More funding for Irene-impacted businesses
by Mike Eldred
Dec 20, 2012 | 1615 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BRATTLEBORO- There’s more good news for owners of flood-impacted businesses in southern Vermont. Last week, the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, along with the Springfield Regional Development Corporation announced that they have been awarded $1.1 million in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding. The announcement came only days after an announcement that the federal Economic Development Agency would fund three recovery positions in southern Vermont, two of which will be based in Wilmington.

The $1.1 million in funding will be used for grants and loans to businesses that were impacted by Tropical Storm Irene, and are still trying to recover. The application process is open to any business with Irene-related losses, and qualification doesn’t depend on participation in any previous state or federal recovery assistance program. Federal funds can’t be used for projects involving buildings in flood zones that don’t have flood insurance, however.

BDCC Project Director Laura Sibilia calls the program the “funding of last resort” for business owners. “If you had more damage than you had insurance, or more than your loans could pay for, or you depleted your cash reserves struggling to stay open, this is something you should consider,” she said. “It’s likely to be in the form of grants, but it could be low-interest loans.”

Sibilia said most of the awards will be in the $10,000 to $40,000 range.

The funding is part of $21.7 million in federal CDBG Disaster Recovery funds allocated to the state from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Originally, the bulk of the federal funding was targeted for Windsor and Washington counties, and Windham was only eligible to compete with other communities in the state for the remaining $4.3 million in CDBG disaster recovery funding. But thanks to the work of Vermont’s congressional delegation and the federal Agency of Commerce and Community Development, Windham County was eventually included in the targeted funding, eligible for up to $4.5 million in CDBG funding. “Those people really worked hard to make sure Windham County would qualify,” Sibilia said. “And we hope people will try to take advantage of this opportunity.”

In surveys conducted as part of the request for the CDBG grant, Windham County businesses identified more than $8 million in unmet need, according to Sibilia. “A lot of folks filled out the survey, now they need to come back and fill out an application.”

Windham County businesses should apply directly through the BDCC, and can start by downloading an application and other forms at the BDCC’s website. “We tried to make it as simple as possible, but these are federal funds, so there are forms that are required,” she said.

For those who would like more guidance on the process, Sibilia said there will be four public informational sessions, two of which will be held in Brattleboro. Dates and times will be posted on the BDCC website.

Sibilia said the funding can be used for anything from repairs to driveway damage caused by Irene to money needed to get a business open again.

For more information on applying for the grants or loans contact the BDCC’s April Harkness at (802) 257-7731. “It’s free money,” Sibilia says.
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