.2 million in grants awarded to Maryland small businesses and revitalization projects
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$16.2 million in grants awarded to Maryland small businesses and revitalization projects

$16.2 million in grants awarded to Maryland small businesses and revitalization projects Listen to this article

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development has awarded more than $16.2 million to support small businesses and local revitalization projects across the state, Gov. Wes Moore announced Tuesday.

“Community growth and business growth are inextricably linked,” Moore said in a news release. “When we invest in our small businesses, we invest in the neighborhoods they serve and the Marylanders they employ.”

The funds will be divided into three different grants that will provide money to 121 businesses, local governments and economic development organizations in each state.

One of the grants, the Business Boost Microgrant Program, will go directly to small businesses to expand locations. The grant was aimed at home-based businesses that are establishing their first commercial locations.

Codetta Bake Shop, a Baltimore-based, minority-owned business, received $50,000 in grant funding. Sumayyah Bilal founded the bakery in 2018 after taking a risk and quitting her previous job as a music teacher in Howard County.

The grant will help Bilal open a full-service bakery that will also have a performance space. The grant will also help Bilal expand her business to about a dozen part-time team members and several full-time employees.

“It’s really important to me to be able to pay people what they’re worth and maybe a little more, so that’s what this grant is for,” Bilal said. “I hope we can attract really good candidates.”

Another grant, called Project Restore 2.0, awarded about $13 million in block grants to 55 organizations aimed at increasing economic development. One recipient is an economic development program that supports small businesses in Frostburg.

FrostbergFirst received a $240,000 grant to help two small businesses — a clothing boutique and a personal training studio — renovate vacant buildings, according to the program’s executive director, Deirdre Robertson.

This is the third time FrostbergFirst has received funding from the department’s business grants, Robertson said. Previous grants helped fund a pop-up shop program that helped local businesses set up shop in empty spaces, Robertson said.

This year, Project Restore 2.0 awarded grants to economic development companies rather than small businesses directly. The move allows these companies to become “matchmakers” between small businesses and empty spaces, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Jake Day.

The latest grant, called the Main Street Improvement Grant Program, will help local government business organizations in Main Street areas or state-designated areas for resilient business districts. This program awarded $966,000 to 47 recipients.

Grants earmarked for Main Street and sustainable areas could help some communities become “economic engines” and make Maryland a more competitive marketplace for businesses, Day said.

Annapolis, Frederick and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor are examples of places in Maryland that have the potential to become “world-class destinations” in terms of land-use and urban design, Day said.

“Maryland has to beat other states. We have to beat our neighbors,” Day said. “We’re going to make sure we’re building great places that compete for talent in a global economy.”