On May 21, 2020

State announces $400 million for economic relief

Emergency relief packages aim to help the most impacted sectors

On Wednesday, May 20, Governor Phil Scott announced a $400 million economic relief and recovery package, using funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act.

The two-phase proposal, which is expected to be the first of multiple packages necessary to fully recover, will start with $310 million for immediate emergency relief to the most impacted sectors and businesses to be followed by $90 million in long-term recovery investments.

“The relief and recovery package we are proposing today, takes bold action to bring support to Vermonters in need, as we continue to manage this public health crisis and open the economy back up,” said Governor Scott. “We are looking to address the immediate cash needs of businesses so they can survive, while also laying the foundation for our economy to emerge stronger and thrive over the long term. These local businesses and their employees drive our economy, put food on the tables of Vermonters and help fund critical needs for families, public schools and so much more. We must step up and act quickly to help them survive this emergency and go on to thrive in the future.”

The Phase 1 relief package will involve four areas of distinct action to support businesses and Vermonters as they resume their operations. They include:

  • Financial assistance – Emergency Action Grants for food and accommodation services, retail, and agriculture, Vermont Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Grant program, and small business focused Vermont Restart loans and grants. ($250 million)
  • Housing assistance – Rental Housing Stabilization Fund for property owners and a Re-Housing Recovery Fund to address homeless need. ($50 million)
  • Technical assistance – Restart Vermont Recovery Guides created through a network of business and community assistance providers, and Employee Assistance Program to support the mental health and wellbeing of business owners and their families. ($5 million)
  • Marketing support – Promotional marketing campaign to promote Vermont to Vermonters and deliver a toolkit of creative assets to be used by local communities, and regional marketing and consumer stimulus grants to encourage local spending, with implementation strategies to be proposed by local entities. ($5 million)

“These ideas are the result of talking to many local employers over the last two months to identify what they need now, and what they will need on the other side of this,” said Agency of Commerce Secretary Lindsay Kurrle. “What we heard in those conversations was that there are gaps in federal programs and these initiatives announced today work to address those gaps for our most vulnerable sectors. We know this recovery will be long and that steps announced today will not solve every problem we face, but they will help businesses return to operation, work towards new innovative business practices, and engage all Vermonters in supporting their local communities.”

“I look forward to working with the Legislature to pass these initiatives so we can get this money in the hands of Vermonters quickly,” Governor Scott added. “I want to thank our congressional delegation, Senators Leahy and Sanders and Congressman Welch, for their leadership and support to secure CARES Act funding for Vermont. We could not do any of this without their efforts.”

NFIB, the leading small business advocacy association in Vermont, representing hundreds of members in the state, reacted to Scott’s proposal for use of $400 million of CARES ACT funds to support Vermont’s economic recovery.

State Director of NFIB in Vermont, Shawn Shouldice, said: “After several months coping with shutdown where little or no money is coming in, many small business owners are at a critical juncture, so this financial package to help them “bridge the gap” is welcome news. While the forgivable federal loans were helpful, they were primarily focused on payroll expenses. It is our hope that the legislature takes swift action to enact these new state grants and loans and then the administration executes implementation quickly and with clear guidance to help small businesses with other costs they are facing.

“While we are grateful to the administration and the recovery team for understanding the depth of the problem, especially for the smallest of businesses, we have continued concern for Main Street businesses who are counting on their customers to come out and support them as the economy reopens.

“Small business owners have faced every challenge imaginable during this pandemic. First, they were forced to close their doors, then many struggled to obtain federal loans. They now face the hurdle of competing with overly generous unemployment benefits when attempting to rehire workers. The biggest obstacle is being authorized to reopen and we hope that happens as soon as possible when it is safe.”

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