In the hopes of helping its residents recover economically from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prince George’s County’s economic development agency is giving companies incentives to hire the county’s residents to the tune of up to $15,000 per employee.
Employ Prince George’s, the county agency, is offering the Rapid Re-Employment Grants Initiative, a scaled-up version of a program first launched in 2020 that distributed $540,000 to 26 businesses who hired over 80 employees from Prince George’s County. The grants were awarded to businesses in a range of industries, from hospitality and retail to information technology and professional services.
“We thought that was a quite successful undertaking in a short period of time, so with that in mind, we’re very confident that this second round of funding will be just as successful, or even more,” said Jeffrey Swilley, chief program officer of Employ Prince George’s.
The second round of the initiative, which launched on Wednesday, will have around $5 million to distribute to businesses over the next three years. The money comes from funds allocated to the county by the American Rescue Plan Act, a stimulus bill passed by President Joe Biden last March.
Participating businesses will receive up to $15,000 when they hire a Prince George’s County resident, with the total amount of the grant equating to 50% of the employee’s pay for their first 12 weeks at the company at larger businesses, or 75% at smaller businesses, meaning those with fewer than 100 employees.
The company itself does not need to be based in Prince George’s County to qualify for a grant. Employ Prince George’s will be vetting companies to ensure they’re following COVID-19 safety protocols, they’re in good standing with their taxes and they have appropriate insurance coverage and up-to-date registrations.
Over the course of this round of funding, Employ Prince George’s is hoping to support as many as 300 employers, placing around 600 employees.
The goal of the program, according to Swilley, is to simultaneously support businesses and Prince George’s residents who may be struggling to find work, especially those who lost their jobs amid the pandemic.
“We’re dealing with multiple jurisdictions that we’re competing against, per se, in the DMV area,” he said. “We’re offering (up to) $15,000 per placement of a Prince George’s County resident. We anticipate … all (candidates having) equal skillsets, that (a business) would choose a Prince George’s County resident based on that offering.”
Employ Prince George’s will use several strategies to make companies aware of this initiative, from tapping social media to reconnecting with businesses the agency has worked with in the past, including those that applied for the previous round of Rapid Re-Employment Grants.
“The relaunch of the Rapid Re-Employment Grants Initiative is a major step in our efforts to rebuild our local economy as we continue to navigate our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks in a press release. “This allocation of new funding through the American Rescue Plan will allow Employ Prince George’s to continue this successful program to support our business community, get residents back to work, and revitalize our local economy.”