Portland To Base COVID-19 Response on Governor Mills’ Reopening Plan
PORTLAND, Maine — In light of Governor Janet Mills’ April 28 announcement regarding her stay-at-home extension and safe and gradual plan to restart Maine’s economy, City officials want people and businesses in Portland to know that they should plan to follow the State’s Order in terms of Stage 1, which begins Friday, May 1st. The Governor’s news comes after the Council’s April 27 action, in which they aligned essential and non-essential services with the state’s guidelines and extended the City’s stay at home order until May 18.
At the Council’s Monday, May 4th meeting, councilors formerly repealed the City’s local Stay At Home Order and moved forward with having businesses comply with the provisions of the State’s Order.
Business Checklist to Reopen
The State Department of Economic Development will be working with businesses to work through a “checklist” to determine eligibility on when they can open/operate.
According to the State, in order to reopen, various sectors of Maine’s economy will be required to work with the State Dept of Economic Development to implement practical, reasonable, evidence-informed safety protocols and modifications that protect the health and safety of employees and customers. DECD will work with the private sector to distribute COVID-19 Prevention Checklists ahead of staged openings to allow businesses to prepare. The checklists, which will differ sector to sector, will undergo a rigorous review process including from government officials, health experts, and industry representatives.
Businesses that commit to complying with the requirements on the checklist will be provided a badge to post at their business, on their website, in their advertising, or on social media. Their names will also be posted on the DECD website and they will be allowed to open. Health providers in Maine will follow U.S. CDC and professional association guidelines.
Council Approves 3 COVID-19 Business Loan and Grant Programs
At its May 4th meeting, the Portland City Council also approved three business loan and grant programs designed by the Portland Development Corporation and the City’s Economic Development Department in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three programs are all intended to assist Portland businesses needing help due to COVID-19. The programs include the Business Assistance Program for Job Creation (Rehiring), the Microenterprise Grant Program, and the Rapid Response Micro Loan Program.
Both the Business Assistance Program for Job Creation (Rehiring) (BAP) and the Microenterprise Grant Program (MGP) have been reviewed by the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) staff for consistency with US HUD guidelines. Staff will be seeking CDBG funding for two of the programs approved by the City Council. The Portland Rapid Response Micro Loan Program (RRMP) will be funded with $400,000 from the PDC’s unrestricted loan funds, with $250,000 focused on the first round of the program. The City Council may approve the programs to receive the City’s COVID-19 CDBG funding at its May 18th meeting.
All three business assistance programs will likely be launched on May 19 with applications available on the City’s website that day. Over the next few weeks, businesses are encouraged to make sure they have the following documents ready to attach to their applications so they can submit quickly. These include a personal financial statement – from all owners of the business with 20% ownership or greater; 2018 and 2019 business tax returns; Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss for 2019; and a payroll from January 31, 2020 showing number of full and part-time employees at that time.
Business Assistance Program for Job Creation (Rehiring)
The City of Portland’s COVID-19 Business Assistance Program for Job Creation (Rehiring) (BAP) provides $5,000 in grant funding to small businesses for rehiring two or more full-time employees that were on the payroll as of January 31, 2020. The jobs, which must be filled by low/moderate income individuals, could include previous employees or new employees. This program is not intended to substitute for available COVID-19 federal and/or state commercial financing programs if a business is able to access them. Funding through this program cannot be combined with any other PDC COVID-19 Program.
Microenterprise Grant Program
The City of Portland’s Microenterprise Grant Program (MGP) is targeted to very small businesses with less than two employees. The MGP provides grants of up to $2,500 to existing Portland Microenterprises that have been impacted by the COVID 19 crisis. The definition of a microenterprise for the purposes of this program, is a business that has no more than one full time equivalent employee (FTE), which could be 1 full-time or 2 part-time employees, as well as the business owner who must be a low/moderate income individual. Funding through this program cannot be combined with any other PDC COVID-19 Program.
Rapid Response Micro Loan Program
The City of Portland Rapid Response Micro Loan Program (RRMP) is targeted to small businesses that had two to eight employees on January 31, 2020. 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 with respect to the borrower’s type of business, whichever comes first. This program is not intended to substitute for available COVID-19 federal and/or state commercial financing if a business is able to access one or both. Funding through this program cannot be combined with any other PDC COVID-19 Program.
The public is encouraged to stay up to date on the latest information from the Maine CDC. The City is posting information related to COVID-19 resources on a dedicated page at https://www.portlandmaine.gov/COVID19.