Restaurant owners, local leaders discuss best use of Maryland Strong Economic Recovery Initiative
MARYLAND – On Thursday Governor Larry Hogan announced he would be allocating $250 million from the state’s rainy day fund to the Maryland Strong Economic Recovery Initiative. President and CEO of the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce Bill Chambers says although the money will likely help, he feels it’s too little too late. “I think they’re a little bit late and it’s definitely not enough money. There’s 585 million dollars in the rainy day fund. This was about half of that,” said Chambers.
Chambers says that restaurants need a dedicated state grant fund to help restaurants be able to get more customers seated. That includes improving indoor air quality by modifying HVAC systems. Chambers also points to other states’ regulations, like Pennsylvania, and says Maryland should be doing the same. “They’re also permitting the use of barriers to transform the interior spaces and allowing more diners keeping the six foot distancing. So it’s being done. It’s being done there and in Virginia,” said Chambers.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Ocean City Hotel Motel and Restaurant Association Susan Jones says the beach town is in a unique situation. Jones says many restaurants have already closed for the season. So the funds might not help them right now, but could help them prepare for next season. “I think this gives people the opportunity to really take time to reflect on their own business model, and this funding will help them with technology that could support the carryout and the delivery perhaps,” said Jones.
But before any of that is done, Jones says restaurants need to gain back consumer confidence when it comes to safety. “If that is by installing new air filtration systems or creating new technologies to help people order carryout, then we need to be doing that,” said Jones.
Jones adds that they’re working with Worcester County officials to find new ways to help restaurants and businesses. Meanwhile, there will be a meeting between local leaders and restaurant owners to further discuss their plans on November 19th.