BEL AIR, Md. — Like most small businesses, COVID-19 has left a cloud hanging over Sunny Day Café on Main Street in Bel Air.
“It’s been difficult. Very Difficult,” said Co-Owner John Smoudianis. “We’ve been trying our best to tread above water, and we do whatever we can on an everyday basis.”
In addition to adding deliveries and online orders, the café worked through the Small Business Administration to get some relief.
“We had the PPP that the government has given to us to try to keep as much employees as we can,” said Smoudianis.
Now, the state is prepared to free up more than $22 million in federal CARES Act money for other businesses in Harford County who got shut own in their bid for help.
“We are going to keep our grant pretty flexible,” said Harford County Executive Barry Glassman. “It will allow a business to use it for a number of different things whether they’re changes to the restaurant, lost revenue, things like that.”
A week from now, the county will begin accepting applications through its website from businesses for grants ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 apiece.
Under federal law, those who have already received federal or state assistance will not be eligible, but for those who have received nothing, the county executive says this could mean everything.
“We’ve been stressing and hoping that the state begins to loosen and open our small businesses up this week by mid-May,” said Glassman. “I think it will be slow sometime during the summer, because it’s going to take a while to adjust to the new normal and these funds will help get them over the hump I think as they begin to re-open.”
Aside from helping local businesses, Homegrown Harford also will be a program, which will free up some of the money for small farmers in the area.