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.

Updates to Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, Open January 11

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) reopens the week of January 11 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. The $900 billion COVID-19 relief package allocated $284 billion to the PPP through March 31, 2021 with some key revisions. The revised program expands eligibility to include 501(c)(6)s, housing cooperatives, destination marketing organizations, among other types of organizations; covers additional expenses including operations expenditures, and worker protection expenditures; lets borrowers set their loan’s covered period to be any length between 8 and 24 weeks; and allows existing borrowers to modify their First Draw PPP loan amount or apply for a Second Draw PPP loan. Read more guidance from the Small Business Administration.


Grant Funding for Public Lands Through Restoration & Resilience COVID Recovery Fund

The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) is allocating $128,000 in grant funding to support public lands that have been impacted by increased use during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Restoration & Resilience COVID Recovery Fund. 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. Applicants must clearly describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the public land site. NEEF is accepting applications until June 2021, with application deadlines on February 1, April 1, and June 1.

Economic Stimulus Passed in Congress for COVID-19 Relief

At the end of December, Congress passed a $2.3 trillion omnibus spending bill allocating approximately $1.4 trillion to fund the government through September 30, 2021 and approximately $900 billion in economic stimulus. Signed into law on December 27, the legislation includes:  

  • $285 billion for additional loans to small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The renewed PPP caps loans at $2 million and makes them available only to borrowers with fewer than 300 employees that experienced at least a 25% drop in sales from a year earlier in at least one quarter. The agreement also sets aside $12 billion specifically for minority-owned businesses. 

  • $7 billion for expanding access to high-speed internet connections, with $300 million set aside for building infrastructure in underserved rural areas. Read more

  • $13 billion to help livestock, poultry, dairy, non-specialty and specialty crop producers continue to recover from COVID-19 disruptions. Read more from the American Farm Bureau Federation

  • $3 billion to the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) to provide grants and other financial assistance to CDFIs, including CDFI loan funds, as they serve consumers, small businesses, and nonprofits in their communities. Read more from the Council of Development Finance Agencies.

LCRA Grants for Community Improving Capital Projects Open Until January 31

The Community Development Partnership Program (CDPP) from the Lower Colorado River Authority is accepting applications for community improvement capital projects. Organizations in all or part of Austin, Colorado, Harris, Matagorda, Waller, and Wharton counties in the H-GAC region are eligible to apply.

CDPP grants are awarded twice a year for capital projects for volunteer fire departments, emergency responders, cities and counties, schools, libraries, civic groups, museums and other nonprofit organizations. The projects must benefit or be available to an entire community and must improve the value of a capital asset by building, renovating or purchasing equipment. The application deadline is January 31. Learn more.

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. Application deadlines for the quarterly funding competitions are: 

  • Third Quarter: March 31, 2021

  • Fourth Quarter: June 30, 2021

Connected Nation Releases Policy Brief on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction Phase I

On December 7, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that millions of rural Americans will gain access to high-speed internet service through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction. In Texas, winning bidders will bring $362,662,934 in support of broadband to 310,962 unserved homes and businesses over the next 10 years. The FCC has released a full list of winning bidders and the number of homes and businesses to be served in Texas, organized by county. Connected Nation has released a Policy Brief to provide stakeholders with further details regarding the RDOF Phase I auction.

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 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, or email

Upcoming Rural Small Business Grants

On January 26, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation will open another round of the Rural Relief Small Business grant program for small businesses in a rural community facing immediate financial pressure due to COVID-19. Rural communities are defined as having a population of 50,000 or less. Applicants can be awarded between $5,000 and $20,000 for expenses including rent and utilities, payroll, debt payments, and other immediate operational costs. The application deadline is February 2.

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Guide to Building an Online Presence

To weather the challenges brought by the coronavirus pandemic, small business owners must become adept social media and website users. Texas A&M Agrilife Extension released a “Building Your Online Presence—Immediately” guide with straightforward information on how to expand an online store, run an email or text campaign, and build a social media following.

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.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Assistance

The application deadline is January 29, 2021.

View This Funding Opportunity

Fiscal Year 2020 Hazard Mitigation Assistance funding includes the Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) grant program and the new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) pre-disaster mitigation grant program. FEMA’s two competitive mitigation grant programs provide states, local communities, tribes and territories funding for eligible mitigation activities.

To learn more about each program, see the BRIC Fact Sheet and FMA Fact Sheet.

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is the State of Texas applicant for all Flood Mitigation Assistance projects. Sub-applications were due to the TWDB for review on December 1, 2020.

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) is the State of Texas application for all Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities projects. Sub-applications were due to TDEM on December 1, 2020.

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. The program has more than $2 billion available for rural communities to build or modernize education, health care, municipal and public safety facilities this fiscal year.

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.

Texas Community Development Block Grants Programs

Application Deadline is May 3, 2021

View This Funding Opportunity

The Texas Department of Agriculture announced several competitive grant applications for their 2021 TxCDBG programs, including the: Community Development Fund and Downtown Revitalization Program. Eligible applicants are non-entitlement cities with populations under 50,000 and non-entitlement counties that have a non-metropolitan population under 200,000 and are not eligible for direct CDBG funding.

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.

Building Housing Security During COVID-19 and Beyond - January 12 

Presented by the Aspen Institute

View This Webinar

This webinar will discuss the macro-economic trends and policy environment which have resulted in widespread housing unaffordability in communities across America and the elements of successful multi-sector housing reform initiatives.

Exploring FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Planning Guidance and Resources - January 13 

Presented by the Federal Emergency Management Agency 

View This Webinar

This webinar from FEMA Region 3 will explore federal guidance and resources available to help communities prepare or update a Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Pricing During Economic Downturns - January 13 

Presented by the Gulf Coast Small Business Development Centers

View This Webinar

COVID-19 has made it particularly challenging for small businesses to price goods or services Learn about how to set professional fees and how and when to offer discounts. 

Rural Transit Planning in the Time of COVID and Beyond - January 14 

Presented by the National Rural Transit Assistance Program

View This Webinar

Join this webinar to learn how transit agencies are adapting transit during the pandemic by retiming and fine tuning routes and schedules as well as adjusting demand response services. This webinar will include rural transit planning basics and best practices. 

Building Infrastructure: A Tangible Response to Big Issues - January 14

Presented by the International Economic Development Council

View This Webinar

Webinar attendees will learn how to address infrastructure challenges in disinvested neighborhoods, innovative solutions to address climate change in urban and rural areas, and why now is a good time to seek financing for major projects.

Forecasting the Bond Market Amid the Recovery - January 19 

Presented by the Council of Development Finance Agencies

View This Webinar 

Join this installment of the CDFA // BNY Mellon Webcast Series for a forecast on the economic recovery and how it will affect the bond market. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bond market outlook has fluctuated amid economic uncertainties, trade tensions, and a fluctuating yield curve.

Lessons Learned and Best Practices for Transitioning Economies - January 21

Presented by the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation 

View This Webinar

Hear how two regions—one responding to the closure of coal-fired power plants and the other to the loss of the paper mill industry—have positioned themselves for economic recovery. The webinar will provide a framework and resources for supporting transition and diversification efforts in your community.

Business Expansion and Retention - January 28 – 29

Presented by the International Economic Development Council

View This Webinar

This interactive course presents the core components of a business retention and expansion (BRE) program and why the concerns of local businesses need to be actively addressed. Participants will learn how a BRE program relates to attraction, workforce development, small business finance, and many other economic development activities.

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.