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May 26, 2020

Loans, grants are available to keep Maine small businesses open

Photo / Maureen Milliken As small businesses start to reopen across the state, a variety of financial resources are available to help them stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.

As the state slowly begins to reopen, small businesses increasingly are looking for resources to help them stay afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. Over the past month, state and local governments and organizations have announced a variety of financial help across Maine.

This is not a complete list of everything that's offered in Maine. More resources for businesses can be found at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce website and the Maine Development Foundation website.

Some programs launched recently include:

City of Portland programs

Portland earlier this month launched three emergency business assistance programs, funded at the city council's May 18 meeting.

A business must be in Portland in order to be eligible to apply for funding and the application deadline is June 4. Businesses that received funding from COVID-19 U.S. Small Business Administration and/or state FAME commercial financing programs are not eligible. Any businesses with questions regarding these programs should contact Nelle Hanig, business programs manager, Economic Development Department, at Information is also available on the city's website.

  • The Portland Rapid Response Micro Loan Program. This program is for businesses that earned less than $1 million in 2019 and had two to eight employees on Jan. 31. It 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 (relative to the  borrower’s type of business), whichever comes first. 
  • Business Assistance Program for Job Creation.The program provides $5,000 grants to small businesses for rehiring two or more full-time employees who were on the payroll on Jan. 31. The jobs must be filled by low or moderate-income individuals.
  • Microenterprise Grant Program. For businesses with less than two employees. It provides grants of up to $2,500 to existing Portland microenterprises that have been impacted by the COVID 19 crisis. A microenterprise is a business that has no more than one full-time equivalent employee, which could be one full-time or two part-time employees, as well as the business owner, who must be a low to moderate income individual.

CEI, Community Concepts, MaineStream collaboration

Coastal Enterprises Inc., Community Concepts Finance Corp. and MaineStream Finance are offering loan products supported by Small Business Administration money to help businesses across Maine gain access to the capital they need to rebuild. The trio of organizations are providing loans up to $50,000.

The loans may include six months of payment and interest coverage by the SBA, and have no pre-payment penalty and they're available until Sept. 27 or when the money runs out, whichever comes first. Small businesses can use the loans to meet capital needs or normal operating expenses. Businesses getting funding will also have access to technical assistance, coaching and education from the organizations’ business advisory services.

Each of the three organizations has developed separate terms and conditions for their recovery loan product. Businesses interested in a recovery loan product should contact the offering organization directly for full product details and underwriting requirements. Completed applications will be reviewed in the order of submission, with decisions made within a two-week period.

The loans include:

  • CEI Wicked Reboot Loan: CEI is offering a 3-year, 3% loan up to $30,000 with no prepayment penalty. An extended-term product is available up to $50,000 upon request. Businesses may be eligible for a loan whether or not they received PPP or EIDL funding.
  • Community Concept COVID-19 assistance loan. Community Concepts is offering loans up to $50,000 on terms up to six years. Interest rates may be as low as 3%, depending on loan amount and term length.
  • Mainestream Finance Business Booster Loan. MaineStream Finance is offering a two-year loan up to $10,000 to cover up to two months of working capital/operating expenses with flexible payment arrangements available.

Greater Portland Council of Governments microloans

The Greater Portland Council of Government earlier this month launched a Rapid Response Micro-loan Program to support the region’s small businesses and nonprofits that need working capital amidst the COVID-19 crisis. 

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. 

The agency has committed to lending as much as $250,000 through the new program, which will run until Dec. 31 or until the money runs out. The loans will supplement state and federal small business lending programs offered through the Small Business Administration and the Finance Authority of Maine. 

Businesses and nonprofits in GPCOG’s 25-municipality coverage are eligible. For more information, visit

Industry-specific and regional programs

USDA Maine Rural Development has resources for a variety of options for agriculture-related businesses. For more information, visit

The Maine Grain Alliance is offering grants of up to $2,000 for to supports business owners that buy, grow or process locally sourced grains. The money in the new Emergency Relief Fund is for unexpected expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and is aimed at costs associated with reopening businesses. The deadline to apply is June 5. For more information, visit

Main Street Skowhegan's technical assistance grant program, which was launched in February, has increased funding and is offering grants to Skowhegan businesses that need immediate financial assistance as a result of COVID-19 pandemic-related closures or reduced income. Bsinesses can request mini-grants ranging from $500 to $2,000 to fund need-based relief, technical assistance or equipment. There is a May 31 deadline. Visit

United Midcoast Charities, based in Camden, has awarded $39,000 in grants from its Rapid Response Fund, which provides stopgap support for local nonprofits during the pandemic, and aims to raise enough money to warded $100,000 total grants. Money goes to nonprofits that provide food for local pantries and soup kitchens experiencing an unprecedented surge in need; housing solutions for homeless families and domestic violence victims, meal delivery service for the homebound and elderly, substance abuse recovery support and more. Visit

Hallowell this month created the Hallowell Business Survival Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $3,000 for businesses in the city. For information, visit

The Kennebec Valley Downtown Relief Fund, a collaboration of Gardiner Main Street and the Augusta Downtown Alliance, has awarded $23,800 to small businesses in Gardiner and Augusta, and has closed applications until it can raise more money. The grants are for any for-profit business within the downtown Augusta or downtown Gardiner district boundaries that have experienced hardship becaues of COVID-19. The organizations hope to reopen applications once more funding is received. Click here for information.

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