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by: David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Staff Writer

Annapolis, MD- At a 11 am press conference this morning, Governor Larry Hogan announced an executive order closing all non-essential businesses in Maryland.

“As state and federal governments take unprecedented actions to save the lives of Marylanders during the coronavirus outbreak, the Maryland Department of Labor is here to support and protect our state’s businesses and workforce,” said Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson. “Through the new COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, we look forward to implementing creative strategies to keep Marylanders working and to help businesses continue operations.”

Governor Hogan announced more than $175 million to assist small businesses and workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More information and resources about these programs is available at businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

  • The Maryland Department of Commerce will offer up to $125 million in loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits through the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. A $75 million loan fund and a $50 million grant fund, with $1 million in grants dedicated to non-profits, will provide working capital to be used for payroll, rent, fixed-debt payments and other mission-critical cash operating costs. Businesses and nonprofits with under 50 full- and part-time employees will be eligible, and loans will range up to $50,000 and grant up to $10,000. Additional eligibility requirements can be found here.
  • Maryland Commerce is also working on creating a $5 million fund to incentivize businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to satisfy the increasing needs of the healthcare industry.
  • The Department also has a number of existing financing programs, like Advantage Maryland, which provides conditional loans for new businesses or business expansions; the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority and Fund (MIDFA), which provides loan guarantees; the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority (MSBDFA), which provides financial assistance to economically disadvantaged businesses; and the Non-Profit Interest-Free Micro-Bridge Loan Program, which provides loans to nonprofits to support ongoing operating costs while waiting on a future government grant or contract. A total of about $40 million is available through these existing programs.
  • Governor Hogan has allocated $5 million and the Maryland Department of Labor has allocated $2 million to collaboratively launch the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund. A total of $7 million in funds will be available to provide flexible rapid response services to proactively support businesses and workers undergoing economic stresses due to COVID-19. Funding can help Maryland’s workforce adhere to social distancing policies by purchasing remote access equipment and software to allow employees to work from home, providing on-site cleaning and sanitation services at businesses that have workers delivering essential services, and implementing other creative strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures in the business community.

“It is our top priority to support our business community as much as we can during this difficult time,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “We have heard from hundreds of businesses about their greatest need right now which is working capital, and designed these programs to have the most significant impact possible.”

The Maryland Department of Commerce is offering three new business assistance programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Loan Fund – This $75 million loan fund offers no interest or principal payments due for the first 12 months, then converts to a 36-month term loan of principal and interest payments, with an interest rate at 2% per annum. Learn more.
  • Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Grant Fund – This $50 million grant program offers grant amounts up to $10,000, not to exceed 3 months of demonstrated cash operating expenses for the first quarter of 2020. Learn more.
  • Maryland COVID-19 Emergency Relief Manufacturing Fund – This $5 million incentive program helps Maryland manufacturers to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) that is urgently needed by hospitals and health-care workers across the country. More information coming by Friday, March 27, 2020.

The Maryland Department of Labor is now accepting applications for the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which can provide funds to help businesses with 500 or fewer employees purchasing remote access equipment and software to allow employees to work from home, provide on-site cleaning and sanitation services or other creative strategies to mitigate potential layoffs or closures. To see details or apply please visit this website. If you have any questions please email LaborCOVID19.layoffaversion@maryland.gov.

“As state and federal governments take unprecedented actions to save the lives of Marylanders during the coronavirus outbreak, the Maryland Department of Labor is here to support and protect our state’s businesses and workforce,” said Maryland Department of Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson. “Through the new COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, we look forward to implementing creative strategies to keep Marylanders working and to help businesses continue operations.”

This assistance comes in addition to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), for which Maryland received the designation last week. The program provides low-interest federal disaster loans for small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus and will help alleviate financial strain and allow businesses to pay bills, payroll, and accounts payable, with long-term payments stretching up to 30 years. Small businesses and private non-profit organizations can apply directly to the SBA for financial assistance at this link.

For additional business resources available during the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

Information gathered from Maryland Department of Commerce and Governor Larry Hogan


David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...