Photo courtesy HC Government.

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) released a report detailing the HoCo RISE Business Assistance Grant Program and its impact on supporting local businesses during the pandemic. As of Jan. 31, HoCo RISE has dispersed more than $13.55 million in grants to 1,483 Howard County Businesses.

This funding consisted of:

  • $2.51 million in State of Maryland Rainy Day funds for restaurants; and
  • $11.04 million in CARES Act funding designated by Howard County for HoCo RISE Business Grants.

“Businesses during the past year have faced uncertainty and an unpredictable future at nearly every turn,” said Ball. “We have nearly 10,000 businesses that call Howard County home and since last summer, we have provided more than $13.5 million in funding to our restaurants, small-retailers, farms, hotels, live venues and childcare providers. We’re incredibly grateful to our partners at the HCEDA who have been vital in informing our community about these grants, and ensured funding reached those who needed it most. We’re also thankful to the state for supporting some of our hardest hit industries, restaurants and lodging. These businesses survival will be critical to our road to recovery from this pandemic.”

The funding was distributed in two rounds. There were 674 business that received Round 1 funding and 809 businesses that received Round 2 funding. The report details the demographics and districts of businesses that received grants. The Ball Administration and the HCEDA were focused on businesses that were most severely impacted by the mitigation measures and business closures. More than 76 percent of businesses that received grants are women, minority or veteran-owned.

The grant application also included a business questionnaire asking companies about the County’s COVID-19 response and support. The survey results included:

  • Nearly 97 percent of businesses rated the responsiveness of the Howard County Government during the pandemic as “good”, “very good” or “excellent.”
  • Respondents noted that the three biggest challenges businesses will face in the next 12 months are, “managing business through social-distancing measures,” “unpredictability of partners/consumers/clients in this environment,” and “consumer confidence in the state of the economy.”
  • Most businesses also noted that the largest pivot they’ve made throughout the pandemic is “focusing on safety.”

In February, Ball announced the third round of the grants which included $2 million in county funds for businesses, $1.5 million from the state for restaurants and $1.6 million from the state for hotels. This round of funding just closed, with 276 applications for home-based and other businesses, 173 applications for restaurants, and 30 applications for hotels. Businesses receiving grants in this third round can expect their funding by the end of March.

To read the full report, visit HERE.