Economic Development Digest
Economic Development News
GCEDD’s Regional High-Speed Internet Strategy Approved
The Houston-Galveston Area Council Board of Directors approved the Regional High-Speed Internet Strategy on July 21. Local governments seeking to expand access to high-speed internet, or broadband, can use the Strategy to plan for deploying new broadband networks. Read more about the Gulf Coast Economic Development District’s high-speed internet work. View Connected Nation Texas’ most recent broadband maps of the region, updated on July 31. 
Facilitating Parking for Livable Centers Events from H-GAC
H-GAC is hosting two virtual events on the topic of parking in September as part of the Livable Centers program.
September 17 – Kickoff Event
Join H-GAC, local parking experts and community partners from 4:30 to 6 p.m. September 17, as we explore how the current environment and future innovations are affecting how we plan for parking, and how parking may change how we develop in the Houston-Galveston region. Register online.

September 18 – Half-Day Workshop
Learn how you can invigorate your Main Streets, Downtowns, or Town Centers with parking solutions that leverage your community’s existing resources, enhance community context, and build community partnerships that incentivize new need-based investment at this half-day workshop from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. September 18. Gain expert insight, hear local case study examples, and find opportunity for future partnership. Register online
Texas Main Street Designation Applications Open 
The Texas Historical Commission is accepting applications from cities interested in becoming designated Main Street communities. Each year, the Commission may select up to five cities for official designation. Communities selected this year will enter the program in January 2021. Main Street is an economic development program focusing on small business development using historic preservation and reuse of historic properties as primary tools. Full applications are due August 31. Main Street communities in the region are Bay City, Houston-Emancipation Avenue, Huntsville, Rosenberg, and Sealy. 
Free Technical Assistance Available for Brownfields 
Kansas State University Technical Assistance to Brownfields program provides free site re-use planning and visioning services, and site inventory and prioritization assistance to local governments that don't have the resources to get this done on their own. This assistance is usually enough to "start the ball rolling," for developing strategies and to attract funds to do more extensive planning work for brownfield redevelopment. For more information, contact Blase Leven, the Program Coordinator at Kansas State University, at 785-532-0780. 
Federal Communications Commission Rural Opportunity Fund for High Speed Broadband Auction Phase I Bidding Begins on October 29
The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund reverse auction brings high-speed internet service, or broadband, to rural homes and small businesses that lack access. In Phase I, the FCC will target over six million homes and businesses in census blocks that are entirely unserved by voice and broadband with download speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second. Bidding begins on October 29. Learn more.
Application Remains Open for EDA CARES Act Funding
The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) continues to accept applications for CARES Act Recovery Assistance intended to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to economic injury as a result of the coronavirus. Funds are available through the 2020 Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunity (FY20 PWEAA NOFO, see page 46). The Gulf Coast Economic Development District will provide technical assistance to applicants. E-mail Cheryl Mergo with any questions
Disaster Recovery Program | IEDC 
The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) is placing experienced economic development professionals as volunteers in economic development organizations throughout the region that can use expert input doing various tasks such as: 

  • Attracting inward investment
  • Business outreach, retention and recovery 
  • Community outreach, finance, flood control and mitigation
  • Grant writing, strategic planning, and training/education

Thanks to US Economic Development Administration funding, the volunteers—who can work remotely—are completely free of charge to communities in the region.

For more information, contact Cheryl Mergo.
Funding Opportunities
EDA Public Works Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
The U.S. Economic Development Administration supports development in economically distressed areas of the United States by fostering job creation and attracting private investment. These Public Works Grants help communities build the infrastructure they need to support job growth and private investment. If you have an economic development infrastructure need in your community, contact Cheryl Mergo at 713-993-4520. Learn more.   
Environmental Protection Agency Brownfield Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has grants available for cleaning up brownfields in your community. Brownfields are properties that have been contaminated by pollutants or hazardous waste. They offer Area-Wide Planning Grants, Assessment Grants, Revolving Loan Fund Grants, Cleanup Grants, Multipurpose Grants, and Job Training Grants. Learn more.
Community Facilities (CF) Direct Loan & Grant Program
Deadline: Ongoing
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development provides funding to construct, enlarge, or improve essential community facilities in rural areas. USDA has more than $2 billion still available for rural communities to build or modernize education, health care, municipal and public safety facilities this fiscal year. Learn more.
Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP)
Deadline: Ongoing
USDA Rural Development loans help rural families and small businesses achieve cost savings by providing loans to qualified consumers to implement durable cost-effective energy efficiency measures. A Letter of Intent is required. Learn more.
Business & Industry CARES Act Guaranteed Loan Program
Deadline: Ongoing

USDA Rural Development is offering loan guarantees to lenders for their loans to rural businesses and agricultural producers to supplement their working capital to prevent, prepare for and respond to the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Learn more.
USDA Community Prosperity Funding
Deadline: August 24, 2020
Community-based and nonprofit organizations, institutions of higher education, and tribal entities may apply for Community Prosperity funding for projects that provide outreach, education, and training in agriculture, conservation, agribusiness, and forestry, with a focus on economic and workforce development, innovation and technology, and quality of life through food and agriculture. Learn more.
EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants
Deadline: September 22, 2020
The EPA offers grants for workforce training programs that recruit, train, and place local, unemployed and under-employed residents in full-time jobs in the environmental field. The EPA encourages applicants to develop their curricula based on local labor market assessments and employers’ hiring needs, while also delivering comprehensive training that allows participants to secure multiple certifications. Learn more.
USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Education and Workforce Development
Deadline: September 24, 2020 
In Fiscal Year 2020, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture added a new area under the USDA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative's Education and Workforce Development Program to support the Agricultural Workforce Training Grants program. The program seeks to develop new workforce training programs and expand, improve, or renew existing workforce training programs at community, junior, and technical colleges/institutes. This program aims to expand job-based, experiential learning opportunities for students to enable a technology and data savvy workforce for 21st century agricultural jobs. Learn more.
GLO Community Development Block Grants Mitigation
Deadline: October 28, 2020
The Texas General Land Office (GLO) Community Development Block Grants Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program will provide funds to cities, counties, Indian Tribes, and councils of governments to address risks in HUD- and state-designated Most Impacted and Distressed areas. Three competition application are open: the 2015 Floods and 2016 Floods State Mitigation Competitions and the Hurricane Harvey State Mitigation Competition. Eligible applicants and examples of eligible projects are posted on the GLO website. More detail can be found in the CDBG-MIT Competition Application Guide. Contact Justin Bower at 713-499-6653 if you have questions or would like to request assistance.
FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance Funding Programs
Applications Open: September 30, 2020
On August 4, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) posted the Fiscal Year 2020 Hazard Mitigation Assistance Notice of Funding Opportunities for the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program and the new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grant program. FEMA’s two competitive mitigation grant programs provide states, local communities, tribes, and territories funding for eligible mitigation activities. To learn more about each program, see the BRIC Fact Sheet and FMA Fact Sheet.
Upcoming Developments
Construction is complete on Bay Area Business Park. The 3.3 million-square-foot industrial park is at 10619 Red Bluff Road in Pasadena. The third and final phase was completed last month, which included three buildings totaling 1.3 million square feet. 
Provision at West Bellfort is wrapping up construction at 13701 W. Bellfort Blvd. in Sugar Land. The $25 million mixed-income apartment community will feature 144 units.
A 43-story apartment tower has broken ground at 808 Crawford Street, next to Discovery Green in Downtown Houston. The multi-family project will feature 309 units, including 16 townhomes and four penthouses. Completion is scheduled for late 2022.
Lower Heights District, a mixed-use project along I-10 between Studemont and Sawyer streets, is completing its first phase. The project will include Alexan Lower Heights, a 375-unit luxury multifamily complex. Future phases will include more retail, office, and multifamily developments.  
Tomball ISD is wrapping up construction on two projects and getting ready to open in August. Grand Oaks Elementary School is located at Cypress-Rosehill Road and Grand Parkway; the 112,000-square-foot project will be able to accommodate 900 students between K-4 grade. Grand Lakes Junior High School will be able to accommodate 1,500 students in the new 228,000-square-foot space. Projects for the district also include a stadium with a conference center and a 155,000-square-foot expansion at Tomball Memorial High School. The stadium and the high school expansion are expected to be complete next summer. 

Compiled from information in Community Impact Newspapers, Houston Business Journal, and Texas A&M University Real Estate Center.
Upcoming Events

August 25 | Economy Series: Housing | GHP
September 4, 18 | Economic Development Sales Tax Workshop | TEDC
September 22-23 | Real Estate Development and Reuse | IEDC
Oct 19 – 21 | 2020 Annual Training Conference | NADO
GCEDD Logo Texas with arrow around the bottom
Gulf Coast Economic Development District | 713-627-3200

The Economic Development Digest is published monthly by the