Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Economic Development Authority (EDA) released a report today detailing the HoCo RISE Business Assistance Grant Program and its impact on supporting local businesses during the pandemic. As of January 31, 2021 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 EDA 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 Howard County Economic Development Authority were focused on businesses that were most severely impacted by the mitigation measures and business closures. More than 76% of businesses that received grants are women, minority, or veteran-owned.  

“The entire team at the Authority has been working tirelessly to deploy these grants to Howard County businesses,” said Larry Twele, Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO. “We are proud to be part of the team that has been able to serve the community and provide this assistance through the Executive’s HoCo RISE initiative.” 

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% 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.” 

“The resilience of Howard County businesses is tremendous. Yet, determination can only go so far when capital is needed,” said Leonardo McClarty, President/CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce. “The HoCo RISE grants are providing support exactly where small business need it and that is the bank account.”  

In February, Ball announced Round 3 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.  

“Visit Howard County commends Howard County Executive Calvin Ball for his work in providing much-needed economic disaster relief to small retail, farm, hotel, and restaurant businesses,” said Amanda Hof, Executive Director of Visit Howard County. “This assistance will help these businesses reopen and provide the tourism amenities that make Howard County an attractive place for residents and visitors alike.” 

To read the full report, please click here.   

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Scott E’s Blog has been attempting to obtain detailed information about the HoCo Rise Grant Funding for more than a month (even to the point of putting in a MPIA request for information on February 28th).

I am happy to see this report come out and some of the information within it. I will wait on the additional detailed information requested in my MPIA request and will make a determination at that time if I will do a follow up article here on the blog.

Scott E

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