COVID-19 Resources For Businesses

Updated 08/20/20 2:53 PM EST

We want to hear from you! Our business advisors are available via phone and email. Please reach out to your CEI contact if you have any questions/concerns. If you are new to CEI, you can request a consultation at info@ceimaine.org.


SBA & FEDERAL RELIEF RESOURCES


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Reopening

Next Steps for Businesses

If you haven’t done so already, we encourage you to consider the following, in addition to considering programs outlined on the SBA & Federal Relief Resources Page and below. Many of these suggestions sound obvious, but they are important.

  1. Contact your current commercial lender (if you have one) to explore options for deferral, or loan restructuring. Most lenders are offering some relief. NOTE: if you have an SBA 504, 7a or micro loan, the SBA will pay principal, interest and fees on these loans a period of 6 months. If you haven’t already contacted your lender about this, you should do so.
  2. Contact your commercial landlord to explore options. Can they be flexible with rent in any way?
  3. Contact key vendors and other important stakeholders to explore options. Can you defer payment for Accounts Payable? 
  4. Look through your expenses carefully. Is there anything that you can cut or reduce during this period of irregularity?
  5. Explore opportunities for ongoing exposure, such as: https://www.stayhomemaine.com/; https://wearemainestrong.com/; https://www.portlandregion.com/payitforwardmaine.html
  6. Explore opportunities for personal financial relief. CEI has a team of credit advisors who can help you manage your personal credit during this time. We can put you in touch with this team via email.
  7. Stay insured, if at all possible. If you have lost your health care coverage in the last 60 days due to a layoff, you can enroll for coverage through healthcare.gov.
  8. Walk. Breathe. Call a friend. Call your CEI business advisor.

Accessing Capital

Existing CEI Loan Clients

We want to hear from our borrowers about what you are facing and how we might be able to help.  If you are anticipating or experiencing an impact on your business due to the coronavirus pandemic, please reach out to your loan officer.

SBA Resources

Please visit our separate SBA resource page which will be frequently updated as programs are finalized and implemented.

Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) Financing Options

COVID-19 Relief Loan Insurance for Lenders: In partnership with its lending institutions, FAME will approve ANY Online Assistance (OLA) loan submitted electronically and deemed “COVID-19” at a 50% insurance rate. Some will be eligible using our current standards (and be assessed decreased fees) for 75% coverage. Lending partners will share the risk with FAME and may obtain approval for their loan in an expedited manner. Interested borrowers will contact their local bank or credit union first to see if the lender is offering this program and to apply.

COVID-19 Relief Interim SBA Finance Loan Program: The SBA has initiated their disaster relief loan into “designated” disaster areas, and Maine recently has been designated such an area. FAME will provide interim direct loan funding up to $100,000 since, following approval from the SBA, additional documentation from the borrower may be required prior to full disbursement of the SBA loan. FAME will obtain an assignment of the loan proceeds from the SBA and pre-fund the loan so the money is available to Maine businesses sooner.

COVID-19 Relief Business Direct Loan Program: To be utilized when borrower cannot obtain a loan or OLA from a lending partner. Offers loans up to $50,000 and a decreased interest rate and decreased fee schedule for Maine-based businesses that experience interruption or hardship due to COVID-19.

Grants & Local Financing Options


  • NEW! The Hartbeat of Main Street Grant Program This program supports brick-and-mortar businesses in downtown commercial districts with grants of $5,000 – $15,000. A minimum of 50% of grants will support diverse-owned businesses, including women-owned. Applications will be accepted from October 22 – October 29. 
  • NEW! DECD has announced an emergency grant program for businesses and nonprofits with 50 or fewer employees. These will be funded with $ from the CARES Act. Applications are due 10/29 https://www.maine.gov/decd/economic-recovery-grants
  • NEW! Rural Relief Small Business Grants LISC is opening the first round of relief grants from small businesses in rural communities with populations of 50,000 or less. These grants especially support those in underserved communities including entrepreneurs of color, women- and veteran-owned businesses. The first round of applications will be accepted from October 26 – November 2. 
  • Bath Economic Relief Bridge Loan Application
    • The City of Bath will offer one-time loans of up to $7,500 in its Economic Relief Bridge Program in response to immediate needs for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The loans are potentially forgivable. See more details at https://www.cityofbath.com/COVID-19EconomicRelief
  • Hallowell Business Survival Grant Program,
    • provides grants of up to $3,000 for businesses in the city.
  • Portland Grants & Loans
    • The City of Portland has approved three new COVID-19 grant and loan programs.  Applications are now available online
  • Greater Portland Council of Governments
    • Qualifying businesses and organizations are eligible for loans of up to $10,000 at 0% interest for the first two years. Portions of the loan may be forgiven if businesses meet certain requirements or participate in other GPCOG initiatives. 
  • Westbrook Small Business Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance
    • This grant program may provide assistance for commercial rent or commercial mortgage not to exceed $1,500.00, for businesses with 50 or fewer Westbrook-based employees.

Local Options (Not Currently Accepting Application)

These programs are no longer currently accepting applications, but may reopen in the future depending on funding.

  • Save Small Business Fund (US Chamber of Commerce)
    • Funded by corporate and philanthropic partners, the Save Small Business Fund is a collective effort to provide $5,000 grants to as many small employers as we can. 
  • Maine Tourism Relief Fund
    • Subject to availability of funds, individuals may qualify for a $500 grant and businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for $1,000 grants. It will begin accepting applications on May 4.
  • Maine Marketing Mini-Grants
    • New Ventures Maine (NVME)’s marketing mini-grant program aims to strengthen access to markets for micro-businesses by supporting the development of marketing tools, materials, and activities. Under the program NVME awards cash mini-grants (up to $1,000 per region) to microenterprises for marketing projects through a competitive application process.
  • Kennebec Valley Downtown Relief Fund
    • Any for profit business within the Downtown Augusta or Downtown Gardiner district boundaries is welcome to apply. If the applicant has multiple locations within one or both districts, applicant must specify, which location they are intending to utilize funds for. Eligible businesses can apply for up to $3000 in relief funding until funds are depleted.
  • Skowhegan
    • Businesses can request mini-grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 to fund need-based relief, technical assistance or equipment.

Legal, HR and Workforce Guidance

Paid/Emergency Family Leave

Emergency Paid Sick Leave
Emergency Family Leave

The U.S. Department of Labor launched a new online tool that guides workers through a series of questions to help them determine if they are eligible for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA): https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/ffcra/benefits-eligibility-webtool.

Maine Free Legal Answers Now Available

Do you have legal questions related to COVID-19? Maine Free Legal Answers is an online legal advice system for people with incomes impacted by the COVID 19 crisis or households that qualify as low income. It is an American Bar Association program, found in about 40 states, administered for Maine residents by the Maine Volunteer Lawyers Project.

Over 150 licensed Maine attorneys volunteer to answer questions through this online system for free. Any legal question not involving a crime may be asked, including questions about family law, debts, housing, work and education, to name a few. The system makes it easy to send and receive information, including documents, and clients are notified via email that an answer has been sent. Because of the high number of active attorneys, questions are being answered quite quickly. To get started, visit Maine.freelegalanswers.org and follow the instructions to register and ask a licensed Maine attorney, for free, your legal questions.


Unemployment

  1. Maine Department of Labor, Bureau of Unemployment Compensation home page: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/
  2. COVID-19-related unemployment information, including FAQs and videos on how to create an account and file a claim: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/covid19uiinfo/index.shtml
  3. Partial unemployment related to COVID-19: at the bottom of https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/covid19videos/index.shtml
  4. Self-employed unemployment related to COVID-19 (also known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance): https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/pua/index.shtml
  5. Password reset and unlocking accounts: www.mainecareercenter.gov 
  6. Telephone inquiries: 1-800-593-7660 Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Communications  

Because of the rapid changes associated with COVID-19 and social distancing and the subsequent impact on businesses in Maine, it is critical that business owners communicate early and often with key partners including: employees, customers, landlords, lenders, and other partners.

Additionally, employers should take steps to communicate clearly the current situation within your business for employees and customers.  This includes updating changes in workplace policies, hours, or services. See this article on communicating through the coronavirus crisis for some concrete steps you can take to improve your communication strategy.


Business Continuity/ Preparedness Plans


Rural Communities


Resources for Farmers

HR

Today Wage and Hour launched a new online tool that guides workers through a series of questions to help them determine if they are eligible for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).  https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/ffcra/benefits-eligibility-webtool.

General Information

  • USDA COVID-19 Resource Center
  • Farmer’s Guide to COVID_19 Relief (Farmer’s Legal Action Group)
  • COVID-19 Information for Agriculture and Food Businesses (Maine Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources )
  • Covid-19 Maine Farmer Information and Support
    • The above link provides a streamlined list of resources to support farmers in the Covid-19 pandemic. This includes resources around food safety, recommendations and federal support programs. It is updated daily by agricultural organizations agencies across the state including the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. If you would like something added to this list as a resource, please email bdennis@mofga.org
  • Covid-19 Maine Farmer Survey
    • As Covid-19 makes its way through our community, we acknowledge that farmers are faced with unique challenges in an unpredictable market. The following survey was made in collaboration with agricultural organizations agencies across the state to better assess the impact this virus is having on Maine farms. This will provide a sense of how we can best support you through direct assistance and policy in this changing time.

Webinars & Presentations

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program for Farmers and Ranchers Affected by COVID-19
    • Wednesday, April 29th
    • 4pm Eastern, 3pm Central, 2pm Mountain, 1pm Pacific
    • Register in advance for the Monday, April 29th date at this link.
    • Farmers and ranchers will soon be eligible for Economic Injury Disaster Loans, in anticipation of the $484 billion aid relief bill passing the House and being signed into law this week. The EIDL program provides an emergency grant of up to $10,000 for small businesses suffering a loss of revenue because of COVID-19. We’ll discuss the specifics of eligibility and how to submit an application through the Small Business Administration. Issues with how the program has performed over the past few weeks will also be in the discussion. This is a valuable opportunity, especially for farms unable to receive a Paycheck Protection Program forgivable loan. We will discuss how EIDL works with other relief options, too. (This webinar is in anticipation of the $484 billion aid relief bill passing the House and being signed into law this week.)
    • After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. This webinar will be recorded and available on demand for those that cannot attend or if we reach capacity: Just click the registration link at any time to watch the recording. We will also live stream the event over Facebook.
  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Updates for Farmers and Ranchers Affected by COVID-19
    • Thursday, April 30th
    • 4pm Eastern, 3pm Central, 2pm Mountain, 1pm Pacific
    • Register in advance for this webinar at this link.
    • The Paycheck Protection Program is coming back! Farms and ranches should look closely at this opportunity for a forgivable loan to cover payroll costs. Farms are eligible to apply and more money is soon to be available. In this webinar, we’ll explain how farmers can apply and share success stories from farmers. We’ll discuss what’s changed with this new round of funding and pass on tips for a successful experience, as well as some cautions from the field. Attendees will learn how to use the PPP program in combination with other support programs such as Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Unemployment Insurance. (This webinar is in anticipation of the $484 billion aid relief bill passing the House and being signed into law this week.)

Alternative Markets & Marketing Ideas

Relief Funding

  • Maine Farm Emergency Grant
    • Grants of up to $2,000 will assist farmers with a variety of unexpected costs or challenges, such as a loss in sales or outlets, delayed production or hiring due to market disruptions, additional costs related to acquiring supplies or personal protective equipment for safe product handling, or having a need to ramp up production with additional labor or supplies. 
  • American Farmland Trust Farmer Relief Fund
    • AFT will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis.
      • Eligible applicants include any small and mid-size direct-market producers. These are defined as producers with annual gross revenue of between $10,000 and $1 million from sales at farmers markets and/or direct sales to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products as inputs.
      • The application (available in both English and Spanish) is easy to complete but will require applicants to include sufficient detail to ensure AFT is awarding producers that have the greatest needs. Applicants will be asked to estimate their financial loss. The initial application period goes until April 23, with grants beginning to be made by May 1. 

Aquaculture


Child Care

MaineHealth is doing as much as possible to protect its team members and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak. Because of the need for social distancing and self-isolation, MaineHealth is unable to provide on-site child care. However, to support the MaineHealth community throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, they are developing a directory of care options for team members and their families.

If you are able to provide care to the families of MaineHealth care team members, please complete and submit the following form. We are encouraging both external partners and the MaineHealth community to contribute to this directory to support the current demand for child care. Your information will be added to the directory in real time and shared only with MaineHealth team members who are in need of support.

https://mainehealth.org/healthy-communities/coronavirus/child-care-connection

Child Care Block Grant

Maine received nearly $11 million in federal funding to support access to child care for the state’s essential workers and to provide relief for child care providers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is part of the CARES Act and comes through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for the Children and Families’ Child Care and Development Block Grant program.

What that means for roughly 2,000 child care providers in Maine is a one-time stipend dependent on licensed capacity and whether the business remains open or has closed. If closed, the amount is $75 per child slot. If open, the amount is $175 per slot. Late last week, OCFS sent out a survey to all licensed providers to determine if they are open (as of the week of April 6) or closed.  Those who have filled out the survey should automatically receive the stipend very soon.  Moving forward, OCFS will automatically send out the stipends to programs once they receive their survey.  No one should have to apply for the funds.  They just have to let OCFS know whether or not they are open. 

Learn more: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/ocfs/documents/covid-19/CCBDG%20COVID-19%20Implementation%20Guidance%20Final%20042220%20JF.pdf


Hospitality & Food

  • Kneading Conference Emergency Relief Fund
    • The Maine Grain Alliance in Skowhegan is aiming to help grain-based business owners navigate the pandemic through a newly launched emergency relief fund that seeks applications for grants up to $2,000.
    • The fund will support grain-based business owners with unexpected expenses relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and help with costs related to reopening businesses. The costs may include payroll expenses, supply acquisition (including personal protective equipment), transitions to online sales, curbside or delivery of products, and other unexpected costs.
    • Grain-based business owners and entrepreneurs demonstrating financial need are welcome to apply.
  • Maine Tourism Relief Fund
    • Subject to availability of funds, individuals may qualify for a $500 grant and businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be eligible for $1,000 grants. It will begin accepting applications on May 4.

Arts & Entertainment

  • The Portland Artists Relief Fund was created to help artists in the greater Portland, Maine area recover from income loss and personal emergencies by awarding small grants for unanticipated financial hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic. Local artists who are able to complete the requirement checklist for eligibility will be able to apply via Google Form for a $500 cash stipend to help make ends meet due to cancelled work that was previously scheduled and/or lost. Creative Portland, the City’s nonprofit arts agency, is leading the initiative with a goal of raising $50,000 to award $500 stipends for artists in dire need. 
  • WESTBROOK-WARREN MEMORIAL FOUNDATION EMERGENCY ARTS FUND – The Westbrook-Warren Memorial Foundation Emergency Arts Fund is meant to support artists with an established history of income in their field. Funding for this grant is provided by the Warren Memorial Foundation, a Westbrook Maine private foundation, with a mission to support the fine arts and education primarily in Westbrook, Maine.  This Fund was created to help artists in Westbrook, Maine recover from income loss and personal emergencies by awarding grants for unanticipated financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Local artists who meet the eligibility and requirements are encouraged to apply via this Google Form for a $1,500 cash stipend to help cover necessary expenses due to cancelled work and/or lost sales related to the financial downturn. To view more details and apply for the grant click here or paste this link into your browser. https://forms.gle/YGcdabRDhjUpMwmv9 
  • COVID-19 Resources for Artists & Arts Organizations (National Endowment for the Arts)
  • Entertainment Industry Offers String of Funds for Help (LA Times)
  • Resources For Music Businesses And Industry Workers In Need Amidst The Pandemic (NPR)
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic CEI offices are closed to the public. CEI staff will be working remotely and want to hear from you! Please reach out to your CEI contact regarding scheduled meetings and/or any questions/concerns. Click here for a list of COVID-19 Business Resources.
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