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June 11, 2020

Skowhegan grant program writes checks to 23 businesses

Photo / Maureen Milliken New taxes and regulations could burden small businesses across Maine.

Skowhegan’s Technical Assistance/COVID-19 Relief Grant Program will deliver checks this week to 23 businesses that have been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as those looking for technical assistance to help grow.

Maine Street Skowhegan launched the program in February to provide funding for technical assistance, but increased the amount and focus of the program in May, adding the pandemic focus. 

Matching money from the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation recently doubled the amount available, to $20,000, said Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan. The donation allowed the program to increase the number of  grants it awarded, Cannon said.

Businesses will get the money, between $250 to $2,000, from Main Street Skowhegan this week. While many of the grants are for immediate COVID-19 relief, there are also many for technical assistance that will help a business grow.

"Though there is clearly a need for immediate financial assistance among Skowhegan businesses, it’s encouraging to see a number of business owners looking to grow their business during this economic downturn,” Cannon said.

She said she was thankful that the Alfond Foundation and others "believe in Skowhegan and are so willing to invest in our community’s future."  

Bill Alfond, president of the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation, said that the foundation is proud to support "such terrific leadership" in Skowhegan. “Small businesses are the cornerstone of Maine’s economy, so what Main Street Skowhegan is doing to help its local business community is outstanding and incredibly important,” he said.

The Alfond grant also triggered additional donations to the program, Cannon said. It recently got a second contribution from the Skowhegan Economic Development Corp., as well as one from the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture. The Alfond gift matches financial support from Skowhegan Savings Bank, Franklin Savings Bank, New Dimensions Federal Credit Union, Franklin-Somerset Federal Credit Union and the Hight Family of Dealerships.

Main Street Skowhegan received 27 grant requests totaling $49,900, all of which were submitted in May, shortly after the organization announced the expansion of the technical assistance business grant program to include funding for COVID-19 recovery. Of those, 15, totaling $27,100, were submitted for immediate COVID-19 relief, and 12, totaling $22,800, were for technical assistance to spur business growth and increase sales.

Skowhegan business owners sought grant funding to assist with rent payments and utilities; to cover reopening costs, including buying products and supplies; to buy necessary equipment; and to pay for marketing and legal expenses.

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