In order to encourage and support the growth of minority and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses, the State of Ohio implemented several business assistance programs to foster the development of these businesses and increase the number of qualified competitors in the marketplace. Generally, these programs require Ohio state agencies to award a certain percentage of their contracts to businesses owned and controlled by different specified groups. To that end, Ohio has four primary programs: Minority Business Enterprise (“MBE”); Women-Owned Business Enterprise (“WBE”); Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity (“EDGE”); and Veteran-Friendly Business Enterprise (“VBE”). These programs are administered by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services, Equal Opportunity Division (“DAS”).

Recent Updates to the EDGE Program

The EDGE Program is designed to assist socially and economically disadvantaged persons and businesses in obtaining Ohio state government contracts in construction; architecture and engineering; professional services; goods and services; and information technology services. Each year, the Director of DAS sets the EDGE procurement goals for each state agency. Generally, the procurement goal is approximately five percent (5%) of all eligible agency procurements. A business is not eligible to be awarded contracts under one of these programs until the business is certified by DAS.

In October 2020, DAS updated the rules for the EDGE program, including revising the certification criteria. While there are many nuances to the certification requirements for the EDGE Program, this recent Legal Alert provides a basic overview of the criteria and focuses on the most significant changes that DAS instituted effective October 2020.

DOWNLOAD LEGAL ALERT

The U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) has released two Loan Necessity Questionnaires – one for for-profit businesses, the other for nonprofits – for recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans of $2 million or more.

The questionnaires are designed to help the SBA evaluate a borrower’s good-faith certification that its loan request was necessary to support ongoing operations.  A borrower that receives a questionnaire from its lender must return the questionnaire within 10 business days.  If a borrower fails to complete the questionnaire, or if the SBA determines the borrower did not have a good faith basis to certify that its loan request was necessary to support its ongoing operations, the borrower’s PPP loan forgiveness application may be denied.

To read the full Alert, visit our website.

The recent increasing price of lumber may be the single biggest threat to affordable housing in the United States, not to mention the threat it poses to the U.S. economy.  Covid-19, which spurred an upsurge in home renovation projects and a drop in financing rates for new home builds, has caused a contemporaneous increase in lumber consumption and decrease in lumber production.  This has caused a historical rise in lumber prices, to the point of crisis.

At the outset of the virus, many lumber mills made predictions that home building and other projects would come to a screeching halt and understandably made cuts to staffing and production.  Now, however, lumber mills are scrambling to keep up and simply do not have the staff to fill the market demands.  Lumber mill employment has only rebounded by about half, while housing construction employment is almost 100% back to normal levels.

While builder confidence is strong with sales and construction projects following suit, there is a shortage of domestic lumber to support the increased demand.  This has caused lumber prices to increase by 130% since mid-April of 2020.  Increased lumber pricing is driving housing prices up by an average of $16,000.00-$17,000.00 throughout the country, and there is still continued demand for newly built homes.

The U.S. Government is leaning on the U.S. Lumber Coalition to work together to mend the supply chain and increase domestic production, while also seeking trade agreements with Canada and other foreign producers to help alleviate the domestic demand and inflated lumber prices.

But what can be done while politicians politic?  Adding escalation clauses to project contracts that contemplate lumber can provide some relief.  An escalation clause kicks in when the price of lumber (or another commodity) increases beyond a certain percentage.  Once that threshold is met, the increased costs are passed down to the consumer to protect profit margins and ensure project viability.

Join Hahn Loeser partners Ivan Golden and Jeffrey Folkman along with Suhas Shah of Intyllus Advisors and Robert Arnall of FineMark Bank for a complimentary webinar detailing the application process for PPP loan forgiveness and important guidance for businesses.
We hope you can join us for this informative and interactive session.

On September 14, 2020, Governor DeWine signed House Bill 606 into law which provides civil immunity to employers facing COVID-19 related lawsuits.  HB 606 provides, in part:

SECTION 2. (A) No civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property shall be brought against any person if the cause of action on which the civil action is based, in whole or in part, is that the injury, death, or loss to person or property is caused by the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, or SARS-CoV-2, or any mutation thereof, unless it is established that the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, any of those viruses or mutations was by reckless conduct or intentional misconduct or willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person against whom the action is brought.

To read our complete Legal Alert that outlines the details of this new bill, please click here.

Eligible businesses will have an additional five weeks to apply for Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans, after President Trump signed a bill on July 4, 2020, extending the application deadline to August 8, 2020. The deadline otherwise would have expired on June 30, 2020.

The deadline extension is just the latest of many changes to the PPP, which offers low interest, forgivable loans to small- and medium-sized businesses that maintain their payrolls during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program initially attracted overwhelming interest from businesses – so much so that the original $349 billion allocated to the program was exhausted in less than two weeks.  But shifting rules – and fears that businesses could face civil or even criminal penalties for misusing loan funds – caused some potential borrowers to avoid the program and even return their loans.

Please read our full Legal Alert detailing this latest development and additional insight of interest to borrowers.

Hahn Loeser is proud to be recognized by Construction Executive Magazine in the 2020 list of The Top 50 Construction Law Firms in its June issue that was just released.  Ranking in the top half of the list at number 24, Hahn Loeser is the only Ohio-based firm to be included in this year’s list.

This ranking was the result of research conducted by Construction Executive surveying hundreds of U.S. firms with construction law practices.  The ranking was determined by an algorithm that weighed 2019 revenues from the firm’s construction practice, number of attorneys in the firm’s construction practice, percentage of total revenues derived from its construction practice, number of states in which the firm is licensed to practice, year in which the construction practice was established and the number of construction clients served in 2019.

This issue also includes Executive Insights from attorneys from ranked firms. Here, you can read my insights on what questions a construction company should ask before retaining a law firm.

I would like to thank our impressive team of attorneys and professionals and all of our amazing clients for this honor.

Members of our Construction Law Team joined forces with Suhas Shah, a partner with Intyllus Advisors for a three-part webinar series for the construction industry on critical topics of interest related to COVID-19.  If you missed any of our programs, you can watch the recordings and download the slides at the links below.

Part 1: Employment Provisions of FFCRA and the CARES Act
Presented on Thursday, April 23 at 1 p.m. EST
Follow these links to download the recording and the slides.

Part 2: Making the Most of SBA Loans
Presented on Thursday, April 30 at 1 p.m. EST
Follow these links to download the recording and the slides.

Part 3:  A Review of the Main Street Lending Program
Presented on Thursday, May 7 at 1 p.m. EST
Follow these links to download the recording and the slides.

 

We want to thank Foundation Software for inviting us to present a three-part webinar series for their clients.  You can view each of these complimentary sessions and access the slides at the links below.

Part 1:  Make the Most of the Coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) Loans
Presented on Friday, April 24 at 1 p.m. EST
Follow these links to download the recording and the slides.

Part 2:  How to Document Delays, Count Costs and File Legal Claims Related to Coronavirus
Presented on Wednesday, April 29 at 1 p.m. EST
Follow these links to download the recording and the slides.

Part 3:  Safety First: Employer Considerations, OHSA Guidelines, Illness Reporting and New Laws during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Presented on Wednesday, April 29 at 1 p.m. EST
Follow these links to download the recording and the slides.

Recent guidance from the U.S. Small Business Administration (“SBA”) is causing some businesses to reconsider whether they are eligible for Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans and to contemplate returning loans they have already received.

The PPP, part of the $2.2 trillion federal stimulus bill enacted in response to COVID-19, was intended to provide low-interest, forgivable loans of up to $10 million to businesses that maintain their payrolls during the pandemic. Businesses that use PPP loan funds for employee payroll and certain other permitted expenses during an eight-week period beginning on the loan disbursement date generally are eligible to have the loans forgiven, with the forgiveness amount excluded from borrowers’ gross incomes.

To read our full Legal Alert, please click here.