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Center Awarded $300K to Help Small Businesses Amid Pandemic

By Maryland Today Staff

A federal $300,000 grant has been awarded to the U.S. Economic Development Administration-supported University Center at the University of Maryland, College Park and Morgan State University (UMD-Morgan EDA Center) to help Maryland small businesses respond to the devastating economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

Issued as part of the EDA’s CARES Act Recovery Assistance, the grant will fund efforts by the center and its partners to boost technical assistance, supplies, creative approaches to business and commercial operations, and pathways to entrepreneurship.

“This grant will further support our charge to help small businesses weather economic challenges, and the pandemic has only made that mission more vital,” said Gerrit Knaap, principal investigator and director of UMD’s National Center for Smart Growth, which houses the UMD-Morgan EDA Center.

The grant will fund three interrelated activities targeting the urgent challenges currently facing small businesses: support minority-owned small retail and restaurants already made vulnerable by the construction of the light-rail Purple Line corridor; address the challenges of small businesses in Central and West Baltimore; and help small businesses pursue new business ideas, commercialize technology, connect to customers and discover niche markets and investors.

These activities, Knaap said, will bring together expertise in technology, placemaking, economic development and research to help businesses adapt to the current and post-pandemic landscape.

“Innovative thinking will be essential to Maryland’s economic recovery,” said Julie Lenzer, UMD’s chief innovation officer. “This grant will help us develop programs to arm small businesses and innovators with the resources, expertise and tools to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing economic environment.”

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