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Covid Relief Funding Flowing to Small Businesses in Sanford

Michael and his wife Joan own River Junction Brewing

Michael Gill said the recent funding award was “a true blessing.” Michael and his wife Joan own River Junction Brewing

Photo: courtesy River Junction Brewing

Compiled by Lee Burnett

Nine Sanford businesses were recently awarded grants averaging $10,000 in Covid relief funding.

One of the beneficiaries was River Junction Brewing, which opened in the Shain’s of Maine building at 1491 Main Street in the spring of 2022. Co-owner Michael Gill said the money will enable him to hire an assistant brewer/distribution manager to get production and distribution to a sustainable level.

“While we knew opening a brewery during a pandemic was a big risk, we didn’t have the luxury of waiting,” Gill explained. “We designed our business plan to be lean and conservative in the face of such economic uncertainty. However, this careful start put us at a competitive disadvantage to other businesses that had already established a foothold in the market and had received Covid relief funding to help stay afloat.”

Other Sanford beneficiaries include: Sanford Springvale News, Frannie’s Mini Donuts, Moe’s Italian Sandwiches, Rand & Company House of Beauty, Mcdougal Orchards, Deneen Bernier, Jen’s Delightful Sweets, Supernova Energetics, and Cruisin’ Infusions and seven others. The average cash award was $10,000. The average technical assistance grant was $1,500 for bookkeeping, web design and social media planning. Business counselling and classes are also available 

The money comes from the federal American Rescue Plan and was made available through Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC) and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Some $450,000 was made available to businesses eligible for previous pandemic funding relief in direct financial assistance grants, technical assistance grants (for bookkeeping, web design and social media planning), business counseling and classes. The average cash award was $10,000. The average technical assistance grant was $1,500.

A second round of funding will be distributed in early spring. Online applications will eventually be available at www.smpdc.org

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