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.

Emergency Connectivity Fund Open for Applications from Schools and Libraries  

The Federal Communication Commission's Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is a $7.17 billion program that will help schools and libraries provide tools and services for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period. For eligible schools and libraries, the ECF will cover reasonable costs of computers; Wi-Fi hotspots; modems; routers; and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons. Applications are due August 13.Learn more.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Closed

As of July 2, the U.S. Small Business Administration is no longer accepting applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). Over 100,000 restaurants were awarded $28.6 billion through the fund; the average award was $283,000. The RRF application platform will remain open until July 14 to allow applicants to check their status, address payment corrections, or ask questions. Learn more.

American Rescue Plan Grants to Local Arts Agencies for Subgranting 

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) will competitively award American Rescue Plan Act funds to local arts agencies—including nonprofits or units of local government—for subgranting programs. To be eligible to subgrant, a designated local arts agency must have a history of grantmaking that occurred anytime within the 10-year period immediately preceding this program’s application deadline (i.e., July 22, 2011, to present). Cost share/matching funds are not required. Similarly, subgrants awarded as a result of this program do not require a cost share/match. Applications are due July 22. Learn more.

Eligible local arts agencies may also apply to NEA’s Grants to Organizations program for day-to-day business expenses/operating costs, and not specific programmatic activities. Cost share/matching funds are not required. Applications are due August 12. Learn more.

Expect Notices of Funding Availability from the EDA  

The U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) will soon release notices of funding opportunity for $3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funding through multiple (perhaps as many as six) individual award opportunities. Given high demand for CARES Act grant funding, the EDA expects these next rounds of relief funds to be similarly competitive. Those who submitted applications for CARES Act grant funding will be required to submit a new application; previous applications cannot be rolled over.

The GCEDD will provide technical assistance for applicants. Contact Jillian Donatto at 631-897-3817 with any questions.

May 2021 Gulf Coast Labor Report from Workforce Solutions 

In May, Governor Greg Abbott announced that Texas would no longer participate in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Program. Additional benefits paid under the program ended on June 26. 
Not seasonally adjusted unemployment for the Houston area fell more than half a point to 6.6% in May. More workers rejoined the labor market, and over-the-month job growth saw a return to May 2019 levels. May saw strong hiring in Leisure & Hospitality, primarily at restaurants and bars. “Seasonal hiring also picked up in the entertainment and recreation subsectors as pools, theme parks, and other summer venues added staff,” according to Parker Harvey, economist with Workforce Solutions. Read the full report

Prepare for FY2021 BRIC Program, Opening in September 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will award $1 billion dollars nationally in hazard mitigation funding through the 2021 Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) grant program. This is a great opportunity to submit proposals for large, regional, watershed, and multi-jurisdictional hazard mitigation projects.  
The open application period for BRIC projects will be from September through December 3, 2021. The Texas Department of Emergency Management will review and submit applications to FEMA in January 2022. Learn more.

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." 

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.

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.

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. They also offer free access to pre-recorded webinars for small businesses and a selection of upcoming webinars.

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.

Community Navigators Pilot Program

Application deadline is July 23, 2021

View This Grant Opportunity

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.

Broadband Infrastructure Program 

Application deadline is August 17, 2021

View This Grant Opportunity

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the availability of $288 million in grant funding for the deployment of broadband infrastructure. Grants will be awarded to partnerships between a state or political subdivisions of a state and providers of fixed broadband service. More information about the program, including requirements for grant applications, can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.

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.

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.

Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Session 4a, 4b - July 14, 15

Presented by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration;

View This Webinar

Join National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) staff to hear more about NTIA's Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants Program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

Lessons Learned by Top Higher Education Associations from COVID-19 - July 20

Presented by the International Economic Development Council

View This Webinar 

A year has passed, and many higher education institutions are still facing the challenges of COVID-19. In this webinar, top higher education association leaders will provide details on lessons learned from the pandemic.

Economy Series: What's the Next Stumbling Block for Houston? - June 21

Presented by the Greater Houston Partnership

View This Webinar
The Greater Houston Partnership’s Patrick Jankowski will discuss Houston’s recovery from COVID-induced recession and what the region can expect through the remainder of the year.

Connecting Minority Communities Session 4a, 4b - July 28, 29

Presented by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

View This Webinar

Join National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) staff to hear more about NTIA's Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act.

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.