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Impact of Key Bridge Collapse on Small Businesses in Baltimore

BALTIMORE — Leaders from the Small Business Association traveled to Baltimore to talk about the federal resources available to businesses impacted by the Key Bridge collapse. But not all business owners have been able to receive the help they need. 

One local business owner in Canton shared his concerns after not having any business since the Key Bridge collapse and not being able to qualify for certain government assistance designed to help businesses that have been impacted.

The situation worsened for Frederick Mensah, owner of Cilla Transportation, a trucking company that picks up containers from the Port of Baltimore. He expressed his distress over the lack of work since the Key Bridge collapsed more than three weeks ago.

“We need help and I hope they will look at the situation because nobody saw this thing coming and we’ve all got bills to pay,” said Mensah.

Frederick’s plea extends to his fellow truck drivers, independent contractors who have also been unable to qualify for unemployment and other government assistance.

In response to the bridge collapse, Governor Wes Moore issued a disaster declaration, enabling small business owners to apply for federal disaster loans.

The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest loans for nonprofits and small businesses impacted by the collapse.

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The Deputy Administrator of SBA reported that $3.4 million worth of loans have been approved, with plans to increase this amount in the coming weeks.

Despite the loan options, some, like Frederick, remain hesitant due to concerns about interest rates and repayment.

“It’s not just a loan. You get a loan, it comes with interest and all of that,” Mensah said. “We need a lot of the grants also to help us get through this.”

There is frustration among independent truckers like Mensah who feel left out of the support available to other port workers.

A representative from the governor’s office mentioned that support for “solopreneurs” like Frederick is available through the Department of Labor.

Additionally, the Department of Commerce will soon offer grants up to $100K for impacted businesses, providing much-needed relief.

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