The Houston City Council passed a new fund in July that makes $15 million total available to businesses. The $15 million for the Small Business Economic Relief Program (SBERP) will be funded with the city's allocated CARES Act 2020 funds.
"The SBERP will help all sizes of small businesses move one step closer toward financial recovery. This program is intended to maximize the long-term, positive impact of these small businesses on our local economy through their contribution to job retention and the continued availability of their services," said Marsha Murray, director for the Office of Business Opportunity. "If our local small businesses did not qualify for other federal or local programs, or did not receive enough funds to mitigate the impact of the crisis, we encourage them to apply for this program."
Here is everything business owners need to know to apply.
What businesses are eligible to apply?
To qualify for the SBERP, business owners must meet the following requirements:
- Must be a business or small chamber of commerce whose principal place of business is located within the city limits of Houston
- Must have been in business for at least one year prior to March 1, 2020
- Must provide evidence of how business revenue has significantly decreased because of government restrictions or other challenges due to COVID-19
- A business qualifies if it generated $2 million or less in gross annual revenue pre-COVID-19
- Must be in good standing regarding City requirements (e.g. property taxes, personal property, grounds for debarment, etc)
- Must commit to completing the technical assistance component of this program provided via contractor
Where do business owners apply?
Applications must be submitted electronically at www.cityofhouston-sberp.org. The portal opens at 8 a.m. Aug. 19 and closes at midnight Sept. 4.
How are businesses chosen?
Businesses are not chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, businesses in historically disenfranchised neighborhoods and that employ low-income residents will receive priority. Businesses over five years old and with a demonstrated ability to withstand challenges also rank higher in the scoring matrix developed to choose applicants.
How are funds distributed?
Once selected, businesses must commit to completing a technical assistance program aimed at teaching business owners to adapt to coronavirus mitigation efforts and to withstand the financial impacts of the pandemic. Owners will receive half of the grant funding upfront and the other half upon completion of the training program.
What can funds be used for?
Businesses and chambers can receive up to $50,000 that may be used for payroll, accounts payable, rent, mortgage, PPE for employees, marketing strategies, including creating an online presence and other sales alternatives.
"We know small businesses throughout Houston have suffered greatly due to the global pandemic, and it could take months or years before the business climate returns to normal," Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
This story was published through our partnership with Community Impact Newspapers.