Daily Archives: May 28, 2020

Hizo un llamado a la AEE ante el inicio de la temporada de huracanes.

( San Juan )  El apagón de ayer causado por fuertes lluvias, que dejó a 70,000 abonados de la Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (AEE) sin servicio, es una muestra de la fragilidad del sistema eléctrico de la isla de cara a la nueva temporada de huracanes que comienza el 1ro de junio, indicó en un comunicado de prensa la comisionada Jenniffer González.

Ante este panorama, la funcionaria urgió a la corporación pública a anunciar en qué etapa se encuentra la solicitud de propuestas para reponer la generación de energía que perdió el país luego de que los sismos de enero dejaron a la planta Costa Sur fuera de servicio.

De acuerdo con el parte de prensa de González, la pérdida de 820 Megavatios de generación producidos por la generatriz que ubica en Guayanilla obligó a la AEE “a reintegrar o mantener en operación unidades que debían haber sido reemplazadas o sacadas de operación para mantenimiento o mejoras y usar como fuente de generación regular unidades que normalmente son la reserva de emergencia, quedando el sistema sin margen para otras averías”.

Ante esto, continúa el comunicado de González, la corporación pública emitió en marzo un requerimiento de propuestas (RFP) para la instalación y puesta en operación de hasta 500 Megavatios de unidades adicionales de generación provisional, para cubrir la deficiencia hasta que se logre restablecer las unidades averiadas.

El requerimiento de propuestas para esta generación provisional se hizo contando con el apoyo de la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencia (FEMA) para cubrir 75% de los costos, lo cual significaría una economía enorme para la Autoridad y por consiguiente para los abonados. Según el propio RFP, se contemplaba el anuncio de selección del proponente para el 22 de abril, para poder hacer las instalaciones el 1 de junio y por tanto estar protegidos en esta temporada”, cita el parte de prensa.

Según González, estas fechas no se han cumplido. Ante esto, expresó su preocupación de que ante la cercanía de la temporada de huracanes no se haya realizado un anuncio oficial sobre algún problema con el RFP y si esto significa que no habrá capacidad de reserva instalada, no sólo para la llegada de la temporada de huracanes sino para el alza en demanda a esperarse por el verano y por la reapertura de la economía.

“Desistir de la propuesta o darla por abandonada y volver a empezar desde cero crea además el peligro de pasar el tiempo que tarden las obras permanentes, sea meses o años, con un sistema eléctrico en la mayor precariedad, expuesto a que el daño más leve golpee a cientos de miles de familias. Esto no puede ser, la Gerencia y la Junta de la Autoridad tienen la obligación de asegurar que exista la capacidad y reserva necesarias para servir a nuestros hogares y para reactivar nuestros comercios e industrias y para estar preparados para un fenómeno atmosférico y les urjo a que tomen los pasos necesarios para que así se haga”, subrayó la comisionada.

 

    (Minneapolis)  There have been clashes between police and protesters in Minneapolis after the death on Monday of an unarmed black man in police custody in the US city.

    Police fired tear gas and protesters threw rocks and sprayed graffiti on police cars.

    Video of the death shows George Floyd, 46, groaning “I can’t breathe” as a white policeman kneels on his neck.

    Four police officers have been fired, with the mayor saying that being black “should not be a death sentence”.

    Mayor Jacob Frey also called on prosecutors to file criminal charges against the policeman who was filmed holding Mr Floyd.

    The incident echoes the case of Eric Garner, who was placed in a police chokehold in New York in 2014. His death became a rallying call against police brutality and was a driving force in the Black Lives Matter movement.

    What happened at the protests?

    They began in the afternoon on Tuesday, when hundreds of people came to the intersection where the incident had taken place on Monday evening.

    Organisers tried to keep the protest peaceful and maintain coronavirus social distancing, with demonstrators chanting “I can’t breathe,” and “It could’ve been me”

    Protester Anita Murray told the Washington Post: “It’s scary to come down here in the middle of the pandemic, but how could I stay away?”

    A crowd of hundreds later marched to the 3rd Precinct, where the officers involved in the death are thought to have worked.

    Squad cars were sprayed with graffiti and protesters threw stones at the police building. Police fired tear gas, flash grenades and foam projectiles.

    One protester told CBS: “It’s real ugly. The police have to understand that this is the climate they have created.”

    Another said: “I got on my knees and I put up a peace sign and they tear-gassed me.”

    Police said one person had suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot away from the protest area but gave no further details.

    What happened to George Floyd?

    Officers responding to reports of the use of counterfeit money had approached Mr Floyd in his vehicle.

    According to police he was told to step away from the vehicle and physically resisted officers.

    A police statement said: “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”

    The video taken at the scene does not show how the confrontation started.

    It shows a white officer using his knee to pin Mr Floyd to the ground by the neck.

    Mr Floyd groans “please, I can’t breathe” and “don’t kill me” as bystanders urge officers to let him go.

    He ceases to move and an ambulance arrives to take him to hospital where he later died.

    What was the official response?

    Mayor Frey said it was the “right call” to fire the officers.

    He said: “Being black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes we watched as a white police officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man. For five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help.”

    The FBI is investigating the incident and will present its findings to the Minnesota state’s attorney for possible federal charges.

    Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar urged a thorough outside investigation, saying: “Justice must be served for this man and his family, justice must be served for our community, justice must be served for our country.”

    There have been calls from some for the officers to be charged with murder.

    The Minnesota police handbook states that officers trained on how to compress the neck without applying direct pressure to the airway can use a knee under its use-of-force policy. This is regarded as a non-deadly-force option.

    What’s the backstory here?

    By Jessica Lussenhop in Minneapolis

    The most surprising thing about the response to the in-custody death of George Floyd was the swiftness with which the four police officers involved were sacked. This is almost always the first demand made by protesters – a demand that is often never met.

    While Minneapolis is a very liberal city, it is also very segregated and the region has seen several controversial police killings.

    In 2017, Justine Damond was killed after she called to report a possible sexual assault in her alley. The officer was tried for murder and sentenced to 12.5 years in prison. During a 2016 traffic stop, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer who was tried and acquitted of manslaughter. Jamar Clark was killed by Minneapolis officers in 2015, and charges were never brought.

    All three incidents sparked large protest movements.

    It seems plausible that city officials hoped their decisive action would prevent mass protests in the middle of the pandemic, but thousands took to the streets.

    Demonstrators later smashed a police precinct door, and police used tear gas and non-lethal rounds, making it all but certain that these demonstrations will continue.

    Why is the case so sensitive?

    Allegations of police brutality have been constantly highlighted since the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. It began after the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American Trayvon Martin in February 2012.

    The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York in 2014 sparked huge protests.

    “I can’t breathe” became a national rallying cry as Garner, an unarmed black man, uttered the phrase 11 times after being detained by police in a chokehold on suspicion of illegally selling loose cigarettes.

    The New York City police officer involved in Garner’s arrest was fired five years later, but no officer was charged.

    Recent allegations of police wrongdoing include the shooting of a black woman in her home in Louisville by three white Kentucky policemen and the shooting of a man by an officer in Maryland.

    Police in Georgia are also accused of trying to cover up the killing of black jogger, Ahmaud Arbery, allegedly by the son of a retired law official.

    Paige Fernandez of the American Civil Liberties Union, said of the latest case in Minnesota: “This tragic video shows how little meaningful change has emerged to prevent police from taking the lives of black people.”

     

    For businesses, the pain of life under social distancing is exacerbated by the loss of customers, and for restaurants and bars, the ability to even accept customers. But businesses, nonprofits and other organizations are working to unite those in need and those who can help. This includes loans and grants, counseling and networking, and helping customers support their community businesses during the crisis.

    Buffalo Business First has compiled resources to assist businesses. Click on the entity below for more information.

    Amherst

    Information from the governor’s office is available on the Amherst Chamber of Commerce website regarding a shortage of personal protective equipment. The state is looking for businesses that may be able to help produce these products. The Amherst Chamber is open and willing to help businesses at https://amherst.org.

    Buffalo

    Buffalo Urban Development Corporation (BUDC) is the development agency for the city, reclaiming distressed land and buildings for future development. BUDC is a conduit for public funding of significant projects and as a real estate holding company for certain public-sector projects. https://www.buffalourbandevelopment.com

    Cattaraugus County

    Cattaraugus Industrial Development Agency partners with our economic development throughout the region as a virtual “one-stop shop” for retaining and assisting businesses. http://www.cattcoida.com

    Chautauqua County

    The state has called on businesses to produce needed supplies related to COVID-19. Any company with the proper equipment or personnel to begin to manufacture personal protective equipment products is encouraged to visit https://ccida.com/covid-19-resources. The County of Chautauqua Industrial Development Agency can help with this process.

    Economic development/NYSEG

    NYSEG offers economic development programs to help existing businesses and collaborates with economic development partners at the local, regional and state levels. https://www.lookupstateny.com/wps/portal/lookupny/developmentprograms.

    Energy-efficiency/National Grid

    The National Grid business energy review initiative sends a representative into a business to conduct an efficiency audit. Funding it is an energy line item that is part of utility bills for most companies. https://www.nationalgridus.com/Upstate-NY-Business/Energy-Saving-Programs/

    Erie County

    The Erie County Industrial Development Agency (ECIDA) assists private-sector industrial andbusiness development by offering tax incentives, tax discounts or exemptions, to qualified businesses who invest in the community. https://www.ecidany.com

    Genesee County

    The Genesee County Economic Development Center stands ready to address the short-term and long-term economic needs of our community during the COVID-19 health crisis. If your business is experiencing issues, please do not hesitate to reachout. http://www.gcedc.com

    Invest Buffalo Niagara

    Invest Buffalo Niagara represents the eight counties of Western New York. It is the region’s nonprofit, privately funded economic development organization focused on creating and retaining jobs. https://buffaloniagara.org

    Lockport

    Town of Lockport Economic Development. https://lockporteconomicdevelopment.com

    Niagara County

    Niagara County Center for Economic Development can assemble an incentive package to fit any business. They work with local, state, and federal agencies to provide companies with resources needed. Incentive programs include grants, loans, tax abatements, low-cost power, and workforce development programs. https://www.niagaracountybusiness.com

    North Tonawanda

    The Lumber City Development Corp. has financial incentives available to assist businesses. http://www.lumbercitydc.com

    Wyoming County

    The Wyoming County Industrial Development Agency works with other economic development agencies the region and state to offer economic packages for companies needing assistance. https://wycoida.org

    Here is a compilation of state government resources and links for small and midsized businesses, from emergency financial relief to counseling services.

    Governor’s office:

    Paid sick/ family leave

    Department of Labor

    Empire State Development

    NY AG Office

    Small Business Administration

    New York State Retail Council

    • The Retail Council of NYS has established RetailNewYork.com, an online directory that enables NY retailers to safely sell goods and services.

    Here’s a compilation of federal government resources and links for small and midsized businesses, from emergency financial relief to counseling services. This will be updated as new information becomes available.

    COVID-19 UPDATES

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providingcontinuous updates to its guidance for businesses and employers on its Covid-19 website.

    CARES ACT

    UPDATED: April 25

    With a second round of the Paycheck Protection Program signed into law April 24, the SBA said it would begin accepting new loan applications at 10:30 a.m. Eastern April 27. The rules for borrowers are the same as the first round.

    The initial round of PPP funds ran out of money April 16. The second round includes $310 billion for PPP loans for small businesses and includes funds set aside for loans to be made by smaller community-based lenders.


    The $2 trillion stimulus CARES Act became law March 27. In addition to $1,200 direct payments to many individuals and expanded unemployment benefits, the bill included:

    •$349 billion in federally guaranteed loans to businesses with fewer than 500 employees under the Paycheck Protection Program. Loans will be available up to $10 million. In certain circumstances, such as using proceeds to pay employees, the loans can be forgiven. The loans will be made primarily through Small Business Administration-certified lenders, although other FDIC banks, credit unions and fintech lenders can become authorized to make the loans.

    Treasury and SBA began accepting applications from small businesses April 3. Independent contractors and the self-employed were able to start applying April 10.SBA has posted information on the Paycheck Protection Program on its website, including a sample loan application form. It offers Lender Match, a free online tool to connect a business with SBA-approved lenders within 48 hours.

    Treasury has also posted details, including how to become a certified lender under the program.

    PPP loans will have these features:

    • Interest rate of 1%
    • Two-year maturity
    • Six-month deferral of first payment
    • 100% guarantee by SBA
    • No collateral
    • No personal guarantees
    • No borrower or lender fees payable to SBA

    The PPP also includes funding for Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers and Minority Business Centers to provide free training, education and advising for small businesses. To find a nearby center, the SBA provides a search tool.


    SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE

    Small businesses in every U.S. state and territory can apply for a SBA low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loan. These loans provide working capital of up to $2 million to help overcome temporary loss of revenue. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses with repayment of up to 30 years. Applicants are encouraged to apply online.

    The CARES Act also provides an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advanceof up to $10,000 which will not have to be repaid.

    UPDATE: On May 4, the SBA announced the EIDL portal would reopen, but only for agricultural businesses.

    The SBA announced April 16 that it was unable to accept new applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Covid-19-related assistance program, including EIDL Advances. Applicants who had already submitted applications would be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.

    As of April 24, SBA reported approving 38,984 EIDL loans for a total of $7.97 billion and processing 1,192,519 EIDL advances for a total of $4.8 billion.


    SBA also offers its traditional loan programs for working capital, fixed assets and more. It also has express loan and microloan programs. Detailed information on these loans and how to connect with a lender is available on its website.

    MAIN STREET LENDING PROGRAM

    The Federal Reserve announced April 9 its Main Street Business Lending Program for small and midsized businesses that will complement SBA programs.

    APRIL 30 UPDATE: After receiving more than 2,200 letters in response to its request for feedback, the Fed announced April 30 it would expand loan options under the program.

    Changes include:

    • Creating a third loan option with increased risk sharing. Lenders would retain a 15% share on loans added to existing debt not to exceed six times a borrower’s income.
    • Businesses with up to 15,000 employees and $5 billion in revenue are now eligible.
    • The minimum loan size was reduced to $500,000.

    More details on the expansion can be found on the Fed’s website.

    According to the Fed’s initial announcement, the program will offer four-year loans to companies employing up to 10,000 workers or with revenue of less than $2.5 billion. Principal and interest payments will be deferred for a year. Eligible banks may originate new Main Street loans or use Main Street loans to increase the size of existing loans. Companies seeking Main Street loans must make reasonable efforts to maintain payroll and retain workers and follow compensation, stock repurchase and dividend restrictions that apply to the direct loan programs under the CARES Act. Firms that have taken advantage of the PPP may also take out Main Street loans.

    Treasury partners with community banks and community development loan funds with its Small Business Lending Fund to encourage small-business lending. More than 300 institutionsparticipate

    The Families First Corona Virus Response Act legislation took effect April 1 and will run through Dec. 31, 2020.The law requires employers with 500 or fewer employers to provide paid leave to certain employees in a temporary expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act and it requires employers to provide paid sick leave. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt from providing paid leave because of school closings or child-care unavailability if the leave would jeopardize the business as a going concern.

    The act allows payroll tax offsets to employers. Labor’s Wage and Hour Division will post a recorded webinar April 3 with detailed information on how to participate.

    The IRS, Labor and Treasury departments have all posted details about the payroll tax credits.

    For employers the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act requires:

    • Two weeks of paid sick leave at an employee’s regular pay rate when the employee can’t work because they are quarantined.
    • Two weeks of paid sick leave at two-third’s of regular pay because the employee is a caregiver for reasons related to Covid-19.
    • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid leave at two-thirds of regular pay for an employee who is a caregiver for reasons related to Covid-19.

    More information is at these links:

    Employee paid leave rights

    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

    Wage and Hour staffers can be confidentially reached by phone, 1-866-487-9243, or via its Contact Us form (not anonymous)

    A three-month delay for federal tax payments owed up to $1 million was announced by the IRS. Federal tax returns will still need to be filed by April 15 but entities will have until July 15, 2020, to pay. This will apply to individual returns but should also cover many pass-through entities and small businesses.

    The IRS has a website focused on steps to help taxpayers, businesses and others affected by the coronavirus. The section is updated as information is available. An updated FAQ on the Employee Retention Credit was posted by the IRS on April 30.

     

    Aerial Photos of Buffalo and Amherst, New York Including North, South and Downtown Campuses. Photograph: Douglas Levere
    Major public, private philanthropic entities create initiative to support small businesses in Buffalo and Rochester

    A new program aimed at stabilizing small businesses and nonprofits is being supported by some of the biggest public, private and philanthropic entities in Buffalo.

    Open4 is meant to be an ongoing resource targeting companies in Buffalo and Rochester, according to an announcement today.

    The program’s newly unveiled website highlights four ways it plans to help, including:

    • Connecting companies to available loans, grants and other sources of funding.

    • Providing advisors who will support everything from marketing plans to pipeline development.

    • Helping businesses work through issues and providing technical assistance in needed areas.

    • Making personnel from community partners available to provide the operational and support staff.

    Details are still coming together for Open4 and its partners are working to develop its specific parameters, according to the announcement. More information on the program is available here.

    The program aims to be an “ongoing resource that is open for small businesses and nonprofits to receive long-term support, assistance and counsel; and to help small businesses and nonprofits remain open for their customers and constituents, even during the most difficult of circumstances,” said David Egner, president and CEO of the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation.

    Nearly $6 million has been committed to the program by the Wilson Foundation, KeyBank/First Niagara Foundation, M&T Bank, The John R. Oishei Foundation and Pegula Sports & Entertainment.

    The program is meant to build off the near-term financial assistance provided by the state’s New York Forward Loan Fund, to which Evans Bank, M&T and the Wilson Foundation committed an additional $3.5 million.

    Unveiled last week by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the $100 million Forward Loan Fund aims to provide loans for small businesses. It will focus on those owned by minorities and women that did not receive assistance through the federal CARES Act, such as the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Disaster Injury Loans.

    The state is targeting businesses with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in annual gross revenue. Business interested can visit the state’s website.

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