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Vermont Emergency Economic Recovery Grants Now Available

Heady Vermont Staff
Heady Vermont Staff 8 Jul 2020

MONTPELIER, Vermont — Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein on Tuesday reported that the state’s Emergency Economic Recovery Grants became available as expected and without any major issues on Monday. Between the two different pots of money, there is nearly $170 million in state grants available to organizations that have suffered severe losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We saw quite a bit of traffic on the first day,” she said. In all, 2,300 applications were submitted.

By Friday, there were 3,400 applications submitted, with 1,200 of those in the Tax Department program.

She urged businesses and nonprofits not to wait to apply because the grants are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

The grants are available to Vermont businesses who can demonstrate revenue loss in any one-month period from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, when compared with the same month in 2019.

To prove her point, the $20 million allocated for general business from the first pot of Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) money is already exhausted. About $37 million in requests have been logged on the Tax Department side out of the $50 million available. The Tax Department money is expected to get out first as it is simpler to process.

The “Live Chat” on the ACCD saw about 1,000 questions and the average wait time was five minutes. The call center took about 400 calls, with a morning spike and a 20-minute wait, which settled back to a couple of minutes by the afternoon, Goldstein said.

On June 19, 2020, Governor Scott signed into law Act 115, “An act relating to creating emergency economic recovery grants.” Act 115 (formerly S.350). This includes $70 million for Emergency Economic Recovery Grants. These funds have been made available to the State of Vermont through the federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) CFDA # 21.019. The ACCD and the Vermont Department of Taxes will work together to administer these funds.

On  July 2, 2020, Scott signed into law H.966, which includes an additional $96 million for a number of business sectors and will be administered by both ACCD and other agencies including the Agency of Human Services, Agency of Administration, and Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

ACCD will be administering Economic Recovery Grants, along with the Department of Taxes and other state agencies that received funding from the Vermont Legislature for certain business types and ownership structures. See the section below on “Where and How Do I Apply?” for additional information for specific business sectors.

Of the $70 million allocated for Act 115, $50 million (Tax Department) would target restaurants and retail establishments, which were hard hit by the “Stay Home” order and still haven’t fully reopened; $20 million (ACCD) would target general business and nonprofits. Those organizations also would have to show a 75 percent loss in revenues in any one month because of the pandemic (March 1, 2020, to August 31, 2020, when compared with the same month in 2019).

Goldstein expects this money to get out to qualifying businesses in just a couple of weeks. The larger pool of money represented by H.966 “comes with more strings attached,” she said, and could take several weeks to process.

Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein explains grant activity via video while Governor Scott listens during Tuesday’s press briefing. ORCA Media screen shot.

She said the administration understands how desperate many businesses are for economic relief, so they will get the money out as soon as possible.

“In the first day, I think the need of the Vermont business community was certainly made clear,” Goldstein said.

While H.966 funds have more technical strings attached, they require only a 50 percent loss and any organization (business or nonprofit up to $20 million in annual revenues) can apply (see detail below).

An organization can get only one grant for up to $50,000 based on 10 percent of annual revenues.

However, organizations are not precluded from receiving this grant even if they have received an EIDL or PPP loan or grant from the federal government.

ACCD and the Department of Taxes will host another a series of webinars to discuss the Economic Recovery Grants starting on Thursday, July 9th at 3 pm, to provide more information about eligibility requirements, grant award calculation information, grant application processes, and what documents businesses will want to have prepared and on-hand when applying.

The source for all these grants comes from the $1.25 billion the state received as part of the federal CARES Act.

There is still over $100 million of this money unallocated by the Legislature. Lawmakers will reconvene in late August. The CARES Act money must be spent by the end of 2020.

What are the eligibility criteria for the Economic Recovery Grants administered by ACCD?

An eligible business will be a nonpublic, private organization that:

  • Is domiciled or has its primary place of business in Vermont
  • Has one or more non-owner employees in Vermont, with the exception that Women- and Minority-Owned businesses with zero employees are eligible for grants through ACCD.
  • Was open and active before February 15, 2020
  • Is open at the time of application, or is required to have closed due to COVID-19 restrictions but can certify to its intention to re-open when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted
  • Is not a business or organization, nor a subsidiary of a business or organization, nor owned by a business or organization, that reported more than $20,000,000 in total revenue
  • Has experienced a 50% or greater drop in total revenue in any one-month period from March 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020, when compared with the same month in 2019
  • Is not currently in Chapter 7 bankruptcy
  • Is in good standing with the Vermont Department of Taxes
  • Is in good standing with the Vermont Secretary of State
  • Has not received a Vermont Emergency Economic Recovery Grant from another State of Vermont Agency or Department

Where and How Do I Apply?

The following businesses and nonprofits are able now to apply for Economic Recovery Grants:

  • If you are a business that is primarily a Restaurant, Bar, or Lodging Property that collects the Rooms and Meals Tax, or a Retail, Entertainment or Recreation Operation that collects the Sales and Use Tax and report to the Vermont Department of Taxes on a monthly or quarterly basis, you should apply for a grant with the Department of Taxes.
    EXAMPLES: restaurant, bar, hotel, inn, retail store, online retail, golf course, movie theater
  • All Other Businesses that do not collect the Rooms and Meals Tax and/or Sales and Use Tax, OR if your business reports to the Department of Taxes on these taxes for a minimal amount of your overall revenues, should apply for a grant with ACCD. APPLY HERE.
    EXAMPLES: manufacturer, property management, construction, realtor
  • Non-Profit Arts and Cultural Organizations should apply for a grant with ACCD. APPLY HERE.
    EXAMPLES: museum, theater, gallery, performing arts group
  • Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses that don’t fall under any other sector-specific program should apply for a grant with ACCD. This includes Women- and Minority-Owned sole proprietorships with zero employees. APPLY HERE.
  • Outdoor Recreation Businesses should apply for a grant with ACCD. APPLY HERE.
    EXAMPLES: trail areas, climbing centers, bike tours

Applicants for the Economic Recovery Grants for the business types and ownership structures listed above will input their required information into an online application via ACCD and submit the application. Upon time-stamped submission, that application will be put into the “review queue.” Grants will be awarded on a first come, first served basis. Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they were submitted. ACCD will cross check data fields and verify the required documentation to either approve, deny, or return to applicant for more information and/or correction.

Businesses and nonprofits for sectors and the business types listed below should refer to the identified Agency or Department for more details on eligibility, timing and process to apply for funding:

  • Agricultural producers and processors may apply for funding through the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM). AAFM will be providing $25 million to dairy producers and processors, $5 million to non-dairy agricultural producers, $500,000 to agricultural fairs, and at least $2 million to agricultural organizations through the Working Lands Enterprise Board. Information about applying for these grants is available at https://agriculture.vermont.gov/vermont-covid-agriculture-assistance-program.
  • Forestry businesses, including those primarily engaged in managing, harvesting, trucking, processing, manufacturing, crafting, or distributing forest or wood products derived from Vermont forests, including consulting forestry services and secondary manufacturers of wood products, should apply for the $5 million Forest Economy Stabilization Program administered by the Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. Information about applying for these grants is available at https://fpr.vermont.gov/FESGrantProgram.
  • Healthcare Providers should apply for funding through the Agency of Human Services (AHS). AHS is administering a $275 million Health Care Provider Stabilization Grant Program for a broad array of healthcare providers including: hospitals, private medical practices, dentists, health centers, laboratory and imaging centers, mental health providers, substance abuse disorder treatment providers, emergency medical service and ambulance providers, physical therapists, podiatrist, optometrists, chiropractors, and other health care providers licensed by the Board of Medical Practice or the Office of Professional Regulation. This also includes home health and hospice agencies, pharmacy services, and long-term care providers. AHS is targeting the week of July 13th to open its application portal. Providers will have until August 15, 2020 to submit applications for funding. Funding will be allocated based on need, to the extent that funds are available. Organizations can learn more about this program online at https://humanservices.vermont.gov/.
  • Childcare Providers, Summer Camps, and After School Programs should apply for funding through the Agency of Human Services (AHS). AHS received $12 million to provide additional restart grants and other costs to childcare providers, summer camps and after school programs. Organizations should apply online at https://dcf.vermont.gov/cdd.
  • Cities, towns, villages, and other government entities should apply for funding through the Agency of Administration, which will administer a special grant fund and issue grants to units of local government to reimburse eligible COVID-19 expenses incurred on or before December 30, 2020, including hazard pay, supplies and equipment, sanitation, facility alterations, overtime compensation, redirection of staff for first-response needs, and any other eligible COVID-19 expenses not covered by other funding sources, including funding provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. More information is available at https://aoa.vermont.gov/.
  • Sole Proprietors —businesses that are owned by a single person and do not have employees—are not eligible for an Economic Recovery Grant. Unless your business is a minority- or women-owned business, you must have at least one non-owner employee to be eligible for an Economic Recovery Grant. The employee must be a “W-2” employee, meaning your business issues them a W-2. They do not need to be a full-time employee.

Please note that there will be only one grant allowed per applicant. A business cannot qualify for grants with multiple agencies. Contact the agency that applies to your business to understand your options. If you have questions, you can contact us using our “Economic Recovery Grants Live Chat” feature located at the bottom of this page.

How will Economic Recovery Grant amounts be determined?

The below award formula is the same for Economic Recovery Grants administered by ACCD and the Department of Taxes. Grant funding from other State of Vermont Agencies and Departments may differ.

The amount of Economic Recovery Grants administered by ACCD and the Department of Taxes will be derived by the following formula:

  • Indicated/reported gross annual revenue (or annual combined total sales as reported on Meals and Rooms or Sales and Use tax returns) multiplied by 10 percent, less any business interruption insurance proceeds
  • The maximum grant ceiling amount is $50,000

Each business or organization applicant may receive only one grant.

What should my business do in preparation for the ACCD application?

Here is some basic information about what to get ready to complete your grant application. You’ll need to know several pieces of information about your business:

  • Your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN). The application will also ask for your 7-digit Vermont employer identification number (used for Vermont Department of Labor filings). Providing this number is not required, but helps populate some of the application required fields.
  • The appropriate NAICS code for your company or organization. The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) is used by the United States, Canada, and Mexico to classify businesses by industry. Each business determines its six-digit NAICS code number based on the majority of activity at the business. When you file your federal income taxes, you provide a “business code” that is based on the NAICS number and the information for your business tax filing includes a table of those codes. Nonprofit organizations should choose the NAICS code closest to the majority of their operations.
  • Amount and source information about any compensation you have already received from business interruption insurance, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), or any other federal program for economic damages incurred as a result of COVID-19
  • Whether you are in good standing with the Department of Taxes. Good standing for your business means that all required tax returns are filed and that all taxes are paid, OR if you owe any taxes that are past due, you are in a payment plan for those taxes. If you have any unpaid taxes for your business, you can call (802) 828-2518 to request a payment plan. Any taxpayers who are not in good standing may be deemed ineligible for the grant.
  • You will be asked to provide information that can be found on a W-9.

The application will also require uploads of financial statements and tax information. Applicants should prepare PDF versions of the following documents and have them ready to upload before you start filling out the application. Only documents in PDF format will be accepted.

Applicants will upload the following documents during the ACCD application process. (If you are applying for a grant with the Department of Taxes, these documentation requirements do not apply.)

  1. 2019 income statement broken down by month
  2. 2020 income statement (YTD) broken down by month
  3. 2019 federal tax return (or the most recent year filed). Nonprofit organizations do not need to supply state tax returns but will need to provide their Federal Form 990 or Form 990-EZ)
  4. 2019 Vermont state tax return

Applications will not be considered “complete” unless PDF copies of all the required documents are submitted. This format is required because we will not be accepting “photos” of documents.

Grants will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis. Therefore, it is important to enter in ALL required information CORRECTLY upon applying. The business name on your application must match the business name on your federal tax filings. Any improperly submitted applications will be categorized as incomplete. If edits are required (email address, incomplete documents, incorrect business ID information) you will receive an email with instructions for you to make those required edits, and you will need to resubmit your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read the FAQs for more information about the Economic Recovery Grants.

Act 115 requires businesses to have at least one non-owner “W2 employee” to be eligible. This means if you are a sole proprietor and you alone work at your business, you will not be eligible for this grant. The Department will consider any business who has had at least one part- or full-time non-owner W2 employee at any point between January 1, 2019, and the time of application to be eligible.

Q: Why are sole proprietors without W-2 employees ineligible for the economic relief grants passed by the legislature? 

The members of the Committees working on the grants said they felt that this population had already received assistance from the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program which made this population eligible for unemployment insurance. Our advocacy team disagreed with this assessment. The grants were made available to women- and minority-owned sole proprietors. We hope to have more information one Vermont-based relief for this population very soon.

Economic Recovery Grants Overview Webinars

Several Economic Recovery Grants Overview Webinars covered eligibility requirements, grant award calculation information, grant application processes, and what documents businesses will want to have prepared and on-hand when applying. Find recordings of the archived webinars.

Source: ACCD

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