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Feds to make loans available to businesses that closed during massive manhunt

Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston, Maine is shown on Wednesday, Nov., 1, 2023, just a week after a shooter entered the restaurant and killed several people. The Army reservist, Robert Card, had opened fire in a bowling alley and then at the bar, killing 18 people, on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
Jessie Wardarski
/
AP
Schemengees Bar and Grille in Lewiston, Maine is shown on Wednesday, Nov., 1, 2023, just a week after a shooter entered the restaurant and killed several people. The Army reservist, Robert Card, had opened fire in a bowling alley and then at the bar, killing 18 people, on Wednesday, Oct. 25.

Federal assistance may now be available to Maine businesses that closed during last month’s manhunt for the Lewiston mass shooter.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Gov. Janet Mills' request to allow affected businesses and nonprofits to apply for low-interest loans of up to $2 million. According to the governor's office, the "economic injury disaster loans" can be used to cover payroll and other bills that they could not be paid out because businesses were closed during the shelter-in-place orders. The loans are not intended to replace lost sales or profits.

Many schools and businesses in the Lewiston area were closed for two days as police searched for a man, Robert R. Card II, who killed 18 on Oct. 25. He was found on Oct. 27, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The loans are available to eligible businesses in Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, Cumberland, Franklin, Kennebec and Oxford counties. Applications will be accepted through Aug. 6, 2024, and more information is available at sba.gov/disaster.

“SBA stands ready to help Maine’s small business owners impacted by the mass shooting in Lewiston, which tragically took lives and disrupted neighborhoods,” Isabel Casillas Guzman, the head of the Small Business Administration, said in a statement. “With today’s announcement, we stand committed to providing on-the-ground assistance federal economic injury disaster loans to help businesses and communities get the financial support they might need to recover and rebuild their neighborhood businesses.”

Mills said in a statement that her office will “continue to look for additional non-loan support for businesses impacted by the tragedy in Lewiston.

Starting this Wednesday at 11 a.m., the SBA will operate a Business Recovery Center at the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce at 415 Lisbon St., Suite 100 in Lewiston through Nov. 21. The Center is slated to be open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The center will be closed on Friday in observance of Veterans Day.