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EDA Hurricane Harvey Recovery Funds Now Available!
The U.S. Economic Development Administration's (EDA) Austin regional office received $129,119,000 in supplemental funding for disaster relief and is actively seeking projects to help communities in our region recover from Hurricane Harvey. The recently released Notice of Funding Opportunity outlines the requirements, which include the following:
  • Projects require an 20 percent match, which can include in-kind
  • Typical projects will range from $1-$2.5 million
  • First round of 14-15 applications anticipated to be funded by September 2018, with 1 or 2 subsequent rounds of funding
  • Must demonstrate a nexus to Harvey, in terms of economic recovery or resilience
  • Eligible applicants include governments, non-profits, and universities
For more information, please contact Joshua Owens or Robert Peche of the EDA.

Save the Date graphic Long-Term Economic Recovery and Resilience June 1
Save the Date for the Long-Term Economic Recovery and Resilience Workshop from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, June 1, at H-GAC, Conference Room B, Second Floor. The focus of the workshop is to connect local governments and economic development organizations to the state and federal agency resources needed to spur long-term economic recovery and resilience post-Harvey. Lunch will be provided. Registration is required.         
State of the Regional Economy
Jenny Phillip of the Greater Houston Partnership presented their analysis of the state of the region's economy at the April 6 GCEDD board meeting. In general, 2018's economic outlook is slightly better than the 2017 report. On a positive note, employment was not as negatively impacted by Hurricane Harvey as anticipated. More information is available in her presentation.      
Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Actions

The following articles highlight actions underway or available for the region to advance the strategies and actions in the GCEDD Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS).

Greater Houston Freight System Map
Federally designated Primary Highway Freight System and Tier One _ Tier Two of the Greater Houston Freight System

Freight Mobility
On January 24, the Houston-Galveston Area Council hosted a Ports Area Mobility Study Workshop. The workshop was well attended by the Greater Houston Freight Council. The Ports Area Mobility Study is a follow up from the 2012 Regional Goods Movement Study and seeks to directly connect the region's four deep water ports with emerging markets and points beyond. During the workshop, participants and stakeholders worked on identifying freight and goods supply chains that are dependent upon the region's port facilities and improvements that can better facilitate port related freight mobility. Additional ideas discussed at the meeting included the diversion of freight flow from the congested urban core, changes in commodity flow and growth in chemical manufacturing. The study is currently in the data collection phase. Once this phase is complete, H-GAC's consultants will work with stakeholders to develop alternatives for improving freight mobility through infrastructure and operational strategies, and policy recommendations. The Ports Area Mobility Study is a critical step preserving the region's infrastructure and improving the way we move freight throughout this region.   
Workforce Solutions and OakBend Medical Center
Grand Opening of OakBend Medical Center in Wharton OakBend Medical Center is pleased to announce that it will open its fourth hospital in April 2018, located in Wharton, Texas. After a long journey and many detours, OakBend Medical Center - Wharton will open with services such as OakBend's signature No Wait Hospital Emergency Room, observation, air ambulance, and imaging, including x-ray, CT, and ultrasound. Soon after opening, the hospital will provide same day surgery services. Other services are intended to follow based on the needs and support of the community. "OakBend Medical Center is excited to offer hospital services in Wharton," said Joe Freudenberger, CEO of OakBend Medical Center. "The community deserves exceptional healthcare and OakBend is fortunate to include Wharton as part of our family." Workforce Solutions provided sourcing, recruiting, and pre-screening of candidates to OakBend Medical Center to help them fill the new positions; along with labor market information so they could make informed decisions.

Workforce Solutions Labor Market Analysis
Workforce Solutions released its latest analysis of the region's labor market. Regional unemployment is at 4.6 percent , down from 5.2 percent in the prior year. Additional labor market data is available on the Workforce Solutions website.
Upcoming Events

Funding Opportunities
TDA Texas Capital Fund Infrastructure and Real Estate Program
The 2017 application and guide are now available for the Texas Department of Agriculture's (TDA) Texas Capital Fund Infrastructure Development and Real Estate programs. The programs are economic development tools designed to provide financial resources to non-entitlement communities. Funds from the infrastructure program can be used for public infrastructure needed to assist a business that commits to create and/or retain permanent jobs, primarily for low- and moderate- income people. Funds from the real estate program must be used for real estate development to assist a business that commits to create and/or retain permanent jobs, primarily for low- and moderate- income people. The real estate and/or improvements must be owned by the community and leased to the business. These programs encourage new business development and expansions. Applications are due on the 20th of each month.

EDA Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is accepting grant applications to provide investments that support construction, nonconstruction, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects under EDA's Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) programs. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional assets and support implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to forward economic prosperity in distressed communities. There are no submission deadlines under this opportunity. Proposals and applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis until the publication of a new funding opportunity notice.

The SBA 504 Loan Program provides long-term business expansion financing for real estate, construction, and equipment purchases.  

The EDA Business Loan Fund assists qualified businesses with low-interest loans.  

Upcoming Developments
Hotel Indigo is the latest addition announced for Grace Community's Church's mixed-use development called Cathedral Lakes. The hotel is expected to open during the first quarter of 2019. Cathedral Lakes, located along I-45 between Spring Hill Drive and Spring Creek, will also include Northside Lexus and The Medical Resort at The Woodlands. The $40 million, 158,000-square-foot car dealership, which is relocating, is expected to open December 2018.

Harris County broke ground on the county's first public recovery high school. Located at the former Highpoint School North, the 20,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open sometime in the spring 2018 semester.
A Residence Inn by Marriot high rise is expected the open early 2019. The 16-story, 182- room has started construction at 7807 Kirby, near the NRG stadium. The development, which will include a 4.5-story parking garage, is expected to serve visitors for the Texas Medical Center, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and the NRG Stadium.

Lone Star College-University Park is building a 3-story, 50,000-square-foot, $15.4 million Center for Science and Innovation. It is also working on a new $23.7 million arts building expected to open mid-2019. For its Cypress campus, it is working on a 130,000-square-foot Technology center expected to open spring 2018. Lone Star College-CyFair recently opened a Center for Academic and Student Engagement.
A Best Buy distribution center is coming to Missouri City. The 550,000-square-foot Warehousing Logistics facility will be at 636 Hwy. 90, at the corner of Cravens Road and Highway 90 near Beltway 8.
Grand Texas Sports and Entertainment District in New Caney will begin to build major sections soon. Construction for the Big Rivers Waterpark and Gator Bayou Adventure Park has started, and both are expected to open in summer 2018. Construction for a hotel has begun, and other parts of the development, such as Grand Texas RV Resort and SpeedSportz Racing Park have already debuted.
 
Johnson Development will turn a former Arabian horse farm near Tomball into a new master-planned community. The development company plans to build 1,000 homes; the first homes are expected to be built by the fall of 2019. The property is north of the Grand Parkway east of Mueschke Road.
 
Downtown Houston is set to get a giant food hall attached to the Lyric Centre at the intersection of Smith and Prairie. The $58 million, 31,000-square-foot food hall will be called Lyric Centre and is set to open in the fall of 2018.

Compiled from reports in the Houston Business Journal, Houston Chronicle, Houston Community Impact Newspaper, and company websites.
The Economic Development Digest is published quarterly by the
Gulf Coast Economic Development District.  

Houston-Galveston Area Council, 3555 Timmons Lane, Suite 120, Houston, TX 77027
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