Several MD counties offering relief programs for small businesses

Several Maryland counties are offering residents access to loan or grants programs for small businesses impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) shutdown.

The Prince George's County COVID19 Business Relief Fund, which totals $15 million, can be used to support cash operating expenses including payroll, suppliers, rent, fixed debt payments and other business-critical cash operating costs. The loans, not to exceed $100,000, carry a fixed interest rate of 3.75% with no principal or interest payments for 12 months.

The loans are for county-based small businesses with a principal business office or location physically located in Prince George's County. Businesses must meet the U.S. Small Business Administration definition of a small business and must be a for-profit entity.

There is no application fee, and the loan application will be available from April 13-May 15.

Prince George's County also offers grants to provide working capital for county-based small businesses whose operations have been interrupted by COVID-19. The $2.5 million program offers up to $10,000 for business with more than 10 employees and up to $5,000 for business with fewer than 10 employees.

The county also has a cash card program for hourly workers' immediate needs such as utilities, gas, and food. Employ PG, in partnership with the Greater Washington Community Foundation, has launched the Prince George's County COVID-19 Hourly Employee Relief Fund under which county residents who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for a $200 EPG Visa Cash Card.

Applications are open at employpgedge.com. Priority will be given to Prince George's County residents who were earning $19 or less per hour prior to their layoff.

More information on the Prince George's County programs is available here.

Carroll County has established the $500,000 Carroll County Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund to provide working capital for county small businesses with disrupted operations due to COVID-19. The program offers $1,250 grants to businesses established prior to March 5, 2020, that have between two and 25 employees.

Eligible uses for the grant funds include working capital to support payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expense that occur in the ordinary course of business operations.

Applications opened April 7 and are available here.

The Montgomery County Council has approved $20 million in emergency funds for grants to small businesses and non-profits impacted by COVID-19. County officials said they are currently developing an application process and will post the application on its website when it becomes available. The county website can be accessed here.

The Cecil County COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Micro Grant Program is for businesses hit hardest by virus disruption.

The $200,000 program provides grants up to $10,000 to businesses that have realized a "significant hardship." It is open to businesses that employed 25 or less full-time persons prior to March 15, 2020; are in good standing with the state of Maryland and Cecil County; and demonstrate an adverse economic impact as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and associated state of emergency in the state. Grants may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

The county also offers Cecil Catalyst COVID-19 Loan Program that offers amounts of $5,000 to $75,000, but officials said requests ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 are encouraged at this time. The loans may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent and mortgage payments, materials, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

The interest rate is fixed at 3% for the term of repayment with interest-only payments during year one. Collateral guarantee loans of $15,000 or less will be unsecured, while loans greater than $15,000 may be unsecured or secured at the discretion of a loan review committee.

More information on the Cecil County programs is available here.

Applicants for any programs are urged to consult with tax advisers to determine eligibilty.

On the state level in Maryland, the Department of Commerce announced it is no longer accepting new applications for its COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant and Loan programs. The department said all applications that have been submitted are currently being reviewed in the order received.

The MTHA will continue to provide updates on the state programs as well as any other counties that may offer COVID-19 loan or grant assistance.

The Maryland Business Express, operated by the state, also updates programs and provides other information related to COVID-19.

MJC alters hours for access to Laurel, Pimlico stable areas

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The Maryland Jockey Club April 7 announced new hours for access to the stable areas at Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course.

Effective immediately, entry to the stable areas will not be permitted between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. each day. In the case of an emergency, trainers will be allowed access between those times.

Supplemental Q&A to horsemen's COVID-19 relief webinar

The following Q&A is a supplement to the April 3 COVID-19 relief webinar hosted by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. The questions are listed in the order of submittal.

The full replay of the webinar is available here.

Disclaimer: Below are questions the MTHA received after the webinar and the answers are based on information from the two Maryland presenters, Bill Shaughnessy and Amanda Chong, attorneys with Gordon Feinblatt LLC of Baltimore. These answers are provided for general information only. This is not legal advice. Anyone seeking legal advice should reach out to an attorney directly with respect to your particular situation.

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COVID-19 relief programs discussed during horsemen's webinar

Horsemen on April 3 were provided with a comprehensive outline of federal and state programs geared toward financial relief now available because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and they also received an update on the status of the return of live racing in two states.

More than 400 individuals participated in an afternoon webinar, moderated by MTHA Executive Director David Richardson, and sponsored by the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association, Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association and the Pennsylvania Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association. Speakers with expertise in the loan or grant programs explained how they work and eligibility requirements.

"I want to repeat the action items," said Bill Shaughnessy of the Gordon Feinblatt law firm in Baltimore. "This money is out there. And it can be grant money, but there is a short window. Go get your money."

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Payroll Protection Program applications now available

The Paycheck Protection Program authorizes up to $349 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 crisis. All loan terms will be the same for everyone.

The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as:

  • The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and most mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs over the eight-week period after the loan is made; and
  • Employee and compensation levels are maintained.

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Q&A on Economic Retention Credit in CARES Act

The following is an FAQ document on the Economic Retention Credit included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, known as the CARES Act.

What businesses qualify for the employee retention credit?

Any employer, regardless of size, is eligible for the credit during calendar year 2020 if the business: (1) is fully or partially suspended due to a governmental order related to COVID-19, or (2) experiences a significant decline in gross receipts (i.e., a reduction of 50% of gross receipts from the same quarter in 2019). The credit also applies to tax-exempt organizations if the operation of the organization is fully or partially suspended due to the circumstances described in (1) above. The credit generally does not apply to governmental employers, including the U.S. government, state and local governments, or any agency of the foregoing.

Is the credit limited to businesses affected by COVID-19?

Yes. The credit only applies to qualified wages paid by a business whose operations have been fully or partially suspended pursuant to a governmental order related to COVID-19, or have experienced a significant decline (i.e., 50%) in gross receipts, as described above, during the period from March 13, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

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