I know it’s not breaking news when I say that 2020 was a challenging year. Yeah, I know, that’s an understatement. Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones, who suffered getting sick from the virus, whose jobs, businesses and livelihoods were impacted by the pandemic, and who struggled with the isolation and anxiety that was brought on by the coronavirus. I’m grateful to be sitting here writing this note after a year in which my loved ones and I were relatively unscathed.
As we welcome 2021, I think it’s important to try to find the good that came out of 2020. For me the greatest thing to come from the disaster of the last year is one that I hope continues well into the future, and that is the spirit of collaboration and working together that I have found across our industry nationwide (well, worldwide, really) and across the greater travel & tourism industry in New Hampshire. THANK YOU for your help and support in navigating the many changes, pieces of legislation, executive orders, guidance, aid programs, new opportunities, and more in which this pandemic resulted. It’s been like having a big, socially-distanced team to work with!
Wishing you all a healthy, safe, and profitable New Year,
PS, if you’d like a humorous recap of 2020, I recommend Dave Barry’s Year in Review 2020.
Congress Passes New $900 Billion Stimulus Bill
You’ve no doubt already heard this news, but in case you haven’t had time to catch up on the latest, I’ve included a few key bullet points pulled from an Overview of New Stimulus Legislation by Abby Martinen of Sheehan Phinney on 12/28/20 as well as from Here’s what’s in the $900 billion stimulus package article that appeared in The Washington Post on 12/27/20. Worth noting: the new bill does not include new money for state and local governments, nor does it include business liability provisions.
• The bill includes more than $284 billion for first and second forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans, expanded PPP eligibility for nonprofit organizations and news outlets, and modifications to the program to serve small businesses, nonprofit organizations and independent restaurants. (Note – 501c6 organizations are generally included in this round as well.)
• Businesses that received PPP loans and had them forgiven will be allowed to deduct the costs covered by those loans on their federal tax returns.
• The deal includes $20 billion for targeted grants through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program.
• For Business and Employers: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) paid sick leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) leave payroll tax credits are extended through March 31, 2021, but on a voluntary basis for employers. The FFCRA paid leave mandate is not extended, but employers may still voluntarily provide FFCRA leave benefits and remain eligible to take the tax credit for any such leave. Additionally, business expenses paid for with forgiven Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) loans are tax deductible. Finally, businesses and employers who have been deferring payroll taxes now have until the end of 2021 to increase an employee’s withholding in order to pay back those taxes owed.
• While the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) stopped taking applications for small business loans in August, the new stimulus bill reopens the PPP loan program with $285 billion in aid. The bill allows businesses that did not previously receive PPP funding a chance to apply for a loan, and also allows businesses that previously received a PPP loan to obtain a second PPP loan if they meet certain criteria, including: (1) having less than 300 employees, (2) having at least 25% drop in revenue during any quarter of 2020 compared with the same quarter in 2019, and (3) having used or will have used the full amount of their first PPP loan. The maximum amount a borrower can receive under a second PPP loan is $2 million.
• Publicly traded companies are ineligible to receive these PPP loans, but the bill provides eligibility for certain other first time PPP borrowers. These include businesses with 500 or less employees that are eligible for other SBA 7(a) loans; sole-proprietors, independent contractors, eligible self-employed people; not-for-profits, including churches; and specific accommodation/food service operations with fewer than 300 employees per physical location.
There will likely be a number of webinars dedicated to helping businesses make sense of the new bill, such as the BIA of NH’s Unwrapping and Understanding the Latest Coronavirus Stimulus Package webinar that will be held on Friday, 1/8 at 1pm. We’ll be sure to share other helpful webinars as we become aware of them. But if you can’t wait and are feeling particularly ambitious, you can read the entire text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 yourself! Happy reading…
New Congressional Ski & Snowboard Caucus Co-Chair for Rep. Kuster
Rep. Anne Kuster (D-NH) and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) will be co-chairs for the Ski Caucus in the 117th Congress. Rep. Kuster served as Chair in the 116th Congress and, as many of you know, has deep roots in the ski industry and has been a great ally to ski areas over the years, most recently assisting with the COVID response and asking House leadership to provide relief to public land ski areas by including Ski Fee Waiver in the stimulus bill.
Rep. Curtis was elected to Congress in November of 2017 to represent the 3rd CD in Utah, and has a number of ski areas in his district, including Snowbird, Alta, Brighton, Solitude and Sundance. A Republican who once identified as a Democrat, he served as the mayor of Provo, Utah from 2010 to 2017. Rep. Curtis serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and is a Republican who acknowledges the need to address climate change. NSAA looks forward to working with the Caucus to highlight ski area policy issues and find common ground in Congress.
States’ unemployment rates
Unemployment rates are changing regularly across the country during this pandemic. Interested in how other state’s unemployment rates are looking compared to yours? Find current data on the US Bureau of Labor Statistics “Unemployment Rates For States” page.
As the COVID-19 vaccine is rolled out to states who in turn are developing their own priorities for who is eligible to get it first, second, and so forth, there are also questions about whether employers can mandate that their employees get the vaccine. Jim Reidy of Sheehan Phinney weighs in on this question in his 12/16/20 NHBR article Can employees be required to get the Covid-19 vaccine? as well as in a WMUR interview on 12/20/20.
There are also questions about whether ski patrollers are eligible to be included on NH’s Phase 1a list for those most at risk to receive the vaccine. Jessyca will be sending an overview from DHHS on this topic to ski area members early next week once the department has had a chance to update its guidance.
N.H. Nordic Season Pass-holder Exchange Program
This cooperative agreement offers the below-listed Nordic centers’ season pass holders 50% of the day rate at participating ski areas for the whole season with no blackouts.
Great Glen Trails
Jackson Ski Touring
Mount Washington Valley Ski Touring
Nordic Skier Wolfeboro XC
Waterville Valley Adventure Center
Purity Spring XC & Snowshoe Reserve
Gunstock Cross Country
On a separate but related note, the Ski NH Members Reciprocal Ticket Programs document now lives in the ski area members site. If you have not send us any information on your reciprocal program or have changes to what you last sent, please email Jessyca.
The Green Box
Resolutions for the Planet
Resolutions to lose 10 pounds, spend more time on the slopes & trails, and call your mom and dad more often are pretty standard fare as far as resolutions go. But have you ever considered making resolutions to help the environment, either as an individual or as a business? This quick read by the New York Times, New Years Resolutions for the Planet, offers some inspiration via five categories that any of us can work into our lives.
Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) Decision Postponed
This week the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decided to postpone action for eight weeks on an agreement that would fund the NHSaves program for 2021-2023. The NHSaves program is funded by the systems benefit charge (SBC) on utility customers’ bills and is used to pay for energy efficiency projects throughout the state for both residential and business consumers. A few recent articles and opinion pieces summarize this issue:
Regulators Postpone Decision on New Energy Efficiency Program, by Garry Rayno, InDepthNH.org 12/29/20
Clock running out on bid to step up New Hampshire’s energy-efficiency efforts, by Bob Sanders, NH Business Review, 12/21/20
Why energy-efficiency programs are good for New Hampshire businesses, consumers, by Alli Gold Roberts, Ceres, 12/9/20
Citing Economic Fears, House Republicans Call On PUC To Postpone 2021 Energy Efficiency Plan, by Annie Ropeik, NHPR, 11/30/20
Upcoming Events & Webinars
Did you miss some of the NSAA’s Virtual Learning Series programming? Worry not, they’ve got you covered. Click here for recordings and accompanying materials for all the past events.
The Outdoor Business Climate Partnership Presents: Climate Advocacy In 2021
Join the OBCP for an engaging Q&A with Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO) and John Curtis (R-UT) on the outlook and opportunities for addressing climate change in the 117th Congress. NSAA will provide takeaways on how the winter outdoor industry can play a lead role in supporting bipartisan federal climate policy in 2021 and beyond. Registration is free to all NSAA members. January 6, 2021, from 12:00 p.m. MST.
Unwrapping and Understanding the Latest Coronavirus Stimulus Package Presented by BIA, topics will include up-to-date information about applying for Payroll Protection Program loans, direct stimulus payments, and how charitable 501(c)6 organizations may be able to access federal funding from the act. Jan. 8, 2021 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Vaccine to the Rescue! BIA is pleased to host a webinar focused on efforts to eradicate COVID-19 in New Hampshire. The expert panel will address questions like: What vaccine will be available (Moderna’s, Pfizer’s, AstraZenica’s, etc.) in the Granite State? How effective are the vaccines? How will the vaccines be distributed? These and other questions will be addressed during this webinar. Jan. 14, 2021 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Planning for A (Great!) Winter 2021-2022 with H-2B Seasonal Visas a Pabian Law Webinar. Open to all, not just Pabian Law clients (feel free to forward to colleagues and others that may be interested). For seasonal organizations with winter needs, April 1st marks the time to start working on your 2021-2022 H-2B seasonal visa petitions! Perhaps now more than ever, H-2B seasonal visas are a vital tool for organizations to properly staff for their busiest time of year. Attorney and Founding Partner, Keith Pabian, will present on visa options for seasonal organizations and the role of H-2B visas in staffing strategies. Thursday, January 28, 2021 from 1:30pm-2:30pm EST
2021 Winter Conference & Tradeshow – NSAA has decided to combine the Western and Eastern Winter Conferences and Tradeshows and will hold one event online during the first week of February.
Skiing in the Media
Ski, Snowmobile Businesses See Good Season, With Changes, by Kathy McCormack for The U.S. News on 12/9.
If you thought 2020 was backward, wait till you see uphill skiing, by Brian Clark for the LA Times on 12/11.
Inspiration for Staying Active in a Coronavirus Winter, On NHPR’s “The Exchange” on 12/23.
9 Best Options For “Skis-off” Fun, by Brion O’Connor for New Hampshire Magazine on 12/23.
How to get kids cross-country skiing this winter, by Diane Bair for The Boston Globe on 12/25.
Austrian Lockdown Covers Schools and Stores, but Not Ski Hills, by Melissa Eddy for The New York Times on 12/28.
Alpine ski areas bounce back from rainy Christmas with snowmaking, by Tom Eastman for the Conway Daily Sun on 12/29.
NH ski resorts deal with slow start to season caused by COVID-19, weather, by Amy Coveno for WMUR on 12/30.
Winter Notes — School of Bebe: Ragged lures new skiers with free lessons, by Jill Armstrong for the Union Leader on 12/30.
Indy Pass provides great deal for skiers, snowboarders, by Shaun Sunter for the Telegram.com on 12/30.
7 places around the country where the slopes are less skied, by Cindy Hirshfield for The New York Times on 12/31.