CUMBERLAND — The Allegany County Board of Commissioners announced Thursday the creation of a fund to award grants to small businesses impacted by the coronavirus threat.
Titled the COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Fund, the program makes available $2,500 grants to qualifying small businesses with no repayment.
The establishment of the fund was announced at Thursday’s regular meeting of the commissioners at the county office complex.
Jake Shade, county commission president, said local small businesses are “hurting and need help now.” He said that federal and state programs are ramping up but he wanted to get help in the hands of the business owners quickly.
“These businesses have seen steep drop-offs in their business,” said Shade. “This fund establishes a one-time grant award of $2,500 and there is no repayment required. Ideally we would like these funds to be available as soon as next week or the following week.
“The state obviously has a much bigger checkbook, but it takes longer for them to get the money out the door so we want to get it out as fast as possible. This is similar to what the state of Maryland is doing but just at a very smaller level. We do have some guidelines in place and it will be done on a case-by-case basis.”
To be eligible for a grant, the businesses must have a physical address in Allegany County and be in good standing with the state of Maryland. The business must have no more than 15 full-time employees as of March 1 and demonstrate a revenue loss of 50% related to the virus. The applicants cannot be home-based businesses, churches or religious institutions, banks or financial institutions, real estate entities or government agencies.
Shade said the micro-grants can be used by businesses to pay rent, mortgages or utility costs.
Brandon Butler, county administrator, said the grants are designed for owners to maintain their businesses. He said the larger state and federal assistance programs are more tailored to keep employees and prevent layoffs.
The county’s COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Fund opens Friday. For more information, including how to apply, visit the county’s website, gov.allconet.org, or call the county office complex at 301-777-2526.
The county commission meetings are currently closed to the public but are livestreamed on the county’s Youtube channel.
Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.