Emergency grants totaling $53.6 million have been awarded to more than a thousand small employers in Maine to cover payroll and other expenses.

Roughly 1,200 Maine business and nonprofits will be awarded funding in the second round of the $200 million Maine Economic Recovery grant program, the Department of Economic and Community Development announced Friday.

The department has about $41.6 million remaining in the fund used to pay the grants and is considering more financial assistance to struggling employers, said department spokeswoman Kate Foye.

“The administration is considering additional grant resources to help sustain businesses and nonprofits during this challenging time,” she said.

The average award is just over $43,000, the department reported. About $53.6 million from the program was provided to roughly 1,220 businesses and nonprofits. That includes $7.4 million provided in grants to 193 businesses less than a year old, which were not eligible for awards in the first round of the program.

More than 700 applications were denied, either because they did not meet the threshold of a 20 percent revenue loss since the pandemic began or because they had received a grant in the program’s first round, Foye said.

About 2,300 small businesses and nonprofits were awarded grants totaling $105 million last month in the program’s first round. Those grants were available only to organizations that employed 50 or fewer people full time.

The second round of grants was open to companies employing up to 250 people and some organizations that were ineligible in the first round.

Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement that the grants gave struggling employers “at least a partial lifeline to stay open and operating,” but that Congress and the White House need to provide desperately needed aid to businesses and workers.

“My administration will continue to do all we can to support Maine’s small businesses suffering economic hardship as a result of this pandemic,” Mills said. “I urge all Maine people to shop locally, and shop safely, whenever you can.”

The grant program was funded with $200 million in coronavirus relief funds given to Maine by the federal government.

Grant recipients were notified Friday, and awards should be paid out by mid-December, DECD reported.

“Given the diverse areas of our economy that have been severely impacted as a result of the pandemic, it is our hope that this second round of grants with expanded eligibility will provide support to as many businesses as possible to help them navigate this difficult time,” said DECD Commissioner Heather Johnson in a statement.


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