Commercial Loans & Grants

Overview

The City of Lewiston’s Economic and Community Development Department (ECDD) offers three (3) Economic Development Business Assistance Programs: Microenterprise loan, Microenterprise grant, and Economic Development Loan. The city also offers three (3) Rehabilitation Programs: Façade Deferred Loan for Commercial Only, Façade Deferred Loan for Historic Preservation, and Residential Loan in Mixed-Use Properties. The funding is administered by the City’s Economic and Community Development Department. The City's budget for its economic development programs is from the federal government and has programmatic requirements that must be satisfied to be funded by the City. 

The Microenterprise Loan Program is designed to support entrepreneurs, help existing businesses build capacity, develop business in the target area, and increase the tax base. The owner must be low-moderate income or employ 1-5 low-moderate income persons. Eligible activities can include financial start-up support such as equipment, initial product, working capital, rehabilitation of space to ready for business; general owner support such as transportation, child care, counseling, peer support; technical assistance; or training to increase capacity—$ 15,000 at 1% interest over five years. Maybe deferred on a case-by-case basis. 3:1 match (City: Private). 

The Microenterprise Grant Program is designed to support entrepreneurs, help existing businesses build capacity, develop business in the target area, and increase the tax base. The owner must be low-moderate income or employ 1-5 low-moderate income persons. Eligible activities can include financial start-up support such as equipment, initial product, working capital, rehabilitation of space to ready for business; general owner support such as transportation, child care, counseling, peer support, technical assistance, or training to increase capacity. $2,000 could be forgiven under qualification as a low-moderate income owner or after three months with documented job creation or retention and may be deferred on a case-by-case basis—3:1 match (City: Private).

The Economic Development Loan Program is designed to support businesses in the target area (census tracts 201-204), increase jobs and services for low– to moderate-income persons, and increase the tax base. Eligible activities can include acquisition, furniture, fixtures, working capital, interior construction to address code violations, machinery, and equipment upgrades. The business must either provide jobs to low-moderate income individuals or services to at least 51% of low-moderate income individuals. Up to $50,000 at 5% for 10 years. 1:1 match (City: Private).

The Façade Improvement for Historic Preservation Program allows property owners to redevelop mixed-use properties for commercial and residential purposes and reduce blight. Rehabilitation is limited to the extent necessary to eliminate a specific condition detrimental to public health and safety. Eligible activities can include architectural design, exterior renovations including the entryway, exterior lighting, signage, window repair/replacement, masonry, repointing, painting, awnings, and roof replacement/repairs related to structural improvements to hold façade in place.   Applicant must provide documentation that the structure is listed or eligible on the National Register of Historic Places, listed on a state or local inventory of historic places, or designated as a state or local landmark or contributing structure. Up to $35,000. 1:1 match. (City: Private)  The Deferred Loan is payable upon sale of the building or transfer of ownership. 

The Façade Improvement for Commercial Buildings Program will enhance the appearance of the commercial area, encourage private investment in storefronts, and assist business owners with rehabilitating storefronts. Eligible activities can include exterior renovations, including the entryway, exterior lighting, signage, window repair/replacement, masonry, repointing, painting, and awnings. The applicant must either own the building or have written permission from the owner to make changes to the façade. Funding is limited only to commercial portions of the building. For owners, up to $35,000. 1:1 match (City: Private). The Deferred Loan is payable upon sale of the building or transfer of ownership. For tenants, up to $2,000, limited to signage and lighting only, forgiven after five years if business remains in the space. 

Residential Loan Program in Mixed-use Properties Program allows property owners to redevelop underutilized upper floors of mixed-use buildings to create housing. Eligible activities can include: Interior or exterior rehabilitation, correction of code violations, Lead hazard evaluation and reduction, costs of labor, materials, supplies, energy and efficiency conservation, repair or replacement of fixtures, and installation of security devices. The applicant must: have proof of ownership of the building, be current on all City assessments, be in good standing with Code Enforcement, and qualify under the City’s underwriting guidelines for a loan. Low-moderate income residents must occupy at least 51% of the rental units on the property. A property owner may not be an elected or appointed official in the City of Lewiston. Affordable housing funding is up to $10,000 for moderate rehab and $25,000 for substantial rehab at 2% interest for up to 20 years—3:1 match (City: Private). Funding is available for Market-rate housing, which is subject to availability. 

Complete Program Guidelines

Commercial Programs Pre-Application

Census Tracts 201, 202, 203 and 204 

To apply

Anyone interested in participating in the City’s Commercial Programs must submit a completed, signed (Pre-Application) and the required submissions to the Economic and Community Development Department (ECDD), City of Lewiston, 27 Pine Street, Lewiston, ME 04240. EDCD staff will review the pre-application to identify programs for which applicants may be eligible. If you have questions specific to the program, you can contact Kon Maiwan, Economic Development Specialist, at 207-513-3126 x 3276 or kmaiwan@lewistonmaine.gov. Personal appointments may be made upon request. There is an open application period as long as funding is available. Economic Development loans are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The applicant will receive a letter stating whether the process may move to the next step. This does not indicate approval of a loan but that the applicant may be eligible for one. 

Commonly Asked Questions

ECDD has developed responses to several frequently asked questions related to the Commercial Loan Programs 

What do the Commercial Loan and Grant Programs do?

  • The Commercial Loan and Grant Programs provide loans and grants to support businesses in the target area, increase the tax base, and increase jobs and services for low to moderate-income (LMI) persons

 Who may apply for this program?

Qualifying Lewiston businesses can apply to a Commercial Loan and Grant Program: 

  • To meet minimum eligibility requirements, the project must have a funding gap that conventional financing institutions will not cover. 
  • Applicant must either own property or have, in writing, a lease and permission from the owner to allow rehabilitation with specific activities listed.
  • Property does not have outstanding assessments or complaints against it.
  • Business must remain in the target area (census tracts 201,202, 203, and 204) for five years.

What is an eligible area?

What is an eligible business?

  • Businesses must either create jobs for low-income (LMI) individuals or provide 51% of services to LMI individuals.

Are there other requirements?

  • The authorizing statute of the CDBG program requires that each activity funded must meet one of three national objectives: Benefit to Low-Mod Income Households, Elimination of Slums and Blight, or Urgent Need (such as recovery efforts after natural disasters)

 What kind of funding is available? What are the loan terms? 

  • The Microenterprise Loan program: $15,000 at 1% interest over five years. Maybe deferred on a case-by-case basis. 3:1 match. (City: Private)
  • The Microenterprise Grant program: $2,000, forgiven under qualification as low-moderate income owner or after three months with documented job creation or retention. Maybe deferred on a case-by-case basis. 3:1 match (City: Private).
  • The Economic Development Loan Program: Up to $50,000 at 5% for ten years. 1:1 match (City: Private).
  • The Façade Improvement for Historic Preservation Program: Up to $35,000. 1:1 match (City: Private) The Deferred Loan is payable upon sale of the building or transfer of ownership.
  • The Façade Improvement for Commercial Buildings program: For owners, up to $35,000. 1:1 match (City: Private). A deferred Loan is payable upon sale of the building or transfer of ownership. For tenants, up to $2,000, limited to signage and lighting only, forgiven after five years if business remains in the space

What are the eligible activities for the fund?

Eligible activities are the allowable uses of Commercial Loan and Grant Programs funds. In short, it is what you are allowed to spend Commercial Loan and Grant Programs funds on and expenditures that you can count as a match. Eligible activities can be found in the program summary for each program. 

Commercial Loan and Grant Programs eligible costs/activities include:

  • Equipment, initial product, working capital, rehabilitation of space to ready for business.
  • Costs of labor
  • Structural roof repairs if required to hold façade in
  • Exterior improvements, including entryway
  • Lead hazard evaluation and reduction
  • General owner support such as transportation, child care, counseling, peer support
  • Technical assistance
  • Training to increase capacity
  • Signage
  • Lighting

What are the ineligible activities for the fund?

Ineligible activities can be found in the program summary for each program. Ineligible activities are the prohibited uses of Commercial Loan and Grant Program funds. In short, it is what you are not allowed to spend Commercial Loan and Grant Program funds on and expenditures that you can count as a match.

Commercial Loan and Grant Program ineligible costs/activities include:

  • Purchase of property 
  • New Construction, 
  • Debt Payment, 
  • Luxury Items
  • Sidewalks on private property
  • Anything not listed under eligible activities
  • Any work commenced before receipt of a signed funding agreement from the City 

How do I get started?

Speak to an ECDD staff before attempting to fill out any forms or applications. This will save you valuable time in your application. 

Who can answer questions?

If you have questions specific to the program, you can contact Kon Maiwan, Economic Development Specialist, at 207-513-3126 x3276 or kmaiwan@lewistonmaine.gov.

What law governs this program?

Section 108 of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5308). Regulations are at 24 CFR part 570, subpart M.