Small businesses in Maryland could be eligible for $25 million in new state assistance.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced a third round of grants under the Project Restore program as part of his remarks Tuesday at the Maryland Municipal League conference in Ocean City.
“More Marylanders applied to start new businesses in 2021 than any other year in recent history,” Hogan said.
The conference marked a return to the seaside town for the association which represents more than 100 incorporated cities across the state. Hogan attended all but one of the association’s conferences in 2015, while undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of blood cancer.
Tuesday’s announcement is a repeat of Hogan’s initial rollout of the restoration project, which was also announced before the Maryland Municipal League.
Hogan said the aid is a continuation of his efforts to make the state more business-friendly.
“We changed the entire mission of the state government to be staunchly pro-jobs and pro-business,” Hogan said. “We moved Maryland’s overall economic performance from 49th out of 50 states to No. 6.”
Hogan said the new round of aid would “continue this economic recovery and help encourage the growth of new businesses on main streets and in our state’s downtown communities.”
The announcement was part of a roughly 12-minute speech by the outgoing governor. The speech was part of a six-day tour of eastern Maryland that ends Wednesday.
Hogan cited state unemployment rates that are “the lowest since the pandemic.”
“Our economy is growing at the fastest rate since the pandemic,” he said.
Hogan said the $25 million aid will be available from July 7.
The program created a year ago aimed to provide financial support to new and existing businesses and to encourage investment in vacant commercial and retail properties.
The assistance included grants of up to $30,000 for rent or mortgage payments or property improvements.
Businesses generating up to $250,000 in sales and use taxes were eligible for operating grants. The money could be used for improvements to the existing property; salaries, marketing and inventory; and other costs associated with operating a business in a previously vacant property.
The initial program provided for aid of 25 million dollars divided into two tranches.
The program was rolled out as part of an ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen many businesses close or reduce operations.
“Despite all the pressures of COVID-19, inflation and the supply chain crisis, we were able to keep most of our businesses open throughout the crisis,” Hogan said.
The governor’s speech was his last at the association. Hogan is completing the final six months of his second and final term as governor.
During his speech, Hogan ticked off what he called the accomplishments of his eight years in office, including what he said were nearly $5 billion in tax relief.
That figure includes nearly $1.5 billion in relief that was part of the 2021 relief act. That legislation represented the largest tax cut in state history until this year.
Last session, Hogan and lawmakers reached a nearly $1.9 billion deal that included tax cuts for retirees.
The governor has also generally included toll reductions made during his first term in discussions of tax and fee relief.
Hogan has received accolades from the association for leading a charge to restore cuts to state highway aid. More than a decade ago, the state cut aid to counties and municipalities by 90% or more. Since 2015, Hogan has pledged to restore aid.
“Without Governor Hogan passing legislation every year to restore highway user revenue to local government, and without his tireless advocacy and relentless leadership this year, this wouldn’t have happened – wouldn’t have happened. “, said the mayor of Salisbury, Jake Day, the outgoing president of the association.