Friday Five | May 13, 2022

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

1. Hogan signs cybersecurity, public health, transportation bills into law 

Yesterday, Governor Hogan, House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones and Senate Bill Ferguson signed 105 bills into law, including three measures to bolster the state’s cybersecurity network. The legislative package became a pressing need in recent years following cyberattacks against local governments and school systems, with the most notable attack being on the Maryland Department of Health on Dec. 6.

“These are bills that really got into the weeds and it really matters that we do this well and in a very bipartisan, thoughtful manner to better protect Maryland’s government and, most importantly, Maryland’s people,” Ferguson said before the signing began.

Among the other 102 bills signed, there were measures to increase public health services to address substance abuse in Maryland and increase the amount of tax revenue funneled to local governments for transportation projects.

To view the full list of bills signed, click here.

2. U.S. inflation dips from 4-decade high but sill causing pain

Inflation eased slightly in April after months of relentless increases but remained near a four-decade high, making it hard for millions of American households to keep up with soaring prices. According to the report released by the U.S. government, consumer prices increased by 8.3% last month from a year ago, which is below the 8.5% year-over-year surge in March. On a monthly basis, prices rose 0.3% from March to April, the smallest rise in eight months. However, economists predict that even if inflation levels moderate, they will likely remain high well into 2023, leaving many Americans burdened by price increases that have outpaced pay raises. On Tuesday, President Biden declared inflation the No. 1 problem facing families today and his top domestic priority, giving many Americans hope that rates will not continue to hike.

Read the full story here.

3. Maryland shipping millions in medical supplies, body armor to Odesa, Ukraine, a Baltimore sister city

On Tuesday, Governor Hogan announced the shipment of a multimillion-dollar aid package to Odesa, Ukraine, that includes medical supplies and body armor. The announcement came after Russian troops hit the vital Ukrainian port of Odesa, a sister city of Baltimore, in an apparent effort to disrupt the supply lines and Western weapons shipments critical to Kyiv’s defense. The Maryland Department of Health is donating more than 485,000 bandages and wound care supplies, 95 Eternity mechanical ventilators for intensive care units and 50 Astra portable ventilators, according to the governor’s office. The package also includes 200 pieces of body armor, including tactical vests and shields donated by the Maryland State Police.

Read the full story here.

4. SBA eyes larger role with veteran-owned small businesses

In written testimony submitted to the Senate Small Business Committee, the Small Business Administration (SBA) expressed its intent to take a larger role in helping veteran-owned small businesses by expanding its Veteran Business Outreach Center Program from 22 to 34 locations nationwide.

“This expansion reflects an expectation that demand for small-business startup and scale-up technical assistance among veteran small business owners will continue to grow — in part because of an expanded focus on underserved and underbanked communities,” said SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman in written testimony.

Overall, President Biden’s budget request for the SBA in FY 2023 is roughly $1.06 billion to help run the agencies’ operations and disaster loan programs. The SBA has also asked for billions more in loan authority for its popular 7(a) and 504 programs, alongside boosts to its other lending vehicles — a 13% increase in overall lending.

Read the full story here.

5. Small businesses in Maryland are still struggling to find enough workers

According to a survey of 1,100 businesses by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices released last week, hiring and retaining employees remains the top challenge for small businesses. In March, there was a record of 11.5 million job openings in the U.S. But according to the Goldman Sachs survey, 90% of businesses that are hiring are struggling to get qualified candidates to apply for open positions. In addition, smaller businesses are competing with larger companies in their community that offer better pay and benefits, which has led to 42% of them losing their employees.

“Small businesses are struggling to compete with larger employers on pay and benefits and cite a lack of qualified workers,” said Joe Wall, National Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices.

The United States now has two job openings for every unemployed person. And this number could continue to grow if businesses cannot find a way to attract and retain workers.

Read the full story here.



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