Harris County Announces $30 Million Grant Program to Assist Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

By: Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo
| Published 06/30/2020

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HARRIS COUNTY, TX -- County Judge Lina Hidalgo and each of the Harris County commissioners voted unanimously to approve the Small Business Recovery Fund (SBRF) program, a $30,000,000 grant program established to assist struggling small businesses who have been unable to obtain financial assistance from other COVID-19 relief programs. The program will provide eligible businesses a grant of up to $25,000 to help cover payroll costs, rent, accounts payable and other operating expenses. The SBRF targets businesses with 30 or fewer employees and is designed to assist the most vulnerable Harris County small- and micro-enterprises impacted by the pandemic with mounting financial burdens.

'The impact of this crisis on small businesses has been devastating. We can’t afford to lose a source of jobs, innovation and the enterprising spirit our region is known for,' Judge Hidalgo said. 'These grants will help business owners stay afloat as Harris County continues to fight the COVID-19 crisis.'

The Program will launch July 13, 2020, at 8:00 a.m. and will remain open for ten (10) days, thru July 22, 2020. More detailed information regarding eligibility requirements, how to access the application online and over the phone, and what residents will need to prepare for the application, will be released in the coming week.

“As the overwhelming demand for the forgivable loan program that I championed shows, far too many of our small businesses are struggling in a big way right now. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and have historically lifted up our community,” said Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “As we face some of the most difficult challenges in a generation, it’s time for county government to continue our support of local small businesses. I thank my fellow commissioners for voting in favor of the $30 million fund, and I have confidence that HBDI will do an excellent job with the expedient and efficient administration of these funds. Small businesses truly are the backbone of our economy, and this program shows that we have their backs!

Earlier in March, Harris County provided $10 million under a small business relief program (LEAP) which was able to provide assistance to approximately 400 small businesses. With nearly 500,000 businesses located in Harris County, the SBRF represents an effort to provide additional funding to a broader range of businesses suffering from the devastating impact of the novel coronavirus. Priority will be given to applicants that have not received prior assistance from the federally funded PPP Loan Program or other COVID-19 small business relief programs, including the Harris County LEAP program.

“The effects of COVID-19 on our friends and neighbors throughout Harris County are immense and widespread – on our health, our families, our medical community and our economy,” said Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle. “Harris County’s response to this pandemic must recognize the need to address all these issues. With federal funding from the CARES Act, the Small Business Relief Fund is designed to help alleviate some of the stresses on small businesses throughout Harris County. I encourage those eligible to take advantage of this program.”

A local Community Development Financial Institution, Houston Business Development, Inc., which specializes in administering government funded small business lending programs, will work closely with the county in launching and administering the SBRF program.

“Helping small businesses survive the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic directly helps the working men and women employed by those small businesses,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “The need in our region is immense, but we will support as many of our vulnerable businesses as possible, fairly and transparently, so that the thousands of families who rely on small businesses continue to have the ability to pay their rent, feed their families, and make ends meet.”

Those in need of immediate assistance are encouraged to call 211 Texas/United Way helpline to find an organization in your geographic region that can serve you.

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