The Mills Administration has begun distributing the first round of financial awards to Maine small businesses and non-profits through the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program. Grant letters notifying the recipients of their award were sent yesterday. The program is backed by $200 million in Federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) and will provide some financial relief for 2,072 businesses and 257  non-profits that incurred business disruptions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The awards total $105 million dollars and average just over $45,000 per award. The hospitality sector, particularly lodging and accommodations, represent the largest percentage of recipients, drawing 35 percent of the awards. If a small business or non-profit were determined to not meet eligibility requirements, they have been notified, with an explanation for the denial so that the organization can determine their eligibility for Phase 2 of the grant program. 

“There is no question that Maine’s small businesses are struggling to survive unprecedented economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Mills. “While these funds will not make them whole, they offer some lifeline to keep afloat those small businesses that are at the core of our economy. I encourage all eligible businesses and nonprofits to apply for the second round of this relief as I continue to call on Congress to provide more direct aid to the State of Maine.”  

On September 21, Governor Mills announced the second phase of the Economic Recovery Grant Program. This second phase expands access to the program by increasing the number of eligible organizations. Under Phase 2, businesses and non-profits that employ up to 250 people are eligible for grant awards.In addition, licensed childcare andbehavioral health organizations will be eligible in this round, along with businesses and non-profits that are less than one year old. The application portal for Phase Two of the Economic Recovery Grant Program remains open until October 23, 2020. 

Grants awarded through the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program may be used to cover expenses including: payroll costs and expenses; rent or mortgage payments for business facilities; utilities payments; necessary operating expenses; expenses incurred to replenish inventory or other necessary re-opening expenses; purchase of personal protective equipment required by the business or business related equipment. Funds must be spent on operations that are strictly within Maine. Recipients are liable for any misuse of funds, and the grants are subject to audit. 

 Maine small businesses and non-profits interested in applying for the program can do so at the Department of Economic and Community’s website. The website also includes additional information and answers to frequently asked questions: