$15M available for Houston small businesses struggling through COVID-19 pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston City Council passed a new fund Wednesday that makes $15 million available for 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 program is for small businesses and local chambers of commerce that are in financial need and exhibit a moderate to high likelihood of surviving the pandemic.

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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.

To qualify for the SBERP, business owners must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a business whose principal place of business is located within the city limits of Houston
  • Must have been in business for at least one year for the last year
  • 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

"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."

City officials anticipate applications will open within the next two weeks as details are finalized.

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