BALTIMORE, MD. — Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Initiative, which establishes the COVID-19 Small Business Task Force, a public-private partnership, and a $5.5 million fund to provide financial assistance to small businesses, as well as other resources and guidelines to help businesses reopen, without compromising public health, once the State of Emergency is lifted.
“This has been a very challenging time for everyone, and the economic impact has severely affected small businesses and their employees,” Mayor Young said. “Businesses who had to close would need to staff up again and there may be further guidelines on how businesses could reopen in safe manner. The task force and fund was established to help businesses with resources needed to do so.”
The COVID-19 Small Business Task Force will be co-chaired by City Councilman Eric Costello and Shelonda Stokes, Interim President of Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.
The $5.5 million fund will be administered by the Baltimore Development Corporation (BDC) in the following manner:
- Manufacturing and Procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): As an expansion of BDC and Made In Baltimore’s initial grant program, $500,000 will be allocated to provide grants to Baltimore makers and manufacturers producing PPE and for the city to purchase PPE from these manufacturers for our first responders and front line employees.
- Neighborhood Business Reopening Initiative: BDC will oversee efforts to develop and implement designs to reconfigure public right of way and public spaces to maximize outdoor seating and other business needs to provide ways to create more social distancing in Main Streets, and Retail Business License Districts (RBDLs) and certain commercial districts. This $1.5 million initiative may include the use of parklets, public information graphics & signage, and design elements to encourage people to patronize local businesses in a manner consistent with public health best practices.
- Small Business Assistance Fund: BDC will administer a $3.5 million grant fund on behalf of Baltimore City to provide financial assistance to small business enterprises (SBE) in certain commercial areas. Businesses may apply for up to $15,000 in grants for expenses such as rent, payroll and purchase of PPE that may be necessary as they plan to reopen. A portion of this fund will be set aside for businesses, which have been unable to qualify for federal aid. SBEs will be required to complete an application to request funding and provide necessary documentation. More information on eligibility and how to apply will be available on BaltimoreTogether.com by May 4, 2020.
“Through our outreach, BDC has heard from many small businesses who are struggling,” said Colin Tarbert, president and CEO of BDC. “When the time comes for neighborhood businesses to open again, we want to proactively do what we can to help. These funds will assist our commercial corridors and businesses in those areas prepare to reopen safely.”