More details and resources are emerging related to Gov. Larry Hogan’s new $250 million economic relief package, which aims to provide assistance to Maryland businesses that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The “Maryland Strong: Economic Recovery Initiative,” which will provide funding from the state’s Rainy Day Fund, doubles Maryland’s total commitment for emergency economic relief to $500 million.
In an Oct. 26 call the Maryland Association of CPAs, Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz and her team said the relief package includes the following provisions:
- Nearly 20,000 small businesses applied for aid through the Maryland Small Business Covid-19 Relief Grant Fund, prompting the state to close the application window and start a waiting list.
- About 4,000 applications were approved before the state ran out of money. Gov. Hogan put $45 million more into the program in July.
- A new infusion of $50 million will clear the backlog of businesses that were qualified by the Maryland Department of Commerce.
- Businesses currently on the waitlist do not need to reapply.
- No new applications will be accepted.
Direct relief for restaurants
- $50 million will be allocated for direct relief to restaurants.
- The funding will be distributed through the 23 counties and Baltimore City on a prorated basis depending on the number of restaurant establishments in each jurisdiction.
- Check for relief packages on the state’s COVID-19 county resources page.
- Funds must be expended no later than Dec. 31, 2020.
- A broad range of expenses will be considered, such as outdoor heaters, tents, or improving website technology for an online delivery system.
Direct relief for Main Street
- $15 million is earmarked to for-profit or not-for-profit entertainment and live performance venues.
- $5 million will go to the state’s 33 designated Main Streets and eight City of Baltimore-designated Main Streets. That money will deploy to local business communities that are mom-and-pop shops unique to their communities — not chain stores).
- $5 million is earmarked for venues that attract tourism.
- The funds will be distributed through the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
- An additional $20 million in funding will be applied to the Layoff Aversion Fund.
- Applications will be reviewed by the Department of Labor for grants up to $50,000.
- A policy will be released this week to explain specifics of this program. That policy will be posted on the Maryland Business Express web page.
- The fund is focused on companies that incurred unexpected expenses due to COVID-19 but did not lay off any employees.
- Qualifying businesses may request reimbursement for expenses incurred while the state of emergency was declared.
- The fund excludes rent, vehicles, hazard pay, and marketing cost.
- Businesses must be in good standing with the Comptroller’s Office, their unemployment insurance must be up to date, and they must not have received any previous award of Layoff Aversion funding.
Expansion of small and minority business low-interest loans
- $5 million will be allocated to the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority for loans to businesses owned by economically and socially disadvantaged entrepreneurs — the smallest of businesses).
Expansion of funding for arts organizations
- $3 million will be allocated to the Maryland State Arts Council’s Emergency Grant Program for arts organizations and artists.
Emergency Rapid Response Fund for small businesses
- This fund sets aside $100 million that can be immediately deployed to areas where there is the greatest need as the pandemic continues to affect various sectors, and as state and local governments wait for the federal government to take action on additional stimulus relief.