ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — More than $350 million in funds has been opened up to help support Maryland small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Larry Hogan and other Maryland officials made the announcement Monday during a daily briefing about coronavirus in Maryland.

Hogan ordered all non-essential businesses close as of 5 p.m. Monday, but did not issue an official “lockdown” in the state.

Hogan also announced that the state also received its disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration Thursday, so that small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic can immediately apply for low-interest federal disaster loans to help cover the costs of payroll and accounts payable with long-term payments stretching up to 30 years.

“Today, we’re taking major steps to protect Maryland small businesses and workers,” Hogan said, launching a $175 million comprehensive business relief program. “This will bring together resources from two of our key state agencies: The Maryland Department of Commerce and the Maryland Department of Labor — to help hard-pressed Marylanders and small businesses get through this difficult period.”

The state is also launching a COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which means there’s now $7 million available to help small businesses retain their employees through this crisis.

Maryland small businesses can apply for up to $50,000 in flexible funding to help continue operations and keep their employees on payroll.

Business owners can go here for more information.

The Maryland Department of Commerce also launched a Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Fund. This $75 million fund will provide working capital to small businesses and nonprofits, with fewer than 50 employees, that have lost revenue due to this pandemic.

“These funds can be used by small businesses to pay their employees, suppliers, their rent and to cover critical operating costs to help them stay in business,” Hogan said.

Another $50 million in grants, through the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Fund, will provide direct, immediate grants of up to $10,000 to small businesses that have lost revenue due to the coronavirus.

Hogan also announced another $5 million incentive fund for small businesses to manufacture masks, personal protective equipment and other supplies to help meet the critical demands of Maryland’s healthcare workers.

Furthermore, another $40 million will be distributed to existing commerce programs to target assistance to Maryland small businesses to help them survive through this crisis and preserve the jobs of their employees.

The uncertainty is unsettling for business owners like Julie Kloster, who closed her store, Charm City Skin in Hampden, Monday, not knowing when she would re-open.

“It’s been tough as a small business owner because you never really prepare for any of this,” she said.

At first, Kloster said she didn’t want to believe she would be forced to close.

Now, despite having no money coming in, her bills are still coming due.

“We have rent to pay, we have bills to pay,” she said.

Bars and restaurants like Claddagh Pub are able to keep running but with no dine-in customers. Owner Michael Clarke said he’s glad they’re able to stay open in some form.

“We are fortunate they are letting us stay open so we can come to work and keep pedaling and keep grinding and see what happens,” he said.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner

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