The final conference report for S.11, which became the latest and last vehicle for attaching a wide range of economic development and other provisions that have evolved over this session, has passed the Legislature and is awaiting the Governor’s action. It includes a number of provisions intended to help certain employers and employees. Unfortunately it also includes provisions increasing UI costs for employers by $100 million over the coming years (see this post here for more on this issue).
As noted above, the bill includes numerous provisions providing for funding, incentives, promotion, and other support for certain employers, employees, and economic development stakeholders. AIV will provide more detailed information on all the provisions as it becomes available in the near future, but below are some highlighted sections. Also, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to otherwise discuss the bill. If you want to review the text of the bill, you can click here.
COVID-19 Related Paid Leave Grant Program
Section 51 is findings and Section 51a establishes the COVID-19-Related Paid Leave Grant Program. The Program will provide $15,180,000.00 to reimburse employers for the cost of COVID-related paid leave provided to employees for the fiscal year starting July 1. Reimbursement is to be paid out at 100% of employee’s hourly wage for up to 40 hours per employee or the employee’s average weekly hours, whichever is less. The maximum grant per employee is $21.25 per hour and $850.00 in the aggregate. Employers may also utilize money to retroactively provide paid leave to employees who did not have paid leave available when they were absent for a COVID-19-related reason.
The Department of Financial Regulation will administer the grant program. AIV will provide more information as available, but please feel free to contact us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
VEDA Short-Term Forgivable Loan Program
Section 53b of the bill appropriates $19.0 million in ARPA SFR funds to the Vermont Economic Development Authority in FY 2022 to operate the VEDA Short-Term Forgivable Loan Program. Eligible borrowers must have fewer than 500 employees located in Vermont and must identify economic harm caused by the COVID pandemic. Economic harm will be measured by a material decline in annual adjusted net operating income from before the COVID pandemic to after it.
To be eligible for a loan, a business needs to have experienced a 25% reduction in its adjusted net operating income in 2020 and 2021 combined when compared to 2019. Further, at least 50% of the reduction in net operating income must have occurred in 2021.
Previous state or federal assistance in connection with the pandemic, reasonable owner’s compensation, noncash expenses, and other adjustments deemed appropriate will be considered. Loaned amounts will be used for eligible fixed or operating expenses, and the loan is not to exceed the lesser of $200,000, six months of eligible cost, or the amount of cumulative decline in adjusted net operating income in 2020 and 2021.
Community Recovery and Revitalization Grant Program
Section 53c appropriates $10.0 million in ARPA SFR dollars in FY 2023 to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for the Community Recovery and Revitalization Grant Program. As described in the bill, this program builds on and replaces the Capital Investment Grant Program created in Act 74 of 2021. The Agency will award grants to make investments to retain and expand existing businesses and nonprofit organizations, attract new businesses and nonprofit organizations, and support job creation. Projects in regions and communities that have experienced stagnant or declining grand lists will be given preference.
To be eligible for the program, applicants must be located within the state and can be for-profit, nonprofit, or municipal entities. The applicant must demonstrate that the project has community and regional support; that grant funding is needed to complete the project; that they are leveraging additional sources of funding from local, State or federal economic development programs; and an ability to manage the project. State and locally government operated businesses, businesses with 20 or more locations, and publicly traded companies are ineligible for grants. Grants cannot exceed the lesser of $1.0 million or 20 percent of the total project cost.
The bill removes the net fiscal impact data model from the program established in Act 74 for the Capital Investment Program and instead requires that the Agency of Commerce and Community Development develop guidelines in coordination with the Joint Fiscal Office and reviewed by the Joint Fiscal Committee. The Agency may also designate one or more sectors for priority consideration in the application process including arts and culture, travel, lodging, tourism, agriculture, and childcare.
New Relocating Employees Funding
Section 53d appropriates $3.093 million in General Fund dollars in FY 2023 to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development for the Relocated and Remote Worker Program. A relocating employee may receive a base grant that does not exceed $5,000. For a relocating employee who moves to a labor market area with above-average unemployment or below-average annual wage, an enhanced grant cannot exceed $7,500. The Program no longer requires that relocating workers must work in an occupation on the Vermont Department of Labor’s list of Occupations with the Most Openings in its Short Term Employment Projections 2020-2022.