December 3 – Weekly Update
We hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! Did you miss us? Well, buckle up because this is a long one.
BREAKING: Governor Newsom announced this afternoon a Regional Stay at Home Order when a region falls below 15% remaining ICU bed capacity. The state is divided into 5 regions (see the map below), with San Diego unfortunately grouped with Los Angeles and their stubbornly high case rates. Currently, there are no regions that have fallen below the 15% threshold, but Governor Newsom cautions that it could happen for much of the state within a few days. If and when a Stay at Home Order goes into effect in our region, all bars, wineries, personal services, hair salons, and other non-essential services will be required to temporarily close. Restaurants will be allowed to serve take-out and delivery only and retail stores can remain open at a 20% capacity.
On Tuesday, San Diego marked the 1,000th death from the pandemic, a brutal reminder that even with the familiar cheer of the holiday season and the uplifting announcements of a coming vaccine, we are still very much in the woods.
However, as we learned from Mr. Rogers, it’s in crisis we should “look for the helpers.” And if you or someone you know has recovered from COVID, those suffering now urgently need your help in the form of plasma donations. This plasma is a critical treatment component, so we hope you’ll consider donating and make Mr. Rogers proud.
Get ready to make a team or compete as an individual in our annual Get Fit San Diego event! Get Fit SD is the Chamber’s annual 30-day health and fitness challenge sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. We’ll be kicking off this year’s program on January 11 and ending on February 9, all are welcome to join!
Finally, the state and county announced new grant and capital opportunities! Scroll down to the “Capital Opportunities & Resources” section of this email to read more.
Northrop Grumman has received a potential contract to update the Air Force’s fleet of RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial systems. The contract is worth $4.8 billion and will be completed in San Diego over the next 10 years.
Moderna received final results for their vaccine this past weekend, with 94% effectiveness. The FDA will be holding a “science court” to review the data for vaccine candidates seeking emergency approval. Pfizer and BioNTech will be heard on December 10, and Moderna on December 17. Yesterday, Britain became the first country to grant Pfizer emergency authorization.
The government shutdown deadline of December 11 is fast approaching. On Tuesday, President Trump threatened to veto the 2021 NDAA unless Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act is repealed. Section 230 protects tech companies from third party content and users. Congress has rejected the proposal to eliminate Section 230 and continue to negotiate the final defense bill.
Will we get a stimulus package passed this year? On Tuesday, bipartisan legislators introduced a $908 billion aid package proposal to create some movement after months of stagnant negotiations. This plan combines key Democratic and Republican priorities, including weekly federal unemployment benefits and additional funding for state and local governments, a moratorium on COVID related lawsuits for companies, among other funding measures. This plan is a compromise between a slimmer GOP proposal and the more comprehensive $3 trillion Democratic package.
A group of industry coalitions are asking for allowance for businesses to apply for a second round of PPP loans, and have asked for full tax deductibility on PPP loans as well as forgiveness for loans under $150,000. We’ll continue to monitor these negotiations.
President Lopez Obrador traveled to Baja this past weekend to meet with state and municipal authorities. During his visit, the President announced the extension of the “Zona Libre” program through 2024 and a plan to make the program permanent. The Economic Free Zone program was implemented in 2019 in 43 municipalities bordering the United States and offers benefits such as reducing the value-added tax (IVA) from 16% to 8%, decreasing the corporate income tax (ISR) from 30% to 20%, and doubling the daily minimum wage rate.
President Lopez Obrador also signed a collaboration agreement with Baja’s Secretariat of Fisheries (SEPESCA); National Institute of Fisheries (INAPESCA); National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA); Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRICULTURA); and Secretariat of the Navy (SEMAR) to coordinate federal and state efforts to protect the environment and promote sustainable fisheries, increase federal resources including an economic relief package for local fishermen, and protect endangered species such as the vaquita.
Baja’s Secretariat of Health announced plans to increase precautionary measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in light of the increasing number of new cases. Measures include operating at a reduced capacity of 30% across sectors and closure of select non-essential activities that represent a high risk of contagion. State authorities continue to implement business inspections to ensure compliance with health protocols and have already closed dozens of businesses including restaurants and bars that fail to comply.
The cities of Tijuana, Ensenada, and Mexicali launched awareness campaigns to reinforce recommended precautions and health protocols in anticipation of the holiday season. Efforts include informational tents and media outreach that share best practices to protect public health, provide contact information for the COVID-19 designated hospitals and fever clinics, and distribute free face coverings.
The Chamber’s upcoming International Business Affairs Forum will take place virtually on Tuesday, December 8 at 10:00am. The discussion will explore the future of the energy sector in our Cali-Baja region and its role in broadening the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Register here to hear from industry leaders and state officials who will share public-private partnership opportunities and provide an overview of binational projects in our region.
Let there be hope: California is closer to rolling out its strategy for vaccine deployment, with a few hundred thousand doses available expected for healthcare workers beginning in mid-December. Here’s a great primer on what to expect. Of note, 327k vaccines will be available first but remember: each vaccine requires two doses so roll out will take some time.
California’s economic task force on business and jobs recovery released its final report last week. Read it here.
On Monday, Governor Newsom announced that $12.5 million was added to the California Rebuilding Fund along with other financial assistance for small businesses which will be even more in demand in light of the recent restrictions. These include a $500 million relief grant program, temporary tax relief, loan guarantees, and more. Learn more about these small business relief programs here. The newest grant program, administered by the California Office of the Small Business Advocate, will be launched soon. You can sign up to receive updates here.
The Small Business Hiring Credit began accepting applications this week. To qualify, employers must have fewer than 100 employees and experienced a 50% gross reduction in receipts from April to June 2002 compared to gross receipts from the previous year. Credits will be administered on a first-come, first-serve basis until the $100 million is expended. Learn more and apply here.
When the Assembly reconvenes on December 7th, it’s going to be a different kind of echo chamber. Instead of meeting in the Capitol to conduct business, the body will convene in the basketball arena Golden 1 Center. The Senate will remain in the Capitol.
The DMV is extending driver’s license permits through May 31, 2021, meaning that student drivers have additional time to meet prerequisites to get a provisional license.
California wants to get drivers in low emission vehicles. The California Air Resources Board and participating electric utilities are launching the California Clean Fuel Reward program to discount the purchase of low and zero-emission vehicles by up to $1,500. Learn more about the program here.
The Governor rolled out his master plan document for Early Learning and Care (code for “childcare”) at a whopping 130+ pages. The report is comprehensive but leaves room for details and specifics to be firmed up at regional levels.
Two weeks ago, Cal/OSHA passed stricter COVID-19 workplace standards for employers under the new “Emergency COVID-19 Prevention Regulations”. This includes implementing a COVID-19 prevention program, reporting standards for outbreaks, contact tracing and risk mitigation, and much, much more. Cal/OSHA resources are available here.
This week, we’re still in the Purple Tier. San Diego’s adjusted case rate is 15.3 cases per 100,000 residents, much higher than the 7.0 case rate threshold needed to get us back to the Red Tier. Learn more about testing after the holiday weekend here. Keep in mind that tiers will be secondary to the guidance from the Governor today.
Last Wednesday, the County Board of Supervisors approved $20 million to go towards the Small Business Stimulus Grant Program. Each supervisorial district office will grant $4 million, businesses can apply here. If you previously applied for the program, there is no need to reapply.
The County announced the final members of its redistricting commission. These folks have the unenviable job of drawing the boundaries for the districts of the County’s five supervisors.
This week, San Diego Unified announced a delay in bringing students back for in-person learning due to recent surges in COVID cases. SDUSD previously planned to reopen schools for elementary students on January 4 and middle and high school students on January 25. The school district now plans to announce an updated reopening plan on January 12.
Several San Diego cannabis businesses want to form the first-ever cannabis business improvement district in California. Two weeks ago, the proposal was approved by the City Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee and will move to a full committee vote early next year. The proposed business improvement district is expected to reclaim sales from the illicit market, generate more tax revenue for the city, and establish resources for businesses to navigate the complicated regulatory environment. Additionally, the proposal seeks to create an equity component to address the impact of the War on Drugs on communities of color.
December Nights is on to happen this year with a twist! The City has transformed the event into Taste of December nights, a drive-thru edition of our favorite winter event.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will meet on December 8th and 9th. Agendas can be viewed here.
On Thursday, December 10th at 10am, the 2021 City Council will be sworn in. You can tune in online.
Capital Opportunities & Resources:
- The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is now applications today for a small business hiring credit against California state income taxes or sales and use taxes. The credit (authorized by SB 1447) is available to certain California qualified small business employers that receive a tentative credit reservation. Learn more here.
- The California Rebuilding Fund is offering small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees loans up to $100,000. Learn more and apply here.
- The County’s Small Business Stimulus Grant Program is accepting additional applications. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 100 full-time employees and are following sectors (restaurant, gym fitness center, yoga studio, movie theater, museum, zoo, or aquarium) was impacted by moving from the Red to Purple Tier OR part of the event industry. Learn more and apply here.
- City of San Diego Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit – Businesses (restaurants, retail stores, gyms, hair salons, nail salons) can now expand into the public right-of-way, parking lots, and public spaces. Information on how to apply for a Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit can be found here.
- Businesses can reach out to their nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has developed the Small Business Survival Resources Guide to help business owners navigate through the chaos COVID-19 is having on our communities. SBDC can help with applying for relief, guiding you through available resources, and assisting with cash flow concerns, supply-chain interruptions, workforce capacity, insurance coverage, and more–all at no cost.
- The State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.