Business Assistance Program for Job Creation

The City stopped accepting applications for the Business Assistance Program for Job Creation after December 6, 2019.  All grant funds have been awarded.

The Economic Development Department has submitted a grant application for additional funds to recapitalize the program.  If the application is successful, funds will become available in July 2020.  Email should you wish to be alerted if/when new funds become available for job creation grants.

The City of Portland’s Business Assistance Program for Job Creation provides grants up to $20,000 to new and expanding Portland businesses for the creation of net new, permanent full-time jobs for low/moderate income individuals. 


  • Job creation for low/moderate income individuals;
  • New business formation and existing business expansion;
  • Leverage private investment to support business growth;
  • Help new and existing small businesses establish credit;
  • Enhance the health and vitality of the Portland economy.

Program Requirements/Eligibility (Business must meet all requirements to apply for funding.)  

         Create one (1) full-time job (1,750 hours/year*) for every $10,000 of grant funding;

  • Applicant business location fits any of the following:  in a low income area of the City; within walking distance to one or more of these areas; or, easily accessible from these areas via public transportation;**
  • Net new jobs created with the help of the grant are marketed to low/moderate income***  individuals, resulting in at least 51% of these jobs going to this population.  (For example, if two jobs are created to meet grant requirements, then both must be filled by low/moderate income individuals;
  • Job(s) are created within nine (9) months of signing a grant agreement;
  • Wage paid to new hire(s) exceeds Portland's minimum wage of $11.11 per hour.
 Financial Terms
  • Maximum Grant:  $20,000 per business.
  • Required Private Match:  Equal to or greater than grant amount.
  • Private Match Sources:  Private investment match includes at least 50% private equity.  The remaining 50% may be a bank loan or a loan from the City’s Loan Program, if conventional financing is not available.  For existing businesses, equity can include private investment made in the business within the past 12 months but must be able to show evidence of that business investment. 

Application Review Criteria/Preferences:

NOTE:  A business may still apply for funding even if it does not meet one or more of the criteria; however, its application may not be as competitive as those that do.
Career Potential:
- Job training for new hire(s) in a marketable skill;

- Potential for job advancement within the company or elsewhere.

Demonstrated need for grant funds to create job(s);
- Private match exceeds grant amount requested;
- Number of net new jobs exceeds one (1) per $10,000 of grant funding.

Compensation and Benefits:
- Quality of compensation and benefits package (for example:  wages, health, vacation, sick leave).

Eligible Funding Activities:

1.  Equipment and machinery;
2.  Permanent working capital (e.g., inventory, furniture and fixtures, relocation expense);
3.  Working capital expenses (e.g., rent, utilities, salaries, insurance);
4.  Up to $1,000 for business consulting services (e.g., accounting, marketing, software training, legal assistance);
5.  Leasehold improvements, renovation, reconstruction, or restoration of vacant, under-utilized or deteriorated space; building modifications to enhance accessibility to elderly or handicapped persons.  (Construction projects must comply with Davis Bacon federal labor standards.)

Ineligible Activities:

1.  Refinance existing debt;
2.  Down payment for other financing;
3.  Use of grant funds for activities (e.g., purchases of equipment and supplies) commenced or completed prior to program funding approval and prior to signing a grant agreement.

Basic Program Qualifications:

- Business must be located within the City of Portland;
- Applicant cannot owe outstanding property taxes, fees, or judgments to the City, and property must be free of all City liens and encumbrances.

Application and Approval Process:

The City's Economic Development Department is responsible for administration of the Businesses Assistance Program for Job Creation, with guidance from the Housing and Community Development Division.  Eligible applications are analyzed by an underwriter and then presented to the Portland Development Corporation (PDC) for its review.  The PDC has final decision-making authority in approving applicants for grant awards.

Reporting and Tracking (after grant approval):

Jobs - Jobs must be created within nine (9) months of signing a grant agreement after being approved for a grant.  Grant recipients will be required to provide quarterly reports until all hires are made, and then for one year beyond that.

Property - The City will retain an interest in property improved or equipment purchased (worth $5,000 or more) with grant funds for up to five (5) years.  If such property improvements or equipment are transferred, or otherwise disposed of within the five (5) year period from the date the improvements are completed or equipment is purchased, respectively, the City may require partial repayment (on a pro rata basis) of the grant funds.

  *Definition of a full-time job, per the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development.
**Map of City's low income areas shown in green and brown.  Link for Map:
  ***For the purposes of this Program, low-moderate income is defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as 80% of median household income.  A chart showing the qualified income levels can be found on the City's website at the following ink: (also link found under "Related Documents Below".
For more information, please refer to guidelines below under "Related Documents".

Related Documents