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March 20, 2020

Emergency SBA loans offered to small businesses in Maine

Store with a 'closed' sign in the window. Photo / Renee Cordes Many small businesses, like this dry cleaner in Cape Elizabeth that also does alterations, have had to reduce hours or shut entirely because of the ongoing crisis.
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As small businesses in Maine cope with the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis, the U.S. Small Business Administration is trying to quickly get emergency funding to enterprises in need.

For qualifying small businesses and some private nonprofits, up to $2 million is available to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue. SBA currently has $7 billion in its disaster loan budget.

"We are trying to do everything we can to get outreach," Wendell Davis,the SBA's New England regional administrator, told Mainebiz by phone on Thursday. 

That effort ramped up after Maine earlier this week became the first state in the country to get a green light for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans in response to a request from Gov. Janet Mills.

The loan program was unveiled on Monday, with Davis praising all those who worked on the weekend to get it ready.

Portrait of Wendell Davis
Courtesy/U.S. Small Business Administration
As regional administrator for SBA's Region I, Wendell Davis oversees SBA's financial, export, disaster relief, government contracting and business development programs for the six New England states.

"The ecosystem in Maine is remarkable," said Davis, who coordinates a network of small business technical assistance partners that are all funded by the SBA. They include 31 Small Business Development Centers, 26 SCORE chapters, nine Women's Business Centers and a Veterans Business Outreach Center.

"Everybody is rallying around the troops," he added.

Emergency Injury Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, private nonprofit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises that have been financially affected as a direct result of the coronavirus outbreak since Jan. 31. Loans are being offered at a maximum interest rate of 3.75%.

Davis explained that the loans are meant to provide working capital, not compensate for lost profits.

"This is for payroll, debt service, the day-to-day-cost of operations," he said.

The SBA's Maine district office is currently planning informational webinars for small businesses and is training both SBA Resource Partners and other economic development groups who can offer assistance to business owners.

Maine District Director Amy Bassett said her office has been getting hundreds of calls from businesses throughout the state about the loan program, including many tourist and restaurant businesses, and from its partners asking how they can help.

"We've never felt so popular," she told Mainebiz.

Davis said that "everybody has been trying to get the word out."

He also said he's heartened by stories of business owners around the country stepping up to help out, like one who's delivering groceries to elderly people, and a distillery that switched its manufacturing focus to hand sanitizer.

"These are the moments that define us," he said, holding Maine up as an example.

"Maine is unique in that it's close-knit," he said. "Even though it's a large state, folks are close-knit, so you're definitely seeing the small business ecosystems and the communities rallying around these folks."

More information

For more information about disaster loan assistance and for loan applications, go to the SBA website.

In addition, you can find out more and request assistance from the following organizations in Maine:

Maine Small Business Development Centers

Coastal Enterprises Inc.

SCORE Maine chapters

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March 23, 2020

Hi there! Eligibility for nonprofits is different for SBA loans than for profit small businesses. Please reach out to the Maine Association of Nonprofits for more information. Thank you!

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