ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan made two major announcements during a press conference Thursday that will protect small businesses reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

“During this crisis our small businesses have had to make very difficult decisions to move ahead with layoffs and furloughs, despite their best efforts,” Hogan said. “As a result, many businesses are scheduled to face massive automatic increases in the unemployment taxes they will be forced to pay through no fault of their own.”

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To avoid another blow to businesses, Hogan signed an executive order to protect Maryland businesses from “sudden or substantial increased in their unemployment taxes.”

Emergency relief will help struggling businesses keep their operations going and keep more people on their payroll.

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The state provided $75 million in emergency loans to small businesses. Instead of having to pay back the state, Hogan directed the Department of Commerce to forgive the entire $75 million in small business debt.

The loans will be converted to grants.

“This will provide additional much needed relief to many of those small businesses, so that they can stay in business and keep their employees on their payrolls,” Hogan 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.

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CBS Baltimore Staff