Main Street Relief Fund -- Small Business Grants
Jeb Bradley May 18th, 2020
Late last week Governor Sununu approved funding for various entities throughout New Hampshire including health care providers, non-profits, a small business relief fund, colleges, and food banks. The funding announced was $595 million which is on top of nearly $250 million already allocated by the Governor. This funding comes from the CARES ACT which was passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in late March and can be used for Covid-19 related expenses by the state as well as cities and towns. These federal funds cannot be used to cover expected state or local revenue shortfalls however.
New Hampshire received $1.25 billion in CARES funding that Governor Sununu is authorized to allocate for Covid-19 related purposes. He had previously allocated $250 of this funding for hospitals, other health care providers, stipends for front-line long-term care workers and first responders, and local and county government’s Covid-19 costs.
It should be noted that under the CARES ACT, according to documents provided to me by Senator Shaheen, New Hampshire also received over $350 million of other funding for specific purposes. That includes $7.5 million for Community Development Block Grants, $5.5 million for public health emergency preparedness, $6.8 million for community health centers, $7 million for child care, $165 million for health care providers (hospitals), and $87 million for education. This education funding is largely split between higher education and elementary and secondary schools.
Governor Sununu’s announcement last week allocates additional CARES funding as follows: $50 million for health care providers with 60% of that dedicated to long-term care facilities, $60 million for charitable organizations such as the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Community Development Finance Authority, $25 million for child care agencies, $10 million for agriculture, $5 million for the New Hampshire Food Bank, $10 million for the University of New Hampshire and $5 million for the Community College System.
The largest expenditure announced by Governor Sununu is a $400 million Main Street Relief Fund (MSRF) consisting of grants to businesses. Given the limitations of the federal Payroll Protection Program including the requirement that closed businesses must hire workers back by June 30thand must use 75% of the funding on payroll, Governor Sununu’s MSRF initiative is critical to filling the gaps of Payroll Protection.
The MSRF is intended to help small businesses in the short run stay solvent and re-open. Businesses that wish to avail themselves of this funding must utilize a two-step process.
Step 1: By May 29tha business must file a pre-application form which can be found here: https://www.goferr.nh.gov/. Please look for the blue box on the home page and follow the link for the prequalification application. This application is short and requires information such as the type of business, 2019 tax year gross receipts, anticipated 2020 receipts, compensation and wages paid in 2019, and any other federal grants received.
The principal place of business for applying for the MSRF must be in New Hampshire. Revenue of the business cannot exceed $20 million in 2019. Agriculture, healthcare and childcare business should not apply for the MSRF as these entities are receiving funding through other CARES related sources. Not-for-profit organizations are also not eligible.
It is critical to note that the pre-application form must be filed by May 29th. This is in order to make sure that funding reaches businesses as quickly as possible to curtail the harmful impact of Covid-19 related shut downs.
When pre-applications have been submitted, the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) will determine final funding criteria to be announced on June 1.
Step 2: When the final funding criteria are announced, businesses will have until June 8thto file a formal application. Release of these funds is anticipated to occur on June 15th.
It should be noted again that this is grant funding not loans. According to the documents released by GOFERR this funding will not be allocated based on first come first serve but rather on the needs of the business. Nevertheless, the pre-application must be submitted by May 29thand the final application by June 8th.
When the $595 million is fully allocated, approximately $400 million will still remain in the New Hampshire CARES fund. I will continue to advocate that some of these funds be allocated to backfill the New Hampshire Unemployment Trust Fund so that businesses struggling to survive are not hit with a large cost increase. I will also continue to advocate that some funding be utilized to enhance public-private partnerships for rural broadband deployment which has become ever more critical.
The weather is improving and businesses are re-opening. It was encouraging to see many stores open with social distancing criteria in place. Take-out ice cream was very popular. Local restaurants are providing takeout and preparing for limited outdoor seating.
The re-opening task force appointed by Governor Sununu continues to meet and hopefully many more businesses can more fully re-open quickly and safely. The outpouring of support for people who have faithfully provided services throughout the Covid-19 pandemic is heartwarming. But we have also realized that every job is essential.
For the re-opening to continue we all have a critical role to play: utilize the 6-foot guideline, practice good hygiene, and when in public places especially indoors use face coverings. Those simple guidelines will better produce a safe and successful re-opening.
Please keep safe and healthy and if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me at 387-2365.