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Updated April 1, 2020
Updates from Our Partners & Resources Regarding COVID-19
Greetings NICA Members, here is a list of Updates from some of our Industry Partners and resources to assist with your business regarding COVID-19. If you have any comments, news, or resources you would like us to send out to the Membership, you can share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or by visiting our Contact Page.
While the current situation is unprecedented in many ways, it’s not entirely new to us. We could say our approach is business as usual. And that’s because over the last 55 years, we’ve seen our customers through record expansions and economic lows, through extraordinary events that impact their businesses and lives. And we’ll see them through this one.
When we talk to prospective customers, we often share stories of challenges and hardship. It’s our belief that you don’t always know the value of your lender until you’re faced with a crisis - and see how they respond.
There are many institutions that can lend you money, but far fewer who understand your business. And fewer still who will stand with you and help guide you through a crisis.
If you follow our communications on email and social media, you’ll know that we are proactively reaching out to our current customers - all 4,000-plus of them - with offers of assistance. We want to help make this pause in business more manageable for our customers and allow them to focus on the health and safety of their employees and loved ones, not on their next payment.
And that’s where our focus will be for the next few weeks. Our staff of 45 will be working with each customer to offer customized solutions for their current situation. We ask for your patience as we work through these requests.
Ultimately we will speak to anyone who needs our help, making those customers feel as secure as possible. This may cause a slowdown in our ability to underwrite and fund new loans during this time. We appreciate your understanding as we process every request. Thank you for your business, your trust, and your patience as we navigate through the next several weeks together.
Michael Smith, Firestone Financial
On behalf, of the entire Whirley-DrinkWorks! team, we hope this message finds you and your families safe and in good health.
The top priority, at Whirley-DrinkWorks!, has always been the safety and the well-being of our Customers and TeamMates. Therefore, I personally want to update you on everything we are doing to ensure the safety of our products and our commitment to support your business during these unprecedented times.
Whirley-DrinkWorks! is committed to highest standards of cleanliness, and health safety protocols. Since 2015, we have been a Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and Safe Quality Food (SFQ) Level 2 Certified manufacturer of food and beverage packaged products. This certification entails following the strictest operational protocols, thus enabling our products to be used directly from the box without the need for further washing. Beyond SQF, we also follow all FDA regulations and our products are tested by 3rd party auditors. These test results can be shared, accordingly.
During these extraordinary times, we have also instituted additional safety procedures for our TeamMates, including mandated temperature checks before each shift, as well as implementing policies focused on reducing non-essential travel, group meeting sizes, and remote working.
In addition, for our DrinkWorks! and EasyGo! Asian produced products, we are instituting additional safety precautions.
- Most of our products are manufactured, by GFSI Certified Asian Supplier Partners. Therefore, a surface sanitizing treatment is performed on all products prior to final packaging. In addition, the leadership teams, at these facilities, have developed similar daily temperature screening protocols.
- According to the CDC, there is a very low risk of virus spread from products or packaging that are shipped from Asia over a period of days or weeks. There is currently no evidence to support the transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods. It is worth noting there have not been any cases in USA associated with imported goods.
Our Commitment to your Business
Whirley-DrinkWorks! has been fortunate to operate for 60 years, as a financially secure, family owned business. During these difficult times, we have remained operational in support of our medical drinkware customers providing products to keep patients hydrated while in hospital, along with some additional customers not adversely impacted by today’s events.
As you work through these current challenges and plan to re-open your business, our Sales Team is available to answer any questions you may have about your current orders, planning future orders and providing inventory solutions. In addition, we understand that maximizing your food & beverage category revenue will be important and our team is here to assist.
Please know we are available and want to understand your concerns and opportunities so we can be better prepared to provide the service level you have come to expect from us.
Please Stay Safe and Stay in Touch,
The COVID-19 has impacted all of us in our industry. Our main priority is the health and safety of our employees, customers, and suppliers. We are in constant contact with our industry organizations reviewing all COVID-109 updates and State and Federal guidelines. We are implementing and closely monitoring all mandates as they become available to ensure the safety of all our employees.
As an essential business, we have focused on assisting on our community and surrounding areas making available our food supplies to hospitals, carry-out restaurants, and anyone needing food. We are following all CDC guidelines and following the social distancing to protect our employees. Our customers place their orders via phone or email, pay over the phone, and receive curb side pickup. We have limited in store shopping to no more than two customers at one time following the 6-foot social distancing guidelines.
Our vendors and suppliers have also seen a tremendous impact from the COVID-19. We are in weekly contact with those individuals updating them on event cancellations, and any information available that can be provided to assist them in their future manufacturing and supplies.
In this critical time, we have been blessed by the overwhelming response of our customers and industry friends. We have received so many phone calls, texts, and emails of encouragement. This is an example of what this industry is all about. The closeness and togetherness is more than anyone can imagine. We will continue to reach out to our customers and offer support any way we can. We are proud to be a part of this industry and what it stands for. We wish everyone health and safety.
The COVID 19 Pandemic impacts every element of our society, and the fair industry is no exception. The losses from cancelled fairs and non-fair events at fairgrounds is now in the hundreds of millions of dollars across the globe just since the first week of March.
The allied businesses—so vital to the success of fairs—are also hit hard. Carnival operators, mobile food operators, suppliers, and entertainers are suffering huge financial losses.
The IAFE exists to serve its members and are doing that in the following ways: Advocacy, Uniting the Network, and Education.
I believe the strength of the Association at this point in time is that our foundation is built upon members sharing with one another to strengthen the industry. Our role at the Association office is to facilitate, utilizing every tool in our virtual toolbox; and to listen to the members in calls and online discussions; to share via social media the many ways fairs are serving their communities and coming up with innovative ideas to not only help their community (i.e. delivery of educational assets for kids stuck at home), but creating online auctions and judging of youth project animals.
The IAFE staff is prepared to transition to working from home within the next few days in response to anticipated “shelter-in-place” rules, but we are fully prepared to remain engaged with members in order to come out stronger on the other side of this.
Marla Calico, IAFE
At the core of every festival and event industry professional, is a Type A personality whose comfort zone is in their ability to control things. Challenges and problems are our specialty and we excel at solving them; quickly and efficiently. We control the problems, control the fallout, and move on to the next challenge. Which is why the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) global pandemic is our worst nightmare. We can’t control the virus. We can’t control the response. We can’t control the fallout. Which leads to global frustration and stress.
While we cannot control what is currently happening in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, we can install our own circuit-breaker, step back with other industry professionals and partners, and readjust our own response(s). After recognizing that everyone, worldwide, is affected by the current global pandemic, and offering our sincere empathies, we need to do what we do best and revisit what it is that we do/can control and how that might positively affect our events and organizations.
Rest assured that the IFEA will continue to closely monitor the changing landscape of this pandemic on our global industry and to keep you informed and supported in the timeliest fashion possible. Wishing you all safe, healthy and successful events.
Things are moving quickly throughout the event industry and we at WFA are committed to keeping our membership and business partners fully informed as we move through these challenging times. Western Fairs Association is actively monitoring the developments concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout our membership regions; we will continue to closely monitor the situation on your behalf. The health and wellbeing of all our members, attendees and member communities is our highest priority. We strongly urge our members to follow guidelines provided by the WHO, CDC and local health organizations, and encourage you to stay up to date on information surrounding the pandemic. In these times of uncertainty, we must trust expert advice. Please rest assured, we are in contact with our advisors and industry leaders to develop strategies to keep our members safe and financially sound, to every extent possible, while adhering to the current mandates and recommendations set forth by State Leadership.
Our goal is to continue into our 2020 Fair season with the same positivity and resilience that has propelled our industry to where it is today.
COVID-19 is ever changing, and it is important to remain connected. I have done my best to keep Sysco field personnel updated on what is happening with each concept.
Please click on the attached link for an important message from our President, Kevin Hourican, addressed to our valued customers: http://sysco.vzaar.me/21366138.
Additionally, this link will take you to Sysco’s Response Website which is continually updated: http://author.sysco.com/Sysco/Coronavirus.html.
Let us know how we can help. Though these are strange times, we will get through this together.
Our industry, for the most part, is shut down until at least the end of May. Most events are cancelled and some still scheduled most likely will not occur. The federal government has revised CDC guidelines, and many states and municipalities have imposed restrictions that surpass the federal suggestions. Our industry must be recognized by the federal government as a sector that is greatly affected by COVID-19.
Gregg Hartley and the team at HB Strategies, have changed their focus from H2B work to Federal funding for our industry in response to COVID-19. They are working very closely with OABA and the IAFE to make certain that Legislators are aware of the plight of our industry.
WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW! THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EACH OF US CAN DO TO PROVIDE RELIEF TO OUR INDUSTRY. Please send the attached letter, or one customized to your organization, to your two Federal Senators and Federal Representative today. This request is not limited to carnival operators but to everyone in our industry.
If you don’t know who to write to you can link here to find out:
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the OABA office at 407-848-4958 or firstname.lastname@example.org
My heart bleeds for each of you that have been impacted by this trying time. I spent a lot of time processing your industry and trying to wrap my head around all that everyone must be going through. You all are some of the most brilliant business minded people I have ever met. I’m truly confident that this will pass and pray that the remainder of 2020 will be the most successful yet.
In the meantime, I want to be sure I re-educated each of you that use Clover and First Data/FiServ as to how to minimize any unnecessary fees until season picks back up again.
If you have not completed your PCI compliance, please start here. This is something you do each year to avoid non-pci fees. For Clover users, it’s a very quick process:
- Go to www.cloversecurity.com
- First time users, please select first time user sign in
- Your transactions are primarily face to face>you use Clover>you do not store card info> elect to use the security standards provided by Clover>then the answers to the attest questions are typically always yes
If your merchant account is specifically under NICA, please email me the Merchant ID and I will order your call tags to return rentals.
Clover App Market Fees:
- Go to clover.com and login
- Go to Account and Setup> Wireless Manager > disable sim card
- Go to Account and Setup>Service Plans> (this will be different as to when and how your FD agreement was setup) if you have the option to downgrade, select the lowest level plan> select change plan> Select switch bundle (this take a minute to change)> Authorize> Downgrade> lowest plan should be now highlighted. (if you don’t have the option to downgrade, your likely already to set to the lowest plan)
- Go to More Tools> installed apps> If you have any non-Clover apps select that app> press three dots top right> select uninstall
If you are not working under the partner programs and want to see if working with the partner program can save you money, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my teammates, Richard Viana or Angie Ray, for a free savings comparison.
If you have any questions, and if your accounts are under NICA, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We also have a Facebook page to get future updates. My team and I value and appreciate each of you and will do all that we can to support you during this season of wait.
SBA to Provide Disaster Assistance Loans for Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19)
SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza issued the following statement in response to the President’s address to the nation:
“The President took bold, decisive action to make our 30 million small businesses more resilient to Coronavirus-related economic disruptions. Small businesses are vital economic engines in every community and state, and they have helped make our economy the strongest in the world. Our Agency will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest disaster recovery loans to small businesses that have been severely impacted by the situation. Additionally, the SBA continues to assist small businesses with counseling and navigating their own preparedness plans through our network of 68 District Offices and numerous Resource Partners located around the country. The SBA will continue to provide every small business with the most effective and customer-focused response possible during these times of uncertainty.”
SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. These loans can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.
Process for Accessing SBA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Lending
- The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Upon a request received from a state’s or territory’s Governor, SBA will issue under its own authority, as provided by the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act that was recently signed by the President, an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration.
- Any such Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance declaration issued by the SBA makes loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance will coordinate with the state’s or territory’s Governor to submit the request for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance.
- Once a declaration is made for designated areas within a state, the information on the application process for Economic Injury Disaster Loan assistance will be made available to all affected communities.
- These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
- SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.
- SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans are just one piece of the expanded focus of the federal government’s coordinated response, and the SBA is strongly committed to providing the most effective and customer-focused response possible.
For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail email@example.com(link sends e-mail).
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Activates Emergency Bridge Loan Program for Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program to support small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bridge loan program, managed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), will provide short-term, interest-free loans to small businesses that experienced economic injury from COVID-19. The application period opens March 17, 2020 and runs through May 8, 2020.
“As we mitigate against the spread of COVID-19, the health, safety and well-being of Floridians comes first,” said Governor DeSantis. “I understand the harm mitigation strategies will have on small businesses throughout our state. By activating the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan, we are providing the opportunity for Florida’s small businesses to receive cash immediately to ensure they can lessen the impacts felt as a result of COVID-19.”
DEO will administer the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program in partnership with the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to provide cash flow to businesses economically impacted by COVID-19.
The short-term, interest-free loans help bridge the gap between the time the economic impact occurred and when a business secures other financial resources, including payment of insurance claims or longer-term Small Business Administration (SBA) loans. Up to $50 million has been allocated for the program.
“Governor DeSantis has been a true leader in the fight to prevent the spread of COVID19 and has prioritized the safety of all Floridians,” said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director, Ken Lawson. “The Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan will help Florida’s small businesses get through this unsettling time. We appreciate the Governor’s efforts to keep Florida’s small businesses top of mind and our partners at the Florida SBDC Network and Florida First Capital Finance Corporation to help them recover.”
Small business owners with two to 100 employees located in Florida affected by COVID-19 can apply for short-term loans up to $50,000. These loans are interest-free for up to one year and are designed to bridge the gap to either federal SBA loans or commercially available loans. DEO will work with every borrower to ensure that repayment of the loan isn’t an overwhelming burden. To be eligible, a business must have been established prior to March 9, 2020 and demonstrate economic impacts as a result of COVID-19.
“Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Florida must be our number one priority,” said Florida SBDC Network CEO, Mike Myhre. “The Florida SBDC Network stands ready to assist Governor DeSantis and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to help small businesses recover as a result of the impacts of COVID-19.”
“We are ready to assist the Governor and state of Florida to deliver this vital assistance to the small business community we serve, as we have 23 times since 1992,” said Florida First Capital Finance Corporation President and CEO, Todd Kocourek.
DEO is currently surveying businesses throughout the state of Florida who have been impacted by COVID-19. Businesses and non-profits can access the Business Damage Assessment survey at FloridaDisaster.BIZ Select “COVID-19” from the drop-down menu on the survey page. Response to the Business Damage Assessment survey is not an application for assistance. Businesses interested in the bridge loan program must fill out a bridge loan application.
For more information on the program, visit www.floridadisasterloan.org. For questions regarding the Emergency Bridge Loan Program, contact the Florida Small Business Development Center Network at 866-737-7232 or email Disaster@FloridaSBDC.org.
The phone line will be answered during regular business hours; all voice mails and emails will be responded to within 24 hours.
March 17, 2020
COVID-19: IAFE Roundtable
NICA has a wonderful sister organization in IAFE. They are hosting a Roundtable discussion on Tuesday with 100 attendees, some of whom are our members, to discuss the ramifications of COVID-19 and share some solutions. We have been asked to answer two questions and we have submitted two questions for the discussion.
In answer to the question “what are the precautions we are taking to protect patrons from the coronavirus?” We have answered: "Professional food and beverage concessionaires practice the suggested actions to prevent virus spread on a daily basis. Counters are regularly wiped down with bleach and sanitizing solutions, disposable gloves are used to move food, employees use hand sanitizers that are often also available on counters for guests, and the number one rule of food safety is 'wash your hands' 'wash your hands' 'wash your hands!' Hands are washed between every change of task. For this reason a separate hand washing sink is in every cooking facility and dishes and utensils are cleaned in a 3-cycle pattern: wash, rinse, sanitize. Further, employees are asked not to come to work with colds, flu symptoms or fevers."
In answer to the question "How are we screening workers who might have been traveling in or arrived from another country?” We have answered: "Regarding the travel of vendors, many of them travel for a variety of reasons between November and January. The majority of owners live in the US. As to the entrance of anyone into the United States (for instance, H2B workers or owners), that is under the jurisdiction of the US Government. It is the responsibility of all of us to obey the law."
NICA also submitted two questions to the Roundtable Discussion:
Context: It seems plausible that some fairs and their vendors will not have any income through May or June. It is important that those fairs are able to open in 2021 and it is important that the vendors are able to play the coming 2020 fairs that do not cancel. Out of the Houston and Miami cancellations it is the YPI age group of up and coming vendors, those that have purchased new equipment, and/or have labor to cover during the cancellations that are most in immediate financial need.
Here are the questions:
- If fairs have already received 2020 deposit funds for cancelled fairs would they consider asking vendors 3 questions: Would you like it returned? Would you like a portion of it returned? Or May we keep it for next year?
- If fairs have not yet asked for or received deposits for fairs that appear to be able to open, would they consider waiving the deposit totally or some portion of it in the 2020 season?
We will all be looking forward to the notes from this Roundtable and others that may follow.
Executive Director, NICA
March 13, 2020
From the Desk of Rey O’Day, Regarding Logistic Concerns
With the cancellation of Miami Dade, we now know the cycle of cancellations has begun. On the ground I am hearing about four major concerns: product, deposits, labor and depression. These are all “Together We Can” matters. Importantly, some other mentioned themes were “we are strong and will persevere” and “we are helping each other.”
We all know we have lots of product on the ground in Houston and Miami. Sysco has been on the grounds throughout the day today in Houston, accepting and processing product returns as quickly and graciously as possible. Produce, dairy, and open items are unreturnable.
Here is their return policy statement:
Return Policy - We have been cleared by Sysco Corporate to pick up/return the products that fit within our guidelines. Please refresh yourself with the return policy. We will be on ground this afternoon to survey and pick up The Big Tex first. Laura Bradford from corporate will be on site to sign-off on all returns. Please sort your product in the correct climate so we can make this easier for the returns; we have to be methodical.
Some other things that have happened are that The Hummel Group has reached out to our members regarding insurance concerns. It is our understanding the Bag-in-a-Box product and cases of specialty cups have already been, or are in the process of being picked up at Miami-Dade Youth County Fair.
We know that you may not have the vehicles or storage space to move the product you are unable to return. We encourage you to use the NICA Social Media channels to ask for/offer assistance. You can use the comments on our posts on Facebook or Twitter.
Regarding deposits, I encourage you to reach out to the fairs and events that you hold 2020 contracts with and discuss deposits already made and those that are due. It is also our intent to send a letter to all fairs that hold a NICA membership, on behalf of our members to request that they work with you regarding deposits and flexibility. We are also discussing options directly with IAFE.
Throughout this difficult time, we are uplifted and encouraged to see the support amongst the NICA and greater concession/vendor community. The offering of trucks, of storage space and so much more embodies our mission of “Together We Can.” This virus is going to be both financially and emotionally devastating, including to all of us, including all of your employees. Please continue to check on your neighbors, employees and friends, offer a shoulder and a friendly ear.
March 12, 2020
From the Desk of Rey O'Day, Executive Director of NICA
As we are all aware of the news out of Houston yesterday to close the Livestock Show, I am writing to share that NICA is holding our members, the community and our industry in our care and concern. We want you to know that we are in contact with our benefit and service providers to begin thinking about what needs to be done to keep you, your businesses and them physically safe and financially sound and whole. We are also in close communications with the other industry organizations.
I believe that the Coronavirus will have a beginning and an end and that we are in the arc of it now. However, I also believe that the timeline is completely unknown. Please know that we are here for you, communication during this time will be more important than ever. We will continue to provide updates as they become available. I urge you to take all necessary precautions to keep you, your families and your staff safe and healthy.
It is difficult to stay positive and focused in uncertain times…but I am committed to doing that together.
October 1, 2019
Rey O'Day Named Executive Director
The NICA Board of Directors recently announced that Rey O’Day has been named Executive Director effective October 1, 2019. Rey O’Day previously served as NICA’s Executive Manager of Councils with responsibility for NICA Regional Council activities, the NICA Sysco Marketplace Master Distribution Agreement and the facilitation and implementation of NICA’s long and short-term Strategic Goals. She was also the 2016 Inductee into the NICA Hall of Fame.
Rey is no stranger to the events industry, as she teaches “Principles of Food and Beverage” and “Guest Services” for the IAFE Institute of Fair Management, serves as an IAFE Trustee on the IAFE Education Foundation, participates on the WFA Industry Standards Committee, and instructs and mentors students in the University of California–Riverside’s Event Management Program. She is a frequent speaker and trainer at Industry gatherings.
“Rey’s diverse Industry experience, proven leadership, professionalism and vast knowledge of all facets of the Industry make her the ideal Executive Director for NICA,” stated NICA President Kathy Ross, CCE.
“I am honored to direct the work of NICA with our Board, staff, membership and industry partners by being ‘dedicated to strengthening relationships with the Fair, Festival and Special Events Industries through effective communication, education, benefits, leadership, and solutions,’” stated Rey O’Day.