BERLIN – Businesses in Berlin’s downtown are now able to apply for financial support following an announcement from Governor Larry Hogan this week.
On Tuesday, Hogan announced $7 million in awards for Main Street Maryland programs. Berlin’s Main Street program received $194,113 that will be used to provide grants to businesses within the district. Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director, thanked Hogan for the funding.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “The businesses and the Town of Berlin are grateful.”
In an announcement Tuesday, Hogan said all of the state’s designated Main Street communities had applied for and received funding. Through this relief, more than 5,000 businesses will be eligible for support.
“Maryland communities would not be the same without our vibrant, historic Main Streets,” Hogan said. “We are proud to support local small businesses and help them recover from the economic toll brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Wells said that Main Street programs began working with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development on a funding proposal to present to the governor last fall. Wells talked to local merchants to see what sort of support they could use as the pandemic continued and submitted the town’s application back in November.
“Each business has its own needs and I wanted a variety of things people could apply for,” she said.
As a result, now that the town has the funding businesses within Berlin’s Main Street district can seek money for a variety of COVID-related expenses and also to redesign their shops to allow for more physical distancing. Wells said the grants, which will range from $2,500 to $10,000, can be used to pay rent or utility bills. They can also be used to purchase PPE or to help a merchant improve the layout of their facility to allow for more physical distancing. Applications are due March 19.
“It’s not first come first serve,” she said. “Each application will be reviewed by a panel which consists of Maryland Main Street folks and Town of Berlin staff.”
The funding has to be spent by June, and if there is money remaining after Main Street businesses apply Wells said the town would offer grants to businesses outside its Main Street district.
“If we have enough we’ll open it up,” she said.
Other Lower Shore Main Street programs will also benefit from the state funding. The Ocean City Development Corporation received $138,652, Main Street Princess Anne Inc. received $140,316 and the City of Salisbury received $183,021. Sen. Mary Beth Carozza issued a statement in support of the awards following Hogan’s announcement.
“This funding will go a long way in providing much-needed relief to our Main Streets as they navigate recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said. “I have been a strong supporter of Maryland’s Main Street program and had the opportunity to work with the leadership of the Lower Shore Main Streets and will continue to advance their priorities.”