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  • 04/29/2020 4:06 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    Delivering Support to Rural America’s Small Businesses

    Release Date: 

    Monday, April 27, 2020

    By Dan Nordberg, SBA Director of Rural Affairs & Wendell Davis, SBA New England Regional Administion

    The devastating impact of COVID-19 has tested the will of millions of agricultural businesses and farms throughout rural communities all over our nation, but help is on the way.  Congress just passed an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program which includes over $310 billion in new funding to help small businesses and agricultural related industries support their payroll costs. 

    This program is one of the largest economic recovery efforts in our nation’s history and was built in just seven short days, a true testament to the American spirit and demonstration of what is possible when we come together to serve a higher cause. By leveraging the power of private lenders, the Paycheck Protection Program provides businesses with the capital and certainty they need to retain their employees and continue serving our communities.

    Of note to rural America, agricultural related industries such as production of food and fiber, ranching and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other independently owned farming and agriculture-related entities are eligible to participate in the program as long as they have 500 or fewer employees whose principal place of residence is the United States.

    In addition to program efforts, the SBA has over 690 men and women who work in 68 field offices all across the nation serving as the agency’s "boots on the ground” and the primary contact for delivering SBA’s programs directly to rural communities, businesses, and stakeholders.  SBA staff also work hand in hand with our resource partners at the local level, including Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), SCORE counselors, Women’s Business Centers, and Veterans Business Outreach Centers to serve the needs of rural small businesses. 

    In response to the impact that coronavirus COVID-19 has had on our country’s rural communities, and at the request of President Trump and his Administration, SBA’s District Offices have been working tirelessly to serve rural small businesses and agricultural industries.  District staff are collaborating closely with rural Chambers of Commerce, local governments, and elected officials to provide information on SBA programs via virtual townhalls, webinars, and Facebook chats.  The SBA has also worked to bring in additional lenders to provide Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans including credit unions, farm credit lenders, USDA Lenders, community banks, and others that serve rural businesses. 

    The Paycheck Protection Program is assisting rural businesses, farmers, ranchers, ag co-ops, nonprofits and the faith-based groups that serve those areas.  While there’s certainly more work to be done, the SBA will continue to fight for America's rural communities until this battle is won.  For additional resources on the programs mentioned, and to find an SBA district office near you, please visit

  • 04/29/2020 4:00 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    Press Release: SBA Will Give Exclusive Access to the Paycheck Protection Program to Small Lenders Today

    BOSTON, MA – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced a dedicated window for small community lenders to access the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The window will be open on April 29, 2020 from 4:00 PM EST – 11:59 PM EST.

    During this window, the SBA will only accept loan applications from lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion to ensure their customers have access to the program.

    “The Paycheck Protection Program is saving jobs and providing much-needed relief to help New England’s small businesses make it through this challenging time,” said Wendell G. Davis, SBA’s New England Regional Administrator.  “This exclusive window for small banks to access the program will help the SBA reach the smallest of small businesses.”

    Lending institutions with asset sizes less than $1 billion will still be able to submit PPP loans outside of this time frame. Lenders with asset sizes greater than $1 billion will be able to submit loans outside of today’s exclusive window.

    The PPP provides a direct incentive for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive PPP loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Find out more about PPP at:

  • 04/29/2020 3:53 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    To our business customers:

    During this challenging time, Eversource is committed to providing programs and resources to lessen the financial hardship on small businesses – the backbone of our communities.

    If you need support, Eversource can help:

    - We’re offering a special, extended payment arrangement for any past-due amount, with $0 down payment, 12 months to pay and the first payment not due until June 1, 2020.

    - We can also connect you with state and federal assistance programs for which your business may be eligible. With new federal funding just announced, if you have not reviewed these programs, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible.

    Visit for more information or contact us at 844-275-3301 for guidance specific to your business. In these uncertain times, we’re here when you need us.

  • 04/29/2020 3:40 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    The Bureau of Unemployment Compensation

    We will begin taking claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program on May 1st. The program covers those who are self-employed, or otherwise ineligible for traditional state unemployment benefits. Please do not apply until 8 a.m. on May 1, when the new application becomes available. More information can be found on our PUA webpage:

    MDOL is working to implement the third federal unemployment program (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation-PEUC), which extends benefits by 13 weeks. If you have exhausted all unemployment benefits, please wait to file as this program is not yet available. We will continue to provide information as it becomes available. Once implemented, benefits will be paid retroactively.

    • IMPORTANT: If you have already enrolled in the current unemployment program, you MUST continue filing your weekly certifications. If possible please avoid filing weekly claims on Sunday or Monday. Please pick Tuesday or later in the week when there is less online traffic.
    • If you need to call the unemployment phone lines, please use the alphabetical call in schedule to help reduce phone line congestion: Last names beginning with A-H should call on Monday, I-Q on Tuesday; and R-Z on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.

    To review FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS, please download the Unemployment Insurance FAQs Regarding COVID-19 document (PDF)

  • 04/29/2020 3:38 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    Governor Mills Presents Safe, Gradual Plan to Restart Maine’s Economy

    April 28, 2020

    Governor will extend stay-at-home order with modifications to allow for activities and business operations deemed safe

    Governor Janet Mills today presented her Administration’s plan to gradually and safely restart Maine’s economy. The plan, which comes as the State appears to be successfully flattening the curve, establishes four gradual stages of reopening, the first of which begins  May 1st. The stages focus not on essential v. non-essential designations like those used to originally limit business operations and activities, but on the ability of a business to operate or an activity to occur in a manner that protects public health and safety. As the Administration gradually eases restrictions on some businesses and activities, it also implements protective protocols, along with broader additional health and safety measures, to protect Maine people.   

    To that end, the Governor also announced today she will extend the State’s stay-at-home order in the form of a new “Stay Safer at Home” Executive Order. The new Order, which she will issue by Thursday, will continue to have Maine people stay at home with limited exceptions for already permitted activities, such as grocery shopping or exercising. However, the new Stay Safer at Home Order will also allow Maine people to visit businesses or participate in activities that are deemed safe to open under Stage 1 of the reopening plan. The Order will extend through May 31, 2020 but is subject to change.  

    “I am proud of the work Maine people have done to mitigate the spread of the virus and to flatten the curve, but our work is far from over,” said Governor Janet Mills. “While this plan presents a path forward for gradually and safely restarting our economy, it should not lure Maine people into thinking that this pandemic is almost over or that things will be back to normal soon. The hard truth is that they are not; that they likely will not be for a long time; and that, with this plan, we are inventing a new normal – a different way of doing business, shopping, traveling, and enjoying the Maine outdoors in ways that keep us all safe.”  

    “This plan offers a measured approach to restarting the economy that prioritizes what is most important: the health and safety of Maine people,” said Heather Johnson Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development. “There is no doubt these have been challenging times, but the Department will work closely and collaboratively with our private sector partners to ensure that we are able to reopen businesses in a manner that protects public health.” 

    “The Maine State Chamber of Commerce appreciates the Governor’s thoughtful leadership throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. “Our first concern, as always, is protecting the health of Maine people, and we support the Governor’s gradual approach to reopening the economy and her Administration’s commitment to working closely and collaboratively across economic sectors to determine how to do so safely. Maine businesses are eager to do their part to stem the tide on this virus, and we look forward to our continued partnership to that end.” 

    “Maine hospitals appreciate the balanced approach the Governor and her team are taking on restoring a broader array of healthcare services available to the public,” said Steven Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association. “There are many variables at play in re-starting these services. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration on meeting the healthcare needs of the public in a safe and responsible way. We also appreciate the patience Maine people have shown and will continue to show their healthcare providers as we move toward restarting some services.” 

    "The Maine Medical Association wants to thank Governor Mills for her science-based public health focus during this unprecedented time,” said Dan Morin, Director of Communications & Government Affairs for the Maine Medical Association. “Her trust in front-line physicians is greatly appreciated. We look forward to working with her office to keep all Mainers healthy."  

    The Governor’s plan establishes four stages, focused first on resuming those business operations and activities which can be conducted in a safe manner. This means that they involve a low risk for potential transmission of the virus. The earlier stages permit small businesses to reopen, but only with additional safety precautions.  

    Progression through the stages will occur month-by-month,  depending on the success of previous stages. For example, Stage 1 will begin on May 1, if there are no new trends that change the plan. Stage 2 will begin in June, and Stage 3 will begin in July and continue through August. Stage 4, which lifts the most restrictions, will start at a point to be determined in the future. A month-by-month breakdown of the stages allows for sufficient time to assess the effectiveness of the health and safety precautions adopted and evaluate the potential need to adjust course.  

    However, the month-by-month plan should not be considered a hard and fast timeline. Throughout the process, the Maine CDC will monitor and report to the Governor epidemiological data, such as case trends and hospitalization rates, as well as health care readiness and capacity, to inform decisions on the appropriateness of proceeding through stages and lifting restrictions. If Maine CDC detects a resurgence of the virus, the State will move quickly to halt progression through the stages and reimplement restrictions to protect public health and safety. As the Governor outlined in her vision for restarting the economy, public health considerations will be the foremost guiding factor in the reopening process. 

    “The health and safety of Maine people will guide each phase of this process,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’ll continue to work closely with our colleagues at DECD on an approach that balances the health of Maine’s people with the health of our economy.” 

    The Maine CDC will be tracking three primary metrics in its evaluation of whether or not to progress through the stages: 1) a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-like syndromic cases; 2) a downward trajectory of documented cases and newly hospitalized patients; and 3) the capacity of Maine’s hospital systems to treat all patients without crisis care and the ability of the state to engage in a robust testing program. The Administration will also continue to evaluate standards outlined in the Governor’s vision statement, such as testing capacity and contact tracing, to inform decisions about proceeding.   

    The Plan to Restart Maine’s Economy 

    The staged plan builds on the Governor’s current Executive Orders, which already allows  grocery stores, pharmacies, financial institutions, home repair services, child care agencies, and car repair services, among others (PDF) to operate, and then allows for the safe reopening of those businesses not currently operating. The upcoming four stages as contemplated by the Governor’s plan are:   

    Stage 1 (May): Beginning May 1st, Stage 1 continues the prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people, the quarantine of all people entering or returning to Maine for a period of 14 days, and the special precautions for older Mainers and others at risk of COVID-19. It  calls for people who are able to work from home to continue to do so, including State employees. It will also newly require that Maine people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, and continue strict requirements for long-term care facilities. Guidance on cloth face coverings will be issued in the coming days. Stage 1 also allows for the limited expansion of certain business, religious, and quality of life activities, with appropriate safety precautions. These include: 

    • Health care from Maine-licensed providers, with recommendations that they prioritize care for patients with time-sensitive conditions; assure the safety of patients, staff, and communities; manage the use of essential resources such as personal protective equipment and testing supplies; and pace re-opening services to the level of community COVID-19 activity, maintaining capacity in our hospitals for potential outbreaks 
    • Personal services: Barber shops, hair salons, and pet grooming
    • Limited drive-in, stay-in-your-vehicle religious services 
    • Drive-in movie theaters 
    • Outdoor recreation: guided outdoor activities (hunting & fishing) and restricted use of golf and disc golf courses 
    • State parks, state-owned public land trails, and historic sites; although certain coastal state parks will remain closed 
    • Auto dealerships and car washes 

    Stage 2 (June): Tentatively beginning June 1st, Stage 2 contemplates revising the limitation on gatherings from less than 10 people to less than 50 people. It also calls for people who can work from home to continue to do so but allows for employees in certain fields to begin to reenter the office as needed, including State employees. It maintains the 14 day quarantine for all people entering or returning to Maine and the special precautions for older Mainers and others at risk of COVID-19. With appropriate safety precautions, Stage 2 would allow for some degree of opening with reservations, capacity limits, and other measures for: 

    • Restaurants
    • Fitness and exercise centers and nail technicians 
    • Retail stores for broader in-store shopping 
    • Lodging and campgrounds for Maine residents and those who have met the 14 day quarantine requirement 
    • Day camps for Maine children and those who have met the 14 day quarantine requirement 
    • Coastal State parks 

    Stage 3 (July & August): Tentatively beginning July 1st, Stage 3 contemplates maintaining the prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people and other Stage 1 and Stage 2 restrictions, including the 14-day quarantine on people entering Maine. With appropriate safety precautions, Stage 3 would allow for some degree of opening for: 

    • Lodging, such as hotels, campgrounds, summer camps, or RV parks for Maine residents and visitors. The Administration is developing guidelines to assist them in safely reopening, and reservations should not be taken until those guidelines are issued.  
    • Outdoor recreation such as charter boats and boat excursions  
    • Bars
    • Personal services such as spas, tattoo and piercing parlors, and massage facilities, among others 

    Stage 4 (Timeline Undetermined): Stage 4 contemplates lifting restrictions and allowing all businesses and activities to resume with appropriate safety precautions. 

    The stages outlined above are advanced as a framework for planning. Innovations or expanded testing and other capacity could accelerate this pace, as could a determination that certain parts of Maine, such as some rural areas, may be able to ease restrictions safely. At the same time, a surge in COVID-19 in parts or all of Maine could result in significant adjustments to this plan and a return to more restrictions. 

    The Mills Administration does not currently anticipate that it will be safe to accept cruise or commercial passenger ships with more than 50 people this summer. The Administration will review this assessment in September 2020. This prohibition excludes passenger ferries working between Maine ports. Additionally, the Administration is currently working with stakeholders to develop plans for a safe return to school in the fall. 

    Establishing Safety Precautions: In order to reopen, various sectors of Maine’s economy will be required to work with the Department of Economic and Community Development to implement practical, reasonable, evidence-informed safety protocols and modifications that protect the health and safety of employees and customers. These accommodations may be as simple as closing break rooms, providing flexible working hours, employee training, and installing plexiglass shields, or as complex as adjusting a business’ sales process and reducing occupancy to ensure employee and customer safety. 

    This collaboration between DECD and the private sector will result in what will be known as a COVID-19 Prevention Checklists. These checklists will identify best practices for the business specific to its operations as well as general best practices related to physical distancing, hygiene, personal protection, and maintenance of clean workplaces, among others. The checklists, which will differ sector to sector, will undergo a rigorous review process including from government officials, health experts, and industry representatives. Once completed, businesses that commit to complying with the requirements on the checklist will be provided a badge to post on their business door or website, their names will also be posted on the DECD website and they will be allowed to open. Health providers in Maine will follow U.S. CDC and professional association guidelines. 

    Last week, Governor outlined her vision for a gradual and safe reopening of Maine’s economy amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, emphasizing four principles that will guide the State’s decision-making process, including protecting public health, maintaining health care readiness, building reliable and accessible testing, and prioritizing public-private collaboration. The Governor also invited Maine people to offer their ideas through a portal launched by DECD. To date, more than 1,600 submissions have been received.  

  • 04/29/2020 3:14 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    Governor Chris Sununu Issues Emergency Orders 37, 38


    Concord, NH – Today, Governor Chris Sununu issued Emergency Orders #37 and #38 as part of the state's efforts to respond to COVID-19.

    • Emergency Order #37  pdf file: An order relative to Executive Branch hiring and out-of-state travel
    • Emergency Order #38  pdf file: Temporary modification of school board and district statutory requirements

  • 04/27/2020 4:33 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    Governor Mills Announces Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission, Revenue Forecasting Committee to Convene Early to Assess Economic Ramifications of COVID-19 on State Revenues

    April 27, 2020

    Governor also freezes non-emergency spending & hiring by State government and renews calls on Federal government to provide states with flexibility to use Federal funding

    Governor Janet Mills today announced that the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission (CEFC) and the Revenue Forecasting Committee (RFC) will convene off cycle to examine the economic ramifications of COVID-19 on State government’s revenues. The committees will meet in July 2020 and August 2020, in advance of and in addition to the statutory dates currently set for November 2020 and December 2020, respectively. The CEFC and RFC are responsible for projecting revenues that the Administration and Legislature then use to determine the State’s budget.

    Additionally, Governor Mills has instructed all departments of State government to freeze all non-emergency spending and hiring and she is renewing her calls for the federal government to provide flexibility for states to use federal funding for expected revenue shortfalls.

    “There is no question that the virus is impacting state revenues; the real question ultimately is by how much?” said Governor Mills. “The Legislature and I have taken steps to safeguard Maine’s economy, but federal partnership will be important moving forward. As a member of the National Governors Association, I am urging Congress and the Administration to provide additional direct support to states as well as flexibility with funding already authorized. All states are going to face reductions in revenue as a result of this virus. We need flexibility with funding in order to continue to protect the public health and safety and to spearhead an economic recovery.”

    Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa, Maine State Economist Amanda Rector, and DAFS Associate Commissioner for Tax Policy Mike Allen believe that the July and August timeframe will allow for the CEFC and RFC to more accurately understand the economic ramifications of COVID-19 on Maine’s economy and the State budget, rather than attempting to gauge it earlier and obtaining a partial and inaccurate picture. Once that information is in hand, the Governor will work with the Legislature to determine the best path forward.

    Additionally, Governor Mills instructed all departments to apply an emergency basis scrutiny to spending and hiring. This includes freezing unencumbered balances for Fiscal Year 2019 and certain reserves in Fiscal Year 2020, as well as reviewing contractual obligations through the remainder of the Fiscal Year, which ends June 30th. The Governor has also prohibited state employees from traveling out of state on state business.

    “Similar to the mid-course adjustment we made in the supplemental, it makes sense to reconsider all expenditures and reserves knowing future revenues will be drastically lower,” said DAFS Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa. “Saving now will minimize future disruptions to services Maine citizens rely on from us.”

    Governor Mills, through the bipartisan National Governors Association, continues to press Congress and the Trump Administration to provide robust and flexible federal relief to offset expected revenue shortfalls that every state is confronting.

    These actions come in the wake of other steps the Mills Administration and the Legislature have taken to prepare the State for the economic ramifications of COVID-19, including working in a bipartisan manner to revise and enact the supplemental budget. The $73 million revised proposal, which was $52 million less than originally proposed, prioritized initiatives related to COVID-19. The current projected balance of unappropriated surplus is $113 million over the biennium. The Budget Stabilization Fund, or Rainy Day Fund, through the enacted supplemental, stands at $257 million, which is an increase of more than $50 million since the Governor took office.

  • 04/27/2020 4:25 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)


    Governor Chris Sununu Issues State of Emergency Extension, 4 New Emergency Orders

    Concord, NH – Today, Governor Chris Sununu issued Executive Order 2020-08, extending the State of Emergency declared in Executive Order 2020-04 for an additional period of 21 days.

    Governor Sununu also issued Exhibit D to Emergency Order #29, along with Emergency Orders 34-36 as part of the state's efforts to respond to COVID-19.

  • 04/27/2020 1:49 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)


    To assist with re-opening the state’s economy, the Department of Business and Economic Affairs is conducting a confidential survey of New Hampshire businesses to see how they are meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The information provided will assist efforts to help businesses, and the state’s economy, recover in the weeks and months to come. The survey is available here.

    The Department of Business and Economic Affairs is working with its state and federal partners to provide resources to New Hampshire businesses affected by COVID-19. For information, visit or email us at

  • 04/27/2020 1:40 PM | Bonnie McNair (Administrator)

    While we work together to persevere through the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, at Eversource we’re focused every day on supporting our customers and providing safe, reliable service.

    As part of our efforts to support small business customers, we’re helping to connect them with available financial resources and increasing awareness about the provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act. And with our customers spending more time at home now than ever before, we continue to provide updated energy-saving tips to help them reduce their energy use and save money.

    Last week also marked the annual celebrations of Earth Day and Arbor Day. In recognition of our year-round commitment to sustainability, we’re offering ways our customers can take action to promote environmental stewardship while maintaining social distancing, including tips for safely planting trees.    

    At the same time, we remain focused on performing the essential work necessary to ensure reliability while continuing to take all necessary precautions under our pandemic plan to safeguard the health of our employees and to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.





The Falls Chamber of Commerce is a professional association of businesses in  the falls area.  We are the catalyst that facilitates business growth , prosperity, partnership and success for our members. 


Bonnie McNair, Executive Director
office hours by appointment: 472 High Street, Somersworth NH 03878



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