LEWISTON — Business largely came to a standstill during the lockdown imposed by law enforcement on Lewiston, Lisbon and Bowdoin following the Oct. 25 mass shootings in Lewiston, but some financial relief is becoming available in the form of low-interest loans from the federal government and grants from Lewiston.

The shelter-in-place order meant no goods or services flowed for two to three days, although some businesses prepared food for the hundreds of first responders on the streets. Five Guys Restaurant on Center Street cooked more than 900 burgers the day after the shootings and delivered them.

A photo posted to the Five Guys Restaurant’s social media page shows employees at the Center Street shop in Auburn preparing over 900 burgers for delivery to first responders Oct. 26, the day after two mass shootings in Lewiston. Submitted photo

Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine food truck on Lisbon Street in Lewiston offered free lunch to first responders as well. “The most important thing for us was to take care of our first responders,” co-owner Sophia Bailey said Tuesday. “It’s just a way for us to give back to our community.”

Anytime a business is forced to close unexpectedly, there is a loss of revenue and expenses, such as wages.

Gov. Janet Mills asked for and received approval from the Small Business Administration to make emergency financial assistance available to Maine businesses directly impacted by the shooting. “I appreciate Governor Mills requesting this funding and I’m grateful for the SBA’s expedited approval,” Mayor Carl Sheline said Tuesday afternoon. “I encourage any business that has been affected by the shelter-in-place order to apply.”

The declaration of an economic injury disaster means that up to $2 million is available to eligible small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small aquaculture businesses and private nonprofit organizations in Androscoggin and Sagadahoc counties, as well as the adjacent counties of Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec and Oxford.


They are low-interest, long-term loans, which come with a certain amount of red tape. For businesses, the interest rate is 4%, for nonprofit organizations it is 2.375%.

Businesses can apply directly on the SBA’s secure website, sba.gov/disaster, declaration 20075.

The SBA is opening a Business Recovery Center at the Lewiston Auburn Metro Chamber of Commerce offices at 415 Lisbon St., starting Wednesday at 11 a.m. SBA staff will be there to answer questions and assist businesses to get the process started. The recovery center will be open six days a week through Nov. 21.

The SBA defines a small business as any business that is independently owned and operated, typically with fewer than 100 employees, and usually with less than $10 million in annual revenue.

The Sun Journal reached out to area businesses to get reaction to the availability of SBA loans.

Elmet Technologies and Poly Labs, both owned by Portland-based Anania & Associates Investment Co., paid all its employees during the lockdown, but a spokesman said Tuesday that they will not apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan and is not looking at alternatives.


Springworks Farm in Lisbon, which uses aquaponics to grow organic lettuce, was in the middle of the manhunt at one point, with police responding to a report of gunfire in the area Oct. 26. Director of Business Development Emily Donaldson said their big concern was the safety of the employees, noting that most of the farm’s workers had gone home for the day when the lockdown was put in place.

She said the 33 employees were paid during the lockdown but they did not ask anyone to come in to check on the vital systems that keep the fish alive, something the management team did instead. She said the company has not decided whether to pursue an SBA emergency loan.

Hannaford Supermarkets was also forced to shut its doors at three locations in Lewiston, Auburn and Mechanic Falls. A spokesperson said all employees who were scheduled to work during the lockdown were paid, and the company is exploring all financial relief options available to the company.

Auburn Manufacturing, which has two facilities in Androscoggin County, paid its employees as well. President and CEO  Kathie Leonard said the timing of the lockdown was a factor. “We were very fortunate to have lost only one-and-a-half days of production because we run four, 10-hour days with Fridays off. Due to the small amount of lost time, we will not be applying for an SBA EIDL loan.”

A sign on Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine food truck on Lisbon Street in Lewiston is shown Oct. 26. The business offered free lunch to first responders following the Oct. 25 mass shootings in Lewiston.  Submitted photo

“I believe the low-interest loan will help some businesses,” Jeff’s Jamaican Cuisine co-owner Bailey said. “For us, closing a few unplanned extra days did place a financial strain on our business. However, we would do it again, if it means the safety of our community. Another alternative would be to offer grants.”

That is what the city of Lewiston is doing, making up to $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding available to eligible businesses starting immediately.

Lincoln Jeffers, director of the Lewiston Economic & Community Development Department, said the city is offering up to $10,000 per business, with demonstrated costs greater than or equal to the amount requested. The grants are only available to Lewiston businesses.

Jeffers said the money can be used for payroll, replenishing inventory, rent and other expenses not covered by insurance. Because it is federal money, some documentation is needed, but the staff at the Economic & Community Development Office can help get answers to questions, he said.

Full details of the program are available on the Economic & Community Development page online, look of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program link on the left of the homepage.

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