Gov. Hogan announces new funding for COVID-19 affected businesses

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday launched a second $250 million round of grants and low-interest loans to boost businesses in the state affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

ANNAPOLIS — Saying some businesses in Maryland are “hanging on by a thread,” Governor Larry Hogan Thursday launched a $250 million program dubbed “Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative.”

Hogan said this infusion of cash from the Rainy Day Fund “will be critical to the thousands of struggling restaurants, small businesses and Main Streets across the state that are attempting to weather the crisis.”

While other states across the country are witnessing a surge in coronavirus cases, Maryland is one of a handful that have remained steady, the governor reported. Cecil County did report a surge Wednesday of 83 news cases. This was after the Cecil County Detention Center reported that 79 inmates and staff at the Elkton facility tested positive for COVID-19.

Even though Hogan is allowing most businesses to be open with mask wearing and social distancing guidelines in place, businesses continue to struggle to operate and recover from being out of business for several months prior.

Hogan had earlier in the pandemic dispatched $250 million dollars in like-minded support.

With this initiative it brings to $500 million the amount the state has made available for COVID-19 emergency economic relief.

“I have directed our entire team in each agency to ensure that this much-needed funding gets out the door to our struggling citizens and small businesses as quickly as possible,” Hogan said. “We also intend to work closely with our local partners so that they can assist in expeditiously getting this money into the hands of those who need it most.”

The money will be split across several targeted areas including $50 million to the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund and $50 million in direct relief to restaurants.

Small businesses can apply for up to $10,000 and restaurants can apply for funds for personal protective equipment, technology for carryout and delivery, and infrastructure upgrades to improve indoor ventilation.

Direct relief for Main Street will come from a $20 million dollar earmark for those hardest hit including entertainment venues.

The Layoff Aversion Fund will be held up with $20 million to help businesses with around 20 employees maintain their workforce. Participants can be funneled to the state’s Work Share program, or use the funds for cleaning supplies and other equipment or materials needed.

Lastly, the $250 million fund will mark $5 million to help small and minority businesses obtain low-interest loans through the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority; $3 million to support arts organizations and $2 million in support of hometown tourism.

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