CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Maryland Seeks $250M Relief Fund Needed to Help Small Businesses

Michael and Tyra Harris aren’t from New Orleans, but they enjoy the city and its culture so much they’ve traveled to the “Big Easy” once or twice a year.

Also because of Tyra Harris’ taste for coffee, the Bowie couple decided to open PJ’s Coffee House of New Orleans about two months ago that’s five miles from their home. The shop is the national chain’s only outlet in Prince George’s County.

Although the couple already has loyal customers, no turnover of their 16 part-time employees and is the county’s first source of PJ’s beignets, the couple still needs financial help during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“We constantly need to buy masks, gloves. Had to purchase hand sanitizer stations,” said Michael Harris outside PJ’s Coffee on Friday, Oct. 23. “We were set to open in February, but construction stopped due to the contractor getting COVID. We had our share of highs and lows.”

The couple seeks to join other businesses to receive a portion of $250 million in economic relief from the state’s economic recovery initiative to help businesses affected by the coronavirus.

Gov. Larry Hogan said about $100 million will come from the state’s rainy day fund as an “emergency rapid response fund,” or money designated for unforeseen circumstances.

Businesses to receive the remaining $150 million remain undetermined, while others could be out of reach.

For instance, part of the program has $5 million designated for low-interest loans to small and minority-owned businesses. According to part of the COVID-19 guidelines, a business must be in good standing, owners with a credit score of at least 550 and principal place of business in the state.

Another eligibility requirement that could affect PJ’s Coffee: a business must have opened prior to Jan. 1, 2019.

“How can we show what we’ve done when we just opened?” Michael Harris said. “We have to go through the same COVID regulations as any other business.”

The state allocated $50 million for qualifying restaurants to use money for a variety of options such as technology to support carryout and delivery, purchase of personal protective equipment and heaters and tents for outdoor dining.

The Harris’ said they could use additional plexiglass, a second register and intercom system to alert customers who wait on orders outside. Of course, disinfectant and other cleaning supplies to constantly keep the business clean.

The rest of the state money to be dispersed by Dec. 31 include:

About $50 million toward small business grants of up to $10,000 as part of an earlier program that could allow eligible applicants who requested money to now receive.
About $20 million for a layoff aversion and another $20 million for the state’s 33 Main Street organizations and eight Baltimore City Main Street communities.
$3 million for nonprofit and arts organizations and $2 million for the state’s tourism program.

Back in Bowie with the smell of gourmet coffee and espresso and New Orleans jazz playing through the speakers, Tyra Harris said “everybody’s learning” through the first two months.

She said those hired came with no barista experience, but they showcased strong customer-oriented skills and character.

One of those employees, Anjola Oludayo, 17, recalled when she visited PJ’s for the job interview, “Mr. Mike [Harris] was dancing in the background. I knew this place was going to be so funny,” said the high school senior who attends Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt and obtained her first job at PJ’s. “I was laughing so hard during the interview. I was part of the staff that opened, so that was a really good experience. I love it here.”

Tags
Show More

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact

Back to top button

My News Matters to me - Washington Informer Donations

Be a Part of The Washington Informer Legacy

A donation of your choice empowers our journalists to continue the work to better inform, educate and empower you through technology and resources that you use.

Click Here Today to Support Black Press and be a part of the Legacy!

Subscribe today for free and be the first to have news and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Select list(s) to subscribe to


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Washington Informer Newspaper, 3117 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE, Washington, DC, 20032, http://www.washingtoninformer.com. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Close

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker