GPCOG launches online updates, resources

PORTLAND — In response to the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic and the needs of its members, the Greater Portland Council of Governments has launched an interactive update page at gpcog.org/blog.aspx, which is designed to serve members by providing centralized updates on the status of local and county government facilities, programs, policies and other protective steps taken for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Users can comment on posted items and also sign up to get email notices every time new items are added.

FAME, SBA offering loans, insurance

PORTLAND — The Finance Authority of Maine is partnering with the U.S. Small Business Administration and local Maine lenders to offer special, limited-time loans and loan insurance to eligible Maine businesses affected by COVID-19.

The Finance Authority and participating lenders will make special terms available to Maine-based businesses that have experienced interruption or hardship due to COVID-19. Benefits include loans up to $50,000 at reduced interest rates, interest-only payments, up to 75% pro-rata loan insurance on loans up to $100,000 and interim financing in conjunction with the Small Business Administration wherein the Finance Authority makes loan proceeds available while approved borrowers await federal funding.

Gov. Janet Mills recently announced that the Small Business Administration has approved Maine’s application for loans to help eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. The Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loans will offer up to $2 million in assistance for a small business. To learn more about the process see sba.gov.

The Finance Authority’s COVID-19 business response programs are outlined in greater detail at on their website, famemaine.com.

MPA launches community support fund, website

PORTLAND — The Maine People’s Alliance has launched Mainers Together – a new website to provide a hub to connect individuals in communities across the state with the support and resources they need as Maine grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mainers Together has two primary goals. The first is to support Mainers’ immediate economic and health needs. Mainers Together will work to identify the gaps in community needs, address them where possible through volunteer efforts and bring them to the attention of decision-makers. The second goal is to raise money into a community support fund that will be used to help Mainers whose households are facing economic crisis due to circumstances such as employers closing or needing to stay home from work to care for children while schools are closed. Maine People’s Alliance is launching this project with $25,000 in seed money and a commitment of staff and volunteer hours to support this initiative.

To get help, volunteer or for more information see mainerstogether.com.

Farmers offering alternative ways to access products

CUMBERLAND COUNTY — Many farms across the county and state have added alternative ways customers can obtain farm products to accommodate for social distancing in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Maine farmers are updating an online database in an effort to increase public access to their farm products during this time. An interactive directory and map can be found at extension.umaine.edu/agriculture/farm-product-and-pickup-directory.

In related news, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, in partnership with the Beginning Farmer Resource Network of Maine, has developed COVID-19 Information and Support for Maine Farmers. It includes a Maine farmer survey and a collection of current federal and state resources.

For more information or to add a farm, contact Rebecca Gray at [email protected] or 781-6099.

Other resources for locally produced food include getrealmaine.com, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners at mofgacertification.org/find-mofga-certified-organic-food-and-products and localcatch.org, where local seafood can be sourced.

Coronavirus Community Assistance website launched

CUMBERLAND COUNTY — Need help? Want to help? There’s a website for that. The Maine Coronavirus Community Assistance website provides links to other sites that match up people and local, state and federal resources at sites.google.com/view/mainecommunityassistance/home.

Included are local shelters, food pantries, organizations or communities, which are linked in local resources under the Resources page. The Mainers Together link will take readers to a form to submit requests through the Maine People’s Alliance website dedicated to coronavirus response in Maine. The MutualAid DSA link will lead to a form to submit requests for assistance from a volunteer base in Southern Maine.

The site is managed by a volunteer collective of Mainers and can be contacted via [email protected]

United Way of Greater Portland announces Community Relief Fund

PORTLAND — The United Way of Greater Portland has started a Community Relief Fund to support Southern Maine’s most vulnerable residents. This includes those currently or at risk of becoming homeless and those who could suffer devastating financial and health impacts due to the coronavirus.

Funds will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and municipalities serving vulnerable populations most affected by emerging health, economic and social impacts, such as individuals and families now homeless or in imminent danger of becoming homeless due to housing insecurity, which includes difficulty paying for housing or rent costs, utilities and other costs deemed necessary for housing. Low-income individuals and families struggling to make ends meet due to a loss in household income attributed to interruptions to work will also be supported.

Individual donors and other organizations can contribute online at unitedwaygp.org/covid or by texting “ME COVID” to 52886. The first round of grants will be made in April based on funds received by April 1.