ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) released a report today detailing the HoCo RISE Business Assistance Grant funding and its impact on supporting local businesses during the pandemic. As of September 20, 2021, HoCo RISE has disbursed more than $20.77 million through 2,251 grants.
This funding consisted of:
- $1.38 million in Howard County Government grant funds;
- $8.35 million in State funding including Maryland Rainy Day and RELIEF Act funds; and,
- $11.04 million in CARES Act funding designated by Howard County for HoCo RISE Business Grants.
Businesses have faced uncertainty and an unpredictable future at nearly every turn during this pandemic. We have nearly 10,000 businesses that call Howard County home, and since last summer, we have provided more than $20 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.
To date, HCEDA has completed the administration of five rounds of funding to eligible Howard County businesses in need, with each round focused on different sectors:
- Round 1: A total of $2.3 million in grant funds were distributed to storefront retail and service, restaurants, farms, childcare providers, and hotels
- Round 2: A total of $11.25 million in grant funds were distributed to storefront retail and service, restaurants, farms, childcare providers, and hotels
- Round 3: A total of $4.48 million in grant funds were distributed to restaurants, hotels, and all other businesses including home-based businesses
- Round 4: A total of $1.78 million in grant funds were distributed to restaurants and hotels
- Round 5: A total of $982,500 in grant funds were awarded to 51 non-profit organizations
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 75% of businesses that received grants are women, minority, or veteran-owned.
“The EDA team was proud to serve the Howard County business community during this time of need,” said HCEDA President and CEO Larry Twele. “This was a huge task and I am particularly proud of the award given by the National Association of Counties recognizing the team’s efforts and effectiveness of the program. The Authority will continue to work with our businesses and entrepreneurs to sustain, pivot, and grow as we emerge from the pandemic and the economy recovers.”
The grant application also included a business questionnaire asking companies about the County’s COVID-19 response and support. The survey results from February 2021 for Round 3 of grants include:
- Nearly 99% 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 pivots they’ve made throughout the pandemic are “focusing on safety” and “operating more efficiently”
The survey results from May 2021 for Round 4 of grants see a shift in responses for the biggest challenges businesses will face in the next 12 months. Responses were more even, with more concerns for “retention of skilled workers, and “supply chain disruption,” but still noted the challenge of “consumer confidence in the state of the economy.”
“The Covid 19 pandemic tested the resolve of the most established and seasoned business owners and leaders,” said Howard County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Leonardo McClarty. “The HoCo Rise grants proved to be a life line for merchants and coupled with other relief efforts allowed businesses to remain operable and to keep people employed. If there was ever a case where a little meant a lot, it was during the past 18 months.”
"Recognizing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry we are extremely grateful for the HoCo Rise business grant program as it helped many Howard County hospitality businesses sustain operations and retain employees,” said Visit Howard County Executive Director Amanda Hof.
To read the full report, please click here.