The $15 million Prince George’s County Business Relief Fund will quickly run out of money, according the Prince George’s County Economic Development Corp. CEO David Iannucci. Applications for the fund are scheduled to be released April 13, 2020. Successful applicants could get up to $100,000 in loans (at a 3.75 percent interest rate) to help cover payroll and other costs.
“We’re all gearing up for this massive onslaught of demand that will exceed the dollars we have,” said Iannucci. “We will be moving as quickly as we can to process applications to get the dollars out.”
Iannucci’s comments came during a virtual roundtable moderated by Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Institute Fellows Anneleis Goger and Tracy Hadden-Loh, also a former Mount Rainier City Councilor. You can watch the discussion on YouTube. They were joined by Eric Shin, founder of SeoulSpice Korean restaurant which has pivoted to a to-go grocery and meal delivery service.
Asked by Hadden-Loh if applications for Economic Development Corp. assistance would be processed first-come, first-serve, or if the relief would be triaged in some way, Iannucci said “we’re going to have to have some hard discussions.”
“If you look back and they might have been struggling before the pandemic hit, we will probably have to make some very hard adjustments,” said Iannucci. “Do they have a chance to survive after the pandemic?”
The ultimate goal, Iannucci said, would be to save viable businesses so they can continue to keep employees on payroll.
Local restaurants hit hard
“There are projections that have been made, both regionally and nationally, that the restaurant industry, somewhere between 35 percent and 75 percent of restaurants will not come back from this disaster,” said Iannucci during the discussion. “We’re very, very, very much worried about that. Restaurants are a big part of the economic development strategy of Prince George’s County.”
Iannucci said that while Gov. Larry Hogan has put a moratorium on both commercial and residential foreclosures and evictions, he also noted that landlords and property owners are still on the hook for their mortgage payments, eventually. State officials have urged renters and borrowers to contact their landlords or banks and ask for leniency if needed. But that leaves a lot of power in the hands of the banks, which have so far not been mandated to grant mortgage holidays or deferments.
“I think we have to look to the banks for them to have a humanitarian and sympathetic understanding of what’s happening up and down the chain,” said Iannucci. “Otherwise, we could completely collapse the economy.”
The threat to the larger economy is that the devastation seen in the retail and restaurant sector could undermine real estate values.
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