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COVID-19 Toolkit

Chamber Family,

Our goal at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber is to ensure the health of employees and the continued safe operation of business here in Southwest Michigan. As such, I want our members to be armed with the information necessary to proceed in this rapidly evolving situation.

Below, we have compiled information and resources from the federal, state, and local levels  to help educate citizens and business owners on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the novel Coronavirus. We will work diligently to disseminate more information as it becomes available.

Our Chamber stands ready to assist our members throughout this situation. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you may have.


Arthur Havlicek | President & CEO
Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber
(o) 269.932.4042

Live Map of Counties with Positive COVID-19 Tests

Promote your business on Buy Local Berrien!

We at the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber have launched a Buy Local Berrien! campaign on Facebook as a way to share information on how the community can support local businesses caught in the maelstrom of executive order mandates. After all, what better way to combat the potential effects of social distancing policies than with the incredible power of social media?! 

The community has more than stepped up, and this group has grown from zero to over 5,000 members in just 5 days.

You do not have to be a member of the Southwest Michigan Regional Chamber to post and/or be promoted in this group. It is to support ALL local businesses and we encourage everyone to participate.

Breaking Down "Shelter In Place"

After Governor Whitmer’s announcement of Executive Order 2020-21 Shelter in Place, many questions have been asked regarding what businesses are considered “essential.” Essential businesses and workers are defined as “those who are necessary to sustain or protect life” and “critical infrastructure workers.”

Those business categories include:

  • Communications
  • Chemical
  • Critical Manufacturing
  • Commercial Facilities
  • Dams
  • Defense Industrial Base
  • Emergency Services
  • Energy
  • Financial
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Government Facilities
  • Healthcare & Public Health
  • Information Technology
  • Nuclear Reactors, Materials & Waste
  • Transportation Systems
  • Water

The Chamber wants to make clear that restaurants are considered essential infrastructure, falling under the “Food and Agriculture” category and are allowed to remain open. If they remain open, they must provide one of the following:

  • No contact delivery
  • No contact curbside
  • No contact carry-out

Additionally, critical services such a grocery stores, food banks, pharmacies, medical supply stores, gas stations/convenience stores, liquor stores, hardware stores, laundromats, banks, auto services, and pet stores will also remain open, but many are operating on reduced hours.

More information regarding what and who qualifies as “Essential Critical Infrastructure” can be found by visiting the following link from the Department of Homeland Security: CISA Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastrucutre Workers.

For guidelines on what you can or cannot do while the "Shelter-in-Place" order is in effect, download this PDF.

How Berrien Co. Businesses Can Help

Suppliers: Does your business have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that can support organizations responding to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak? Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) is looking for suppliers capable of filling critical needs through immediate supply or manufacturing capability of these items. Please visit the site and see if your business is able to provide any of the needs listed.

Small Business Relief Programs

Below are some of the relief programs that have been made available to small businesses struggling due to COVID-19. Our community partners at the Cornerstone Alliance can help you identify which program is right for you and your business. If you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to them.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL): The Small Business Administration provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary losses of revenue.

Learn More

SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. The Paycheck Protection Program will be available through June 30, 2020.

Learn More

SBA Microloan Program: Our partners at Cornerstone Alliance, the local SBA intermediary, can provide Microloans funding for small businesses. Microloans are available for $500 to $50,000 to businesses located in Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties. These can be combined with the SBA EIDL loan program. if you have an existing microloans, you may be eligible for additional financial assistance under this program.

Learn More

Other SBA Resources: Additional SBA programs such as SBA Debt relief and SBA Express Bridge Loans are available. These loans can provide vital economic support for businesses to overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing and can be used to bridge the gap while applying for a direct SBA Economic Injury Disaster loan.

Learn More

MEDC Capital Access Program: As small and medium-sized businesses across the state are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, existing programs within Capital Access provide opportunities to access financing that may not otherwise be available. Participating lenders across the state are encouraged to work with their existing business customers to consider whether these programs could offer access to critical capital. Available programs include:

  • Capital Access Program: The Capital Access Program (CAP), is available to assist businesses with capital needs. Similar to a loan loss reserve fund, the bank, the company and the MSF pay a small premium into a reserve that makes it possible for the company to receive fixed asset and working capital financing.
  • Collateral Support Program: The Collateral Support Program works to provide cash collateral accounts to lending institutions to enhance the collateral coverage of borrowers. This program seeks to enable borrowers to acquire the necessary financing that may otherwise be unavailable due to a collateral shortfall.
  • Loan Participation Program: The MEDC can participate with a lender for new financing that decreases the lender’s credit exposure. For projects with speculative cash flows, the MEDC may offer a grace period on repayments.

Learn More

Local Rent and Mortgage Payment Program: The Berrien Community Foundation, Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council and Cornerstone Alliance have partnered to create a zero-interest loan program for Berrien County businesses and nonprofit entities that have a rent or mortgage payment due in April and/or May of 2020.

Learn More

Additional Information and Resources

Unemployment Benefits

We are strongly urging job providers facing work shortages to place their employees on temporary leave as opposed to termination, so that they may remain eligible for potential federal assistance.

Work Share: Work Share is a program that permits employers to maintain operational productivity during declines in regular business activity instead of laying off workers. With the plan, rather than being laid off, eligible employees work a reduced number of hours in the work week and receive a portion of weekly unemployment benefits. By participating in Work Share, employers are able to retain trained employees and avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new employees.

Unemployment Benefits: The Michigan Web Account Manager (MiWAM) is the UIA’s system for filing your unemployment insurance claim and managing your UIA account online. MiWAM makes doing business with the UIA simpler, faster and more efficient.

Financial Relief for Business

Federal Relief 

HR Resources

General Resources for Employers

Disinfection and Cleaning

Health Related Resources

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) has launched a COVID-19 Hotline. Public health and other experts will answer health-related questions about COVID-19. The team can also direct residents and providers to the right resources in their local communities and in other state government departments.

The hotline will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1-888-535-6136.

Visit the following links for the most current information from DHHS:

Best Practices

Local Links

Following are links to a variety of resources provided by the Berrien County Health Department to help educate citizens on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus.  

Information in Multiple Languages:

CDC Guidance Information For:

Healthcare Professionals.     Travel Recommendations      Faith-Based Organizations
Community Events & Gatherings       Businesses & Employers      Colleges & Universities
Law Enforcement & 1st Responders.     Childcare & Schools      Long Term Care Facilities

Other CDC Resources:

Useful Links for Employers and Employees

Following are links to a variety of resources provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help educate employers and employees on how to prepare for and address the impacts of the Coronavirus.