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Posted on: June 17, 2020

City Offers Additional Help to Small Businesses

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Learning from the first round of the City’s COVID-19 Loan and Grant Programs that were launched May 19th, with applications due on June 4th, a couple of unanticipated issues made certain categories of small businesses that were in need of help ineligible to apply. Feedback from phone calls, emails and online meetings helped the Portland Development Corporation and the City’s Economic Development Staff understand ways they could modify the three programs to assist more of Portland’s small businesses in need. 

The second round of the City’s COVID-19 loan and grant programs are being launched today with eligibility modifications that were approved by the City Council on Monday, June 15. As long as businesses meet existing program eligibility criteria, the following will now no longer stand in the way of applying for one of the City’s programs: 

1) Businesses that received up to $10,000 from Federal and/or State COVID-19 financing programs (Impacts all three City programs);
2) Businesses that were first open and operational as late as March 15, 2020 (Impacts all three City programs),
3) Portland businesses that are home-based (Impacts Microenterprise Grant Program);
4) Businesses with up to 15 employees (Impacts Emergency Response Micro Loan Program).  

The programs include the Business Assistance Program for Job Creation (BAP-Rehire), the Microenterprise Grant Program, and the Rapid Response MicroLoan Program. More information about these programs and an application can be found on the City’s website at portlandmaine.gov/CovidBizAssist. In addition to English, information about the programs is available in seven languages on the City’s website.  

A business must be located in Portland in order to be eligible to apply for funding. Applications are due no later than Wednesday, July 8, 2020 at 4:00 PM

Businesses are encouraged to submit fully completed applications as many are expected to apply, making the process quite competitive. Nonprofits are eligible only for the Rapid Response Micro Loan Program because of its source of funding. The other two programs are funded with Community Development Block Grant Funds for Economic Development, making non-profits ineligible.

Any businesses with questions regarding these programs should contact Nelle Hanig, Business Programs Manager, Economic Development Department, at nrh@portlandmaine.gov. 

About the City’s COVID-19 Loan and Grant Programs:

Business Assistance Program for Job Creation (Rehiring):  Provides $5,000 grants to small businesses for rehiring two or more full-time employees that were on the payroll just prior to the COVID-19 crisis. The jobs, which must be filled by low/moderate income individuals, could include previous employees or new employees. 

Microenterprise Grant Program (MGP):  Is targeted to very small businesses with 0 to one employee (or two part-time employees), plus the owner. The MGP provides grants of up to $2,500 to Portland microenterprises that have been impacted by the COVID 19 crisis. The business owner must be a low/moderate income individual. Home-based businesses are now eligible to apply.

Rapid Response Micro Loan Program (RRMP):  Targeted to businesses that earned less than $1 million in 2019 and had two to fifteen employees just before the COVID-19 crisis. The RRMP provides loans up to $10,000 with $5,000 forgiven if 50% of employees are hired back within nine months of signing a loan agreement or six months after the applicable Stay at Home or other COVID-19 emergency orders have been lifted (relative to the  borrower’s type of business), whichever comes first. 

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