Economic Recovery Resources - Biweekly Update
The Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Gulf Coast Economic Development District stand ready to assist the 13-county region in pursuing strategies to restore local economies. We will be issuing this Economic Recovery Resources update to help our local partners stay on top of new funding opportunities. Subscribers to the monthly Regional Economic Development Digest will receive the update automatically. We hope to make it easier for you to secure the resources you need to recover quickly.

Please email Jillian Donatto or call 631-897-3817 to discuss economic recovery needs you may have.
News and Updates
Texas Coronavirus Relief Bill Rental Assistance Program Opened February 15  
The State of Texas launched a new relief program to help Texans who have been struggling to pay rent and utility bills, offering more than $1 billion allocated to Texas through the latest COVID-19 stimulus bill. The application portal opened on February 15 on TexasRentRelief.com. This program is not first-come, first-served. Applications submitted by February 28 will be reviewed by the State. To qualify, households must be at or below 80% of the area median income and prove their inability to pay rent is directly related to the pandemic, per federal guidelines. Priority will be given to applicants in lower-income brackets or who have one or more people unemployed in their household at the time of application and for 90 days prior to the application date. Applicants can submit their application online or by calling 833-989-7386. 
Disaster Loan Assistance Available for Texas Businesses and Residents Affected by Severe Winter Storms 
SBA with red and blue box around letters
Low-interest federal disaster loans are now available to Texas businesses and residents as a result of President Biden’s major disaster declaration. The declaration covers 77 Texas counties as a result of the severe winter storms that began on February 11, 2021. Tomorrow, February 23, the Small Business Administration will open a Virtual Business Recovery Center to provide personalized assistance to business owners. Contact the center at (800) 659-2955 or FOCWAssistance@sba.gov. In addition, the Small Business Administration will open a Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center to help homeowners and renters. Customer Service Representatives will be available to business owners and individuals understand the disaster loan application process and complete their electronic loan application. See details, terms, and eligibilityLearn more
Shuttered Venue Operators Grants from the SBA Opening Soon 
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program was established by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020. The program includes $15 billion for grants to shuttered venues, to be administered by the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance. Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million. $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees. For additional details, see the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants FAQLearn more.  
Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Program  
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 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. Applications are due March 22Learn more
Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program for Resident-Driven Community Development 
The Community Heart & Soul Seed Grant Program provides $10,000 in startup funding for resident-driven groups in small cities and towns to engage in public outreach campaigns. Through the Community Heart & Soul Process, residents in a community are convened to envision a future for their communities and plan for action to invest in that vision. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate strong resident leadership and be in small towns with populations between 2,500 and 30,000. Seed grant funding requires a $10,000 cash match from the participating municipality or a partnering organization. Read the grant guidelines. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis and due at the end of each month. Applications will be accepted as funding is available. Learn more
Applications for Rural Business Development Grants Due March 31 
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The U.S. Department of Agriculture 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. Applications are due March 31Learn more
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants from FEMA Due March 12 
The Staffing for Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program is one of three grant programs that constitute the Department of Homeland Security Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) focus on enhancing the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire and fire-related hazards. The SAFER Program provides funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to assist in increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum standards. There is no cost share or match requirement. Learn more
FCC Prepares for Next Round of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program  
In March 2020, Congress allocated $200 million to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to establish a program to help health care providers offer telehealth to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In December 2020, Congress appropriated an additional $249.95 million for a second round of funding for the Telehealth Program under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The Universal Service Administrative Company will administer the remainder of Round 1 and all of Round 2 under FCC oversight. Learn more
Funding for Historic Preservation in Underrepresented Communities  
The National Park Service’s Underrepresented Communities Grant (URC) Program is accepting applications for competitive grants. The URC programs works to diversify nominations submitted to the National Register of Historic Places. Funded projects include surveys and inventories of historic properties associated with communities underrepresented in the National Register, as well as the development of nominations to the National Register for specific sites. Award amounts range from $15,000 to $50,000. Applications are due March 31Learn more
Report: 7 Steps to Municipal Resilience & Recovery  
The Mayors Innovation Project has released a guide for municipalities recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Founded in 2005 by former mayors in Wisconsin, the Mayors Innovation Project is a national learning network for mayors to share research and technical assistance. Each of the seven steps detailed in the guide includes specific recommendations with real-world implementation examples. The seven steps are: 1) Make recovery everyone’s business, 2) Advance equity and opportunity for all, 3) Unleash your local economy, 4) Zone for equitable and sustainable neighborhoods, 5) Speed up and broaden delivery of essential service while saving money, 6) Leave no dollar behind, and 7) Build a readiness culture. Read the report
Texas Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program Accepting Applications from Local Service Providers 
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) made $69.6 million available to cities, counties, and local or regional nonprofits to provide mortgage assistance in their jurisdictions or service areas through a competitive application process. Through the Texas Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program local service providers will be awarded funds to assist homeowners at or below 80% of the Area Medium Income who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 with 6 months of mortgage payments. Intent to apply is due March 5. The application deadline is April 12. Read the Notice of Funding Availability.  
Citizens Institute on Rural Design Accepting Applications for Design Learning Cohort 
The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) is accepting applications through March 12 for an opportunity to participate in four local design workshops that address specific community challenges and an online Design Learning Cohort program for up to 15 communities. All rural communities of 50,000 or less are eligible to apply for the CIRD local Design Workshop and Design Learning Cohort opportunities. Workshops should plan to follow local health safety guidelines and virtual options are available. CIRD encourages applications from nonprofits, municipal governments, regional planning organizations, and other community partners. An informational webinar was held on February 9. Applications are due March 12. Learn more
Small Business Resources
News, funding opportunities, and other support for small businesses in the Houston-Galveston region. 
FedEx Small Business Grant Contest Open Until March 9
The 9th annual FedEx Small Business Grant Contest returned on February 16. Small business can apply to win up to $50,000 to help their businesses recover and grow. Past winners have used funds to develop websites, purchase new equipment, hire employees, and expand into new spaces. Learn more about contest entry and prizes. Entries close March 9
Small Business Administration Continues Accepting Applications for EIDL Loans 
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications from all qualified small businesses, including agricultural businesses and private nonprofit organizations. The EIDL program is designed to provide economic relief to businesses experiencing a temporary loss of revenue due to COVID-19. The SBA has extended the application deadline until December 31.
Small Business Administration Launches COVID-19 Small Business Funding Portal 
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a free list of thousands of private and public funding sources at the national, state, regional, and local levels designed to support small businesses in accessing capital to recover from COVID-19. The landing page displays programs that are available nationally; visitors can enter a ZIP code to see location-specific funding options. Explore the portal
Small Business Financing Opportunities through H-GALDC 
Serving as H-GAC’s small business financing arm, the Houston-Galveston Area Local Development Corporation (H-GALDC) is able to help new or established small businesses access capital to purchase and develop real estate. With interest rates at all-time lows, now may be the time to move your business from a lease to a mortgage. H-GALDC also leverages funding from the Small Business Administration and the Economic Development Administration to offer a variety of loan products. Loans can range from $25,000 for working capital to over $5,000,000 for the purchase of land and new construction. For more information about H-GALDC and its resources, visit hgaldc.com or email loans@h-gac.com
Federal Funding for Rural Communities
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide organizes funding opportunities identified in the CARES Act and other federal resources that can help support rural America. 
 
Grants and loans to construct, enlarge, or improve essential community facilities in rural areas.

Loans and grants to a non-profit entity or institution of higher education to establish revolving loan funds for rural micro-loan borrowers and micro entrepreneurs, or to provide training and technical assistance to micro entrepreneurs. 

Funding to help public bodies or nonprofit housing and community development organizations support housing, community facilities, and community and economic development projects in rural areas. 

Rural Energy for America Program (March 31, 2021
Guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. 

For non-entitlement units of general local government, the Community Development Fund and Downtown Revitalization Program can finance public infrastructure, housing rehabilitation, and numerous other activities.

Loan guarantees to lenders supporting rural businesses and agricultural producers to supplement their working capital to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.
Federal Funding for All Communities
U.S. Economic Development Administration grants for construction or non-construction projects that will retain or create jobs and/or generate private investment. 

Restoration & Resilience COVID Recovery Fund (April 1, 2021 and June 1, 2021
Local governments, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions can apply for up to $2,500 to help mobilize volunteer networks, pay for maintenance projects or accessibility improvements, or conserve public lands impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

U.S. Department of Agriculture 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.  

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). 
Upcoming Economic Recovery Webinars
This two-part webinar series dives deep on COVID-19's impact on supply chains and the wake-up call for reshoring. Speakers will discuss how businesses can benefit economically from reshoring, evaluating products prime for reshoring and how to find and sell to new customers looking for new product supply chains. 

February 23 Virtual Public Engagement: Strategies and Trends | National Center for Applied Transit Technology 
The COVID-19 pandemic forced transit agencies to use tech-based engagement methods that can enable broader public input than traditional meetings. This webinar will discuss promising strategies and trends that are emerging in virtual public engagement, and how other transit agencies can implement those strategies. 
 
February 23, 26 First Draw and Second Draw PPP Loans | Small Business Administration  
Join these webinars live to find out if you are eligible for a First or Second Draw Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan, hear helpful tips on how to calculate loan amounts, and how to apply. Join live on February 23 at 10 a.m. or February 26 at 11 a.m
 
February 24 | Opportunity Zones: The Early Evidence | Brookings Institute 
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act created more than 8,700 Opportunity Zones across the country and offered favorable capital gains tax treatment to investments in those low-incomes communities. The Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings is convening a virtual conference with four sessions, organized by topic, for presentations and discussion. 
 
February 25 | Economy Series: Demographics and the Economy | Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) 
Patrick Jankowski, the Greater Houston Partnership's Senior Vice President of Research, provides a monthly economic update on the current state of Houston’s economy in the Economy Series. For this webinar, he will explore demographics and their impacts on our economy. 
 
Part two of this webinar series dives deep on COVID-19's impact on supply chains and the wake-up call for reshoring. Speakers will discuss how businesses can benefit economically from reshoring, evaluating products prime for reshoring and how to find and sell to new customers looking for new product supply chains.
 
March 3 | Introducing the TRUE Initiative: Texas Reskilling and Upskilling Through Education | Texas Economic Development Council  
The Texas Reskilling & Upskilling through Education (TRUE) initiative aims to prepare students for in-demand careers while also building an enduring education infrastructure to support a thriving Texas economy. Most workers displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic lack the skills and education needed to successfully and quickly reenter the workplace. 
 
March 8 | Broadband, Infrastructure & Services, Regional Planning | National Association of Development Organizations  
This event will focus on using the WealthWorks rural wealth creation framework in community and economic development efforts that address rural broadband, infrastructure and services (including solid waste pickup), and regional planning. Join this rural wealth creation peer learning event to share information and build relationships with others. 
 
March 17 | NTIA Grant Programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 | National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
In late 2020, Congress passed the year-end omnibus legislation that included several broadband and connectivity expansion bills. Join NTIA staff for an overview of the new NTIA grant programs, including the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants, Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants and the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program. 
 
March 22 | Workforce Development, Energy, and Forestry | National Association of Development Organizations 
This event will focus on using the WealthWorks rural wealth creation framework in community and economic development efforts that address rural workforce development, energy, and forestry. Join this rural wealth creation peer learning event to share information and build relationships with others. 
Partner Resources
Visit the GCEDD website for information and links to local, regional, and partner organizations that have additional resources and information on economic recovery. A select list is presented below.

The Greater Houston Partnership has established the Greater Houston Business Recovery Center (GHBRC), which will provide guidance on policy and financing related to recovery programs.

RestoreYourEconomy is your resource for up-to-date information related to COVID-19 and its economic impacts.

The Texas Economic Development Council COVID-19 webpage catalogs webinars, small business program examples, research white papers, Texas Workforce Commission resources, and advice for retailers.

The National Association of Development Organizations COVID-19 resource center provides advocacy resources, upcoming virtual events and trainings, federal agency COVID-19 resources, national partner organizations response resources, Office of Management and Budget guidance, state-by-state workforce guidelines, and philanthropic resources for communities.

The International Economic Development Council Coronavirus Response webpage provides information on the IEDC's COVID-19 webinar series and frequently updated situational reports.

A wide range of free resources for Main Street leaders, including recovery planning tools, research, and best practices and examples from around the Main Street Network. 
Gulf Coast Economic Development District
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The Economic Recovery Resources - Weekly Update is published by the