Economic Development Digest
Economic Development News
Next Gulf Coast Economic Development District Quarterly Meeting on January 29
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The Gulf Coast Economic Development District’s next quarterly board meeting will be from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday, January 29.
Please register in advance for this virtual meeting. Visit the GCEDD webpage for previous meeting minutes, presentations, and information about upcoming GCEDD board meetings.
Join the Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable on January 26
H-GAC will host the first Bringing Back Main Street roundtable of 2021 from 9:30 to noon on Tuesday, January 26. This event will be online.
 
This roundtable will feature the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Community Development Block Grant (TxCDBG) programs available to rural communities for a wide variety of downtown revitalization projects. The roundtable will also introduce H-GAC's new Economic Development Toolbox.

Presenters include:
  • Crystal Ortegon, TxCDBG Programs
  • Leigha Larkins, City of Huntsville
  • Melissa Landin, City of Eagle Lake
  • Jillian Donatto, Houston-Galveston Area Council

Registration is required. For more information, contact Cheryl Mergo at 713-993-4520.
Greater Houston Partnership Employment Outlook for 2021
According to Patrick Jankowski at the Greater Houston Partnership, the Houston region is projected to add 35,000 to 52,000 jobs in the coming year, depending on how successfully the COVID-19 vaccine is deployed. In a typical year, growth would be between 60,000 and 70,000 jobs. The industries that are most likely to lead this job growth will be in the business, professional, and scientific services, while the energy and retail sectors will likely continue to struggle in 2021. The downturn for energy is not new—energy has been struggling for the past 5 years, and oil and gas may no longer fuel Houston’s economy. Retail was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and vacancy rates are expected to rise as more restaurants and stores close. Read the full Houston Employment Forecast report or listen to the Bayou Business Download podcast.
Report 'Negotiating Responsible Tax Breaks on Renewable Energy Deals' Cites Wharton County
Wharton County is cited in a recent advisory issued by the Institute for Energy Economic and Financial Analysis on how to negotiate responsible tax breaks on renewable energy deals. In 2020, the Wharton Independent School District negotiated a tax-limitation agreement with AP Solar 6 LLC, which will build the 350MW Red-tailed Hawk Solar Project. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts endorsed the project, and an economic-development alliance called Powering Texas promotes such deals. Read the full report.
November 2020 Gulf Coast Labor Market Analysis
The regional unemployment rate in November rose to 8.9%, which is up from 7.7% in October and up from 3.7% in November 2019. The regional rate of 8.9% is higher than both the statewide rate (8.0%) and the national rate (6.4%). In the Houston-Galveston region, this represents 309,221 individuals without work and looking for a new job. According to Workforce Solutions Economist Parker Harvey, “while progress is being made, around 40 percent of the jobs lost during the March-April shutdown have yet to be recovered.” Read the full report.
No-Cost Economic Development Professional Consultations Available through IEDC’s Disaster Recovery Program
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 U.S. 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
FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance
Deadline: January 29, 2021
The Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program and the new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grant program provide states, local communities, tribes and territories funding for eligible mitigation activities. The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is the State of Texas applicant for all Flood Mitigation Assistance projects. Sub-applications were due to TWDB for review on December 1, 2020. The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is the State of Texas application for all Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities projects. Sub-applications were due to TDEM for review on December 1, 2020. Learn more.

TWDB FY2021 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants
Deadline: February 10, 2021
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is now accepting applications for Fiscal Year 2021 Agricultural Water Conservation Grants. Up to $1,200,000 in grant funding is available to eligible political subdivisions and state agencies for agricultural water conservation projects that improve irrigation efficiency, enhance resilience to weather extremes and climate variability, and promote innovation in agriculture. Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Cameron Turner at 512-936-6090 or cameron.turner@twdb.texas.gov. Learn more.

TDA Community Development Block Grant (TxCDBG) Funding Opportunities
Deadline: May 3, 2021
The Texas Department of Agriculture’s Community Development Block Grant Program (TxCDBG) helps small cities and rural communities provide housing and expand economic opportunities for persons of low- to moderate-income. TxCDBG funds utility infrastructure, disaster response, and unique local economic development projects. Applications are now open for the Community Development (CD) Fund and the Downtown Revitalization and Main Street Programs (DRP/MS). Learn more.

USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan & Grant Program
Deadline: Ongoing
U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development provides funding to construct, enlarge, or improve essential community facilities in rural areas. Rural communities can use these funds to build or modernize schools, health care clinics, libraries, and public safety facilities. Learn more.
 
USDA Business & Industry CARES Act Guaranteed Loan Program
Deadline: Ongoing
U.S. Department of Agriculture 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.

EDA Public Works Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
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 Jillian Donatto at 631-897-3817. Learn more.   
 
EPA Brownfield Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has grants available for cleaning up brownfields in your community. Brownfields are properties that have been contaminated by pollutants or hazardous waste. The EPA offers Area-Wide Planning Grants, Assessment Grants, Revolving Loan Fund Grants, Cleanup Grants, Multipurpose Grants, and Job Training Grants. Learn more.
Upcoming Developments
Amazon will open a 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center in Missouri City this year. The facility will be located at 2303 Hurricane Lane and will create more than 500 new jobs. 

Axiom Space plans to build a 14-acre headquarter campus at the Houston Spaceport. The campus will be a 322,000-square-foot facility.
 
Affordable homes are under construction at 2136 W. 34th St. in Oak Forest, Houston. Avenue on 34th is a mixed-income apartment building, featuring 70 units over four stories. The project will be completed in mid-2022. 
 
A six-story office and retail building will break ground next month at 4411 San Felipe, next to the Arabella condominium development. The 95,000-square-foot project will consist of three floors of office space with retail on the ground floor. The project is expected to open in January 2022.
 
Starling at Bridgeland is under construction within the Bridgeland community and will be located at Bridgeland Creek Parkway and Bridgeland High School Drive in Parkland Village. The 350,000-square-foot, 358-unit apartment project is expected to be completed by summer of 2022 and will be a part of Bridgeland Central, a future town center along the Grand Parkway. 
 
The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center will break ground next month at 5601 S. Braeswood Blvd. in Meyerland. The project will consist of a new three-story, 126,000-square-foot facility and renovations to a 27,000-square-foot existing facility. 
 
The Blossom Hotel-Houston is coming to the Texas Medical Center in April. The hotel will feature 267 guest rooms across 400,000 square feet and 16 stories. The project will be located at 7118 Bertner Avenue. 

Compiled from information in the Houston Business Journal, Community Impact Newspapers, and the Houston Chronicle.
Upcoming Events
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Gulf Coast Economic Development District | 713-627-3200

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