WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both D-Md., have announced the recent award of nearly $130,000 in federal funds for Chestertown and Kent County through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Development Grant Program.

According to a news release, the program awarded $30,000 to Kent County for the development of job training programs to equip adult students with marketable fiber optics and cyber security skills. The county will contribute an additional $17,581, bringing the total budget to $47,581, the release states. This effort is estimated to create three jobs.

In addition, a $35,000 grant is going to Main Street Historic Chestertown to retain and revitalize existing businesses and attract new ones, developing the area’s potential as a destination for residents and tourists, the release states. Main Street Historic Chestertown will contribute $5,000, bringing the total budget to $40,000. It is expected to create 15 jobs and retain another 70.

Additional Eastern Shore grants went to Crisfield in Somerset County to improve marketing for more than 150 small businesses in the town’s Arts and Entertainment District and to Pocomoke City in Worcester County to provide technical assistance to downtown businesses.

“Small businesses are the engine of our economy. Rural small businesses and entrepreneurs face unique challenges, while having an even greater effect on the communities they serve,” said Cardin, lead Democrat on the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “These federal funds will make a real difference in Kent, Somerset, and Worcester Counties for years to come.”

“Small businesses on the Eastern Shore and across the state create jobs, drive economic growth, and are an integral part of our community. This federal investment will help train new workers and allow entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. It will also provide federal support to help tackle some of the unique challenges faced by small businesses in rural areas. In the U.S. Senate, I will keep fighting to support Maryland businesses and workers,” said Van Hollen, a member of the Budget and Appropriations Committees.

USDA awards Rural Business Development Grants for rural projects that finance and facilitate the development of small and emerging private businesses, help fund distance learning networks and help fund employment-related adult education programs, according to the release. The program is authorized by the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act.

Additional information on the program may be found at rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-business-development-grants.

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