Howard County to provide grants to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and the Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) today released application instructions for a $5.7 grant program that will aid locally-owned storefront retail, restaurants, and farmers that have experienced significant financial loss caused directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 public health emergency and plan to re-open.
The HOCO RISE Howard County Business Grant program includes:
- A Storefront Retail Assistance Program, providing $2.7 million to locally-owned, small retailers, and service merchants in commercial space who have been forced to close because of Governor Hogan’s non-essential business order.
- An Agriculture Assistance Program, providing $800,000 in total grant assistance to support local, full, or part-time farms affected by the decreased demand by local restaurants as well as a drastic decline in commodity prices.
- A Restaurant Assistance Program, providing $2.0 million to locally-owned restaurants for support for accommodations required to re-open outdoor or indoor service and customer access.
“This $5.7 million of relief funding will help businesses with the response and recovery from the pandemic right now,” said Howard County Executive Calvin Ball. “As we adjust to our new normal, there will be additional costs of doing business to keep employees and customers safe. These grants address immediate needs and ensure businesses have the funds, resources, and support to adapt to these changes.”
Applications for the grant program will open at 7 a.m. on June 11, 2020, and close at 11:59 p.m. on June 17, 2020. More information is available on the HCEDA website.
The grant program is supported by a portion of the County’s CARES funding. As previously reported on Conduit Street, the CARES Act included $150 billion in new federal funding targeting state and local governments.
As counties work to protect their residents, local businesses, and economies from the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are making significant financial investments to address immediate public health and safety needs. At the same time, counties are experiencing massive and unprecedented declines in revenue as a result of the economic downturn.
Howard County so far has spent more than $9.3 million in COVID-19 response and recovery efforts to date and expects to lose at least $35 million in local revenue as a result of the pandemic.
The County is projecting more than $22 million in health-related expenses stemming from the pandemic. The CARES Act will support the following types of health-related expenses:
- Salaries for emergency management and services dedicated to mitigating and responding to the pandemic
- Acquisition and distribution of supplies
- Expenses for public safety measures
- Communications and enforcement
- Disinfection of public areas
Additionally, the County expects to incur more than $9 million in non-health related expenses related to the public health crisis. The following are non-health related expenses that will be supported by the County’s CARES Act funding:
- Hazard pay for employees performing essential work during the pandemic
- Technology expenses to improve telework capabilities
- Care for homeless populations
- Food delivery to residents
- Rental assistance support