Maine businesses prepare applications for aid after Gov. Mills announces $200 million grant program

The Mills administration is making $200 million in grant money available to Maine’s small businesses and nonprofits to help them stay afloat during the coronavirus outbreak.The money comes from the federal coronavirus relief fund and is intended to keep a business or nonprofit viable, not recover lost profits, Gov. Janet Mills said on Thursday.There is concern from tourism industry leaders that this money falls short of what’s needed to prevent closures. Without significant financial support, Gamalial Chavez, manager of Los Tapatios in Biddeford, fears the restaurant might soon be forced to close. “We’ll probably be out of business in about four or five more months,” Chavez said. The business is behind on bills. Chavez says the Mexican restaurant needs $18,000. “That would be great if it happens and goes through, because we are really struggling. We will be out of business if it doesn’t change,” said Chavez. Gov. Mills says many of the intended beneficiaries, businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees, have been unable to access existing sources of relief. Tony Cameron, CEO of the Maine Tourism Association, says $200 million isn’t nearly enough. “Our association along with some of our partners laid out a plan that asked for $800 million,” said Cameron. As an example of the state’s formula to determine funding, a fictional diner was awarded roughly $6,500. “You have to wonder, is that going to be enough to sustain a business or to cover the actual needs that are out there,” Cameron said. Chavez hopes an award will put a dent in their debt. He knows it won’t be a long-term fix, but he will accept any assistance offered. Businesses or nonprofits must demonstrate a need for financial relief based on lost revenues minus expenses that were incurred since March 1 in order to qualify for a grant. They must also be based in Maine, have less than 50 employees or contracted employees on its payroll, been in operation for at least one year as of Aug. 1, 2020, and not be in bankruptcy, be in good standing with all taxes, and not be subject to any enforcement action with COVID-19 prevention checklist items, Mills said.The money can only be used for certain items, such as payroll, rent or mortgage, or purchasing personal protective equipment, Mills said.Instead of a first-come, first served basis, the grants will be awarded in early October. Businesses and nonprofits can apply for them between Aug. 21 and Sept. 9.

The Mills administration is making $200 million in grant money available to Maine’s small businesses and nonprofits to help them stay afloat during the coronavirus outbreak.

The money comes from the federal coronavirus relief fund and is intended to keep a business or nonprofit viable, not recover lost profits, Gov. Janet Mills said on Thursday.

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There is concern from tourism industry leaders that this money falls short of what’s needed to prevent closures.

Without significant financial support, Gamalial Chavez, manager of Los Tapatios in Biddeford, fears the restaurant might soon be forced to close.

“We’ll probably be out of business in about four or five more months,” Chavez said.

The business is behind on bills. Chavez says the Mexican restaurant needs $18,000.

“That would be great if it happens and goes through, because we are really struggling. We will be out of business if it doesn’t change,” said Chavez.

Gov. Mills says many of the intended beneficiaries, businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees, have been unable to access existing sources of relief.

Tony Cameron, CEO of the Maine Tourism Association, says $200 million isn’t nearly enough.

“Our association along with some of our partners laid out a plan that asked for $800 million,” said Cameron.

As an example of the state’s formula to determine funding, a fictional diner was awarded roughly $6,500.

“You have to wonder, is that going to be enough to sustain a business or to cover the actual needs that are out there,” Cameron said.

Chavez hopes an award will put a dent in their debt. He knows it won’t be a long-term fix, but he will accept any assistance offered.

Businesses or nonprofits must demonstrate a need for financial relief based on lost revenues minus expenses that were incurred since March 1 in order to qualify for a grant. They must also be based in Maine, have less than 50 employees or contracted employees on its payroll, been in operation for at least one year as of Aug. 1, 2020, and not be in bankruptcy, be in good standing with all taxes, and not be subject to any enforcement action with COVID-19 prevention checklist items, Mills said.

The money can only be used for certain items, such as payroll, rent or mortgage, or purchasing personal protective equipment, Mills said.

Instead of a first-come, first served basis, the grants will be awarded in early October. Businesses and nonprofits can apply for them between Aug. 21 and Sept. 9.