Vermont businesses and nonprofits eligible for more pandemic loans

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Kim Donahue, owner of The Inn at Round Barn Farm, a year-round destination wedding venue in Waitsfield, intends to apply to offset rising payroll costs, supplies, food and fuel oil. Photo by Paul Reynolds/Illume

Another program is being launched to help businesses in Vermont that are running out of operating funds due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The program, administered by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Vermont Economic Development Authority, provides forgivable loans to businesses.

“This will help businesses disproportionately affected by the pandemic stay in business, preserve jobs and strengthen the economy,” Governor Phil Scott said in a press release.

The Legislature appropriated $19 million for the program. The funds come from the US Federal Bailout Act signed by President Joe Biden last year.

Each business or nonprofit can apply for up to $350,000. They must demonstrate that in 2020 and 2021 they lost at least 22.5% of their adjusted net operating income compared to 2019.

Businesses and nonprofits must spend the money on operating costs, not capital investments – but there are no other restrictions on spending.

“The health of Vermont’s economy depends on the health of the small business community and the intent of this program is to help businesses with their cash flow needs get back on a stable footing so they can thrive. beyond the pandemic,” said the head of the development authority. chief executive, Cassie Polhemus, said in a press release.

Applications from Vermonters who are Black, Indigenous and of color will be given priority. Priority will also be given to the hardest hit sectors, including agriculture, childcare, catering, travel and tourism, and accommodation.

Kim Donahue, owner of The Inn at Round Barn Farm, a year-round destination wedding venue in Waitsfield, said the pandemic had hit her business particularly hard, losing 95% of its revenue in 2020. Photo by Paul Reynolds /lights up

Kim Donahue, owner of The Inn at Round Barn Farm, a year-round destination wedding venue in Waitsfield, intends to apply to offset rising payroll costs, supplies, food and fuel oil. Otherwise, she would use her retirement savings and other personal assets to get through the winter.

She said the pandemic had hit her business particularly hard, losing 95% of her revenue in 2020.

“You can’t lose a year of income and survive,” she said.

Gatherings were still subject to restrictions in 2021. Clients who had planned weddings with 125 to 150 guests were now planning 25 or 50 guests. She lost 75% of her income in 2021, she said.

This year, it has faced supply chain issues, rising prices and hiring difficulties. For 2022 weddings, she had signed contracts as early as 2019, often for weddings that kept being postponed by the pandemic – and costs have been rising ever since. For example, in some cases she used to charge $20 or $25 an hour for labor, but now she is paying $40. One month last winter, she paid $12,000 for fuel oil.

To boot, customers were still canceling this year because they had contracted Covid or were caught up in airline issues.

Heading into this winter, she said, bookings are down because customers worry about a recession, and 2023 bookings are still lagging behind.

“We’ve waited a long time to be able to take advantage of this (loan), and the need is still there,” Donahue said.

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