BALTIMORE, MD—BGE this week awarded $2,460,000 to 123 small businesses located in central Maryland during the fifth round of BGE’s Energizing Small Business Grants program. This program is part of BGE’s $15 million pledge to assist small businesses with COVID-19 relief and recovery and is a multi-year commitment expected to run through at least 2023.
At an event in Towson this week, BGE SVP of Governmental, Regulatory and External Affairs (GREA) Alexander Núñez, Congressman John Sarbanes, and Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. presented a check to representatives of 26 Baltimore County-based small businesses for grant funding totaling $520,000.
“The success of Maryland’s small businesses is our collective success. We all realize we are facing economic difficulties, even as we still feel residual impacts from COVID-19. The Energizing Small Business Grants program aims to help strengthen businesses in central Maryland so they can continue serving their communities,” said BGE SVP of GREA Alexander Núñez. “We’re proud to support small businesses of all types through economic recovery so they can thrive and so our community can thrive.”
“Maryland’s economy hinges on the strength, resilience and innovation of small businesses. As Congress works to strengthen our economy nationwide, local programs have contributed immensely to the recovery right in our communities,” said Congressman John Sarbanes. “I am pleased that BGE’s Energizing Small Business Grants Program has lifted up Baltimore County entrepreneurs from all walks of life and connected them with the resources to grow and succeed.”
“Small businesses are the bedrock of our communities in Baltimore County and the past few years have presented them with unique and unexpected challenges,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “I am grateful to BGE for its ongoing partnership and these generous grants for our valued businesses, which are yet another example of the organization’s ongoing commitment to giving back and supporting our local economy.”
The program prioritizes businesses operated by historically underrepresented minority groups often challenged with access to capital – with 70% of grants provided to businesses owned by people of color and 70% owned by women. Military-affiliated owners account for 22% of grantees.
“High quality education is a human right and must be afforded to all, regardless of your zip code,” said grantee Michele Hill-Davis, owner of Sweet Potato Kids, a Learning Community comprised of Early Learning, Out-of-School Time and Summer Camp programming in Randallstown. “The Energizing Small Business Grant affords us the opportunity to continue to build and sustain equitable high-quality Learning Communities. We plan to use this funding to purchase high-quality technology smart- boards for our classrooms, and we couldn’t be more excited!”
BGE is partnering with Hello Alice, a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow, and the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), a Washington, DC-based organization that supports entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. and around the world, to provide the grants. All applicants gain access to Hello Alice’s free COVID-19 Business Resource Center and opportunities through GEN to ensure consistent support and mentorship to all business owners.
“Over the past two years, small businesses have faced challenges on many different fronts. The need to provide access to capital for our New Majority entrepreneurs, who have historically been left behind, is more important than ever,” noted Elizabeth Gore, president and co-founder of Hello Alice. “We are proud to again partner with BGE and GEN to provide $20,000 grants to 123 Maryland-based small businesses that are making an impact in their communities.”
“As job creators, problem solvers and service providers, entrepreneurs are an asset to Baltimore. By supporting them, we support the community,” said Johnathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “We are proud to partner with BGE and Hello Alice on this grants program to equip founders with the capital they need, when they need it.”
In addition to small business grants, BGE’s comprehensive efforts to support Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic have included an additional $1.5 million contribution to the Fuel Fund of Maryland, $1 million in funding to county-administered business pandemic relief funds, expansion of BGE’s Workforce Collaborative infrastructure academy to train approximately 600 local residents for job placement over the next two years, and extending flexible payment arrangement plans to help qualifying customers to maintain their electric and gas service. The Energizing Small Business Grants program and all nonprofit contributions are made using shareholder dollars and are not reflected in customer bills.