City Council Passes Small Business Economic Relief Program to Help Businesses Survive Challenges Created by COVID-19

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  • Posted by East End District

Mayor Sylvester Turner and members of Houston City Council today passed the City’s Small Business Economic Relief Program (SBERP), which will be funded with $15 million of the City’s allocated CARES Act 2020 funds.

The program is for small businesses that are most in financial need and exhibit a moderate to high likelihood of surviving the pandemic’s adverse impacts. The City also encourages local chambers of commerce to apply.

The maximum amount a business or chamber can receive is $50,000. A business may use the funds 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. “I thank Vice Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Castex Tatum and other council members for bringing this program forward. We are working on other relief packages that will keep us Houston Strong as we navigate the public health crisis.”

Working with the City’s Office of Business Opportunity, the Houston Business Development, Inc. (HBDi), will administer the program and develop a marketing strategy, accept and process applications electronically, develop a scoring matrix and provide regular progress reporting and metrics to OBO.

HBDi is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1986 by the City of Houston. The corporation’s mission is to stimulate economic growth, support the expansion of small businesses, combat community deterioration and foster employment opportunities for low-moderate income citizens in the Houston metropolitan area and surrounding counties.

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

    • Must be a business whose principal place of business is located within city limits of the City of Houston.
    • Must have been in business for at least one (1) 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.
    • These eligibility standards may be modified for applicants who are chambers of commerce with OBO Director approval.

“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.”

The City of Houston anticipates HDBi will begin accepting applications within the next two weeks as we work to finalize details.