Aberdeen business owners can take advantage of multiple state funding programs now that the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development and Maryland Department of Planning have designated the city as a sustainable community.
More than 830 acres of Aberdeen are inside the sustainable community zone, mostly stretching across parts of Pulaski Highway and West Bel Air Avenue. The programs are designed to promote job growth and improve the appearance of buildings in downtown Aberdeen.
“Because of the designation, Aberdeen is now eligible to use state programs,” said Kevin Baynes, director of Programs and Regional Development for the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.
There are 12 programs available upon designation, but the county Office of Economic Development Enterprise Zone and Façade Improvement Grant Program could prove to be the most useful programs in Aberdeen. The enterprise zone program allows business owners to apply for tax credits for capital investment in construction or rehabilitation of property and employing additional personnel. The façade program ensures that the city will commit a 50-50 funding match on investments to the exterior of buildings.
“The designation is key. We’re in a better position for funding and opportunities,” said Phyllis Grover, Aberdeen’s director of planning and community development.
Aberdeen City Council passed an ordinance on Aug. 22 in support of the city to become eligible as a potential sustainable community. Nine days later, Grover submitted the application before the first deadline. It was announced on Nov. 7 that Aberdeen is one of the first five cities to be designated as a sustainable community.
“Some property owners downtown for whatever reason don’t want to utilize funds for a 50-50 match. I don’t know what it is. It’s not a hard process to apply,” Grover said.
Only time will tell if business owners will bite. JP Chevrolet, located on Pulaski Highway, is taking advantage of the façade program. Some buildings on West Bel Air Avenue have aluminum sidings and have yet invested to improve the appearance of downtown Aberdeen.
“It’s a domino effect on local business when one business owner improves the image of their building,” said Steve Johnson, director of the Aberdeen Economic Development Commission and the owner of Johnson Family Pharmacy LLC.
Local small businesses can learn more about the funding programs by picking up a business resource guide at City Hall.
Are you a local small business utilizing a funding program because of the city's designation as a sustainable community? Let us know in the comments section.