federal health and safety violations at New Jersey workplaces, leaving at least 16,400 workers at risk. Taken together, the complaints cast in stark relief the daily fears and anxieties of employees deemed essential during the pandemic.

Fuel Demand Sees 22% Rebound
COVID-19 continued to affect U.S. fuel demand in April, with gallons purchased on its worst day, April 12, down 62% compared with the best day of 2020 on March 13, according to the latest fuel demand data from GasBuddy. As various states have since re-opened non-essential businesses, demand in the final week of April rebounded 22% from the lowest overall week of gasoline demand in 2020 (April 5-11). . .The year-over-year drop in fuel demand equates to an average purchase of 50 gallons per driver in April 2019 and 39 gallons per driver in April 2020. Fuel demand typically increases throughout the months of March and April as more drivers hit the road with the warmer weather. Year-over-year benchmarked fuel demand shows that COVID-19 influenced a peak drop of 41% the week of March 29, compared with the same week last year. Even as April fuel demand was down significantly compared with pre-coronavirus levels, gallons purchased in the last three weeks of the month saw benchmarked demand inch closer toward 2019's seasonal rise, down only 31% from last year.



  Energy Information Agency Weekly Retail Gasoline Prices  
Each week, the Energy Information Administration publishes a list of average gasoline prices for the previous three weeks. NJGCA will begin including this list with the Weekly Road Warrior. Remember, these prices are reflective of self-serve everywhere except NJ.


  Member Benefit Partner Message Board  



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