Right now, there are several COVID-19 relief grant programs available for small businesses, including the self-employed and sole proprietors, through the US Government/SBA and State of Maine/DECD. Penquis and MaineStream Finance, the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council (PCEDC), the Piscataquis Chamber of Commerce, the Katahdin Chamber of Commerce, Destination Moosehead Lake, and EMDC have partnered together to form the Piscataquis and Katahdin Region Economic Recovery Task Force to bring this information to the public, particularly for Piscataquis County and Northern Penobscot County, in an understandable way. This is a living document which will be updated as more information becomes available.
Economic Recovery Task Force Resources
- Grant Prep Packet: The full partnership Grant Prep Packet provides more details on who can apply, what to prepare, what each program entails, and how and when to apply and can be found here: https://growthzonesitesprod.azureedge.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/1503/2021/01/2021-Grant-Prep-Packet-V2.pdf
- February 2021 Webinar on Relief Programs (recording): The partners also coordinated a webinar, “Navigating 2021 Covid19 Loans, Grants, & Resources“, for regional small businesses with guests from banks, SBA, DECD, and SBDC on 2/4/21. You can view the video here.
We are here to help you, your friends, or neighbors through each step of the process – so please pass this on. Please contact MaineStream Finance at MSFInfo@penquis.org for more information or if you have questions.
SBA PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP)
DEADLINE IS EXTENDED TO MAY 31! Whether you took PPP in 2020 or not, this program is likely still for you as a business owner – especially if you are self-employed or a company with less than 20 employees. There are many improvements and clarifications and the process should be much smoother. There will not be a mad rush like last time. If you felt like PPP was not for you last time, we urge you to look at it this time – it is much better and SBA wants you to apply for the self-employed, those who have been incarcerated, those with student loan issues, and for immigrant entrepreneurs. US Residents with legal status are eligible. The calculation for Schedule C IRS tax filers who are self-employed is much, much better as well, calculating the PPP amount on Gross Income instead of Net Income.
Start with your bank or credit union first, and if they are not doing PPP, MaineStream Finance can give you 2-3 ideas on where to go. There are also three nonprofit community lenders offering PPP in Maine:
- Community Concepts Finance Corporation (CCFC) in Lewiston/S. Paris
- Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC) in Bangor
- Northern Maine Development Corp in Caribou – call 493-5770
SBA ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOAN (EIDL)
EIDL is open again – with a deadline of December 31, 2021. EIDL loans have low interest rates of less than 4% and long-term loan terms of up to 30 years to be used for operating expenses. More information can be found in the Grant Prep link on page 4 or on the SBA website for the EIDL program (where you can also apply directly to the SBA).
SBA SHUTTERED VENUE OPERATORS GRANT (SVOG)/ SAVE OUR STAGES [NOW OPEN]
SVOG includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered venues, like museums, concert halls, etc. Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their typical gross earned revenue, not to exceed $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees. You do not have to rush for this grant. Please note, you can take a SVOG Grant and a new PPP loan – you must apply for PPP first, and it may be deducted from SVOG proceeds. For details, see page 5 in the Grant Prep packet link or click on the SBA SVOG site here. You can register to apply here.
STATE OF MAINE MICRO-ENTREPRISE GRANT
Microenterprise Grants from the State of Maine are up to $5,000 for businesses with five or fewer employees, with an owner whose income is in the low to moderate range as defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A meeting with a Maine SBDC business advisor is required to apply. For details, see page 4 in the Grant Prep packet link above or click on the SBDC site here.
AND DON”T FORGET EMPLOYEE RETENTION TAX CREDITS
Through the Employee Retention Credit, the IRS allows employers to claim up to $7,000 per employee per quarter for much of 2020 and 2021 through June 30, 2021. One can claim wages with the SBA Paycheck Protection Program and ERP at the same time now. If you are unsure how to do this, call your local accountant for help!
LIKELY SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF PROGRAMS COMING FROM MARCH FEDERAL RELIEF BILL
- State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program of $10 billion. The last version in 2017 was low-interest loans to small businesses. This program will likely go through Maine DECD and/or FAME.
- Restaurant Revitalization Fund of $28.6 Billion. This will be a pure grant – not forgivable loan. It will take some time for this to be operational. Watch the SBA site or these sites: RestaurantsAct.com for the National Restaurant Association or SaveRestuarants.com for the Independent Restaurant Coalition.
- Maine Farmland Trust has summarized what is in the American Rescue Plan (ARP – March 2021 relief package) for the agricultural sector.
OTHER GRANTS AND RELIEF FOR BUSINESSES
- LISC/Verizon Small Business Relief Grants – (opens about once a month for each round sign-up for email alerts) – up to $15,000
- LISC/Lowe’s Rural Relief Small Business Grants – up to $20,000 – rounds open periodically – signup for email alerts.
- NCRC-Stavros Niarchos Foundation Small Business Growth and Recovery Fund – up to $20,000
- Bangor – The City of Bangor Community & Economic Development department is considering with the City Council to launch a new relief program in the Spring/Summer. Stay tuned.
- Ellsworth – Heart of Ellsworth may open a new round of its Downtown Grant Program soon.
- Island Institute Business Resilience Grants – $1,500 for island and coastal community-based businesses
- SBA Microlenders, like MaineStream, can offer advantageous payment and rate terms through September 2021.
- EMDC (Bangor) Revolving Loan Fund
OTHER SITES TO MONITOR that are Maine-focused:
- Maine SBDC
- Maine DECD’s Resource Compass
- DECD Resources for Maine Businesses Impact by COVID-19
- MOFGA for agriculture businesses
Nationally, check out the following for updates to government and private relief programs:
- SBA’s page on Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources,
- Hello Alice
- Main Street America
- US Chamber of Commerce
P.S. If you are a nonprofit, there is a great resource page and webinar on Federal Aid for you and how PPP and SVOG applies to you here on the Council of Nonprofits webpage, FMA/IFF, the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF). Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP) also has a good resource page.