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Mount Airy council approves smaller grant program for small businesses than previously considered

Mount Airy Town Council members meet through a remote video conference on Monday, June 1.
Mount Airy Town Council members meet through a remote video conference on Monday, June 1. (Akira Kyles)

Small businesses in Mount Airy will soon be eligible to receive funds from the town as part of a new microgrant program — though the program will have fewer funds than in a previous proposal.

The Mount Airy Town Council voted unanimously Monday to add $16,230 to the budget’s general fund for the Small Business Operating Assistance Micro-Grant. Those funds will be added to $13,770 in unspent funds in the Economic Development Commission’s 2020 budget, totaling $30,000 for the microgrant program, according to Councilwoman Pamela Reed.

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As the ordinance to add the funds to the budget was introduced, Councilwoman Patricia Washabaugh pitched the idea of following up with an executive budget amendment if more funds are needed after the $30,000 are distributed.

Reed responded that was something she could agree to. So after the applications close on June 12, they plan to make a quick decision if more funding is needed.

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“We didn’t want to over-allocate funds if there wasn’t a need,” Reed said in a phone interview. “So, if the $30,000 goes immediately and very fast, the Town Council agreed to hold another emergency meeting to potentially do another budget amendment to add more funds, if necessary.”

There is an additional $30,000 in next fiscal year’s budget, which starts July 1, for a loan program, according to Reed.

There is currently an online application process, at www.mountairymd.org/410/Small-Business-Operating-Assistance-Gran, for the microgrants that will close on June 12.

“Mayor Pat put together a subcommittee to review those applications and then award the grants, so we could potentially give 30 businesses a $1,000 grant," Reed said.

The microgrant program aims to ease the financial burdens of town businesses who have seen their financial outlook thrown into disarray by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent closing of businesses.

In an emergency meeting last month, the council voted, 3-2, against an amendment to get $1,000 to 50 businesses in town. That amendment would have added $36,230 to the General Fund Operating Budget in order to dole out $50,000 to business owners.

It’s unlikely that all businesses in Mount Airy will be eligible for the microgrant program approved Monday.

“We know we got like 400 businesses in town, but we don’t know how many we have that have less than 15 full-time employees and etcetera, etcetera,” Councilman Larry Hushour said.

Some of the eligibility requirements, other than having no more than 15 full-time employees, include demonstrating a financial need based off of balance sheet; having received no other COVID-19 relief program funding; and being a registered business entity in good standing with the State of Maryland. All criteria for eligibility are listed on Mount Airy’s website page with the application.

Councilmen Karl Munder and Jason Poirier also agreed to approve the additional funds to the budget for microgrant program.

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