New Economic Recovery, Resiliency Grants For Vermont Businesses

Heady Vermont Staff 22 Oct 2020

As COVID-19 continues to impact families, communities, and the economy across Vermont, businesses have been hard-hit. Read on for key updates to relief programs that may be available to your and your employees. VBSR has also announced a Small Business Resiliency Fund that may be of interest to business owners.

Last month the Vermont legislature passed a $7.2 billion budget that allocated the last portion of the $1.25 billion in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds Vermont received via the CARES Act. This package included the $76 million in additional emergency economic recovery grants for Vermont businesses and nonprofits as well as $22.5 million for an expanded hazard pay program for Vermont’s frontline essential workers.

Expanded Economic Recovery Grant Program

Governor Phil Scott on Tuesday announced an expansion of the state’s Economic Recovery Grants, utilizing an additional $76 million in funds from the $1.25 billion the state received from the Federal CARES Act. These funds are in addition to the $152 million in economic relief already delivered to Vermont businesses.

To further promote economic recovery, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and Department of Taxes are preparing to launch the second round of economic recovery grants. These are meant to be distributed directly to businesses with additional unmet needs due to revenue losses from COVID-19.

Qualifying businesses may now receive up to $300,000 in total economic recovery grants.

With both programs set to launch in the coming weeks, we’ve outlined key information on the application process, award calculations, and upcoming webinars from ACCD and the Department of Taxes.

Vermont businesses and nonprofits that have seen a decline in total sales between March and September of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019, and who can demonstrate unmet need, may be eligible to receive a grant through the new “Expanded Economic Recovery Grant Program.” Qualifying businesses may now receive up to $300,000 in total economic recovery grants.

Businesses and nonprofits that are registered to collect and remit Meals and Rooms Tax and Sales and Use Tax may apply to the Department of Taxes. All others, including those who have previously received a grant from ACCD or have significant sources of income which are not reported on a Meals and Rooms Tax or Sales and Use Tax return, may apply to ACCD.

Unlike previous grant programs, this program is not first come, first served.

The Department of Taxes will accept applications from October 19 through midnight, October 30. Although ACCD will not be accepting applications until later this month, their window for accepting applications will be of similar duration and will be open even after the Department’s window has closed.

If you plan to apply for a grant through ACCD, you should check their website for updates as to when ACCD’s application will be available.

Unlike previous grant programs, this program is not first come, first served. It is expected grants will be distributed in late November after the total unmet need of all qualifying businesses has been ascertained.

In anticipation of the Program’s launch, the Agency and Department hosted one webinar this week, with a second one planned for tomorrow. Tune in for a walk-through of the application process, award calculations, and live Q&A. For more information visit ACCD’s COVID-19 Recovery Resource Center.

You can also watch archived webinars here.

Upcoming Webinar on Economic Recovery Grants

Expanded Economic Recovery Grants Overview Webinar II

When: Friday, October 23, 2020 from 10:00am – 11:00am

Join online Call-in: 802-828-7667 (Conference ID: 189 839 369#)

Click here for:

  • A complete list of eligibility requirements.
  • Guidance on how to calculate unmet need.
  • Information and links regarding how and where to apply.
  • Information regarding how grants will be calculated and distributed.
  • Other important and helpful information.

Vermont COVID-19 Agricultural Assistance Program

The deadline for the Vermont COVID-19 Agricultural Assistance Program (VCAAP) Dairy Assistance Application and Agriculture & Working Lands Application has been extended to November 15, 2020 at 8:00 AM.  This extension and some important changes to the grant programs were included in new legislation.

The purpose of VCAAP funds is to stabilize agricultural businesses and organizations based on their lost revenues and expenses related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. Hemp farmers or value-added food product businesses who have experienced these impacts can apply for VCAAP relief funds through the Agriculture and Working Lands Application.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture will continue to process applications received prior to the initial deadline of October 1, 2020 at 8:00 AM.  The Agency will temporarily suspend taking new applications for a couple of weeks to update the application.  The Agency will let the public know when the application is up and running again.

During this interim period, the Agency strongly encourages potential applicants to gather documentation of their losses and costs related to the COVID-19 public health emergency and prepare to apply when the applications reopen.

If you received an Economic Recovery Grant from the Agency of Commerce & Community Development or the Vermont Department of Taxes or a Forest Economy Stabilization Grant from the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation, you cannot claim additional revenue loss in the Agriculture and Working Lands Application.

Anyone with questions can call the Agency at 802-828-2430, select #9, or send an email to [email protected] with any questions.

VBSR Small Business Resiliency Fund

COVID-19 has forced Vermont’s business community into a period of unprecedented and rapid transformation, with results both devastating and inspiring. Many of the state’s small businesses have employed creativity and innovation to quickly pivot their business model in response to changing regulations, labor, supply chains, and consumer behavior. Yet they lack sufficient working capital and technical assistance to maintain long-term viability.

Grantees will receive cash awards of $10,000 and referrals to VBSR partner organizations.

To complement the critical response and recovery efforts being carried out across the state, VBSR has developed a new fund to support small business resilience. The VBSR Small Business Resiliency Fund will provide grants to small businesses in Vermont who demonstrate the ability to rebuild, sustain, and grow their operations through a “triple- bottom-line” focused on people, planet, and prosperity.

Grantees will receive cash awards of $10,000 and referrals to VBSR partner organizations offering financial and technical assistance, including business planning, working capital, impact assessment, marketing, e-commerce, and supply chain management.

A committee of VBSR partners will select proposals based upon financial viability, need, and excellence. Applicants may apply in one or more of the following categories:

  • Downtown Vitality
  • Green Economy
  • Health & Wellness
  • Local Food System
  • Social Change

Businesses led by People of Color, New Americans, women, veterans, individuals with disabilities, members of the LGBTQ community and individuals from diverse and often underrepresented populations are especially encouraged to apply.

Ways to Give

VBSR is raising $65K  for the VBSR Small Business Resiliency Fund!

  • Make a secure online donation here
  • Contact Roxanne Vought, Executive Director for gifts over $500

Support can take the form of gifts, matching or challenge gifts, or a commitment to cover the 5% administrative cost of the fund so that 100% of the funds raised can be granted to awardees. Donors may request that their gift be applied to a specific category (or categories).

How to Apply

Eligibility, criteria, and application information will be made public in early November.

Applications will be due Monday, November 16th. More information at VBSR.

Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program- Round 2

Governor Scott and the Legislature have authorized a second round of grants for the Front-Line Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program using $22.5 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds. The Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) is partnering with the Agency of Human Services (AHS) to administer this next round.

Eligibility for the program has been expanded to include additional types of employers whose employees were engaged in activities substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency or were providing essential services to Vermonters during the eligible period, March 13, 2020 through May 15, 2020.

Former employees (that were previously employed by either an employer that applied for grant funding in round one of the program or an employer applying for funding in round two of the program) are eligible for hazard pay in round two. The grant review team will contact employers that applied for funding in round one of the program to identify eligible former employees.

In addition, employees who received one week or less of unemployment benefits during the eligible period are eligible for hazard pay in round two of the program.

Round one of the program authorized hazard pay grants primarily for healthcare related employers, morgues and homeless shelters, whose frontline workers performed jobs with an elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19. Round two expands the program to include the following additional types of potentially eligible employers:

  • Lodging establishments that housed homeless individuals during the eligible period;
  • Traveling nurse and nurse contracting agencies that provided services to healthcare or residential care facilities in Vermont;
  • Cleaning or janitorial services that provided services to healthcare or residential care facilities in Vermont;
  • Food service providers that provided services to healthcare or residential care facilities in Vermont;
  • Grocery stores;
  • Pharmacies;
  • Hardware stores and retailers serving basic human needs (such as retail that sold food, beverage, animal feed and essential supplies) that were open to the public for in-person sales;
  • Wholesale distributors making deliveries to certain essential retailers;
  • Trash collection, waste management, and septic services;
  • Privately owned wastewater pollution abatement and control facilities;
  • Child care facilities that provided care for the children of essential workers pursuant to Directive 2 of Executive Order 01-20;
  • Vocational rehabilitation service providers;
  • Funeral and crematory establishments; and
  • Security service agencies that provided security services to other covered employers.

The application period will open on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at 9 a.m. EST. Grants will be awarded through an online application process and funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that demand for grant funds is expected to exceed available funding. For more information, visit the Department of Vermont Health Access’ website.

Webinar on the expanded Frontline Employees Hazard Pay Grant Program

What: DFR and AHS will give a brief overview of the program and answer questions from employers and employees about matters such as eligibility, application process, and timing of payments.

When: Monday, October 26, 2020 from 3:00 – 4:00 PM

Join online

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