Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced additional measures Thursday to support small businesses that have struggled to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.
In March, the state provided small businesses with $75 million in loans. But Hogan announced at a press conference Thursday that those would be converted to grants that businesses would not need to pay back.
“This will provide additional much-needed relief to many of those small businesses, so that they can stay in business and keep their employees on their payrolls,” Hogan said.
Hogan also signed an executive order that protects small businesses from seeing substantial increases in their unemployment taxes.
“During this crisis, our small businesses have had to make very difficult decisions to move ahead with layoffs and furloughs, despite their best efforts,” he said. “As a result, many businesses are scheduled to face massive automatic increases in the unemployment taxes they will be forced to pay, through no fault of their own.”
[State officials say Maryland could receive COVID-19 vaccine as early as next week]
The governor also announced the state would be providing $25 million in funds to allow the construction of 2,000 low-income housing units.
Thursday’s press conference comes as the pandemic continues to decimate communities. The state saw the second-most daily coronavirus case total Thursday, with 49 new deaths.
Maryland counties have recently started implementing stricter COVID-19 restrictions, including Prince George’s County, which will shutter indoor dining beginning next Wednesday. Hogan did not announce any new restrictions Thursday.
The Republican governor also criticized Congress for not yet agreeing on another round of economic relief for Americans.
Hogan said he met earlier this week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several senators about the plans for a federal relief act.
“I don’t care if it’s a Republican plan or a Democratic plan,” he said. “We have to get something out to these people that need it, and we have to have it now.”