2020 | Coronavirus

High response prompts county to cut off applications for business, nonprofit grants

Cutoff will be Saturday at 5 p.m.

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After getting more than 6,200 applications for small business and nonprofit emergency grants in a little more than a week, Montgomery County will stop taking new requests on Saturday at 5 p.m.

The $25 million Public Health Emergency Grant Program will provide grants of up $75,000 to businesses and nonprofits that have 100 employees or fewer, among other requirements. The applications opened on April 15.

Jerome Fletcher, an assistant chief administrative officer for the county, said the high number of applications that were submitted was the reason for closing the process.

“We have enough applicants to fulfill our initial 1,000 awardee goals, as well as have enough to re-engage applicants if more funds are appropriated in the future,” he wrote in a text Thursday.

The 1,000 selected awardees will each receive up to $10,000 base grants first. They will then be reevaluated to see if additional funds should be awarded.

The program initially required that businesses demonstrate a revenue loss of at least 50% in March to be eligible for the grants.

But County Executive Marc Elrich told Bethesda Beat on Wednesday that the requirement was changed this week to include projected April revenue losses to expand eligibility and accuracy for actual revenue loss.

Fletcher said he didn’t know if the application process might reopen later.

“It’s possible if leadership believes this crisis stretches longer than they anticipated,” he wrote.

Montgomery County Council members have said that the current level of funding isn’t enough for what’s needed by struggling businesses and nonprofits across the county.

Of the $25 million, $10 million is set aside for restaurants and retail shops. That includes the additional $5 million that the council approved on Tuesday.

Within those funds, mini grants of up to $2,500 will be granted for technology expenses related to having employees work remotely during the pandemic.

Fletcher told Bethesda Beat on Tuesday that he expects the first grants to be distributed “very soon” because the finance department is accepting payment information from the approved applicants now.

A separate $6 million emergency grant fund for individuals and families was expected to be distributed later this week. Residents who are accessing the county’s Department of Health and Human Services resources will be able to obtain grants first.

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