New CARES Act relief fund could help Milford businesses

CONCORD – Governor Sununu has authorized $100 million in CARES Act funds to provide economic support to New Hampshire small businesses through a second round of Main Street relief fund grants (Main Street Relief Fund 2.0).

“Based on the very positive feedback we received from that opportunity we created for small businesses and their employees back in June,” he said, “we’re going to announce Main Street Relief Fund 2.0, which will allow an additional $100 million of opportunity for small businesses.

The original relief plan set forth in the summer made a difference for some small businesses who were able to use recovery money to get over the health crisis hump.

Initially, Sununu said the state budget had taken a huge hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The original expected shortfall for the state was thought to have been as high as $500 million.

“The news is much better than we anticipated,” he said. “But because of good management, our general operating expenses have come down and we’ve ended the year in a much better position than originally projected, and we’ve found savings that were greater than was what the budget was balanced on.”

The economy, Sununu said, is recovering quicker than expected, and revenues continue to out-perform earlier estimates.

“From a revenue standpoint, we’re now estimating a budgetary shortfall of a little less than $200 million. This is no small amount by any means. It is still a large amount. But only a fraction of what we originally anticipated.”

Sununu added that he feels confident with the state’s fiscal management, and the New Hampshire books will close with a much brighter financial outlook than was previously expected.

“We’ve ended the year in a much better position,” he said.

The MSRF 2.0 supports both 1) businesses that did not receive grant monies from the initial round of MSRF or the general assistance and preservation (GAP) fund and 2) businesses that received grants of less than the maximum of $350K from the initial round of MSRF or the GAP fund, if eligible according to the criteria, which includes being a for-profit business, have its principal business office in New Hampshire and have been in operation since at least May 29, 2019.

Businesses that received a Self-Employment Livelihood Fund (SELF) grant are not eligible for MSRF 2.0.

The $100 million MSRF 2.0 will be shared among new recipients and prior recipients of MSFR and GAP funds using a pro-rata formula on gross receipt losses adjusted for other COVID-19-related funding receiving from all sources.

“MSRF 2.0 will be available to all qualified businesses regardless of whether they already received an award under the original Main Street Relief Fund,” Sununu said. “Businesses that received an award earlier this year are still eligible to apply again if they still have unmet needs.”

The terms also apply to businesses who might have missed the opportunity to previously apply.