By: Paul Durham
May 20, 2020
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu recently announced the allocation of $595 million in CARES Act funding to several programs intended to provide relief to New Hampshire industries affected by the COVID-19 health crisis. $400 million of that total allocation has been initially allocated to the Main Street Relief Fund program for the purpose of providing emergency financial grants to small for-profit businesses impacted by COVID-19. Although the program specifics are not expected to be announced before June 1, 2020, prompt action should be taken by any New Hampshire small business desiring to seek relief under the Main Street Relief Fund program.
Main Street Relief Fund Eligibility and Mandatory Prequalification
In order to be eligible for relief, a business must have its principal place of business in New Hampshire and must have generated less than $20 million in revenue during the 2019 tax year. Further, healthcare, childcare, and agriculture businesses will not be eligible for the Main Street Relief Fund program. Businesses in these industries may instead be eligible for relief through the Healthcare Relief Fund, Non-Profit Relief Fund, Child Care Relief Fund, Farm Food Fund, Public Higher Education Relief Fund, and Business Finance Authority Safe Harbor Forgivable Loans programs. Information on those programs will be covered in additional client alerts.
New Hampshire small businesses that are eligible for the Main Street Relief Fund program as described in the preceding paragraph and that desire to obtain relief must first prequalify by submitting the prequalification form found at the website of the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery (“GOFERR”) (www.goferr.nh.gov). The prequalification form requests information concerning the business’s possible COVID-19-related lost revenues and its receipt of any federal relief, including any Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The prequalification form must be submitted online no later than May 29, 2020, and any business that fails to submit the form in a timely manner will be ineligible to receive relief under the Main Street Relief Fund program.
Importantly, GOFERR has made it clear that submitting the required prequalification form does not guarantee that a business will receive relief. In its published Overview of Prequalifying Request for Information, GOFERR indicates that final eligibility criteria will not be determined until after May 29, 2020, and that it will use the provided information to “…determine appropriate relief criteria and amounts to meet the needs of eligible small businesses, including whether the initial $400 million is appropriate or needs to be changed.”
Additional Important Dates
Although many specifics remain to be determined with respect to the Main Street Relief Fund program over the coming weeks, GOFERR has announced additional important dates regarding when information will be available and when additional action must be taken. Key dates are as follows.
Mandatory Prequalification Period: May 15, 2020 – May 29, 2020
Deadline to Submit Completed Prequalification Form: May 29, 2020
Announcement of Program Specifics: June 1, 2020
Formal Application Period: June 1, 2020 – June 8, 2020
Deadline to File Completed Application: June 8, 2020
Anticipated Funds Release: June 15, 2020
The week of June 1 appears to be a critical week with respect to program participation, as businesses will have only a short window of time to review program specifics and submit a formal application (in whatever final form that may take). Of course, the details in this alert are only as accurate as the currently available information, and the stated amounts, eligibility criteria, and dates may change as specific details are released. However, what is clear is that any small business desiring to seek relief under the Main Street Relief Fund program must file its prequalification form by May 29, 2020, and should be prepared to take quick follow up action as soon as further guidance becomes available.
Update as of May 28, 2020: GOFERR’s description of the Main Street Relief Fund program references “for-profit” businesses. However, based on the pending nature of the final guidelines, not-for-profit businesses that otherwise meet the prequalification criteria should also strongly consider completing the prequalification form by the May 29, 2020 deadline.