On October 22, 2020, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the launch of the “Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative,” which will secure $250 million in funding from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to directly assist small businesses, local restaurants and entertainment venues, and arts organizations across Maryland. As a result of this initiative, Governor Hogan will be doubling the state’s allocation of emergency economic relief funds to $500 million through a combination of new and existing programs.
In a press conference he held last week, Governor Hogan asserted that the initiative “will be critical to the thousands of struggling restaurants, small businesses, and Main Streets across the state that are attempting to weather this crisis,” adding that he had directed the state’s government agencies to expedite the distribution of funds to citizens and small businesses in need, and would work with local partners and stakeholders if necessary.
The Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative will also provide an additional $50 million in funds to the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund—which awards grants of up to $10,000 to businesses with 50 or fewer employees and has distributed more than 9,600 grants to small businesses across the state of Maryland as of October 2020—to bring its total funding to $145 million and clear the backlog of eligible applications.
The initiative will provide direct grant relief to qualifying local restaurants, which can be used for:
Working capital, such as rent and purchase of equipment and services to expand outdoor dining through physical improvements including tents, heaters, warmers, and carts
Purchase of PPE
Technology to support carryout and delivery
Infrastructure improvements, including HVAC system upgrades
The funding will be allocated through local jurisdictions and must be distributed no later than December 31, 2020.
The initiative will also provide funding to prevent small business layoffs, promote teleworking, support local entertainment venues and arts organizations, sustain the state’s hometown tourism efforts, and increase support for low-interest loans to small and minority businesses through the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA). Governor Hogan has also set aside $100 million that can be immediately distributed to areas that have been hit the hardest by the pandemic until the federal government issues additional stimulus relief.