GAITHERSBURG, Md. — The final week of 2020 has left many small business owners around the country hoping for more possible aid tied to the latest pandemic relief stimulus package, while others have celebrated being awarded grant money from local leaders.
In Montgomery County, 176 small businesses were recently awarded $1.1 million combined in grant money as part of the Microenterprise Stabilization Program (MSP).
The program, which targeted assistance to local businesses suffering significant revenue losses due to the pandemic and have five or fewer employees, offered grants ranging from a few hundred dollars to a maximum of $10,000.
According to the county, 930 small business owners applied for the grant during the sign-up period in early June.
Joginder Nayar, who owns the Il Forno Pizzeria and Metro Dhaba restaurants in Gaithersburg, received $10,000 as part of the program.
After being in business for the past 29 years, he told WUSA9 that the assistance was greatly needed after the pandemic brought plenty of challenges.
"This year has been one of the craziest years in our life," Nayar said. "There were no profits. There were losses all the time.”
Like many restaurants around the region, Nayar and his staff have been solely offering curbside pickup for food orders.
In total, he estimated that revenue had fallen around 60% this year compared to 2019.
After receiving the aid, Nayar said he planned to put the grant money towards utilities, taxes and inventory.
"We got it. This is going to help up in many ways," he said. "By God's grace, we are able to live and happily survive. This grant is going to help us.”
The assistance in Montgomery County came as small business owners in other parts of the country watched for progress on the stimulus relief package passed by Congress earlier this month.
After being signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday night, the plan will restart the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and allow small businesses to possibly receive a second federal loan.
With the next few months still bringing plenty of uncertainty for the economy, Nayar said the government aid could be crucial for small businesses moving forward.
"If those grants are not there, there is no possibility that I see where those businesses can survive," he said.