LEWISTON — The Lewiston Auburn Metro Chamber of Commerce announced a two-pronged approach to financially help small businesses in Androscoggin County affected by the Oct. 25 mass shooting.

The Small Business Relief Fund has raised $575,000 as of Dec. 15, which will be disbursed through immediate relief grants of $1,000 on a first come, first served basis for applications received through Jan. 19., and small-term relief grants, which will be “needs based,” according to LA Metro Chamber President and CEO Shanna Cox.

Cox said the amount of the grants will be determined after the grant cycle closes and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Applicants for the Phase 1 grants are encouraged to apply for the short-term relief grants, or Phase 2 grants.

All for-profit, nonprofit, and sole proprietorships with headquarters in Androscoggin County who experienced a financial loss related to the Oct. 25 tragedy are eligible to apply for the grants, regardless of whether they are members of the LA Metro Chamber of Commerce or not.

Phase 2 grant applications will be weighted, allocating more points for businesses in key categories such as location, type of business, number of employees, financial impact and future viability.

Small businesses across the county experienced unusual financial hardships as a result of the police-ordered lockdowns that shuttered many businesses between Oct. 25 and 27.


Guests left open tabs at area restaurants and bars the night of the shootings and businesses lost revenue from the closures and unforeseen expenses related to evacuations and the disposal of perishable goods.

Furthermore, the chamber said the longer-term impact was a slowdown in business that has been slow to rebound. To that end, the second part of the chamber’s relief effort is a contest to encourage people to go out and patronize local eateries, entertainment venues and retail stores.

The LocalLAFlavor contest runs through Jan. 8, 2024. Share a picture of a purchase from a local small business and post it to Instagram or Facebook using the #LocalLAFlavor hashtag for a chance to win one of three cash prizes.

A live support line is available for businesses who have questions or need help filling out the applications for submission, or you can request an in-person appointment through the chamber.

The support line is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday-Friday through Jan. 20, 2024, except holidays. The phone number is 866-614-3149.

Key dates and deadlines:


Dec. 20-Jan. 19, 2024: Phase 1 and 2 applications are submitted, processed and assessed for eligibility.

Jan. 19, 2024, 11:59 p.m.: Deadline for all applications.

Jan. 25, 2024: All Phase 1 awardees notified. Phase 2 applicants notified of their status (awarded, pending or not awarded).

Feb. 5, 2024: All Phase 2 grants awarded, public announcement of awards and Small Business Relief Fund Balance.

Additional information on the Small Business Relief Fund can be found on the chamber’s website, at lametrochamber.com/relief/.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.