Maryland governor launches program to help Port of Baltimore businesses after bridge collapse

Gov. Wes Moore (D-Md.) announced the launch of a program Friday to help Port of Baltimore businesses who were impacted by the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge last month.

“We must do everything in our power to support the 8,000 Port workers whose jobs have been directly affected by the collapse of the Key Bridge — and the thousands more who have been touched by this crisis,” Moore said Friday in a press release.

“By moving in partnership with the Maryland General Assembly, the federal government, and our local government partners, we are extending a hand to workers and businesses in need of help,” he continued. “Together, we will continue to ensure that we leave no one behind in our response to the bridge collapse.”

The Port of Baltimore Worker Retention Program will “award grants to eligible organizations directly impacted by the reduced operations at the Port” and has an aim to “minimize or eliminate the need for layoffs by enabling businesses to retain their employees until the Port fully reopens,” according to its policy. Employers can apply for up to $200,000 dollars through the program and it has a maximum expenditure of $7,500 per worker.

“Eligible applicants are Maryland-based small businesses, labor unions, trade associations, or companies that contract with or are members of a trade association who rely on access to the private and public marine terminals at the Port, and whose activities are hindered or halted entirely due to reduced Port operations,” the program policy states. “All applicants must be committed to resuming operations to the fullest extent practicable once the Port resumes full operation.”

Maryland Secretary of Labor Portia Wu said that it is “my top priority to help our critical Port of Baltimore businesses, and their workers get through this difficult time” in the release on the program.

“The Worker Retention Program will keep Port businesses in operation and workers able to earn income and support their families as the U.S. Army Corps and others work to get the shipping channels reopened,” Wu said.

The announcement comes just over two weeks after a cargo ship, called Dali, lost power and collided with the bridge, causing much of the structure to fall into the Patapsco River. Six out of eight construction workers who were filling potholes on the bridge at the time were pronounced dead.

The critical port has been closed for repairs, and a timeline or full cost of the reconstruction project has yet to be determined.

President Biden, who visited Baltimore in the wake of the collapse, has vowed to use government resources to help with recovery efforts.

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