PORTLAND, Maine — Saddled with financial devastation from the coronavirus coupled with cumbersome reopening restrictions, Maine’s hospitality, tourism and retail organizations have banded together to ask Gov. Mills to allocate $800,000,000 to rehabilitate small businesses in Maine’s chief sectors.
On Friday, the Maine Hospitality and Tourism Alliance launched the Maine Hospitality, Tourism & Retail Recovery Plan.
This multi-phased relief proposal allots Emergency Action Grants to affected small businesses across the state so they can keep their doors open and pay basic operating costs including rent, mortgage and payroll.
The plan, created by HospitalityMaine, Maine Tourism Association and the Retail Association of Maine, provides employee support for childcare and transportation. It also increases funding for tourism promotion, workforce development and disadvantaged business startups and offers technical assistance for hotels and restaurants to rebuild and retool in the new COVID economy.
“Due to the devastation the state’s restrictions are causing, this emergency funding is crucial for business survival,” said Steve Hewins, CEO of HospitalityMaine. "Maine's hospitality industry is stepping up and acting quickly to help our inns and restaurants in this emergency so they can thrive in the future."
The funding, the Alliance proposes, should come from the $1.25 billion Federal CARES Act funding that was disbursed to Maine.
"Maine's retail, tourism and hospitality sector employ nearly 150,000 Mainers. According to the Maine Department of Labor, retail dropped 12,000 jobs between February and April and Leisure and Hospitality lost 42,600 jobs. Sadly, more than half of the jobs lost in Maine have come from our industries. We need bold action to make sure these industries are around in 2021," said Curtis Picard, CEO of the Retail Association of Maine.
The plan invests $400 million to businesses with 50 current full-time employees or less. These businesses struggled with accessing federal programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). Hospitality, retail, and tourism businesses with more than 50 full-time employees would divvy up $300 million, and $10 million in grants would be reserved for 501C-6 organizations which service the hospitality, tourism, and retail sectors.
"Tourism touches all aspects of our communities, from schools, real estate, support businesses like hardware stores and car dealerships, and most importantly our quality of life. Restarting Maine’s economy begins with restarting travel," said Tony Cameron, Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Tourism Association. "This plan will help businesses survive this year so they can recover next year."
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