FILE - MD Larry Hogan 8-5-2021

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks Aug. 5, 2021, during a news conference in Annapolis, Md.

(The Center Square) – Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that applications would be accepted through 5 p.m. Oct. 8 for a grant program for businesses that want to open up in currently vacant spaces.

The $25 million program is open to businesses that agree to operate in any new or expanded space that has not generated sales tax in the past six months or more. Those who qualify must agree to operate in the space for at least 12 months.

“Thanks to the hard work and the resilience of the people of Maryland and our small business community, our state has had one of the strongest economic recoveries in the nation, and Project Restore will help us build on that progress,” Hogan said in a statement on Thursday. “With applications now open, I encourage all eligible local businesses and developers to apply for these financial incentives right away.”

The two types of assistance are:

• A maximum of $2,500 a month or $30,000 annually of rental assistance to small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees. 

• A grant of up to $250,000 that businesses can use for a variety of business expenses including staffing, capital improvements, inventory, marketing and utilities. The grant money cannot be used for executive salaries or bonuses and will be paid quarterly.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, DCHD, will oversee the grants. Funding decisions are expected to be made on a rolling basis beginning Oct. 11, according to an information page on DHCD’s website.

State officials warned the application portal would close early if requests exceed the $25 million allocation.

Adult bookstores, adult video shops, or other adult entertainment facilities are not eligible for the funding, according to DHCD’s website. Other ineligible businesses are check cashing facilities, gambling facilities, gun shops, liquor stores, massage parlors, pawnshops, tanning salons or tattoo parlors.