The County Council this week approved two special appropriations and introduced a third designed to help businesses and organizations recover from the COVID-19 emergency.

The council unanimously okayed $14 million to create the Reopen Montgomery Business Assistance Program. The funds will reimburse county businesses and nonprofit organizations reopening expenses incurred to comply with new state and county health regulations due to the crisis.

Funding for this appropriation comes from Public Health Emergency Grant funds approved in March and the federal CARES Act, according to a press release.

The release reads, “A business or non-profit organization is eligible to receive assistance from the Reopen Montgomery Business Assistance Program if it:

  • has its physical locations only in the County or its County-based locations account for more than 50 percent of the business’s total number of employees or 50 percent of the business’s total sales;
  • employs 100 or less full-time-equivalent employees;
  • has not received financial assistance from the County for reopening expenses related to the Covid-19 health crisis; and
  • has incurred reopening reimbursable expenditures between March 16, 2020 and 30 days following the County’s Phase Three reopening.”

Under this program, each eligible entity may receive up to $5,000 for expenses related to personal protective equipment, materials to create barriers, dividers, protected areas, contactless payment systems, cleaning supplies, signs, outdoor furniture, and disposable food containers and utensils.

The council also unanimously approved a special appropriation of $3,250,000 to support creative professionals and arts and humanities organizations affected financially by the pandemic.

These funds will provide $250,000 in mini-grants of up to $3,000 to individual artists and creative workers. In addition, $3 million will be available to provide grants to arts and humanities organizations for general operating expenses.

Finally, the council introduced a special appropriation of $3 million to help medical and dental providers. The appropriation would earmark $2 million to create a grant program to assist independent primary care medical and dental providers whose business has been affected by the COVID-19 emergency.

In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services would receive $500,000 to support community clinics and provide services to certain residents.

Another $500,000 would be allocated for grants “to provide additional access to healthcare by expanding telehealth or supporting medical innovations with a focus on reducing disproportionate health outcomes. These grants would be capped at $25,000 per provider and $50,000 for direct financial support,” according to the press release.

The council plans to hold a public hearing and vote on this appropriation at 1:30 p.m. on July 14.

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

Mike Diegel