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June 29, 2021

South Portland launches development, EV grants aimed at jobs and climate goals

an old fishing shack on a rocky beach with the ocean spreading behind Photo / Maureen Milliken Two new grants offered by the city of South Portland to businesses are intended to boost economic development as well as help the city meet climate action goals.

The city of South Portland has launched a funding program that offers two sustainability-focused grants for businesses.

The grants, launched by the city's Economic Development and Sustainability departments, reinforce South Portland's commitment to mitigating climate change and are a step toward meeting goals set forth in the One Climate Future plan, adopted by the City Council in October, a news release said.

The Conditional Economic Development Grant supports significant general building or site improvements, including those that will retain or create jobs. The Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Grant is for businesses that are seeking to add EV charging stations.

"These grant awards offer significant financial assistance to our city’s businesses, many of which are working hard to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build back better than before," City Manager William Mann said in the news release.

The program comes as the city’s COVID-19 Hardship Small Business Grant Program, which provides grants of up to $2,000 for small businesses demonstrating a hardship from the pandemic, is set to expire Wednesday.

Conditional Economic Development Grant

The CEDG program provides financial assistance to businesses and property owners that are investing in their own buildings or site developments, as well as real estate investors who are improving commercial space or creating new commercial space for business tenants. The focus is on businesses that are expanding employment levels or establishing new business operations.

The program is is intended to stimulate commercial property investment and additional job creation and retention, according to the city.

Businesses that are investing $100,000 into development or creating or retaining 15 jobs are eligible to apply.

The amount of each grant depends on the number of qualifying jobs created or retained, the total investment being made and the demonstrated need of the applicant. Job creation and retention may qualify for up to $1,000 per full-time job and investment in general building and site improvements may qualify for up to $5,000 per $100,000 invested. Jobs created must be "quality jobs" in that they provide benefits, including making health insurance available. 

The cap for hospitality and retail businesses is $10,000, and there's an individual cap of $50,000 per business or property owner that the city council can waive.

Level 2 Electric Vehicle Charging Grants 

The goal of the charging grant program is to increase the availability of public EV charging outlets at businesses and workplaces in South Portland. The program will fund Level 2 EV charger projects at businesses or workplaces that have between two and six charger plugs.

Chargers are eligible for up to $5,000 per plug or 50% of the allowable project costs, whichever is less. Allowable costs include equipment, materials, construction and installation.

"In the past few years, and even months, there have been fundamental changes in the automobile industry," the grant description says. "Most of the world’s major car manufacturers have at least one EV model, including some of the largest, which have made monumental commitments to going all-electric in the next decade or two. South Portland recognizes this shift in the market and wants to create a cohesive network of chargers in the city to accommodate this shift."
Level 2 chargers are most commonly installed in homes, workplaces and public spaces, where a car can be left plugged in for periods of several hours, as opposed to quicker Level 3 chargers. The Level 2 chargers can provide between 14 and 35 miles of range per hour and have a universal “J” plug that connects to all electric vehicle models.

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