The Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation has awarded a total of $200,000 in grants to 25 local companies to make personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MCEDC, a public-private economic development nonprofit, and the County Council each contributed $100,000 to create the Local Production Fund on April 21.
Existing businesses in the county, sole proprietors and nonprofits could apply between April 22 and May 1. There were 51 applications, according to a press release.
The grants range from $2,500 to $25,000, and most are for making masks, face shields and cleaning products. One lab in Germantown received $25,000 for COVID-19 testing.
Joyful Bath Co. in North Bethesda, which makes soaps, bath balms and other home cleaning products, received $7,500.
Owner Rochel Roland said in an interview on May 15 that her company is using the money to make an all-purpose surface cleaner made with a citric acid solution.
“How we came about discovering that we had the capabilities for doing this is that early on in the shutdown, we had received citric acid and other ingredients for a project, and the project got canceled,” she said. “So I was trying to figure out what the heck we could do with all the ingredients and supplies and everything like that.”
Roland said the cleaner is nontoxic and made from natural ingredients. The cleaner “packs a punch and mitigates the spread of germs and disease,” she said.
“I was thrilled that we could actually produce it,” she said.
Roland said her store initially closed when the health crisis started, but she later realized that her business was considered essential under Gov. Larry Hogan’s executive order. The store’s five employees could come back to work, she said.
Roland said her business is surviving, but has lower sales than before the pandemic.
“Fortunately, we had started back up in the fall ramping up our online marketing strategy, and during this time, our online sales have dramatically increased. So that’s good. And we’re offering curbside pickup. But if we hadn’t laid that foundation back in the fall, these would be extra challenging times,” she said.
Print 1 Printing and Copying in Bethesda received $10,000 to produce face shields for the public.
Owner Jeff Gordon said last week that there could be demand for the shields, even though they’re not currently as popular as masks.
“When offices start opening up, I do think more people will need shields. I think people will use these in restaurants and what have you, just to have a little extra protection,” he said.
Gordon said sales activity have dropped about 85% since the beginning of the health crisis, in part because many of his company’s products are for community events.
“Everything we print is all centered around schools, churches or seminars or events or functions. So clearly, all that stuff’s not happening. So now we’re doing a newsletter, a little bit of business printing, lots of signage,” he said.
Other local businesses that received money through the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation included:
- African Diaspora United Inc. in North Bethesda, $5,000 to make masks.
- Biotech LLC in Germantown, $2,500 to make masks.
- Bonsai Technology Co. in North Bethesda, $7,500 to make masks
- CN of Germantown LLC, $2,500 to make face shields
- FAsMarketPlace Inc. in Silver Spring, $7,500 to make masks
- Flowers Designs LLC in Silver Spring, $7,500 to make masks
- Germode Dream LLC in Silver Spring, $5,000 to make masks
- Ghozt Lighting LLC in Germantown, $2,500 to make face shields
- Linda Blackbourn Jewelry LLC in Silver Spring, $2,500 to make masks
- Line Dot Corp in Gaithersburg, $12,500 to make masks and gowns
- Margaret Lynch in Olney, $2,500 to make masks
- NDN International LLC in Potomac, $4,000 to make a hand-washing device
- Olive & Loom in North Bethesda, $7,500 to make sanitizers and cleansers
- One Acre Farm LLC in Dickerson, $6,000 to operate a food co-op
- Robotic Research in Clarksburg, $20,000 to make face shields
- Rockville Robotics Inc. in Rockville, $2,500 to make face shields
- Ruth Chavez in Silver Spring, $5,000 to make masks
- Sha’s Creation Inc. in Silver Spring, $7,500 to make sanitizers and cleansers
- Strategic College Advising & Planning Solutions LLC in Germantown, $20,000 to make face shields
- Takemori Consulting LLC in Germantown, $2,500 to make masks
- Tierra Floral Design LTD in Rockville, $20,000 to make face shields
- Vietnamese American Services Inc. in Silver Spring,$5,000 to make masks
- Zalgen Labs LLC in Germantown, $25,000 for testing
By August, each company must file with the MCEDC an update on how the funds have been used and the progress on making the products, according to the press release.
Dan Schere can be reached at email@example.com