“It was a lifesaver” says one owner about zero-interest loans that helped small business owners remain in business, care for employees
BALTIMORE – November 10, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Tops in Cellular, a mobile electronics and accessories store in the city’s Highlandtown community, is open for business thanks in part to a Hogan administration program established to help business owners recover from the civil unrest in Baltimore this spring.
Juan Nunez was one of the first business owners to receive financial assistance under the administration’s Maryland Business Recovery program. To date, the program has provided more than $1.28 million in 44 loans. An additional three loans are expected to close in the coming weeks for $105,000.
Those figures provide a snapshot of the Hogan administration’s quick response to the unrest. Governor Hogan put the resources of state government to work to help ensure that Baltimore rebounded better and stronger than ever from the unrest that shook the city.
“When the unrest in Baltimore broke out, my administration worked around the clock to restore calm and to listen to city residents, small business owners and community leaders to gain a better understanding of the issues they face,” Governor Larry Hogan said. “By harnessing the resources of the state, Baltimore was able to recover more quickly. These loans saved jobs and small businesses. While there is still much more work to do, my administration will continue to work to change Baltimore, and Maryland, for the better.”
Following the unrest, Nunez said that his business suffered a significant decrease in customer traffic during the city’s curfew and he didn’t know where to turn to for help. It wasn’t until he met with staff from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development during an information session at Baltimore’s Latin Palace in May that he began to feel some sense of support. The department had convened Hispanic business owners at the Highlandtown restaurant to acquaint them with the new program, help cut through red tape and take applications. Staff members participated in a meeting that same evening with Korean American business owners and First Lady Yumi Hogan at a church in Columbia that was coordinated by the Governor’s Office of Minority Affairs.
Nunez, who has been in business since 2010, eventually received a $15,000 zero-interest microenterprise loan that he used to compensate his employees for a week’s worth of lost wages, restock and perform security enhancements.
“No sales meant no revenue,” he said. “The loan allowed me to take care of my staff and maintain business until things got back to normal. It didn’t put the entire burden on me. It was a lifesaver.”
The Maryland Business Recovery program’s microloans were adapted from the housing and community development agency’s Neighborhood BusinessWorks program, which provides gap financing to new or expanding small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Sustainable Communities throughout the state.
Maryland Business Recovery offered affected businesses zero interest loans with the opportunity for forgiveness if certain benchmarks are met. The program closed on Sept?.1, 2015.
“Our agency was one of the first on the ground with funds available to help get businesses back in business in their communities,” Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Secretary Kenneth C. Holt said. “Thanks to the Hogan ?administration’s prompt response, many businesses have been able to reopen with the capital they needed to restock and recover.”
Governor Hogan has also provided additional funding for homeownership assistance programs and targeted assistance for significant façade improvements for impacted Baltimore City structures in an effort to create a more economically and architecturally appealing streetscape.