US Representative Jill Tokuda (HI-02) recently introduced the MAUI STRONG Act, a bill that would provide nonprofits, small businesses with 25 or fewer employees, and independent contractors that experienced revenue loss because of the Maui fires with grants of $20,000 to help with a variety of expenses.
If enacted, the bill would establish the Emergency Micro-enterprise Recovery Grant Pilot Program to award tax-free grants to eligible nonprofits and small businesses on Maui. Grants could be used to maintain payroll, purchase materials or equipment, make rent or mortgage payments, or pay for obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses.
“Nonprofits and small businesses are the lifeblood of our communities. As Maui begins to rebuild and focus on long-term recovery, I’ve heard from residents, micro-business owners, and nonprofit organizations who are facing an uncertain future and feel frustrated that not enough is being done to be responsive to their needs,” said Rep. Jill Tokuda.
“Lahaina was home to as many as a thousand businesses, many that were small and considered a micro-business with nine employees or less. They provided a range of goods and services for Kamaʻāina and visitors alike. We must do everything possible to support those who are struggling due to the fires. My MAUI STRONG Act would provide direct relief for the small businesses and nonprofit organizations that support our local ʻohana and communities,” Congresswoman Tokuda said.
Representative Ed Case cosponsored the bill in the US House of Representatives.
“This bill is a critical first step to provide non-repayable financial support to boost Maui’s economic recovery,” said Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO, Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi.
This bill follows Rep. Tokuda’s recent introduction of the Natural Disaster Tax Relief Act, which aims to lessen the tax burden on people impacted by major disasters in 2023.