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Main Street Relief Fund comes at perfect time

  • Lunch outside on the deck at the Dublin Road Taproom at the Shattuck Golf Club in Jaffrey. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 6/29/2020 4:36:29 PM

Thousands of New Hampshire businesses will be receiving a financial boost through the state’s Main Street Relief Fund.

On June 16, Gov. Chris Sununu announced that more than 5,400 small, for-profit businesses qualified for the program created to alleviate some of the economic disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Main Street Relief Fund was created using $400 million from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide emergency financial relief. To qualify, businesses had to be a for-profit business; have its principal place of business in New Hampshire; have been in operation for at least one year prior to May 29, 2020; anticipate a loss of revenue for 2020 due to COVID-19; have total 2019 gross revenues of less than $20 million; not currently in bankruptcy; and not permanently ceased operations.

While 5,466 businesses qualified for the Main Street Relief Fund, more than 13,000 applications were submitted. Of those, more than 4,700 were self-employed, which immediately disqualified them for the program. Close to 2,300 were disqualified based on the information provided during the application process and another 500-plus were deemed eligible, but failed to complete the application process, Sununu said during a press conference on June 16. A total of more than $338 million was sent out to the qualified businesses, as grants were capped at $350,000.

“This wasn’t to make anybody rich; it wasn’t even to cover all their losses, it was simply to allow them to pay some of the bills,” Sununu said during the press conference.

Bill Littles, owner of Steele’s Stationers in Peterborough, has been paying close attention to the programs created to help businesses like his. Outside of the fact that the store he owns with his wife Elizabeth is actually on Main Street, they fit the qualifications and were given a grant from the fund.

Littles, who also took advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan, said this one is different for him because there are “no strings attached.”

Unlike the others, the Main Street Relief Fund is to be used as a business owner sees fit. It is meant to help cover some of the revenue losses incurred by the coronavirus restrictions put in place and Littles said it will help in some ways.

“With somewhere between a 15 to 30 percent loss in revenue that itself is not going to foot the bill,” Littles said.

Between the initial application and final, Littles said business picked up some so he recalculated some of his projections.

“I adjusted my estimates through the end of the year to reflect that even though I don’t know,” he said.

Unsure of the final parameters for the PPP and EIDL, Littles has been cautious to use those funds, but has plans to use the Main Street Relief Fund for general needs.

“I think it’s going to be mostly inventory or paying for things I’ve already bought,” he said. “It’s a nice cushion to have and it’s definitely going to be a little bit of help.”

Doni Ash, owner of Lab ‘n Lager in Jaffrey and Keene, and Shattuck Golf Course in Jaffrey, said all three of his businesses have been hard hit by the restrictions put in place.

Ash said the Jaffrey location of Lab is down 20 to 30 percent and even though he is able to operate at 100 percent capacity, in an effort to create space for social distancing, he’s only at about 75 percent.

He applied for the Main Street Relief Fund for all three operations and was approved for each. He said it was hard having his two bars/restaurants closed for close to three months, since they are typically three of the busiest months of the year. He said it’s been a struggle to find the right balance of moving forward with business and adhering to guidelines and has been working harder to make less money. So relief from the state could not have come at a better time.

“It’s huge,” Ash said. “I was on unemployment until a few weeks ago.”

Ash said he plans to use the money to better his business, something he would have done using profits created if not for being unable to operate.

“I’m using that money to reinvest to make more money because I was shut down for three months,” he said. “And I need to use it now.”

With the money awarded to the Shattuck, Ash was able to use some of it to lease new golf carts – something that was desperately needed.

But like some of the other programs, there will be details figured out later. Businesses will be required to report their actual Tax Year 2019 Gross Receipts and Tax Year 2020 Gross Receipts to the Department of Revenue Administration with additional instructions regarding a potential obligation to return excess funds.

It’s not ideal to not know all the parameters, but the money is needed now more than ever. For those that believe there was an error in the information submitted, which could have impacted the reason for denial, an appeal can be filed by sending an email to MSRF@dra.nh.gov by July 2, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

For those self-employed individuals who were disqualified for the Main Street Relief Fund, not all hope is lost. Last week, Sununu announced the creation of the New Hampshire Self Employed Livelihood Fund to provide emergency financial relief to support New Hampshire self-employed, for-profit businesses due to the economic disruption caused by COVID-19.

The application period runs from July 6 through July 17. The Self Employed Livelihood Fund grant award amounts will be calculated similarly to the Main Street Relief Fund, with the maximum award amount a business can receive is $50,000. Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced or anticipate they will experience a financial loss due to COVID-19 in order to qualify.

For more, visit https://www.goferr.nh.gov/.


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