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COVID-19 Update From The Maine State Chamber Of Commerce

Posted March 22, 2020

We know that this is a tough time for you and that you’re in information OVERLOAD. With information coming in so frequently at such a high volume, it has been a challenge to keep up. Before the start of the work week, we want to share the latest information.

To follow is a summary of financial assistance available for Maine’s small businesses from state and federal resources. Whether you are looking for immediate assistance or are uncertain about the financial future of your business, we encourage you to connect with your financial institution ASAP. Start the conversation now.

What’s available now

  • U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster assistance for Maine small businesses - The deadline to apply for assistance is December 16, 2020. More information is available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela, by calling the SBA (800) 659-2955, or emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Again, your financial institution is best suited to provide guidance with this program.
  • Governor Mills has signed emergency legislation establishing a consumer loan guarantee program through the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME). FAME is partnering with SBA and Maine lenders to offer special, limited-time loans and loan insurance to eligible Maine businesses and sole proprietors affected by COVID-19. Employees and sole proprietors can apply for FAME loans up to $5,000 with 3 chances to apply for a total of $15,000. Again, interested borrowers should contact their financial institution first. They are advised to start the conversation now and not delay. More details are available at www.FAMEMaine.com.

Unemployment Insurance

Recently, state legislation was passed to make the Unemployment Insurance system more flexible. For employees, the usual one week waiting period for eligibility will be waived in the event of a Covid-19 related layoff. For employers, layoffs associated with COVID-19 will not count against their rating. More information can be found at https://www.maine.gov/labor/covid19/ .

Additional federal aid in the works

At the time of this writing, federal aid proposals, which are not yet confirmed, are nearing two trillion dollars. U.S. Senator Susan Collins has proposed legislation to provide cash-flow assistance quickly to employers (https://www.collins.senate.gov/newsroom/senator-collins-unveils-plan-preserve-jobs-and-protect-small-businesses-during-coronavirus).

Caring for our community

We are partnering with the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, Retail Association of Maine, Maine State Department of Economic and Community Development, and the entire family of Maine regional chambers of commerce on the “Pay It Forward Maine” initiative. Pay It Forward Maine asks individuals, businesses, and organizations to continue supporting local businesses and their employees in our new world of closed storefronts and social distancing. With this program, we hope to start a statewide movement of continued patronage through the purchase of gift cards, curbside purchase/pickup, online shopping, and more. And as people participate, we’re asking that they create social media posts with the hash tag #PayItForwardMaine and challenge their family and friends to participate. For more information, please visit www.PayItForwardMaine.com.

We are here for you! Please visit our website at https://www.mainechamber.org/covid19 for ongoing updates and, please, don’t hesitate to write us at info@mainechamber.org if you have questions.

Thank you and please stay safe and well!

Dana Connors

President & CEO, Maine State Chamber of Commerce