2021 | Business

Council approves $1M in small-business rental assistance

Retail, service businesses that rely on foot traffic will get help

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Some small businesses will soon have access to $1 million in small-business rental assistance from Montgomery County.

On Tuesday, the County Council unanimously approved the rental assistance, which will go to retail and service businesses that rely on foot traffic.

Medical practices, professional services businesses, religious organizations and day care facilities are excluded because they do not rely on foot traffic or they have qualified for grant funding through other programs.

Council Member Will Jawando, who spearheaded the effort, said during Tuesday’s meeting that rent is often the largest cost, outside of labor, for small retail and service-related businesses.

“Many of these businesses have been hit so hard by the pandemic and have not had adequate relief. We know that businesses with under five people, which many of these will be, comprise about 60% of the businesses in the county. Many are owned by women and people of color who have been hit particularly hard and have not had access to the PPP loans and other forms of federal, state and local grants,” Jawando said, referring to the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

To be eligible for a grant of up to $10,000 or three months’ rent, whichever is less, a business must:
● Have its physical location(s) only in the county or its county-based location must account for more than 50% of the business’s total number of employees or 50% of gross sales
● Receive $500,000 or less in annual revenue prior to the pandemic
● Be classified as a retail or service-related business, but not a restaurant or food-service business, medical practice, professional services business, religious organization, or day care facility
● Have a commercial lease in the county
● Demonstrate a revenue loss due to the pandemic

If the number of applicants exceeds the amount of funding for the program, applicants will be ranked by revenue loss caused by the health crisis and by their tenure in the county.

The money for the assistance will come from leftover federal funding for the Reopen Montgomery program.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.