September 26, 2020

Houston adds $5M to its small business pandemic grant program

Houston added $5 million to its grant program for local small businesses Wednesday, aiming to provide a financial boost for an additional 100 or so struggling companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.



a sign on the side of a building: A Houston coffeeshop displayed a “Sick? Stay Home” sign on its window in July 20.


© Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle / Staff Photographer

A Houston coffeeshop displayed a “Sick? Stay Home” sign on its window in July 20.


City council voted unanimously to approve the new funds. Vice Mayor Pro Tem Martha Castex-Tatum said 8,595 businesses applied for the first round of funds, demonstrating a strong need.

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“We’re all aware of the tremendous impact that COVID-19 has had on our business community,” said Castex-Tatum, who chairs the council’s Economic Development committee. “This will allow us to serve even more of our business community.”

Houston allocated $15 million to start the program in July. The funding comes from the $405 million in federal dollars the city received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Houston Business Development Inc., a community lending nonprofit, is administering the funds. It is not yet clear when it will begin accepting applications for the new grants.

The maximum grant is $50,000, which means roughly 100 businesses could access the latest round of funds.

Harris County has offered $40 million in various relief programs targeted at small businesses.

Businesses with less than $2 million in pre-pandemic annual gross revenue are eligible for the city’s program. They also must have been in operation for more than a year, demonstrate economic harm from the pandemic, and be current on all city taxes and requirements.

The money is not doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. Instead, the city and Houston Business Development formulated a scoring matrix to assess need.

dylan.mcguinness@chron.com

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