UPDATE: Due to statewide power outages, the application portal for these grants will now open Thursday, Dec. 3, at 9 a.m.
AUGUSTA — On Nov. 30, Gov. Janet Mills announced an economic recovery grant program to support Maine’s tourism, hospitality and retail small businesses. Backed by $40 million in Federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), the Tourism, Hospitality & Retail Recovery Grant Program is focused specifically on supporting Maine’s service sector small businesses, such as restaurants, bars, tasting rooms, lodging and retail shops, which have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and now face additional challenges with the coming winter months.
“Maine’s hospitality, tourism and retail industries are a vital part of Maine’s economy, supporting tens of thousands of jobs across the state,” said Gov. Mills. “In the face of this unrelenting pandemic, many of these businesses have adapted with classic Maine grit and resilience but still face historic and unprecedented challenges. I hope this program will help provide at least a small amount of financial support to sustain them through these difficult times. I continue to urge Congress to pass additional, robust relief for Maine people and businesses.”
The grant program utilizes $30 million in funds remaining from the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program and $10 million in additional CRF monies dedicated by Gov. Mills. In developing the program, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) drew on recommendations from the tourism, hospitality and retail industries to meet the distinct needs of those sectors.
Like the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program, a business must demonstrate a need for financial relief. However, the Tourism, Hospitality & Retail Recovery Grant Program will evaluate need based on gross sales loss between March and September 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Previously, the Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program evaluated loss based on revenues minus expenses incurred during two different periods of 2020. This targeted change will allow a wider range of businesses to receive support.
DECD will again partner with some of the Economic Development Districts to administer the program. Grants will be awarded on a first come, first serve basis, which will allow for funding to be dispersed as applications are received and reviewed. The application portal will open Thursday, Dec. 3, at 9:30 a.m. on DECD’s website and will remain open until funds are depleted. The application is expected to take about 10 minutes to complete. Funds must be committed by Dec. 30 per guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Grants may be used to cover expenses, including but not limited to 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.