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Carroll County making progress after expanding eligibility for coronavirus relief funds

Carroll County has close to $2 million set aside for local restaurants and businesses to use by the end of the year, through the Carroll County Restaurant Relief program and the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund. And Jack Lyburn, the county’s economic development director, gave Carroll’s Board of Commissioners a progress report during their open session meeting Tuesday afternoon.

Lyburn said he expects the retail side of the relief fund to meet its goal, but added that the restaurants are lagging behind in applying for their money.

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The CARES Act Coronavirus Relief fund gave $500,000 for Carroll to allocate to businesses in need, and Lyburn said the county was up to 115 businesses being awarded a combined total of $408,000. Lyburn said the county received 63 new requests since he last gave the commissioners and update Nov. 19, and he expected more to come this week.

Meanwhile, Lyburn said only nine new restaurants have applied since last week, when he told the commissioners the county had 99 awards for a total of $694,000 of the $1.2 million allotted by the state.

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The commissioners voted unanimously Nov. 19 to make service organizations with commercial kitchens eligible for the restaurant funding and service-oriented businesses eligible for the CARES Act funding. Lyburn said the relief fund was opened up to included American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars organizations. The county had heard back from only two such places, Lyburn said, but he expects to hear from all 11 in Carroll County before the end of the year.

“We’ve been all over Facebook, all the social medias, the chambers, the towns,” Lyburn said. “We sent emails and physically talked to over 70 restaurants. If they all come in we’ll be OK.”

If not, Lyburn said he’d be back next week to provide the commissioners with another recommendation.

“By opening up the retail piece, we’re going to be fine on that,” Lyburn said. “And that’s a good thing, because we really want to give away all this money. Not give it away, they’ve earned it.

Commissioner Ed Rothstein agreed.

“It goes right back to the testament that Commissioner [Eric] Bouchat said, shop and eat local,” Rothstein said. “This is just one piece of the equation. The rest of everything else we can do as a community.”

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