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 hgaldc.com, or email email@example.com.
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.