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Small businesses overwhelmed by coronavirus closures, SBDC is here to help

Maine's Small Business Development Centers has free advisers for Maine entrepreneurs, small business owners facing disruptions during COVID-19 mandates

PORTLAND, Maine — Shuttered small businesses across Maine are leaving owners juggling how they can pay employees and stay in business at the same time. This comes after Governor Janet Mills issued statewide mandates to close dining inside restaurants and bars, leaving take-out and delivery the only option, and urging other publically-facing businesses to consider closing up shop.

Entrepreneurs and small businesses are hoping proposed aid packages and emergency loans will come in time before their cash flow dries up. Between the Finance Authority of Maine's $15 million economic support program, a $300 billion relief package authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Economic Injury Disaster Loans rolled out by the Small Business Administration, many Mom and Pop shops don't know where to begin.

"Every day, new programs and resources are coming out and our concern is it's getting overwhelming for the small business," said Mark Delisle, the state director of Small Business Development Centers. "...These things keep coming out on a daily basis. We want to make sure that people know you could come to our advisers to get that one-on-one guidance."

The Maine Small Business Development Centers is a federal program and resource partner of the Small Business Administration and is hosted by the University of Southern Maine. The advisers are free, but the usual one-on-one meetings are now being held virtually.

"First and foremost this is a health crisis, and that's our number one priority, but close behind that is the impact it's having on our economy especially here in Maine," Delisle said.

The Small Business Administration Economic Profile lists 99.2% of companies in Maine are considered small businesses, responsible for employing 55% of Maine's workforce. 

With no current end to COVID-19 in sight, many businesses are being forced to make tough decisions. In the short term, the SBDC recommends if your business is closed or plans on closing look at your cash flow and cut any unnecessary expenses right now to conserve cash.

"You can talk to your creditors, talk to your landlord, look for deferments or delayed payments, it's all things that you could do to try to buffer the impact on your cash flow."

The Maine SBDC has been very busy, but they recommend you reach out and an adviser can take a look at your business and help you navigate through uncharted waters.


The full interview with Mark Delisle, the state director of Small Business Development Centers

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