CARES Act funding still available for businesses

Wicomico County businesses that have been struggling to stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic may be eligible for financial help from a pot of $8 million in federal funds to the county.

The money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act – or CARES Act – is being offered as grants of up to $10,000 to cover operating expenses for three months, said Dave Ryan, Executive Director of Salisbury-Wicomico Economic Development.

“We’re hopeful to find hundreds of businesses that have been impacted,” he said.

Grants have already been offered to 150 businesses in Wicomico County that applied for an earlier round of grants through the state. The Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund had $50 million for grants to businesses, but it quickly ran out of money.

Ryan said so far, he has paid out $1 million to about 100 of those businesses that missed out on the earlier grants, and he expects more applications will arrive in his office.

Starting this week, a second round of grants will be made available to other businesses in the county.

Among other qualifications, grants are targeted at three months operating expenses for businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Funds may be used for eligible expenses between March 1 and Dec. 30, 2020.

“It won’t mitigate everything, but we’re hopeful it will give them a boost,” he said.

There are about 2,000 businesses in Wicomico County with 25 or fewer employees, many of which were forced either to shut for a while or to adapt new ways of doing business. In addition to payroll, rent, mortgages and utility bills, business owners also have had the added expense of providing personal protection equipment such as masks, gloves and plexiglass barriers to protect their employees and customers.

The application period for the CARES Act grants is from July 1 through July 10. The application form can be found at swed.org. 

“I hope the funds get into the hands of the people who need it,” Ryan said.

Micro-grants in Salisbury

The city of Salisbury recently received $25,000 from Delmarva Power to be added to the city’s Covid-19 Emergency Relief Micro-Grant Program.

The program, made possible through funding previously available via the City’s Revolving Loan program, will be available to businesses that suffered a mandated closure at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unlike the original source of funds, the donation from Delmarva Power will be open to eligible businesses city-wide.

The funds can be used to provide paid sick leave to employees unable to work because a direct effect of the coronavirus, maintaining payroll and/or retaining employees during business disruptions or substantial shutdowns, meeting increased costs to obtain materials unavailable from the applicant’s original source due to interrupted supply chains, making rent or mortgage payments, repaying obligations that cannot be met due to revenue losses, and/or purchasing PPE or spending on safety measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Businesses can apply for up to $2,300 in funding and eligible applicants will be added to a lottery system when the application period closes.

The application period is open and will remain open until July 7. Awards will be made on or around July 15.

For more information about the micro-grant program or to apply, visit salisbury.md/covid-19-micro-grant-program or contact city Business Development Director Laura Soper at LSoper@salisbury.md.

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