BRUNSWICK — A new emergency loan program established by the Brunswick Development Corporation is designed to stem the tide of local business closures in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Pandemic Emergency Loan Fund was unanimously approved by the corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing loans and grants to Brunswick-based businesses and helping spur job creation and economic development in town. 

This emergency fund allocates $100,000 to be dispersed to Brunswick businesses “that have experienced interruption or hardship due to COVID-19,” the disease caused by the coronavirus. The loans, available first-come, first-served, will be no-interest loans of up to $5,000, a two-year term and deferred principal payments for 12 months, according to a press release from the Brunswick Development Corporation. The money is intended to help supplement other state and federal emergency disaster relief funding expected in the coming weeks. 

The announcement comes just one day after Brunswick town officials declared a civil state of emergency ordering all non-essential businesses to close and prohibiting the public from entering restaurants or bars. 

Following Brunswick’s declaration, on Tuesday, Gov. Janet Mills enacted similar, if slightly less restrictive regulations mandating all public-facing, nonessential businesses in the state to close. Grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses deemed essential may remain open. 

Brunswick Development Corporation is made up of two town councilors, the Brunswick town manager and other private citizens, and is staffed by Sally Costello, the town economic development director. 

“We’ve witnessed the hardships that our downtown locally owned businesses are experiencing during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Debora King, director of the Brunswick Downtown Association said in a statement. “Funds that can be accessed quickly will provide some stability and support to those most adversely affected.”

Brunswick businesses are encouraged to apply for the loans now. 

“There has never been a more urgent need for capital assistance — this is the time for our organization to step in and be part of the stabilization and recovery solution to local Brunswick businesses,” Larissa Darcy, corporation board chair said.

There are 118 confirmed and presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Maine. Of those, 74 are in Cumberland County, where there is evidence of community transmission, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said. There are three cases in Sagadahoc County. 

To further help community members who may be struggling financially, the Brunswick Town Council also extended the property tax deadline from April 15 to May 15. Councilors considered extending it further, but there were “cash flow issues” and “statutory issues” that would arise if they pushed it back much further, John Eldridge, town manager told the council. 

Online applications for the Pandemic Emergency Loan Fund are available on the town website under the Economic and Community Development department. 

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