Commits More Than $10 Million in Grants to Protect Jobs, Small Businesses and Artists; CCBC to Launch Online Contact Trace Investigator Training Program
County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced a series of economic relief efforts to support small businesses and individuals impacted by the severe financial pressures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Baltimore County announces $10 million in new grant funding for small businesses
- County offers $100,000 in grants to assist professional artists, musicians and performers
- Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) to launch online contact trace investigator training program
Baltimore County Announces $10 Million in New Grant Funding For Small Businesses
To support Baltimore County's small businesses, Olszewski announced the County has allocated $10 million in new grant funding for the Baltimore County COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grants Program.
"Small businesses are a critical link of our county's economy, and we must do all that we can to support them in meeting their basic needs during this crisis," said County Executive Olszewski. "As we move toward economic recovery, these grants will provide a critical bridge to Baltimore County small businesses who have not received other forms of assistance."
The Department of Economic and Workforce Development (DEWD) will administer the Baltimore County COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grants Program, which will award grants of up to $15,000 each to more than 650 Baltimore County-based small businesses on a first-come, first-served basis.
The County has set a goal to award at least 25 percent of grant funding to women and minority-owned businesses.
The County will fund these small business relief grants through the Economic Development Revolving Financing Fund, and intends to pursue emergency disaster reimbursement from the federal government.
Grant Criteria, Application and Terms
Grant applications will be posted on the DEWD website and will be accepted beginning May 11, 2020. To qualify for this grant program, small businesses must retain at least half of the workforce they had prior to January 31, 2020, which must have included at least two non-owner employees prior to Maryland's Stay-at-Home Order. They must also:
- have at least two employees who are not owners or part-owners,
- have no more than 25 employees per Baltimore County establishment,
- demonstrate that they have lost at least 40 percent of their revenues since the Stay-at-Home Order began,
- have been in operation for at least one year as of January 1, 2020, and commenced operations by December 31, 2018 or earlier, and
- certify that they have not received other forms of federal or state COVID-19 assistance or relief at the time of application, and
- be in good standing and not in default with the State of Maryland and Baltimore County.
Grant funds may only be used for payroll, operating expenses, business lease or rent, and inventory acquisition vital to the business, with at least 30 percent of the funds used to support payroll for non-owners. Funds may not be used for capital improvements or personal expenses, and if a business fails to reopen, all grant funds must be returned to the County within 14 days.
County Offers Grants to Assist Professional Artists, Musicians and Performers
As part of his commitment to the local arts community, County Executive Olszewski is making available $100,000 to provide $1,000 stipends for up to 100 artists to help them recoup some of their financial losses due to the pandemic.
Grants will be available on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are depleted, and priority will be given to lower income artists, making $37,500 or less per year. Applicants will submit a streamlined application, document their artistic portfolio, and must be adult Baltimore County residents over the age of 18. The application process will open on May 11, 2020 and details will be available on the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences web page.
Once approved, artists may use these grants for a number of purposes, including recouping losses from canceled performances and events, art-related travel expenses, lost teaching opportunities and loss of supplemental income for artists working in the service industry.
Informational Resources for Businesses
The Department of Economic and Workforce Development (DEWD) has complied an overview of resources and assistance available to affected employers and employees. This information is available on the Department's website, baltimorecountybusiness.com.
CCBC to Launch Online Contact Trace Investigator Training Program
In addition, Olszewski announced a partnership with the Community College of Baltimore County to launch a training program for contact trace investigators.
Federal and state guidelines have indicated that significant contact tracing capacity will be a critical component of any efforts to reopen businesses and other institutions, and the training course will allow individuals to become proficient in this field as those jobs begin to become available.
"At CCBC, we take pride in our ability to develop short-term training that can quickly prepare people for in-demand jobs," said CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis. "We are happy to participate in this partnership which will help secure the health and safety of our community as well as generate a pool of specially-trained candidates for new employment opportunities."
The primary training component will be an online course that is free to participants and consists of three training modules. Participants will be required to register and will work at their own pace, but the course could be completed in as little as three hours. Individuals who complete the course will still be required to complete any other training requirements set forth by an entity that hires them.
Baltimore County's Department of Health and Human Services anticipates a need to hire 60 additional contact trace investigators by July 2020 to fill temporary positions.
In Baltimore County, those positions will require at least an associate degree as well as proven experience in customer service, strong communication skills, and knowledge of community resources. The County will also seek to fill a number of the positions with individuals who speak both English and Spanish.
Currently, the County has 52 staff members performing contact tracing-most of whom were shifted to their roles from other positions within the Health Department or from Baltimore County Public School Health Services.
For additional information on the training course, visit CCBC's website.