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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.