City Councilors approved submitting two applications — one on behalf of Mathews Brothers and another for a small business assistance grant — to the Community Develop Block Grant program seeking a total amount of $400,000.

The grant application submitted on behalf of Mathews Brothers would allow the company to begin manufacturing state-of-the-art window technology. While unable to comment on what the technology entails, Mathews Brothers President Scott Hawthorne previously told The Republican Journal it would “change the look and feel of windows and doors.”

Mathews Brothers is seeking $250,000 in grant funding.

Per the terms of the grant funding, Mathews Brothers is required to create one full-time job for every $30,000 in funding, and 51 percent of those jobs must go to persons from low- to moderate-income households.

Before going to a vote for approval, councilors asked if the sequestration cuts would have any impact on the grant funding. Belfast Economic Development Director Thomas Kittredge said it would be unlikely that the cuts would impact the grant.

Councilor Mike Hurley asked Kittredge how many grants a municipality can apply for, as well as who is responsible for managing the grants. Kittredge said he believed there was enough money in the program still to fund the grants. He also noted that although unlikely, the state could potentially choose not accept the federal grant money.

The grant application submission was unanimously approved by councilors.

Micro Enterprise Assistance Grant

The Micro Enterprise Assistance Grant is a program that the city can apply for, up to $150,000, to provide grants and loans to for-profit businesses to be used for interior and exterior renovations, signage, employment or other related uses.

Businesses that apply for the funding must have five or fewer employees, one of whom owns the business, and the owner’s income must be low to moderate.

Prior to council discussion regarding the grant, several small business owners took the opportunity to express their support for the program during a public hearing.

Steve Garrand, who started a small company called Belfast Barge, said he would use the money to purchase additional equipment, which he estimated would increase his efficiency by about 33 percent.

“I think it’s a great idea and I’m for it,” Garrand told councilors.

Bella Books owner Gary Guida was equally supportive of the grant application, citing the increasing difficulty of obtaining a short-term operating loan from a bank. Guida said he would use the funds to hire additional employees and enhance his business.

Councilors heard from several other people, as well, who have either opened a business or plan to open their business in the city in the near future and would benefit from the grant funding.

Kittredge said the maximum amount of funding given to a business is $25,000 and he envisioned most of the businesses applying for funding through the grant would receive between $10,000 and $15,000.

The request to submit an application to receive the Micro Enterprise Assistance Grant was approved unanimously.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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