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Application period opens for Harris County small business recovery fund

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo at a news conference Monday, explaining the new Small Business Recovery Fund. She also strongly advised everyone in Harris County to wear a face mask and practice safe distancing.

Grants of up to $25,000 Available; Recipients Will be Selected at End of 10 Day Application Window

Harris County, Texas – July 13, 2020 – Eligible businesses can apply for financial assistance through the Harris County Small Business Recovery Fund today through Friday, July 24. The $30 million grant program, which was unanimously approved by the Harris County Commissioners Court on June 30, prioritizes struggling small businesses that have not yet received funds from other COVID-19 relief programs.

“Small businesses are the backbone of Harris County’s economy, and the pandemic has hit them especially hard,” said County Judge Lina Hidalgo “While county government alone cannot make up for all of the loss, we must do all we can to help as many as we can.”

To be eligible for grants of up to $25,000, applicants must meet the following requirements:

– Must conduct business in Harris County, within Precincts 1-4. Businesses located in the City of Houston are not eligible unless located within Precinct 1

– Must employ fewer than 30 employees (including owner(s))

– Must have been in business for the entire calendar year 2019

– Must be in good standing with local, state, and federal governments with no outstanding tax obligations or liabilities

– Must be able to verify negative impact on operations due to the pandemic

After the application process closes on Friday, July 24, at 3:30 p.m., eligible businesses will be entered into a weighted lottery based on the size of their operation. Program funds are limited and only a subset of qualified applicants will receive grants. Those selected will receive 75 percent of the funds upon approval, and 25 percent of the funds in November 2020.

“As the overwhelming demand for the forgivable loan program that I championed shows, far too many of our small businesses are struggling in a big way right now. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and have historically lifted up our community,” said Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia. “As we face some of the most difficult challenges in a generation, it’s time for county government to continue our support of local small businesses. I thank my fellow commissioners for voting in favor of the $30 million fund, and I have confidence that HBDI will do an excellent job with the expedient and efficient administration of these funds. Small businesses truly are the backbone of our economy, and this program shows that we have their backs!”

The Small Business Recovery Fund will allocate 60 percent of its total funds to businesses with five or fewer employees. The grants do not need to be repaid, and can be used for a variety of operational costs such as payroll, payments to suppliers, rent/lease/mortgage expenses, and PPE.

“The effects of COVID19 on our friends and neighbors throughout Harris County are immense and widespread – on our health, our families, our medical community and our economy,” said Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle. “Harris County’s response to this pandemic must recognize the need to address all these issues. With federal funding from the CARES Act, the Small Business Relief Fund is designed to help alleviate some of the stresses on small businesses throughout Harris County. I encourage those eligible to take advantage of this program.”

In early April, more than 7,000 businesses applied for assistance through the Harris County COVID-19 Forgivable Loan Program. Salon owner Naketha Ross was among the first businesses to receive funds, which will be applied to her lease and electricity bills. “It’s good to know I have the funds I need for my business to help pay the rent and the largest expenses,” Ross said. “This will help to hold me over until things gradually go back to normal.”

All business types may apply to the SBRF grant program, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, self-employed individuals, nonprofits, and independent contractors.

“Helping small businesses survive the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic directly helps the working men and women employed by those small businesses,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Rodney Ellis. “The need in our region is immense, but we will support as many of our vulnerable businesses as possible, fairly and transparently, so that the thousands of families who rely on small businesses continue to have the ability to pay their rent, feed their families, and make ends meet.”

During the application window, grant applications can be submitted online 24/7 at www.harriscountysbrfund.org. Applicants will need business tax returns for 2018 or 2019; income and expenses for three months; articles of incorporation, business license, or DBA certificate; and W-2 statement, pay stubs, or personal tax return. Call 713-845-2476 for additional information.