A bill aiming to boost economic development across Maryland at relatively low cost has crossed chambers. On March 9, the House gave near-unanimous approval of HB 706 – Economic Development – Sustainable Communities – Business Facade Improvement Program, forwarding the bill to the Senate.
Counties support HB 706. If signed into law, this legislation would enable qualifying businesses to apply for grants under the novel Business Facade Improvement Program to improve the outside appearance of their buildings and facilities. The ability of counties to keep their main streets and commercial districts looking vibrant and lively could very well invigorate local economies at a time when businesses across the State continue to struggle with a national economic downturn.
From the MACo Testimony:
In recent decades, certain community areas in Maryland have declined, largely due to economic factors that have seen many blue-collar jobs shift from the United States to other countries. This decline has been further exacerbated by the recent COVID-19 pandemic, which forced many small businesses to close their doors and has altered the workplace dramatically. Main streets and business districts are a driving force in many local economies, so it is critical that these areas remain vibrant centers for commerce and entertainment. HB 706 would provide a significant tool for jurisdictions looking to direct investment into their business districts. The Business Facade Improvement Program provides counties with grants that they can direct toward certain commercial areas that may have fallen into disrepair or need aesthetic changes.
For more on MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2023 legislative session, visit MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.