Republican Gov. Phil Scott on Friday proposed using $133 million more in federal coronavirus relief funding to help businesses and others recover from the pandemic.
The proposal, which requires legislative approval, would devote $23 million to expand the economic recovery grant program and $50 million for hospitality and tourism grants. An additional $50 million would be used to give every Vermont household $150 as part of a buy-local campaign and $10 million would go to economic development and tourism marketing.
"The reality is we don't have the luxury of waiting for a vaccine because employers are making decisions right now about whether to fight to stay open or shutter their doors for good," Scott said at his regular virus briefing.
The economic recovery grant program would be expanded to sole proprietors and partnerships, certain nonprofits, very new businesses, and businesses with less than 50% losses over three months, said Lindsay Kurrle, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development.
The hospitality grants would help the lodging and food and service industries where revenues are down about 90% from previous years, she said.
"These hard hit sectors need more support," Kurrle said.
To date, more than $100 million in economic recovery grants has been awarded to more than 3,500 businesses around Vermont, she said.
Vermont reported four new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, for a statewide total since the pandemic began of 1,541. The total number of deaths remained at 58. Three people were hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
This week, Vermont reported 61 new coronavirus cases, up from 39 new cases last week.