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March 11, 2021

Key takeaways for Maine businesses in the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill

outside restaurant in Portland Photo / Renee Cordes The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which heads to President Biden's desk on Friday, includes additional support for restaurants.

After getting approval from House lawmakers on Wednesday, federal legislation offering $1.9 trillion in emergency economic relief is headed to President Joe Biden's desk for expected signature on Friday. The much-anticipated stimulus package aims to send more help to households and businesses struggling in the wake of the pandemic.

The bill passed 220-211, with U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine 2nd District, the only Democrat to vote against it.

As experts go over the fine print of the 255-page bill, the nonpartisan, the Augusta-based Maine Center for Economic Policy estimates that Maine will receive roughly $6 billion from the American Rescue Plan, which it said will provide much-needed but temporary support.  

Gov. Janet Mills said the funding influx will be a "boon to Maine, to our health care institutions, to our unemployed, to education, and to Maine families generally."

Besides $1,400 stimulus checks for those who qualify, the bill includes a number of measures applicable to businesses in different sectors. Here are some key takeaways.

'Transformative' funding for broadband

Following negotiations between the White House and Senate leaders including U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, the plan includes $10 billion in funding for broadband as well as $7 billion to close the digital divide for students. King, co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, called it the largest congressional broadband advancement in history and estimates that at least $100 million is headed to Maine.

Joshua Broder, CEO of Portland-based deployment and IT professional services firm Tilson and a 2018 Mainebiz Business Leader of the Year, said he expects the funding to be "transformative for Maine."

"We expect this broadband support to give the state the tools it needs to support infrastructure and service to bring broadband to remote work, distance education and telehealth statewide," he told Mainebiz.

"Tilson stands ready to support agencies in Maine and nationwide in building fast, high impact and responsible programs for deploying this support. I’m appreciative of the effort and support that Senator King provided to ensure that this level of funding, with flexibility to use as most needed in Maine."


Based on the Restaurant Revitalization Bill in the Senate, the American Rescue Plan throws businesses a $25 billion lifeline in the form of grants to help local restaurants struggling during the pandemic keep their doors open and staff on the payroll. The efforts come after restaurants nationwide lost more than $240 billion in 2020 sales and ended the year with 2.5 million fewer jobs than before the crisis. More than one in six eateries are closed permanently or long-term, and open restaurants continue to grapple slower business.

PPP tweaks

The American Rescue Plan provides an additional $7.25 billion for forgivable federal loans funded by the federal Paycheck Protection Program and expands program eligibility for nonprofits.

Agriculture and food supply

To help a sector hit particularly hard, the plan envisions $4 billion to address major pandemic-related disruptions throughout the food supply chain; invest in new infrastructure for farmers, food processors and farmers markets to build resiliency; monitor COVID-19 in animals; support small meat and poultry processors; protect food and farm workers on the job; and increase food donations.

Airlines and airports

The bill sets aside $14 billion for eligible airlines as well as $8 billion for airports to make changes to facilities to prevent, prepare for and respond to the coronavirus.

Shuttered venues 

For live entertainment venues forced to to stay dark during the pandemic, the plan provides an additional $1.25 billion in support through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program. 

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