Extreme Heat and Mental Health Are Hot-Button Topics; Look to Your States as Funding Source
Hey, everybody, this is Gene Marks, and welcome to this week's episode of the Paychex THRIVE Week in Review podcast, where I take a few items from the news and we talk about how they impact your small business. So, let's get right to it, shall we?
The first item comes from the White House. This past week, President Biden, through the Department of Labor, are going to be boosting their efforts to protect workers from extreme heat as temperatures all over the country are hitting record high levels. This is a report on Axios.dot.
The Biden administration has presented new protection efforts, as 180 million people — over half of the U.S. population — were under heat alerts during this past week. The White House asked the Labor Department to issue a formal hazard alert that will reaffirm that workers have heat-related protections under federal law. It will provide employers information on protecting workers and help ensure workers know their rights, a White House summary states. In addition, the department will ramp up enforcement of heat safety violations, expanding inspections of high-risk sectors like construction and agriculture.
Just so you know, the White House is not the first people to propose this. Some states, notably California, also have extreme-heat measures either proposed or in place. It is definitely a trend around the country, particularly as people talk about climate change.
If you're running a small business, no matter where you are, you need to pay special attention to the heat, the temperature in your place of work, particularly if your place of work is like a production facility or in agriculture, and you have to take steps to resolve that. Maybe your state will find your violating law or OSHA, and now the Department of Labor is getting involved, as well. So, you need to be very aware.
The Biden administration was busy last week. They also issued a second guidance regarding mental health awareness. President Biden announced that his administration is moving forward with new rules meant to push insurance companies to increase their coverage of mental health treatments, according to a report in the Associated Press. The new regulations, which still needs to go through a public comment period, would require insurers to study whether their customers have equal access to medical and mental health benefits and to take remedial action if necessary.
It's called the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, and it requires that insurers provide the same level of coverage for both mental and physical health care, though the administration and advocates argue insurance policies restrict patient access.
“I don't know what the difference between breaking your arm and having a mental breakdown is? It's health,” said President Biden in an East Room event. “We must fulfill the promise of true mental health parity for all Americans now.”
Couldn't agree more. Right now, mental health continues to be a growing issue among many workers. It is no longer a stigma. Many younger workers — listen, we've covered this a few times on the Paychex THRIVE podcast, where I've interviewed mental health experts about this. I don't care what size of a business that you're running, you have to be paying attention to your employees mental health and making sure that their coverage is there because if you don't, you may lose good employees either perspective or even current employees who are demanding help for mental health issues.
Now, the president is making sure that insurance companies are stepping up to the plate. You and I, as business owners, need to be talking to our insurers, really finding out what kind of mental health benefits that they are providing, even looking at other platforms and services that provide mental health benefits, as well.
It needs to be a required thing that we are providing for our employees going forward. That's the way the workplace has changed.
And finally, even though it has been tightening credit across the country and interest rates are high as they've been in the past 40 years, many states are stepping up to help small businesses with loans. Here are some examples.
In Connecticut, for example, the governor of Connecticut, Ned Lamont, and the Connecticut Department of Economic Community Development, they have launched their first anniversary or they are highlighting the first anniversary of their small business boost fund. More than 300 small businesses and nonprofits can receive support through this recently launched program. These are low interest loans at 4.5 percent interest rate — that's pretty darn good — and range from $5,000 to $500,000.
In New York, New York's governor has announced that small businesses and nonprofits in the state can also apply for loans up to $150,000 under a New York state effort called Loan Fund 2 program — I’m sorry, New York Forward Loan Fund 2 program. The state announced this $150 million fund has expanded the criteria for qualification, provides greater resources allocated for the program. It allows more businesses to qualify for a loan.
In Maryland, Gov. Moore there has announced a $15 million fund to help businesses, particularly minority led businesses, for relief that they need related to COVID or anything since. It is adding to $98 million in federal relief that the state has already received. These are being put out through community development funds and other institutions to lend money to minority, black and brown businesses around the state. Plenty of new money available, low interest, even grants for business owners in the state of Maryland.
And finally, in Pennsylvania, a nonprofit is taking advantage of some federal money to disburse money to minority-owned businesses in the Erie, Pennsylvania area. It's called Diverse Erie, and they awarded just last week more than $300,000 in grants to 29 minority-owned small businesses.
Here's the bottom line, guys. If you are looking for financing, I know credit is tighter. I know interest rates are high. Google “state small business credit initiative.” Google “nonprofits and funding and capital and loans and grants for small businesses” in your state.
As I've just given the example, there are many states that are offering programs that are having financing for small businesses out there. You need to go after them yourself.
And last gas is the Small Business Administration has some great marketing area loans. The 7(a) and 504 programs which you may also be eligible for. There is money available out there if you're a small business, you got to go looking for it.
That's the news this week that I think impacts your small business. I hope this has been helpful. My name is Gene Marks. You have been listening to the Week in Review. If you've got any advice or tips or if you would like to suggest guests for our paycheck, strike podcast, please visit our site at payx.me/thrivetopics.
Again, my name is Gene Marks. Thanks for listening. We will see you again next week with a few items of news that impact your small business and some thoughts on how you can leverage that news. You take care.
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