Economic Development Digest 
| Economic Development News
Houston Exponential at April GCEDD Meeting  

Russ Capper, the Executive Director of Houston Exponential (HX), gave a presentation on innovation in Houston and the region at the Gulf Coast Economic Development District's April Board Meeting. 

Houston Exponential is a non-profit organization created to accelerate the growth of Houston's innovation ecosystem. HX is leading the charge to turn Houston into a hub for high-growth high-potential companies by creating pathways for innovation to flow at scale.
H-GAC Releases Regional Occupational Snapshot
H-GAC recently released the Regional Occupational Snapshot. This interactive application lets users see where people with different occupations live in the 13-county H-GAC region.
The geographical distribution of people with different occupations can provide local economic development professionals insights on their communities. 
For more information, e-mail [email protected]

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 U.S. Economic Development Administration funding, the volunteers - who typically come for five days and then do supplementary work remotely - are completely free of charge to communities in the region.
For more information, contact Joshua Owens at 832-681-2613.

Attend Bringing Back Main Street Roundtable | April 23 

Please join the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) for our next Bringing Back Main Street Revitalization roundtable on Tuesday, April 23 at the Tomball Community Center. During this workshop, the Texas Masonry Council will share information on the benefits of using masonry, and we will also hear from The Goodman Corporation about their experiences upgrading infrastructure in downtown settings. Click here to register.
9:30am     Registration & Breakfast
10:00am   Introductions & Welcome 
10:20am   Announcements & Other Business
10:30am   Texas Masonry Council
11:15am   Downtown Infrastructure
12:00 pm  Adjourn
For more information, contact Joey Kaspar at 713-993-4547.

Comment on the 2045 Regional Transportation Plan 

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) will release the draft 2045 Regional Transportation Plan and the conformity documents on April 10. This long-range plan prioritizes spending on regional transportation projects, including short and long-range strategies, to ensure our transportation network is safe and efficient. 

The official public comment period will close May 10.

|CEDS Updates

February Gulf Coast Labor Market Analysis 

Workforce Solutions provides a monthly analysis of the Gulf Coast region's labor market. Some highlights from the February 2019 report are:
  • Manufacturing sector continues to strengthen adding 5,200 jobs 
  • Government was the largest gaining sector over the month by 8,700 jobs
  • The regional unemployment rate dipped from 4.5% in January to 4.2% in February 
The report highlights data from the Texas Workforce Commission and the Bureau of Labor Statistics focusing on the region's 13 counties. Reports are available on Workforce Solutions' webpage.

Economic Resilience
Planning to Coordinate Development 

In 2013, the City of Bay City, the county seat of Matagorda County, developed the City of Bay City North Downtown Plan to serve as a catalyst to stimulate public and private investment just north of downtown. The plan outlines strategies and projects aiming to gain interest from developers and prospective residents- and identifies funding to implement these strategies. 

Bay City serves as an example of how planning for development can help spur development to sustain a great place. See H-GAC's Economic Resilience Plan in the Defending Great Places section. 
| Funding Opportunities
EDA Hurricane Harvey Funding Available | April 30 

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 the region recover from Hurricane Harvey. The released Notice of Funding Opportunity outlines the requirements, which include the following:
  • Projects require a 20% match, which can include in-kind
  • Typical projects will range from $1 million - $2.5 million
  • Projects must demonstrate a nexus to Hurricane Harvey in terms of economic recovery or resilience
  • Eligible applicants include governments, non-profits, and universities
For more information, contact Joshua Owens or Robert Peche of the EDA.

USDA ReConnect Program |  May 31

United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development will begin accepting the first round of applications for the Rural e-Connectivity Pilot Program (ReConnect Program) on April 23 with the first round of applications due May 31. 

ReConnect, a new program, offers loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America without sufficient access. 

Local governments and other organizations can apply for these funds to construct or improve buildings, land, and other facilities that are required to provide broadband service, and facilities that support the provision of broadband service.
TxDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Funds | April and August 

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announces an upcoming call for projects for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Two sources of funding will be included: Transportation Alternatives and Safe Routes to Schools

Eligible projects include sidewalks, bikeways, shared use paths, traffic calming measures, and other safety improvements for non-motorized travel.
The 2019 Call for Projects will have a two-step process:
  • Preliminary Project Applications will be due in April 2019.
  • Detailed Project Applications will be due in August 2019.
For more information, including eligibility requirements, visit TxDOT's website.

USDA Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants  | May 15

Rural communities can now apply for funding for broadband infrastructure and technical assistance through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grants.The program aims to connect rural communities to healthcare and educational resources. Grant amounts vary from $50,000 to $500,000, depending on the project with a 15% match required.

Local government or non-profit organizations providing education or healthcare are eligible to apply. Loan amount and terms vary by project and location. 

For more information and to apply visit the USDA's website.

USDA Rural Broadband Access Program | Throughout 2019

Applicants including local governments, non-profit organizations, and for-profit companies can apply for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Broadband Access Loan program. 

Program funds pay for the construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities required to provide service at the broadband lending speed throughout eligible rural areas including facilities required for providing other services through the same facilities. 

Loan amount and terms vary by project and location. For more information, visit the USDA's website.

Hurricane Harvey Assistance for Historic Preservation | May 24 

The Texas Historical Commission has grant funds available for historic preservation projects. Any public, private, or non-profit entity can apply for funding. Grant amounts varies and there is no match is required.   
Examples of eligible activities include:
  • Recovery and repair of historic properties (i.e., stabilization, restoration, or preservation);
  • Survey and inventory of historic-age properties to determine National Register eligibility, degree of damage; and,
  • Provide preparedness for future disasters, which can include planning and historic preservation educational activities.
More information can be found on the Texas Historical Commission website.

Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program | June 30 

The National Park Service (NPS) helps local agencies, non-profit organizations, tribes and citizen groups on a variety of conservation and outdoor recreation projects. NPS offers technical assistance in four main categories: 
  • Build healthy communities through parks, trails, and outdoor opportunities 
  • Conserve natural lands, rivers, and watersheds 
  • Engage youth in outdoor recreation and stewardship 
  • Strengthen the organizational capacity of project partners
Applications are due June 30. Anyone interested in applying are encouraged to email the local office at, [email protected], to discuss project ideas. 

Funding for Clean Vehicles Program | Continuous

H-GAC's Clean Vehicles program has grant funding available for local governments, school districts, and businesses to accelerate the replacement of high-emitting and heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses with new, lower emission vehicles. The program funds projects in the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria non-attainment area. Previously funded projects include clean diesel and alternative fuel bus and truck replacements, natural gas refueling systems, hybrid electric transit buses, and marine vessel engine replacements. More information is available online.
Funding for Commuter and Transit Programs | August 2022

H-GAC is requesting applications from local communities in the Metropolitan Planning Area for pilot programs that assist in the development of alternative travel modes that will help improve air quality throughout the region. Projects may include, but are not limited to, new commuter bus services, suburban to suburban employment commuter services,  and first to last mile services. Funding is available from $150,000 to $1.6 million. More information about H-GAC's Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Commuter and Transit Pilot Program, including how to apply, is available online.

| Upcoming Developments
A 136,651 square-foot distribution building broke ground at 290 Northwest Business Center. The project will be completed in August 2019.
Cross Creek Town Center started construction in March within the Cross Creek master-planned community in Fulshear. The 76,000-square-foot project includes office and retail.

Broadstone Vintage Park will break ground near Vintage Park. The 368-unit project will be completed in 2020.

The University of Houston Hilton Hotel will add a 5-story tower with 71 guest rooms. The project is expected to be completed by 2023.
Laneways2.5 million-square-foot-mixed-use project is coming to Midtown, will be at Drew and Dennis streets in Houston. It will contain multifamily buildings a hotel, and restaurants.

Exclusive Furniture finished construction on a 51,000 square-foot store that opened in March. It is located at 21000 Gulf Freeway, Webster.

A four-story, 80-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites will open in July. The hotel will be located at 2710 E. NASA Parkway in Seabrook.

A new fire station is coming to the southwest corner of I-10 and the Grand Parkway. Fires Station No. 1 will be located at 24127 Western Centre Drive, the 18,500- square-foot fire station will be complete in 2020.

A high-end apartment complex is coming to Katy. Seville at Clay Crossing will have 351 units. The apartment project will be located at 21919 Clay Road and is expected to be completed later this year.

Compiled from reports in Community Impact Newspapers, Connected Texas Commercial Real Estate News. Houston Business Journal, and Texas A&M University Real Estate Center

|Upcoming Events
April 24 | 2045 Regional Plan Public Meeting | H-GAC | Houston 

May 22 | Long-term Equitable Development | Kinder Institute | Houston

May 9 | Economic Development Ethics | IEDC | Webinar 

May 20 |  State of the City | GHP | Houston 

June 2-5 | Transportation Planning Conference | TRB| Oregon

June 9-11 | Economic Future Forum | IEDC | Utah 

June 11 -14 | Basic Economic Development Course | TEDC |Rockwall 

June 12-14 | Mid-Year Conference | TEDC | Rockwall

June 17-19 | Regional Transportation Conference | NADO |Ohio

June 20 | Feeding the Masses, and Your Economy  | IEDC | Webinar 

August 23 | Sales Tax Workshop | TEDC | Abilene 

September 10-13 | Issues in Transportation Conference | TRB | California

October 9-11 | Annual Conference | TEDC | San Antonio 

October 13-16 | Annual Conference | IEDC | Indiana 

October 19-22 | Annual Training Conference | NADO | Nevada

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