Economic Relief: Adding Warmth to a Cold Morning
Updated: Feb 7
Eric Hall, Data and Digital Services Fellow, had the opportunity to assist GPCOG staff members with awarding the second round of Maine Economic Recovery Grants to regional businesses and nonprofits.
I am serving with GPCOG as a member of the newly-inducted Resilience Corps, an AmeriCorps program. In this role I am serving in Standish to assist the Town with evaluating and updating its digital service capabilities.
Recently I learned that the relationship between the local business community and local government work can be very personal.
GPCOG was tasked with awarding the second round of Maine Economic Recovery Grants to regional businesses and nonprofits. The MERG program aims to help sustain nonprofits and small businesses that are particularly affected by the pandemic and the resulting business disruptions. As one of Maine’s Economic Development Districts, GPCOG distributed this funding from the CARES Act.
On the first day of awarding the grant money, I helped assist GPCOG staff members with the process. When I first arrived that morning, there were already people waiting in their cars for the clock to strike 9:00 AM. We set up marks outside to ensure six feet of separation and prepared sanitizer stations and tables for handing out the checks. Our goal was simple: to award the grants as quickly as possible while implementing COVID-19 safety procedures to protect grant recipients and staff.
Once it was 9 o’clock, we began the distribution. The line initially stretched around the building! At first, I served at the front door and helped let people in one by one. Although it was a cold morning, everyone was in good spirits.
I had more time to get to know the business owners when I worked at the table upstairs. It was incredibly powerful to hear the impact of this grant program on local business owners. Many people were emotional in their praise or thanks, assuring me that the grant was saving their business. All the behind-the-scenes work taken on by GPCOG staff that led up to this project was proven fruitful.
About Eric Hall
Eric is from Lewiston, Maine, and a recent graduate of Bowdoin College. At Bowdoin he double majored in History & Government and Legal Studies and was a member of the sailing team. He also co-led the Ski and Ride Club and volunteered with Big Brother Big Sister his senior year, serving as a mentor and friend to a local middle school student. On the weekends he enjoys skiing on Maine’s mountains or playing board games with his friends. Eric is very excited to be a member of the Resilience Corps team because of his passion for public service and love of the state of Maine. He looks forward to helping to solve the pressing problems of the Greater Portland region.