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

Nine Baltimore companies received city-backed grants to help make personal protective equipment for frontline workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

The $50,000 grant fund, established by the city and the quasi-public Baltimore Development Corporation, provides up to $7,500 to each awardee to offset the costs of labor, materials or machinery needed to make the equipment.

SewLab USA and Quality Mask Supply received received grants to face masks; Custom 3D Stuff, Maryland Thermoform and Wills Printing Co. received grants to make face shields; Mt. Royal Soap Co. and Louthan Distilling received grants to make hand sanitizer; and Different Regard and Citywide Youth Development received grants to make gowns and hazmat suits, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced today.

More than 50 percent of the businesses are women- or minority-owned, Young said.

“First responders and healthcare workers are risking their health every day, and it’s never been more important to ensure they have the necessary equipment to protect themselves,” the mayor said in a statement. “This small infusion of capital will enable these businesses to scale up production of crucial Personal Protective Equipment to help keep essential workers safer.”

All the items, which are in short supply across the country, are on the Maryland Department of Commerce’s COVID-19: Maryland Critical Needs List.

The grant is being administered by Made In Baltimore, a booster organization that’s run by the BDC to promote local manufacturing and goods made within the city.

Andy Cook, campaign director of Made In Baltimore, suggested that local makers be added to the list of everyday heroes who are helping with the response to coronavirus.

Many of them, he said, have retooled their operations in short order to start making personal protective equipment and keep their workers employed.

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 LibraryUnder ArmourOld Line Distillers and Baltimore Spirits Company, to name a few.

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Brandon Weigel

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...