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Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that the state is providing an additional $250 million in funds to help businesses that have suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new funds mean the state will have invested a total of $500 million in relief for businesses.

“Today we doubling this $250 million in relief by investing $25o million from the state’s rainy day fund for a total relief package of $500 million through the Maryland Strong Economic Recovery Initiative,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.

He added: “This new $250 million investment will fund a combination of new relief programs, as well as the expansion of our existing successful relief programs in order to quickly provide additional relief to the small businesses and their employees who need, are our help the most.”

Hogan described in detail how the funds, most of which supplement existing programs, will be allocated:

  •  $50 million for the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund-marking a total investment of $145 million since the fund was established in March
  •  $50 million in relief for Maryland’s restaurants. The money will be given to local jurisdictions and must completely disbursed by the end of the year.
  • $20 million in grants via the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for struggling businesses and entertainment venues
  • $20 million for the Maryland COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund to help small businesses retain their employees. The program is operated by the Maryland Department of Labor.
  • $5 million for the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority to provide small and minority-owned businesses with low-interest loans
  • Establishment of a $100 million Emergency Rapid Response Fund for Small Businesses

Hogan said that even though the funds will provide much needed help to Maryland’s businesses it is nevertheless imperative that Congress approve a second stimulus package.

“We need both parties in Washington to stop playing politics, to end the gridlock, and to get this done for the American people. Our small business community and our struggling Marylanders who depend on them for their jobs cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Months of negotiations between the White House and lawmakers on Capitol Hill have yet to produce a substantive agreement on an aid package for the states.

There are 137,979 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Thursday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 3,924 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 3.1%, which is better than that of most states in the country. Maryland has tested nearly 3.2 million people for COVID-19.

This article originally appeared on MarylandReporter.com on October 21, 2020, and is republished with permission.

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