Friday Five | July 9, 2021

A recap of this week’s top-five news items and resources from the intersection of business and government.

1. Maryland unemployment lawsuits set for Friday court hearing

A court hearing has been scheduled for this afternoon to determine whether Gov. Larry Hogan should continue to be required to keep the state in enhanced federal unemployment programs. Over the weekend, Judge Lawrence Fletcher-Hill issued a temporary restraining order halting Hogan’s suspension of federal unemployment benefits through July 13. Hogan is now facing two lawsuits filed by unemployed Marylanders who are also seeking a preliminary injunction that would effectively extend the ban until the court proceeding is over. Hogan continues to defend his decision and believes this is the correct path to address the labor shortage crisis that is “…crippling businesses across the state.”

Read the full story here.

2. New business applications surged virtually everywhere in Maryland last year

According to recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, new business applications increased in nearly all Maryland counties in 2020, a rare surge during a year where most economies were devasted by the pandemic. The 2020 calendar year saw a record high of new business applications, different from 2019, where new business applications declined in eight Maryland counties and Baltimore City. The largest increases were in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, with new business applications growing by 45.7% and 41.5%, respectively. An economist and distinguished professor at the University of Maryland, John Haltiwanger, believes the COVID-19 recession has induced a change in the structure of the U.S. economy towards more remote activity providing incentives for new businesses to explore potential opportunities.

Read the full story here.

3. Maryland launches $25M incentive program to fill vacant retail, commercial spaces 

Gov. Larry Hogan recently announced the launch of a $25 million state initiative providing financial incentives for small businesses and developers to put vacant retail and commercial space to use. The new Project Restore Program will offer rental grants and sales tax relief rebates of up to $250,000 a year to businesses that begin or expand operations in spaces that have not been occupied in the past six months or more. In addition, small businesses will be eligible for rental subsidies of $2,500 per month for 12 months to help offset start-up costs in the first year.

Read more here and learn more about Project Restore here.

4. Business groups, unions join together on infrastructure plan 

Yesterday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, along with trade groups representing manufacturers and retailers, announced a new coalition designed to add momentum for a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package that the Senate is expected to take up this month. The group’s formation comes as a bipartisan group of senators tries to craft a bill from a blueprint outlining significant infrastructure spending over the next five years. The current framework of the infrastructure plan has stirred up debate on both sides of the political aisle and would need 60 votes to pass the Senate, making the next few weeks unpredictable.

Read the full story here.

5. Maryland gubernatorial primary could be the most expensive in state’s history 

More than six months before the filing deadline to run for Maryland Governor, a crowd of candidates is lined up to replace outgoing Gov. Larry Hogan, in what analysts say could be one of the most expensive primary races in state history. Next year’s gubernatorial election outpaces the Democratic primary in 2014 where Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and state Del. Heather Mizeur collectively raised more than $20 million, according to state election officials.

Running for the Republican nomination is Kelly M. Schulz, who is Hogan’s commerce secretary, along with Del. Daniel L. Cox, who represents parts of Frederick and Carroll counties in the legislature and former state lawmaker and perennial candidate Robin Ficker. Additionally, some of the candidates for the Democratic nomination include John B. King Jr., a former U.S. education secretary, Wes Moore, a former head of the Robin Hood Foundation and Rushern L. Baker III, a former Prince George’s county executive.

To read more, click here.


EVENT: 2021 Congressional Roundup on Sept. 22 from 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. – The Maryland Chamber of Commerce presents a premier virtual event where you hear directly from policy experts and Maryland’s congressional delegation regarding the current legislative and electoral landscape and how it directly impacts the business community. To view the list of confirmed speakers, visit our event page here.






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