ELKTON — Two resolutions were introduced Tuesday evening during the Cecil County Council’s legislative session designed to provide grant funding for Cecil County farmers as part of the county’s Upper Shore Micro Ag Grant program.
According to information on the county’s Office of Economic Development website, the program is a partnership with the Upper Shore Regional Council to provide grant funding to local agricultural businesses looking to expand, diversify or improve their marketing efforts or conduct agriculture research initiatives.
Cecil County Office of Economic Development Agribusiness Coordinator Maureen O’Shea told council members Tuesday that the grant funds include $14,000 in funding from the OED’s Video Lottery Terminal funding, $14,000 from the Upper Shore Regional Council and from those funds, the Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation would match up to $14,000, for a possible total of up to $42,000 in grant funds.
Grant requests ranging from $250 up to a maximum of $5,000 will be considered on a competitive basis and priority is given to projects that: Benefit the entire Ag community; include two or more businesses working in cooperation; involve new or emerging markets; support Black, indigenous and people of color, women or veteran farmers, or; promote the CecilGrown Buy Local Campaign, according to information on the county’s website.
O’Shea explained that for the MARBIDCO funding, farmers would have to contribute 50 percent of the cost of their project on top of the grant funds that they get from MARBIDCO. O’Shea explained how the grant funds could work as follows, “So our maximum micro grant is $5,000, of that $5,000, $2,500 of that fund is Cecil County money, $2,500 is Upper Shore Regional Council money. Because Cecil County has invested $2,500 into that project, that farmer project, $2,500 can then be matched by MARBIDCO.”
O’Shea further explained that a project, such as the one she described, only qualifies for the additional MARBIDCO funding if they are also willing to put in $7,500 to match, making a $15,000 project.
According to the county’s website, in order to be eligible for grant funding applicants must operate an agricultural business in Cecil County and be actively engaged in farming in one of several categories. There are also five types of projects that are eligible. More details can be found at https://www.ccgov.org/government/economic-development/economic-development/agriculture/upper-shore-micro-ag-grant
During the discussion on the introduction of the two related resolutions an additional $2,000 in funding for advertising was also discussed, with the additional $2,000 coming from the Upper Shore Regional Council.
Both resolutions will be up for consideration during the council’s Jan. 19 meeting.
In other matters before the council:
• A resolution was introduced for the supplemental appropriation of $5,000 to the special revenue/other grant fund of OED tourism to record the grant awarded from the Upper Shore Regional Council for the purpose of a Winter Lights Cecil Nights marketing campaign. Cecil County Tourism Director Sandy Turner explained that Winter Lights Cecil Nights is a promotion designed to partner with towns to come up with ways to get people out of their homes during the cold winter months and into towns to support local businesses. She said each town is doing something a little different with a winter based theme.
“We just wanted to brighten up the county and give citizens something fun to do in the cold weather and support our small businesses,” Turner said.