A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.
1. Maryland awards nearly $25M in vacant property grants to hundreds of businesses
Maryland has awarded nearly $25 million in grants to more than 300 businesses across the state as part of a program designed to fill retail and commercial spaces left vacant in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Applications for the state’s Project Restore grants opened back in July, and the 376 second-round recipients were announced on Wednesday. In all, the state said 301 of the grants went to what it termed “minority-owned businesses,” with 206 of the 301 grants going to women-owned businesses. An additional 20 grants went to veteran-owned businesses. More than 120 of the vacant properties that businesses are looking to occupy are located in Opportunity Zones while 48 are in the state’s designated Main Street Maryland districts.
The majority of the grants will be used for office (119) and retail (110) purposes. Other uses include restaurants (61) and manufacturing and industrial spaces (41). The remaining 44 grants include uses such as event space, breweries, salons and indoor recreation spaces.
2. Maryland bans TikTok in state agencies, latest state to act
Maryland is banning the use of TikTok and certain China and Russia-based platforms in the state’s executive branch of government, Governor Larry Hogan said Tuesday, the latest state to address cybersecurity risks presented by the platforms.
Hogan announced the emergency cybersecurity directive to prohibit the platforms’ use, saying they could be involved in cyberespionage, government surveillance and inappropriate collection of sensitive personal information.
“There may be no greater threat to our personal safety and our national security than the cyber vulnerabilities that support our daily lives,” Hogan said in a statement, adding: “To further protect our systems, we are issuing this emergency directive against foreign actors and organizations that seek to weaken and divide us.”
3. Expanding offshore wind power would have ‘multitude of benefits’ for Md., report suggests
A new report is laying out the economic and environmental benefits of expanding offshore wind energy production in Maryland — before a single wind turbine has been placed in the Atlantic off the coast of Ocean City.
The report, commissioned by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and released Thursday, found that expanding the offshore wind industry in Maryland will provide “a multitude of benefits” over the next several years, including $5 billion in savings to electricity ratepayers and myriad environmental and public health advantages, according to Isaac Gabel Frank, the author of the study.
“Over the next decade, we expect the cost of offshore wind to continue to fall,” he said during a briefing with reporters on Wednesday.
4. Sinema leaving Democratic Party, will register as Independent
Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has announced that she will leave the Democratic Party and officially register as an Independent.
“I’ve registered as an Arizona independent. I know some people might be a little bit surprised by this, but actually, I think it makes a lot of sense,” Sinema said in an interview Thursday with CNN’s Jake Tapper in her Senate office.
The announcement comes just days after Democrats solidified a 51-49 majority in the upper chamber with Sen. Raphael Warnock’s win in Georgia.
5. Maryland’s County Councils swear-in leadership
Eleven of Maryland’s counties are governed by county councils that swore-in new members and elected leadership this week. Here are some of the notable stories in the news this week highlighting county councils:
Coming up ➡️ Meet the State on Jan. 26
9:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Meet the State, presented by Amazon, is the premier, early-session gathering of legislative and state government leaders with the business community.
Register now to be part of these critical conversations and for your opportunity to inform legislators how businesses are driving the economy, advancing economic success and creating Maryland jobs.