Late last week, Gov. Chris Sununu approved funding for various entities throughout New Hampshire, including health-care providers, non-profits, a small business relief fund, colleges and food banks. The funding announced was $595 million, which is on top of nearly $250 million already allocated by the governor.
This funding comes from the CARES Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in late March to be used for COVID-19-related expenses by the state as well as cities and towns. It cannot be used to cover expected state or local revenue shortfalls.
New Hampshire received $1.25 billion. The governor had previously allocated $250 million of this funding for hospitals, health-care providers, stipends for front-line long-term-care workers and first responders, and local and county government’s COVID costs.
It should be noted that under the CARES Act, New Hampshire also received over $350 million of other funding for specific purposes. That includes $7.5 million for Community Development Block Grants, $5.5 million for public health emergency preparedness, $6.8 million for community health centers, $7 million for child care, $165 million for health care providers (hospitals) and $87 million for education, the latter of which is split between higher education and elementary and secondary schools.
The additional CARES funding is allocated as follows: $50 million for health-care providers, with 60 percent dedicated to long-term care facilities; $60 million for groups like the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and Community Development Finance Authority; $25 million for child-care agencies; $10 million for agriculturep $5 million for the New Hampshire Food Bank; $10 million for the University of New Hampshire; and $5 million for the Community College System.
The largest expenditure is the $400 million Main Street Relief Fund, consisting of grants to businesses. Gov. Sununu’s MSRF initiative is critical to filling the gaps of Payroll Protection. It is intended to help small businesses in the short run stay solvent and reopen. There is a two-step process to utilize this funding.
Step 1: By May 29, a business must file a pre-application form that can be found at goferr.nh.gov. (Look for the blue box on the home page and follow the link for the prequalification application.)
The principal place of business for applying for the MSRF must be in New Hampshire. Revenue cannot exceed $20 million in 2019. Agriculture, healthcare and childcare business should not apply for the MSRF as these entities are receiving funding through other CARES related sources. Not-for-profit organizations are also not eligible.
It is critical to note that the pre-application form must be filed by May 29. This is in order to make sure that funding reaches businesses as quickly as possible to curtail the harmful impact of COVID-19 related shut downs.
When pre-applications have been submitted, the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (GOFERR) will determine final funding criteria to be announced on June 1.
Step 2: When the final funding criteria are announced, businesses will have until June 8 to file a formal application. Release of these funds is anticipated to occur June 15.
It should be noted again that this is grant funding, not loans. According to documents released by GOFERR, this funding will not be allocated based on first-come, first-served but rather on the needs of the business. Nevertheless, the pre-application must be submitted by May 29 and the final application by June 8.
When the $595 million is fully allocated, about $400 million will still remain in the New Hampshire CARES fund.
I will continue to advocate that some of these funds be allocated to backfill the New Hampshire Unemployment Trust Fund so businesses struggling to survive are not hit with a large cost increase.
I will also continue to advocate that some funding be utilized to enhance public-private partnerships for rural broadband deployment which has become ever more critical.
The weather is improving, and businesses are reopening. It was encouraging to see many stores open with social distancing criteria in place. Local restaurants are providing takeout and preparing for limited outdoor seating.
The outpouring of support for people who have faithfully provided services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic is heartwarming. But we have also realized that every job is essential. For the reopening to continue, we all have critical roles to play, like using the 6-foot guideline, practicing good hygiene, and when in public places, especially indoors, using face coverings.
Please keep safe and healthy and if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me at (603) 387-2365.
Jeb Bradley is a Republican state senator from Wolfeboro.