The Voice of Manufacturers is Being Heard

by: Smith and Howard

April 14, 2020

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As COVID-19-related developments continue to unfold in rapid-fire fashion in Georgia and across the U.S., the Georgia Association of Manufacturers (GAM) has actively identified issues of concern and advocated with federal, state and local leaders for solutions to allow manufacturers to keep producing and employees working in safe conditions to ensure that critical products are available and that communities across Georgia are economically sustained.

The ever-changing landscape of federal and state responses intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 have escalating implications for manufacturers.  Questions regarding federal, state and local business activity restrictions; employment and unemployment matters; workplace protocols; and opportunities to use manufacturing capabilities to support Georgia and national efforts to deal with the pandemic, are being raised daily. GAM has been responding to these questions received and offering guidance on the basis of the best and most recent information available.

This is definitely a time when business and government at all levels need to be in close contact and share needs, concerns and ideas. GAM is facilitating that for Georgia manufacturers. Your attention is needed in the following areas.

The Governor’s April 3rd “Shelter in Place” Executive Order requires all residents and visitors to remain in their place of residence unless conducting Essential Services and related travel or are part of the workforce for “Critical Infrastructure”. It further adopts the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s definition of “Critical Infrastructure” and “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce” and prohibits any actions by local government which are contrary to the Executive Order. This is welcomed news for manufacturers engaged in operations meeting this definition, which will implement measures that mitigate exposure and spread of COVID-19 among the workforce.

Each manufacturer is empowered to self-determine whether its business qualifies as “Critical Infrastructure” and document the rationale that supports that assessment.  While the Georgia Department of Economic Development is authorized to issue guidance regarding a business’s status as “Critical Infrastructure,” neither the Department nor the Governor’s Office or any other state agency contemplates at this time issuing certificates or any other documentation that deems a specific manufacturer or business “Critical Infrastructure”. This is consistent with the earlier position offered by GAM to the Governor and Department of Economic Development.

The recently enacted CARES Act, and related actions by Georgia’s Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler, offer avenues to provide cash assistance and unemployment benefits to many Georgians impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.  Aid and loans to small businesses are similarly available; Smith and Howard has provided consistent updates on this information on their COVID-19 Resources page.

Our thanks to Roy Bowen ( [email protected]) and Clay Jones ([email protected]) for providing us with this update.

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