Council Introduces COVID-19 Help for Small Businesses, Nonprofits

The County Council yesterday introduced emergency legislation and special appropriations to assist small businesses and nonprofit organizations affected by the COVID-19 emergency.

Expedited Bill 16–20, Economic Development Fund—Public Health Emergency Grant Program—Established would allow the county executive to provide grants of up to $75,000 to organizations “with 100 or fewer full-time-equivalent employees that can demonstrate financial losses caused by the public health emergency,” according to a press release.

The bill also would allow grants of up to $2,500 for small businesses and nonprofits to use to buy equipment and technology to support teleworking.

The council also introduced a special appropriation of $20 million to fund the Public Health Emergency Grant Program.

Businesses and nonprofits would be eligible for the grants, which must be used for employee wages and benefits, taxes, debt, rent or other operating losses during the emergency.

In addition to the emergency grant program, the council introduced the following special appropriations:

  • $5 million to the Department of Health and Human Services “to support the increased need for funding existing County safety-net programs serving vulnerable populations”
  • $260,000 for Manna Food Center to expand food delivery services, and
  • $250,000 for hotel or motel rooms for medical and front-line staff.

All nine council members sponsored the Public Health Emergency Grant Program legislation. The council plans to hold public hearings and take emergency action on these items on Tuesday, March 31 in the council building.

The public will not be permitted to attend, but can participate by providing their comments either through email at [email protected], by mail to 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville, MD 20895, or placing correspondence in the drop-off box located in front of the doors of the Council Office Building, next to the fish pond entrance (parking garage side of building).

In addition to the county, the state has authorized $130 million in loan and grant funding for small businesses and manufacturers affected by COVID-19.

This emergency assistance for businesses with fewer than 50 full- and part-time employees can be used to pay cash operating expenses such as payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other costs.

Image from Wikimedia Commons licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

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