The deadline for applying to the $200 million Economic Recovery Grant program intended to reduce the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on Maine’s small businesses and non-profits is fast approaching. 

The September 9 at 11:59 p.m.deadline is absolute, explained Josh Kochis, Director of Community Engagement for Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG), one of the seven regional organizations administering the program. Applications received after the deadline will not be considered. Kochis urged those planning to apply to do so by Monday, September 7 at the latest, to ensure that there is time for any inaccuracies to be rectified before the deadline. He noted that some applications that have been received to date have needed to be returned for corrections, and because applications are only exported for scoring twice a week, applications received after Labor Day that need to be corrected will likely be rejected.

Final eligibility for the program is determined by the state, after initial scoring by an Economic Development District. Grants will be distributed to eligible businesses and non-profit organizations that demonstrate lost revenues or expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.The source of the grant funding is federal CARES Act relief funding. Once eligibility has been confirmed, the state will apply an algorithm to determine how much money each grantee will receive, and a check will be cut and mailed. 

As of press time, applications and other materials relating to the program were available only in English, however Jonathan Poole, Business Development Manager from the Maine Department of Economic & Community Development, says that Spanish and Somali translations are forthcoming. A hotline is available for applicants who need assistance. To date, wait time on the phone hotline has been either very short or non-existent. The email address that promises assistance, however, sends back the message: We are experiencing a high volume of contact, so please allow up to three business days for a reply.  

Applicants who have questions or would like to schedule an appointment for assistance may contact the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center at [email protected] or leave a message at 207-517-3401. Marcel Ntagora is available to help immigrant and refugee-owned businesses through the application process. He cannot fill out applications for people, but he can provide interpreting, and help answer questions about the process. Mr. Ntagora speaks five languages. 

The intent of this round of CARES Act funding is to reach small Maine businesses and non-profits that demonstrate a need for financial relief because of lost revenues or expenses related to COVID-19. The grants will not replace all lost revenue, but are intended to help businesses and non-profits stay afloat.

Hotline: 1-800-872-3838 and press 3

Email assistance: [email protected]