Helping with Economic Recovery

The Houston-Galveston Area Council and the Gulf Coast Economic Development District stand ready to assist our 13-county region in pursuing strategies to recover from the double-layered impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the downturn in oil and gas markets. These are challenging times that create strains on our economy, as well as opportunities to rethink the way we all do business.

We issue an Economic Recovery Resources - Biweekly Update to help our local partners stay on top of new funding opportunities. The sheer volume of grant, loan, and technical assistance offerings can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate. We hope our update and website make it easier for you to secure the resources you need to recover quickly.

Subscribers to the monthly Regional Economic Development Digest will receive the biweekly update automatically.

SBA’s Community Navigators Pilot Program Announced

The Small Business Administration’s Community Navigator Pilot Program is open to applications from nonprofit organizations, state, local, and tribal governments, SBA resource partners, and other organizations. Selected partners will engage in targeted outreach to small businesses in underserved communities—including micro and rural businesses, with emphasis on those owned by women, veterans and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals—to help them get the resources and support they need to get back on track as the economy continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Competitive grant awards will range from $1 million to $5 million. Applications are due July 12, 2021.

FEMA’s COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance: All-Hazards Incident Response and Recovery 

As our nation enters the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the “COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance: All-Hazards Incident Response and Recovery” to help emergency managers best prepare for disasters while continuing to respond to and recover from COVID-19. The guidance can also be used by private sector and non-governmental organizations to understand governments’ planning and readiness efforts. This updated document takes an all-hazards approach and builds on guidance provided in last year’s "COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season." 

Public Comment Requested on the State Small Business Credit Initiative

The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced a Request for Information (RFI) on the State Small Business Credit Initiative. Treasury invites the public to comment on the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) program design and implementation to support new and existing small businesses. Responses may be used by Treasury to assist in developing program design and guidance. Responses may also be used to inform Treasury's allocation of technical assistance funding to states, territories, Tribal governments, the Minority Business Development Agency, and programs implemented directly by Treasury. Responses are due on June 4. 

April 2021 Gulf Coast Labor Market Analysis 

Not seasonally adjusted unemployment dropped nearly a point to 7.1% in April. The regional rate is still higher than both the statewide (6.3%) and U.S. (5.7%) unemployment rates. The regional rate has fallen by nearly half since it peaked in April 2020 at 14.3%. Effective June 26, Texans will no longer receive unemployment compensation related to the pandemic, including the additional $300 weekly supplement.

In April, employers hired 18,700 people, primarily in the Leisure & Hospitality sector as restaurants and bars opened to full capacity and entertainment and recreation businesses staff up in expectation of a robust summer season. The Professional and Business Services sector is also roaring back to life, posting the largest-ever gain in the month of April with 6,900 new hires. 

Read the full report

Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), metropolitan cities, counties, and states are entitled to a federal grant from Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds through the U.S. Treasury. Jurisdictions eligible to receive funding directly from Treasury can submit a request for funding. Local governments deemed non-entitlement entities will receive the funds through the state government—the Treasury has published further guidance on distributions to non-entitlement units of government. On May 20, The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced that it has distributed $105.3 billion to more than 1,500 recipients through the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Learn more

Fort Bend County Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program 

The Fort Bend County Commissioners Court approved a small business emergency grant program to assist Fort Bend County businesses impacted by COVID-19. Grant applications will remain open until funds are exhausted. Grants are available between $5,000 and $25,000—eligibility is based on annual revenue in 2020. Learn more

Current Small Business Administration Programs for COVID-19 Relief 

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) – Small business owners, including agricultural businesses and nonprofit organizations, can apply for loans until December 31, 2021.

  • Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (SVOG) – The SBA is accepting applications. Funds may be used for payroll expenses, rent, taxes, and worker protection expenditures, among other allowable costs.

  • Cross-Program Eligibility – The SBA provides a chart of which applicants can apply for one or more of the available COVID-19 relief programs. 

Help Promote the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to Eligible Households

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is mobilizing organizations to help share important consumer information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. The FCC released an outreach partner toolkit with flyers and posters, social media posts, a fact sheet, a slide deck, and consumer handouts in multiple languages.

The EBB program is a temporary program that provides a discount of up to $50/month on a qualifying households’ internet bill. For eligible households there is the potential for a discount of up to $100 toward the purchase of a tablet, laptop or desktop computer from a participating provider. Eligible households can enroll to receive a monthly discount off the cost of broadband service from an approved provider by visiting getemergencybroadband.org.

Texas Rent Relief Program Still Accepting Applications from Landlords and Tenants

Qualifying Texans who have been struggling to pay rent and utility bills can apply for up to 15 months of rental assistance at TexasRentRelief.com. To qualify, households must have income 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. Landlords may also apply for unpaid or future rent on behalf of tenants. Priority will be given to tenants in lower-income brackets or who have one or more people unemployed in their household at the time of application. Applications will be accepted until program funds are expended. Applicants can submit an application online or by calling 1-833-989-7386.

American Rescue Plan

On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, providing $1.9 trillion in relief funds for vaccine distribution, school reopenings, small business grants, tax credits, pension funds, unemployment support, health benefits, and homeowner assistance. For more information, read key takeaways from the American Rescue Plan or a title-by-title summary outline of the Act's provisions.

USDA Accepting Applications to Establish Revolving Loans for Rural Economic Development

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is accepting applications to establish revolving loan programs to support rural businesses and community development projects. The revolving loan funds may issue loans for the purchase, construction, or expansion of a rural business; purchase or development of land; purchase of equipment, machinery, or supplies; or for start-up costs and working capital. The loans will be established through USDA's Intermediary Relending Program and are subject to the availability of funds. Applications are due June 30, 2021.

Regional Economic Indicators Related to COVID-19 Impacts on the Region

The Socioeconomic Modeling Staff at the Houston-Galveston Area Council prepared an economic indicators report on the impact of COVID-19 in the region. Indicators include unemployment, residential activity, commercial office, retail, and industrial activity, airport activity, tax records, hospital statistics, and mobility statistics.

Small Business Resources

Small Business Administration COVID-19 Small Business Funding Portal

The 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.

Small Business Development Centers Offer Variety of Webinars for Small Business Owners

The University of Houston Texas Gulf Coast Small Business Development Centers offer free access to pre-recorded webinars for small businesses and a selection of upcoming webinars.

Skills Enhancement Initiative from Texas Workforce Commission Offers Free Online Training for Workers

Texas Workforce Commission partnered with Metrix Learning to help recently unemployed Texas residents learn new skills and prepare to get back to work. The Metrix online learning platform provides free online training, with courses offered in English and Spanish. Courses include Microsoft Office; Adobe; Quick Books, Customer Service, Analytical Skills; Data Management/Reporting and more. Learn more about the Skills Enhancement Initiative.

Support for Small and Medium Manufacturers Pivoting Production in Response to COVID-19

The Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center (TMAC) is providing services to small- and medium-sized manufacturers, such as connecting businesses that are pivoting their production in response to the coronavirus to new supply chains, connecting firms with state resources, advising companies on new operational issues, and providing workforce support. TMAC is part of the National Institute of Standard and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). View regional office locations in Texas.

Small Business Development Centers Open for Business Advising Services

Throughout their network, University of Houston Texas Gulf Coast Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) are open and available to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19. SBDCs provide business advising, access to training, tools and resources to help small businesses start, grow, expand and succeed.

The following funding opportunities are currently open to local governments and economic development organizations.

Economic Development Administration Public Works Grants

Applications are being accepted on an ongoing basis.

View This Grant Opportunity

The US 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. Infrastructure types include water / wastewater, roads, and facilities.

If you have an economic development infrastructure need in your community, email Jillian Donatto or call 631-897-3817.

Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grants

Application deadline is July 12, 2021 

View This Grant Opportunity 

U.S. Department of Transportation RAISE program, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER, makes awards for surface transportation infrastructure projects, including capital investments or planning projects, that will have a significant local or regional impact. Projects must sufficiently consider climate change, environmental justice, and racial equity in planning. The maximum request is $25 million. The minimum request is $5 million, or $1 million for rural projects. 

Community Facilities (CF) Direct Loan & Grant Program

Applications are being accepted on an ongoing basis.

View This Funding Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Community Facilities (CF) Direct Loan & Grant program provides funding to construct, enlarge, or improve essential community facilities in rural areas.

Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program

Applications are being accepted on an ongoing basis.

View This Funding Opportunity

On December 16, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development opened applications for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program. The program provides loans and grants to a non-profit entity or institution of higher education as a Microenterprise Development Organization (MDO) to establish revolving loan funds to provide loans to rural microloan borrowers and micro entrepreneurs, or to provide training and technical assistance to micro entrepreneurs.

To be eligible for a loan from an MDO, an ultimate recipient must be a business with 10 or fewer full-time employees and be in a non-metropolitan rural area with a population of 50,000 or less. 

USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program  

Application deadline is June 4, 2021. 

View This Funding Opportunity 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awards Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to help provide educational and medical services in rural areas. Eligible applicants include most state and local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, nonprofits, and for-profit businesses. Awards range from $50,000 to $1,000,000. A minimum 15% match is required. 

Business & Industry CARES Act Guaranteed Loan Program

Application deadline is September 15, 2021.

View This Funding Opportunity

The 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.

Understanding Eligible Expenses of the Fiscal Recovery Fund: Revenue Loss - June 3

Presented by the National Association of Counties

View This Webinar

Under the American Rescue Plant Act, counties may use Recovery Funds for the provision of “government services” to the extent of the reduction in revenue experienced due to COVID-19. Join for a discussion on how to calculate your county’s revenue loss, how this revenue recoupment can be invested, and offer feedback on the U.S. Treasury’s Interim Final Rule related to this provision.

Breaking Down ARPA: Understanding the Funding Available to Your County - June 4

Presented by the National Association of Counties 

View This Webinar

Join for an overview of the new interactive tool to help counties assess potential funding streams established by ARPA so they can better utilize their direct allocation.

Restart Houston: Sales Strategies for Your Business Post-COVID - June 10 

Presented by the Greater Houston Partnership 

View This Webinar

Speakers will share business-to-businesses and business-to-consumer selling and marketing techniques that worked for them over the past year and how they pivoted during COVID-19.

Counties at Work Virtual Summit - June 10-11

Presented by the National Association of Counties 

View This Webinar

With automation, shifting demographics, the impacts of COVID-19 and increased remote work opportunities, America’s counties are planning for evolving workforce and industry needs. Join the National Association of Counties (NACo) for a free, two-day online event that will feature experts and effective county solutions to workforce issues.

Broadband Solutions for Rural and Underserved Communities - July 29

Presented by the International Economic Development Council 

View This Webinar

Changing workplace and home dynamics due to the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted the need for reliable broadband for communities and magnified the digital divide between various populations and rural communities. Join IEDC for this webinar on how communities can best incorporate broadband into underserved communities and hear from economic development professionals who are leading broadband initiatives.

These partner organizations provide information to local governments, businesses, and economic development organizations on available recovery resources.

Greater Houston Business Recovery Center

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.

Restore Your Economy

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

Houston-Galveston Area Local Development Corporation

H-GALDC is a certified development company (CDC) and currently licensed throughout Texas. Its economic development by making available low-cost small businesses under the U.S. Small Business Administration's (SBA) SBA 504 Loan Program. The H-GLADC administers the GCEDD Revolving Loan Fund, which is providing bridge loans for Economic Injury Disaster Loan applicants.

Houston-Galveston Area Council

H-GAC is the regional organization through which local governments consider issues and cooperate in solving area wide problems. The Houston-Galveston Area Council COVID-19 response page contains information for small businesses, teleworking best practices, and Workforce Solutions updates. It also provides updates on impacted H-GAC programs, meetings, and events.

Texas Economic Development Council

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.

National Association of Development Organizations

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

International Economic Development Council

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

Main Street Forward

Main Street Forward provides 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.