City, BDC set up $50K grant for local manufacturers making protective gear

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A maker at Open Works shows off dozens of face shields produced at the makerspace. Image via Open Works’ Facebook page.

The city and the quasi-public Baltimore Development Corporation have established a $50,000 grant fund for local manufacturers and makers who begin producing personal protective equipment for medical personnel on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.

Local entrepreneurs could make masks, gowns, hand sanitizer and other items on the Maryland Department of Commerce’s COVID-19: Maryland Critical Needs List, all of which are in short supply around the country.

Qualifying businesses would receive up to $7,500 to off-set the costs of labor, materials or machinery needed to make the equipment.

Applications are being fulfilled by Made In Baltimore, a booster that’s run by the BDC to promote local manufacturing and goods made within Baltimore.

Andy Cook, campaign director of Made In Baltimore, said companies big and small can apply for the grant so long as they’re located in the city.

“The end goal is the production of PPE products and the employment of people in Baltimore,” he said. “And if any business can do that, we’re cool with it.”

Applications will be taken until the fund is depleted. Recipients have to provide a report on how the funds were used and the number of items made within a month of getting the grant.

A number of local companies and makerspaces have already stepped up and started turning out much-needed supplies, including Open Works, the Station North Tool Library, Under Armour, Old Line Distillers and Baltimore Spirits Company, to name a few.

In a statement, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said the grant would have the dual effect of helping the city’s response to the pandemic and supporting local businesses.

“This grant will specifically support Baltimore businesses in their production of much needed Personal Protective Equipment, including vital wage support,” he said. “I applaud the Baltimore Development Corporation for moving swiftly to address a crucial need for all of our healthcare professionals, first responders and essential employees.”

Colin Tarbert, president and CEO of the BDC, said in a statement that the robust network of manufacturers Made In Baltimore works with will be able to scale up production with the grant.

“These are challenging times for businesses and individuals and we’re proud that Baltimore’s maker and manufacturing community was able to step up to assist in providing Personal Protective Equipment,” he said.

Brandon Weigel

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