On June 28, 2021, Maryland‘s governor, Larry Hogan, announced the launch of Project Restore, a $25 million economic recovery initiative that will provide financial incentives for small businesses and commercial developers to revitalize vacant retail and commercial space.
The governor made the announcement in downtown Berlin during a five-day tour of the Eastern Shore.
“Project Restore will help put more ‘open for business’ signs in storefront windows, create thousands of jobs, and transform neighborhoods and communities,” said Governor Hogan. “This initiative is just one more shining example of how we aren’t just committed to fully recovering from this pandemic, we are committed to coming back stronger and better than ever before.”
This new program will be administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Through Project Restore, the department will offer rental grants and sales tax relief rebates to help offset startup costs and incentivize commercial investment in vacant spaces.
Businesses that begin new or expanded operations in spaces that have not been generating sales tax receipts for the past six months or more will be eligible for the program. Small businesses of 50 or fewer employees will be eligible for additional benefits.
“Our department has been proud to support the economic recovery of Maryland with over $1.78 billion of pandemic related funding allocated to help businesses, nonprofits, entertainment and tourist venues, renters, homeowners, and other Marylanders in need,” said DHCD Secretary Kenneth C. Holt. “Project Restore will be another step to revitalizing and bringing life back to the commercial corridors and Main Streets that are the lifeblood of Maryland’s economy.”
Available Incentives. Businesses will be eligible for sales tax relief rebates equal to the business’ sales tax receipts for the 12 month period, with a maximum of $250,000 per year.
Eligibility will be based on the same tiering criteria as the More Jobs for Marylanders program:
- Businesses in Tier 1 counties—which includes Baltimore City and any Opportunity Zone in Maryland—will be eligible to receive the rebate for two years of operation.
- Businesses in Tier 2 counties will be eligible to receive the rebate for the first full year of operation.
Additionally, small business applicants will be eligible for rental subsidies of $2,500 per month for 12 months—up to $30,000—to help offset start-up costs during the first year.
Eligibility Guidelines: To qualify for Project Restore, eligible entities must begin new or expanded operations in space that has not been generating sales tax receipts for the past six months or more. All applicants commit to occupying the space for a minimum of 12 months following receipt of the grant.
Photo of Frederick, Maryland is by Storm Cunningham.