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Maryland has a new set of grants for businesses along the Purple Line

This is the second round of grants that FSC First, sponsored by the Maryland Department of Commerce and Prince George's County, has provided in the hopes of keeping Maryland businesses afloat.

Workers build a transit station along the Purple Line in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Photo by Flickr user Elvert Barnes, used via a Creative Commons license)

Businesses along the Purple Line Metro extension will have a second chance at a grant program to offset construction-related commercial interruptions.

The 16-mile extension, which will take Metro riders from Bethesda to New Carrollton in Maryland, is currently under development that has impacted several local businesses. The line has suffered major delays, meaning small business owners still struggle to return to business as usual. Lender FSC First, sponsored by the Maryland Department of Commerce and Prince George’s County, is offering a second round of $5,000 to $10,000 grants to owners with businesses along the extension line.

Between the line’s delays and COVID-19, FSC First CEO and President Dawn Medley said that businesses along the line are struggling.

“Those businesses along that corridor have had a one-two punch in the last couple of years,” Medley told Technical.ly. “To sustain those businesses and, ultimately, retain jobs and income to families in the community, both the county and Maryland Department of Commerce have gotten together to provide the support to those businesses.”

With the delays in the line’s construction (expected completion is in 2026 — a deadline that’s been pushed back more than once), local small businesses suffer. Business owners located along the Purple Line route sometimes lack access to parking lots thanks to redirections, detours and streets getting torn up; Medley said that some had their utilities shut off for periods of time, losing access to water and electricity. That could also mean no access to bathrooms or, for businesses like a hair salon, no water to do any of their core work.

Wayfinding, though, has been the biggest issue, she said. People can’t find the business from redirection or can’t park there, and construction leads to huge amounts of traffic that can hurt businesses.

“If your customers can’t get to you anymore, or they can’t park in front of your business anymore, that goes directly to their bottom line,” Medley said. “That’s going to impact their cash flow. A hair salon can’t go online temporarily to serve its customers. Curbside doesn’t help those kinds of businesses.”

Companies can use the funds for any form of operational needs, including payroll for retaining or rehiring employees, rent, utilities, insurance and inventory. To qualify, businesses must have been in the area for a year and be in alignment with construction and the tracks; in other words, if you can see either of those things, you qualify. Proprietors need to fill out an application online that asks for basic information and how they would use the funds, as well as provide a W-9 form.

Currently, Medley said that approximately 400 businesses in the area could qualify for the grant. Last year, 124 businesses received grants, amounting to $630,000 awarded. This time, she’d love to see more from the remaining 300 — which will be given priority in selection.

But all in all, she hopes that this can help businesses stay afloat until construction finally wraps and the line opens.

“[Those businesses] have to be sustained so that they can reap the benefits the Purple Line is going to bring, which is more customers that can come into the area from different parts of the county that may not be able to easily get there now,” Medley said.

Apply here

Companies: State of Maryland

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