WESTBROOK — Part of the funds awarded to the city from the CARES Act will provide pandemic-related relief for small businesses, including a business retention program and a data-gathering effort to identify future needs.

“I am pleased to announce that the city of Westbrook has received a total of $189,050 in grant funds from the $13 million in available CARES Act funding (statewide),” Mayor Mike Foley said at the July 6 City Council meeting. “We have requested additional funding from the state as well for additional programs.”

A business retention program will receive $57,000 to help places reopen and will also increase collaboration between small businesses and the city, with the aim to secure even more money for struggling entrepreneurs.

“This money will specifically identify what businesses are doing by industry sector,” Economic Development Director Dan Stevenson said.

The program will provide the economic development department with the computers, tablets and software needed to collect hard business-to-business data, based on specific industries, with detailed reports of what they need.

From there the department will use the hard data to identify specific problems businesses are facing and work with them to get more grant money, including funds not tied to the pandemic.


“This is really about when additional funding becomes available, we’ll have identified problems for these businesses and we will be ready to jump right on it and get them that additional money,” Stevenson said.

Westbrook / Gorham Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Joyce said the program will be a “huge asset.”

“Many businesses aren’t where they should or want to be. These businesses need this help, but it‘ll still take awhile to get to making up for the loss they had for the past few months,” Joyce said.

Ed Symbol, the owner of print shop Full Court Press who is also a Chamber member, said while Westbrook has about 800 businesses, from craft makers to large corporations, he thinks the city has only grasped the needs of a small number of them.

“If this is going to help communicate better, and if it’s for retention, that’s even greater, I am in full support,” Symbol said. “Even at the chamber with roughly 100 members, we don’t even really have that grasp, so that’d be big.” 

About $61,000 will go towards educating businesses and their staff, including workshops and training on mitigating the spread of the virus, as well as reaching out to new Mainers and people vulnerable to COVID-19. Money will also go to dispersing protective equipment at the workshops.


Seventy thousand dollars will go towards supporting physical distancing and health support. This includes expanding the city’s Clean Team from picking up trash to sanitizing park benches and playgrounds and installing sanitation stations around places most frequented by pedestrians.

The money will also help support outdoor seating in Vallee Square by replacing and paying the energy costs for lighting.

Westbrook received a sizeable share of CARES funding, according to Stevenson, who said the city of Saco, with roughly the same population as Westbrook, rang in about $100,000. Augusta, another comparably sized city, received about $150,000.

Still, Foley said city leaders are shooting for more money to use on a more discretionary basis. The money awarded this round, Foley said, was based on specific projects in the application put together by Stevenson and Fire Chief and Health Officer Andrew Turcotte.

Foley said the city requested additional funding to start a “single house occupancy program” to ensure that people with the virus would be able to move into an apartment or hotel room to avoid spreading COVID-19 to other people in the community.

Additional funding requests were also made for a Swab and Send testing site for the disease, along with computer software to make permitting with the city easier to reduce traffic in city hall.

“The program would provide for enhanced testing capability and capacity for our residents and would reduce barriers for many of our residents, especially for those with limited financial resources,” Turcotte said. “Furthermore, given the lack of testing sites in Westbrook, it would enhance access, reduce turnaround times and ultimately reduce the spread of the virus.”

Comments are not available on this story.