By MIKE DONOGHUE
Islander Staff Writer
MONTPELIER -- Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday that the state is making $76 million available for Economic Recovery Grants for Vermont businesses hurt by the public reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The latest $76 million is coming from $1.25 billion the state received under a federal act known as CARES, which stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security.
Scott said the new funds are in addition to the $152 million in economic relief already delivered to Vermont businesses.
Scott also said during his twice weekly news conference on COVID and other issues that Vermont should have enough flu shots available for this season.
Under questioning by The Islander about some places apparently not having flu shots, Scott said it may be that some locations may run out, but it is a matter of reordering.
Dr. Mark Levine, Vermont’s health commissioner, also said the annual take back Drugs Day is planned for this Saturday. He said the April take back day was canceled due to COVID-19, but precautions will be taken for a safe return this Saturday.
As far as the new grants, qualifying businesses may receive up to $300,000 in total economic recovery grants beginning in late November.
Unlike earlier grants the new money will not be “first come, first serve, “ Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein said.
Vermonters will have two weeks to apply for the grants. She said the state will review the requests and try to determine how to best meet the needs across the state.
Instead, grants will be distributed in late November after the total unmet need of all qualifying businesses has been ascertained.
The new grants will be administered by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD) with help from the Vermont Tax Department.
The grants are targeted for Vermont businesses and nonprofits, including sole proprietors, that have seen a decline in total sales between March and September 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Applicants also must demonstrate an unmet need to receive a grant.
“We know many businesses and sectors in the state continue to feel the negative impacts of COVID-19 and the steps we’ve had to take to keep Vermonters safe,” Gov. Scott said. “With these grants, we are working to support those sectors most impacted by this pandemic and help them survive into the winter months.”
Businesses and nonprofits that collect and remit the Meals and Rooms Tax or the Sales and Use Tax may apply through the Tax Department.
All others, including those who have previously received a grant from ACCD, may apply to the agency.
“Vermont’s business community has had to endure unique hardships during this crisis and with these additional grant dollars we hope that by first assessing total need we can make these limited dollars reach businesses with the most unmet need,” Goldstein said.
The application through the Vermont Tax Department is available at the myVTax portal until midnight, Oct. 30.
ACCD will open its application in the next week.
More information is available at the ACCD Recovery Resource Center.
Both ACCD and the Tax Department will host informational webinars on Wednesday, Oct. 21 and Friday, Oct. 23 to review program eligibility, application process, and answer questions from business owners.