For Immediate Release
BGE Media Line
Final application round for 2021 opens on Sept. 1
BALTIMORE (Aug. 19, 2021) – Forty-four small businesses received grants totaling $880,000 during the second round of BGE's Energizing Small Business Grants program. This program is part of BGE's $15 million pledge to assist small businesses with COVID-19 relief and recovery and is a multi-year commitment expected to run through at least 2023.
"Small businesses create jobs throughout Maryland and are foundational to the state's economy. After COVID-19, many of these businesses struggled and our Energizing Small Business Grants program is designed to help these businesses stabilize and continue serving the community," said BGE CEO Carim Khouzami. "In addition to the grants, our Customer Relief and Energy Infrastructure Investment Plan freezes customer rates in 2021 and supports more than 26,000 jobs in Maryland. As new variants of COVID-19 emerge we could face more uncertain times ahead so this multi-layered approach will help support our customers, businesses and communities as we recover and grow."
Of the 44 recipients (click here for a full list of recipients), 27% are in the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry, 14% in consumer goods and retail, 14% in social enterprise and education, and 11% in food and restaurants. A majority of the grants went to businesses owned by historically marginalized groups, more than 75% went to women-owned businesses, and more than one-quarter of business owners are affiliated with the military.
"The BGE Energizing Small Business Grant will help our company take the leap from small scale commerce, to creating sensory products that are impactful and supportive to the needs of families of autistic children. Through this work we can promote neurodiversity, connect people with necessary resources and initiate change," said Nicole Stokes-Harris, grant recipient and owner of Towson-based HGE Designs.
Five recipients of second round grants also make up the Downtown Partnership's inaugural class of its Black-Owned and Occupied Storefront Tenancy (BOOST) program, which is designed to attract and support Black-owned retail businesses in Downtown Baltimore neighborhoods. Including BGE's Energizing Small Business Grants, these businesses will receive financial and technical support to open a retail location at a storefront pre-identified by the Downtown Partnership. This partnership is an innovative community-driven approach to strengthen Maryland's small business community. Read more about the BOOST businesses here.
"These five, amazing businesses are beginning their journey and we are proud to support them along with BGE," said Downtown Partnership of Baltimore President, Shelonda Stokes. "We didn't create BOOST to check off a box and move on. We're in it with them for the long haul because their success will create opportunities for other entrepreneurs to follow in their footsteps."
BGE partnered with Hello Alice, a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow, and the Global Entrepreneurship Network, a Washington, DC-based organization that supports entrepreneurs throughout the U.S. and around the world, to provide the grants. All applicants gain access to Hello Alice's free COVID-19 Business Resource Center to ensure consistent support and mentorship to all business owners. Businesses will be able to apply for grants during one more application period in 2021: Sept. 1 – Oct. 13.
"The impact that the ongoing pandemic has had on small businesses has been well documented, as have the even more devastating impacts on minority and women entrepreneurs. In partnership with BGE, we are thrilled we were able to support this grant program for the 44 small businesses that are so well-deserving, 77% are woman-owned, and 68% are owned by people of color, groups that are historically underfunded and underserved," said Elizabeth Gore, co-founder and president of Hello Alice.
In addition to small business grants, BGE's comprehensive efforts to support Marylanders during the COVID-19 pandemic have included an additional $1.5 million contribution to the Fuel Fund of Maryland, $1 million in funding to county-administered business pandemic relief funds, expansion of BGE's Workforce Collaborative infrastructure academy to train approximately 600 local residents for job placement over the next three years, and extending flexible payment arrangement plans to help qualifying customers to maintain their electric and gas service. BGE and the Exelon companies in Maryland directed $1.25 million to Maryland relief organizations, including the Maryland Food Bank, United Way of Central Maryland, PCs for People, and the Baltimore Community Foundation. The Energizing Small Business Grants program and all nonprofit contributions are made using shareholder dollars and are not reflected in customer bills.
BGE is Maryland's largest natural gas and electric utility, providing safe and reliable energy delivery to more than 1.3 million electric customers and more than 680,000 natural gas customers in central Maryland. The company was founded in 1816 as the nation's first gas utility and remains headquartered in Baltimore City to this day. BGE is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (Nasdaq: EXC), the nation's leading competitive energy provider. Engage with the latest BGE stories on bgenow.com and connect with BGE on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Hello Alice is a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. With a community of nearly 500,000 business owners in all 50 states and across the globe, Hello Alice is building the largest network of owners in the country while tracking data and trends to increase the success rate for entrepreneurs. Our partners include enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions looking to serve small- and medium-business owners to ensure increased revenues and promote scale. A Latina owned company, founded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, we believe in business for all by providing access to all owners including women, people of color, veterans, and everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit. To learn more, visit www.helloalice.com, as well as Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook.
The Global Entrepreneurship Network operates a platform of projects and programs in 180+ countries aimed at making it easier for anyone, anywhere to start and scale a business. By fostering deeper cross-border collaboration and initiatives between entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and entrepreneurial support organizations, GEN works to fuel healthier start and scale ecosystems that create more jobs, educate individuals, accelerate innovation and strengthen economic growth. Learn more about GEN at genglobal.org and by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.