(BALTIMORE, MD) – Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland (BBB) provided testimony that was instrumental in the passage of the nation’s cybersecurity bill providing a “buy local” tax credit, which will go into effect July 1, 2018.Safeguarding privacy and data protection are among the principles of BBB’s eight Standards for Trust. Prior to the introduction of the new legislation, BBB partnered with the Cybersecurity Association of Maryland Inc. (CAMI) on a number of initiatives to help educate the community of 2,600 BBB Accredited Business in Maryland about local resources and how to plan for cybersecurity threats. Together, Jody Thomas, BBB vice president of communications; Kathleen Bridgeman, BBB board member and Hague Quality Water of Maryland director of financial services; and Stacey Smith, CAMI executive director, along with others, offered testimony that underscored how the legislation would benefit consumers and Maryland businesses. The bill, sponsored by Maryland Senator Guy Guzzone of Howard County and Governor Hogan’s Administration in the 2018 legislative session, will be an incentive for investors to invest in Maryland cybersecurity companies and businesses to purchase local cybersecurity protections. The total amount of funding available for the program is $4 million for the first year and $6 million/year in subsequent years.“It was a unique opportunity to pursue measures that support Maryland-based cybersecurity companies, while helping all sectors of the state’s small business economy. The tax credits make it more affordable for companies to purchase products and services to help protect business continuity and customer data,” said Angie Barnett, CEO and president of BBB. The bill will give Maryland businesses with 50 employees or less a tax credit for up to 50 percent of what they spend in the year on cybersecurity products and/or services, if they purchase them from Maryland companies. To be eligible for a credit, the Maryland business must purchase its cybersecurity solutions from a company that meets certain criteria:Has its headquarters and base of operations in MDOwns or has properly licensed a proprietary cybersecurity technology or provides a cybersecurity serviceHas less than $5,000,000 in annual revenue orIs a minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned or service disabled veteran owned business or located in a historically underutilized business zone (HUB zone)“CAMI is especially excited about this unique element of the new law because it means small Maryland businesses at risk of cyber damages can get the help they need at a lower cost by buying locally,” said Stacey Smith, executive director of CAMI. “It will not only help cybersecurity companies thrive, but also ensure that more small businesses are cyber secure.”This legislation also provides a tax credit for investors in cybersecurity companies and allows convertible debt as a form of investing. By making the program more attractive for investors, the bill lets Maryland cybersecurity companies more easily secure the funding they need to develop their technologies and grow. “As with many small businesses there is not a surplus of funds to dedicate to cybersecurity,” said Kathleen Bridgeman, BBB board member and Hague Quality Water of director of finance. “Most often as owners we focus on core issues like business growth and customer retention. But, small businesses are increasingly the focus of cyber-attacks. It’s our responsibility to protect our clients’ data. This bill will enable us to be proactive about cybersecurity and help make it more financially attainable."BBB will join CAMI for two events about the advantages provided by the legislation. The MD Cyber Legislative Forum is scheduled for the morning of Thursday, May 17 in Columbia and is specifically for CAMI members. A second event for BBB Accredited Businesses and any business interested in learning more will be held in Baltimore on May 22. For more details on these events, visit CAMI’s website mdcyber.com. For more information on BBB visit bbb.org.