Multiple Questions Discussed During Webinar on Emergency Flood Assistance in Vermont’s Businesses

Multiple Questions Discussed During Webinar on Emergency Flood Assistance in Vermont’s Businesses

After Governor Phil Scott made the significant announcement that Vermont would be establishing an emergency grant program to assist businesses affected by recent flooding, the anticipation for aid is coming to fruition as the online application portal launches today. This move represents a vital step toward recovery, demonstrating the state’s commitment to supporting local businesses in these trying times.

The state Agency of Commerce and Community Development held an informative webinar on Wednesday, providing clarity and direction regarding the process. Nearly 200 concerned individuals joined the webinar, eager to understand the state’s $20 million Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program (BGAP). The session included an in-depth overview of guidelines, eligibility requirements, and detailed explanations of the application process.

Agency of Commerce and Community Development Secretary Lindsay Kurrle opened the webinar with empathy, acknowledging the challenging ordeal of flood recovery that businesses have had to face. Her words resonated with the concerns and emotions of many, as she expressed:

“We know that this isn’t enough and that it’s just a piece of the puzzle to get you all back on your feet and get you what you need. Some of you are dealing with impacts to your home as well as your businesses and I want you to know that we are here for you and that we’re going to keep working to bring you everything we can to keep trying to fill the voids and fill the gaps… We want your doors back open. Your customers miss you. Your communities miss you. So if this can bring you one step closer to getting your doors open, we want to help you do that.”

The emotional gravity of the situation was not lost on Vermont Department of Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein, who explained that the emergency assistance program targets businesses and nonprofits suffering physical damage. This program is not for individuals or municipalities but addresses a vital need for businesses that requires more than mere loans.

Goldstein conveyed the real purpose of the program, stating, “Many of you cannot take out loans. We understand that. We understand that you’re coming out of the pandemic. So it’s been a really rough time and that’s the purpose of this program. We understand that there’s usually fear with, you know, what does the state want and what are all the strings? So we’re here to take you through that in full transparency to see what will be required to actually submit an application.”

The webinar proceeded with a comprehensive breakdown of eligibility criteria, required documentation, and a step-by-step walkthrough of the application process. Commissioner Goldstein then responded to a multitude of questions submitted via chat, providing reassurance and guidance.

Inquiries ranged from questions regarding the eligibility of businesses that were declared substantially damaged to how the value of used capital equipment would be appraised. As participants voiced concerns about home-based businesses, the first-come, first-serve nature of the program, and the absence of an application deadline, Goldstein’s answers provided clarity and a sense of direction.

Goldstein’s concise response to the question about the deadline encapsulated the state’s approach to this ongoing disaster, “There’s no deadline. We recognize that this is a rolling disaster and as a result, it’s a rolling application, right. We don’t have a deadline but we have funding until the funding runs out. Enrolling also means as applications come in, we start reviewing them.”

The webinar proved to be a vital platform for information dissemination and engagement. As Vermont faces the challenging task of rebuilding and recovery, the collaboration between the state government and local businesses exemplifies resilience, support, and unity. Through programs like BGAP, there’s a glimmer of hope for businesses to regain their footing and rebuild their future, one step at a time.

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