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Sykesville approves grant program to support businesses hurt by COVID-19 pandemic

The Sykesville Town Council discuss a micro-grant program to help local businesses.
The Sykesville Town Council discuss a micro-grant program to help local businesses.(Akira Kyles)

Sykesville’s town council approved a micro-grant program to help local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The micro-grant program will award $1,250 to eligible business owners who apply, with no repayment due. The grant is allowed to be used for rent payments, mortgage payments, utilities and regular overhead costs, but not any accrued debt or expenses incurred before March 15.

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The council voted unanimously to approve the program.

At the April 27 council meeting, Councilman Jeremiah Schofield introduced a draft of the proposal for the micro-grant. After discussing the amount of the proposed grant, the council decided to hold a public hearing and hold a vote May 11.

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There was only one comment from the public during the public hearing; the resident expressed his opposition to the micro-grant program, arguing that the town should not be in the business of handling out money to local companies.

Home-based businesses, churches, nonprofits, banks and financial institutions, investment real-estate entities, and government agencies may not apply for the program. To apply, businesses must be registered entities in good standing with the State of Maryland, have a physical establishment within Sykesville, have no more than 25 full-time employees as of March 1, be engaged in activities currently regulated or affected by the COVID-19 Maryland state of emergency, demonstrate a loss of business revenue of 50% or more related to COVID-19, and have no pre-existing tax liens or legal judgments.

In partnership with the Downtown Sykesville Connection, the town also applied for a $50,000 grant with the state matching their $50,000, totaling $100,000. And town officials are hoping to confirm with the state in June that they’ve been awarded $50,000 more.

The council members also discussed letting businesses that applied apply again if Sykesville is awarded the additional $50,000 next month, but they made no decision.

Schofield said on April 27 that there is a total of 74 small businesses in Sykesville, and Downtown Sykesville Connection conducted a poll of those businesses. About a third of those businesses, 25, responded to the poll; of those, 92% stated they have lost 50% or more of their revenue and 68% said they have lost 75% or more of their revenue.

The applications will be posted on the on the town’s site Wednesday, according to Mayor Ian Shaw, and can be submitted starting at 10 a.m. on May 15. It isn’t clear when the town funds would be distributed, but the state funds would not be distributed until after June 1.

The Mount Airy Town Council considered a similar measure on Friday, but voted, 3-2, to defeat a budget amendment that would have awarded $1,000 each to 50 town businesses.

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