Harris County stops application process for small business loan program after huge demand

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In a span of 24 hours, applications had to be halted for a program to help Harris County business owners.

County leaders knew the $10 million would go quickly. What they didn't expect was the total amount requested in about a day was $150 million.

Harris County Commissioner Adrian Garcia couldn't wait to help small business owners when he announced the start of the program last Thursday.

Owners could apply for a no-interest loan up to $25,000, and hours after launching, the process had to be stopped.

"I thought that we might get into the $30 million or $50 million range," Garcia explained. "I did not ever imagine we would be identifying struggling businesses to the tune of $150 million."

In all, 7,135 small business owners applied, requesting a total of $152,759,859. But not all owners will see the money. A committee will review applications.

The business must be in Harris County, in good standing with taxes, and commit to being open for the next five years. Owners should start to receive money in a few weeks.

"I hope those business that got a shot in the arm will look at the businesses around them, do business with those individuals, give them a shot in the arm, and this is how we'll get through this," Garcia said.

If you missed out on this program, there's still help from the federal government.

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced $50 million is coming to small business owners through the federal program. Garcia hopes the governor will also consider jumping on board with what the county is offering so it can help even more.

"Let's not put people through another application process," Garcia said. "Let's not send them to a new website. Be a partner with Harris County."

Some business owners were automatically disqualified because they aren't located within the county.

Garcia's office said 247 business owners from outside the county applied, requesting $5,164,041.

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