Montgomery County small businesses wait for emergency relief grants

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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — As different industries are shut down completely or heavily restricted, small businesses are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus crisis.

Leaders say 90 percent of Montgomery County businesses have 50 employees or fewer.

Thousands of those businesses applied for emergency relief grants through the county. The application went live in mid-April and business are waiting to hear if they’ll receive a grant. County leaders set aside at least $20 million for these grants, but members of the county council now realize that won’t be nearly enough.

The applicant pool is prioritized with businesses that have lost 50 percent of revenue or more in mind.

The county is still sorting through those applications, and leaders say it’s difficult to decide which businesses are helped and how much money they’re granted.

“The government told businesses they cannot be open, and for good reason. We allow essential businesses to be open which makes sense, but to that non-essential business, the owner and the employees of that business, that business is essential to them,” said president of the Montgomery County Council and former small business owner Sidney Katz.

The county is looking into restructuring the way it engages with small businesses, both during the crisis and after.

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