Economic Development Digest
Economic Development News
Next Gulf Coast Economic Development District Quarterly Meeting on April 9
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The Gulf Coast Economic Development District’s next quarterly board meeting will be Friday, April 9 at 10 a.m. Pre-registration is required. We will be joined by guest speakers Dr. Margaret Cook, expert on the Water-Energy Nexus with the Houston Advanced Research Center, and Brett Perlman, CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future.

Visit the GCEDD webpage for previous meeting minutes, presentations, and information about upcoming GCEDD board meetings.
Gulf Coast Workforce Board Releases County-Level Quarterly Employment Reports
In February, quarterly employment reports were released for each of the counties in the Gulf Coast Workforce Development Area along with a report on the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Reports include covered employment, unemployment rates, employment change by industry, and long-range trend data through December 2020.
 
According to the MSA report: “Strongest recovery has been in Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities where all 3,700 jobs lost in March and April 2020 were recovered plus an additional 12,200 jobs. Fourth quarter hiring in Transportation, Warehousing, and Utilities has been on the rise in recent years due to increased online shopping overall but the pandemic has created extra demand. Retail Trade and Professional and Business Services have also recovered all jobs lost in March and April 2020. Leisure and Hospitality suffered the largest loss of jobs due to the pandemic recovering some 85,200 jobs or 66.1% of the 128,900 jobs lost by December 2020. Employment in industry sectors with ties to the oil and gas industry continued to remain at levels lower than they were at the beginning of the pandemic."
 

Bringing Back Main Street Quarterly Roundtable on April 27
The Houston-Galveston Area Council's next Bringing Back Main Street roundtable will be Tuesday, April 27, at 9:30 a.m. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom, and attendees must pre-register to attend. The topic will be Designing Accessible Downtowns and will include guidance and examples of how small towns and downtown organizations can integrate accessibility considerations into their work.
 
Share and Tell
Has your community had an opportunity to creatively enhance the accessibility of your downtown? Share your story and submit a couple of pictures to display during the online roundtable while you spend a couple of minutes sharing your experience with the group.
EDA Build to Scale Challenge Announced; Open until April 29, 2021
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The Economic Development Administration is accepting applications for the Build to Scale program, a $38 million funding opportunity that fuels tech-based economic development in regional economies. 

The Notice of Funding Opportunity details two competitions: the Venture Challenge and the Capital Challenge. The Venture Challenge seeks to support high-growth entrepreneurship, accelerate company growth in the applicant’s region, and scale proven entrepreneurship support models. The Capital Challenge increases access to capital in communities where risk capital is in short supply by providing operational support for early-stage investment funds, angel capital networks, or investor training programs. Cities, counties, states, other political subdivisions of states, or entities supported by a state or political subdivision of a state that is one of the following: a nonprofit institution of higher education, public-private partnership, research park, federal lab, venture development organization, an economic development organization, or a consortium of the aforementioned are eligible to apply. Applications are due April 29. 
Local Disaster Damages Survey for Recent Winter Weather
The Texas Department of Emergency Management is encouraging Texans to complete a short survey via the Individual State of Texas Assessment Tool (iSTAT) to document experiences of recent winter weather. The objective of this survey is to identify damages across Texas and help emergency management officials across the state gain an understanding of damages that occurred during the recent winter weather. Texans who are unable to submit information through the online iSTAT tool can call 844-844-3089 between 8 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. seven days a week to submit their disaster damage information.
Emergency Management Virtual Learning Lab: Ways to Maximize Federal Funding for Response to and Recovery from Disasters
The federal government continues to provide reimbursement and stimulus funding to state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to combat the spread of COVID-19 and to distribute and administer the COVID-19 vaccine. With disasters occurring more frequently, many states are managing long-term recovery from multiple events simultaneously.

While the maze of federal funding can be difficult to navigate, planning recovery now will help maximize federal reimbursement opportunities in the future. The National Emergency Management Association's ongoing webinar series covers best practices in recovery strategic planning, managing simultaneous events, recovery streams, and program tracking systems. View a schedule of past and upcoming webinars.
View Recording of EDA’s “Economic Recovery and Success” Virtual Roundtable from March 3, 2021
On March 3, the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) hosted a virtual roundtable “Economic Recovery and Success” to spotlight efforts being undertaken by current EDA grantees as they strive to respond to and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. They also discussed how EDA funds are helping advance the nation’s full economic recovery.

Bharat Ramamurti, Deputy Director, National Economic Council, spoke about the American Rescue Plan and other efforts underway by the Biden Administration to advance the nation’s economic recovery.

View a recording of the grantee roundtable event.
Webinar: GHP’s “Business Beyond Borders: Supply Chain Wake Up Calls for Reshoring Now” Intensive Training
COVID-19 has revealed deadly shortages of essential products due to 90 to 95% dependence on imports, especially from China. Similar dependence is true in many key industry sectors including defense. It has never been more evident that offshoring components can carry a great deal of cost and risk and it is now clear that shorter supply chains are stronger, more competitive supply chains.

Through “Beyond Borders: Supply Chain Wake Up Calls for Reshoring Now," a two-part Greater Houston Partnership webinar, representatives from trade, manufacturing and supply chain organizations demonstrated that shorter supply chains are also more profitable. Tools were presented to help you benefit from these changes, make better sourcing decisions, and to convince your customers to buy from you instead of offshore. View a recording of Part 1 and Part 2 of the webinar.
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
USDA Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) 
Deadline: March 22, 2021 
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI) grants are awarded to help non-profit housing and community development organizations, low-income rural communities and federally recognized tribes support housing, community facilities and community and economic development projects in rural areas. Awards range from $50,000 to $250,000. Match funds required in amounts equal to the amount of the grant. If you have difficulty accessing the full announcement, contact Shirley Stevenson, Community Programs Specialist, at shirley.stevenson@usda.gov
Learn more.  

USDA Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Program  
Deadline: March 22, 2021
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service is accepting Fiscal Year 2021 applications for the Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training grant program. Grants to public bodies and private nonprofit corporations will fund technical assistance and/or training to identify and plan for community facility needs. Once those needs have been identified, the grantee can assist in identifying public and private resources to finance those identified community facility needs. The maximum grant award is $150,000, and no matching funds are required. Learn more

USDA Rural Business Development Grants
Deadline: March 31, 2021
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is accepting applications from towns, non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education and other eligible entities to provide technical assistance and training for small rural businesses. Small businesses are defined as businesses with fewer than 50 employees and less than $1 million in gross revenue. Rural Business Development Grant money must be used for projects that benefit rural areas or towns outside the urbanized periphery of any city with a population of 50,000 or more. There is no maximum grant amount; however, smaller requests are given higher priority. There is no cost sharing requirement. Learn more

Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program
Deadline: April 1, 2021
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers loan guarantees up to $250 million to assist in the development, construction, and retrofitting of new and emerging biofuels, renewable chemicals, and biobased product technologies. Learn more.

AARP Community Challenge
Deadline: April 14, 2021
The AARP Community Challenge provides small grants to fund quick-action projects that can help communities become more livable for people of all ages. Applications are accepted for projects to aid in coronavirus recovery, improve public spaces, housing, transportation, civic engagement, and more. Government entities, 501(C)(3), 501(C)(4) and 501(c)(6) nonprofits are eligible to apply. Grants can range from several hundred dollars for smaller, short-term activities to tens of thousands of dollars for larger projects. Learn more.

NIST Small Business Innovation Grants Phase I 
Deadline: April 14, 2021
The National Institute of Standards and Technology solicits Phase I research applications from small businesses, especially science and technology-based firms with strong research capabilities in Advanced Manufacturing and Material Measurements; Cybersecurity and Privacy; and Physical Infrastructure and Resilience, among other areas (see Section 9 of the Notice of Funding Opportunity). Learn more.

USDA Value Added Producer Grants
Deadline: April 29, 2021
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program funds can be used for planning activities (Planning Grants up to $75,000) or for working capital expenses (Working Capital Grants up to $250,000) related to producing and marketing a value-added agricultural product. Examples of planning activities include conducting feasibility studies and developing business plans for processing and marketing the proposed value-added product. Examples of working capital expenses include processing costs, marketing and advertising expenses, and some inventory and salary expenses. Learn more.

Texas Farm and Ranchland Conservation Program
Deadline: April 30, 2021
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program protects working lands from fragmentation and development by maintaining and enhancing their ecological and agricultural productivity through agricultural conservation easements. Applications will be accepted through April 30, 2021. Questions may be addressed to TexasFarmandRanch@tpwd.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 (TxCDBG) program 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 Fund and the Downtown Revitalization and Main Street Programs. Learn more.

Announced: Bank of America Charitable Foundation – RFPs for Economic Mobility Charitable Funding
Opening: May 31, 2021
Deadline: June 25, 2021
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation focuses on partnerships with nonprofit organizations addressing issues fundamental to economic mobility and social progress in low- and moderate-income communities. Their Economic Mobility funding opportunity seeks proposals from community partners on projects supporting affordable housing, small businesses, and neighborhood revitalization. Applicants must be tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and not classified as a private foundation. Learn more.

USDA Business & Industry CARES Act Guaranteed Loan Program
Deadline: September 15, 2021, or until funds are expended.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (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.

DOC RESTORE Act Direct Component—Construction and Non-Construction Activities, Gulf Coast Restoration  
Deadline: December 31, 2021 
U.S. Department of Commerce has extended the deadline for Gulf Coast Restoration projects. This announcement applies only to the Direct Component, for eligible construction and non-construction activities, including projects with or without a non-federal share for another federally funded project. This announcement also includes planning assistance needed to prepare the Multiyear Implementation Plan (Multiyear Plan) required by the RESTORE Act. Learn more. 

EDA Public Works Grants
Deadline: Ongoing
U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) 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.   

USDA Community Facilities 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. Rural communities can use these funds to build or modernize schools, health care clinics, libraries, and public safety facilities. 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.
Regional Economic Trends
H-GAC has compiled regional economic indicators for the 13-county region, including monthly and yearly changes in unemployment rates, single and multi-family permits, and sales tax receipts. Download the PDF.

For more regional economic data visit:
Upcoming Developments
Tesla subsidiary Gambit Energy Storage LLC reveals development of a more than 100 megawatt energy storage site located outside of Angleton. The battery project is registered with Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and is projected to be commercially operable by June 1.
 
The Houston Parks Board has started work on the $3.94 million San Jacinto Greenway project. The project will create green space, hike and bike trails, seating areas, native flora, directional signage, and trash and recycling bins in an area that has historically flooded along the west fork of the San Jacinto River.
 
Pavilion at The Groves, a luxury apartment community, will open in late spring, as part of The Groves, a 993-acre master-planned community in Atascocita. The 318-unit community will have one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments as well as three-bedroom townhomes. These units will range from 556 square feet to 1,734 square feet.

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