SKOWHEGAN — As the primary wave of federal funding to small companies dwindles, enterprise house owners in Skowhegan are hopeful that extra reduction could also be on the best way.
In an effort to showcase the necessity for extra funding, organizers from Primary Avenue Skowhegan gave U.S. Sen. Susan Collins a tour of downtown companies and revitalization initiatives on Friday afternoon.
Starting on the Primary Grain Alliance on Court docket Avenue, Collins was greeted by Kristina Cannon, the manager director of Primary Avenue Skowhegan.
The tour lead up Water Avenue, to the Skowhegan Watch Level and again to the Maine Grain Alliance.
Alongside the best way, Collins met with a number of enterprise house owners together with Matt DuBois, co-owner of the Bankery and Skowhegan Fleuriste, each on Water Avenue.
DuBois advised Collins about how his companies benefited from the Paycheck Safety Flexibility Act, a mortgage program for companies that was initially handed in March as a part of the federal CARES Act.
“We’re managing alright by way of this,” DuBois advised Collins. “We have been in a position to get the PPP and that helped us by way of Could and June and we’re holding our personal proper now.”
DuBois additionally talked about how important the Primary Avenue program has been to the enterprise group in Skowhegan.
“Our Primary Avenue program is vital to all the small companies right here,” DuBois mentioned. “It promotes enterprise but additionally tourism, and after COVID, we wish to bounce again as a group even stronger than we have been earlier than.”
Primary Avenue Skowhegan is a nonprofit group whose intention is revitalize and develop the city’s financial system.
In June, Primary Avenue Skowhegan offered $20,000 price of funding to 23 companies with its Technical Help/COVID-19 Aid Grant program.
Amy Rowbottom, proprietor of Crooked Face Creamery on Court docket Avenue, mentioned the primary PPP mortgage was essential to the survival of her enterprise.
“It was lifesaving,” Rowbottom advised Collins. “When this began, the entire sale ended abruptly and we have been scrambling to provide you with one thing … it was an enormous transition, however it (the mortgage) was actually crucial to maintain us going.”
Primary Avenue Skowhegan’s mother or father group, Primary Avenue America, is pushing Congress to incorporate funding for the Financial Improvement Administration to assist the work that Primary Avenue organizations present.
The group recommends a $100 million aggressive mortgage be included within the subsequent financial stimulus package deal.
“From the nationwide perspective it’s been a very vital concept to convey ahead as a result of the Primary Avenue entities have an unlimited community all through the nation,” mentioned Shaw Sprague, senior director of presidency relations and coverage for the Nationwide Belief for Historic Preservation, of which Primary Avenue America is a subsidiary. “Direct federal assist is one thing that will be new. Sometimes Primary Avenue entities will obtain funding by way of municipalities, small enterprise members, occasions … however not direct federal assist …
“So in mild of COVID and the uncertainty that it’s introduced for therefore many companies, the nationwide Primary Avenue Heart is asking Congress to think about further funding that will be integrated into the subsequent reduction package deal.”
Yellow Gentle Breen, president and chief government officer of the Maine Improvement Basis, mentioned that the extra funding would assist enhance companies after the primary spherical of funding helped them keep afloat initially.
“That was sort of the ‘tide me over, preserve me alive’ cash,” Breen mentioned. “However that is the ‘allow us to maintain working collectively to create alternative and to draw prospects so we will flourish.’”
Collins’ tour ended with a meet and greet with native enterprise house owners.
“I need to say, the collaboration I’m seeing in Skowhegan is second to none. It’s extraordinary,” Collins mentioned. “Coming from rural Maine as I do — I’m from Caribou, my household is a six-generation household enterprise — I’ve an actual coronary heart for small city Maine. And it’s great seeing your group work so intently collectively towards the widespread objective of revitalizing and renovating and reinventing Skowhegan.”
Based on Collins, who co-sponsored the unique PPP, 28,000 companies within the state have taken benefit of the loans.
“What I wished to do was to ensure we didn’t break the hyperlink between the employer and the workers as a result of I believe that’s so vital,” Collins mentioned. “I believe it has been an amazing success after some glitches initially.”
Collins advised attendees at Friday’s tour about her targets with the brand new spherical of small enterprise reduction.
“That’s, open up this system once more to those that didn’t get one within the first spherical,” Collins mentioned. “Lengthen it to 501 (c)(6) like chambers of commerce, so long as they’ve beneath 50 staff … and we’re going to permit for a second PPP mortgage for the actually arduous hit companies.”