In Maryland, the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) has selected 25 local recipients to receive maker and manufacturing grant awards totaling $200,000 from the newly created Local Production Fund.
The Local Production Fund was created to provide local small and medium-sized manufacturers/producers with the working capital necessary to make and provide essential personal protective equipment (PPE) and other COVID-19 related products. The grants range in size from $2,500 to $25,000 and will produce face shields, face masks, hand sanitizers, home cleansers, gowns, and COVID-19 testing kits, among others.
“In these difficult times, local businesses want to step up and offer their services to support Montgomery County’s PPE supply,” said Benjamin H. Wu, President and CEO of MCEDC. “The Local Production Fund is allowing homegrown innovators to pivot their operations and be creative to meet our COVID-19 needs. We’re excited to see the final products and applaud these companies.”
Juan Carlos Castillo, owner of Tierra Floral Design and Tierra Events, has pivoted from creating elaborate floral arrangements and planning events to a new role making PPE. “Thanks to the Local Production Fund grant, we have been able to access all the materials we need to produce face shields for first responders,” said Castillo, whose company received a $20,000 grant.
Aisha Khadar of Sha’s Creations, a maker of organic body products, also expressed gratitude for the infusion of funds. “This grant allows our company to manufacture hand sanitizer and liquid disinfecting soaps for our community,” said Khadar.
The 25 grant recipients are a diverse group with 73% of the funding awarded to companies led by women or minority entrepreneurs. They work in a variety of fields, including IT/educational consulting, robotics, tech production, automotive electronic/lighting, embroidery/screen printing, biotech, commercial printing, farming, artisan manufacturing/retail, alterations/tailors, nonprofits, and farming. The awardees are located in Silver Spring, Germantown, Bethesda/North Bethesda, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Olney, Potomac, Dickerson and Clarksburg.
The $200,000 Local Production Fund was funded by $100,000 from MCEDC and by a $100,000 special appropriation from the County Council enacted on April 21, 2020. MCEDC accepted applications for the Local Production Fund from April 22-May 1, 2020. Existing Montgomery County companies, sole proprietors and non-profits were eligible to apply for the funding. MCEDC received 51 submittals. As part of their grant agreement, by the end of August, awardees will submit a report to MCEDC detailing their progress and how the funds have been used.