Friday, May 22, 2020

How The Main Street Relief Fund Will Help New Hampshire's Small Businesses


There is more relief coming for small businesses in New Hampshire through the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR). The relief package was announced on Friday the 15th of May, which is also the day the first applications could be made. Funding in the amount of $400 million of expenditure has been authorized to be given based upon needs. 

With the authorization of the CARES Act, Congress created waves of relief for individuals and businesses. At this point most of us are familiar with the acronyms of PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and EIDL (Economic Disaster Relief); there were additional benefits to individuals such as the stimulus checks and expanded unemployment benefits. In addition the CARES Act created Coronavirus Relief Funds. These funds were to be given to each state to be used as the state sees fit.

According to the Treasury, the funds are “to provide ready funding to address unforeseen financial needs and risks created by the COVID-19 public health emergency”. In addition the federal government put up some rails on how the dollars could be spent. Some of that is still up for interpretation so we will leave that for another blog.

New Hampshire was given $1.2 Billion in flex funds, and $400 Million of it has been earmarked for small businesses under the Main Street Relief program. Our interpretation is that the small businesses of New Hampshire really made their cases. The PPP and the EIDLs were helpful. However, some of the benefits of those programs either have been slow to pass or could not be realized by the businesses as they have been all or partially closed during the qualifying period. Additionally, as was widely publicized, the PPP was a race to the application booth which created the need for the second round of funding. 

To put the amount of funding in context, in just New Hampshire the initial round of PPP loans covered some 11,000+ businesses and over $2 Billion dollars. This new Main Street Relief Program will be funded with roughly 20% of that amount. I never thought I would say that $400 Million may seem like limited funds, but it is so. As a result it appears that the State is adding qualifying language to their application process.

The PPP loans were first come first serve, and by and large had no liquidity test for approval. The Main Street Relief funds have two main differences. First, there is an open round of application. So long as you apply by May 29, 2020 you will be eligible. But it does not matter when in that two week period you apply. The second difference is that you must tell the State all of the additional funds you have received from the CARES Act. This presumably will allow them to prioritize the funds to small businesses that were left off of the carousel the last go around.  All of the various dates and detailed information can be found here (https://www.goferr.nh.gov/covid-expenditures/main-street-relief-fund).

From a real estate perspective there are a few items that are not clear, at least not yet. Are independent contractors as small businesses eligible for these funds? Are businesses that are otherwise holding companies for real estate eligible? Are the funds a loan, a grant or a blend? What can the funds be used for within the businesses? It will take time for these things to come to light, but in the meantime our advice is to review the application and make sure you are lined up prior to the May 29 deadline. 

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