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August 26, 2021

City of Houston Officially Launches Harvey Economic Development Program
City’s small business revitalization effort makes first awards to restore capacity to microenterprises impacted by Harvey

The City of Houston has awarded its first small business grants through the Harvey Economic Development Program, part of the City’s long-term recovery plan. The program offers up to $150,000 to small businesses that suffered damages during Hurricane Harvey. The first awards – totaling $562K – went to six local business owners, including three women-owned construction companies, an oil and gas supply company, a real estate agency, and a women-owned transportation firm.

“A big part of building a more resilient city is attending to the recovery needs of small business owners, especially minority and women-owned, who may not have the resources to fully recover otherwise,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. “These small businesses bring jobs, support community growth, and help build a strong network of entrepreneurship, especially for disadvantaged communities. While this program directly invests in business owners, we will build our entire city forward as a result.”

The program provides aid to businesses that are most vulnerable and have limited access to capital, specifically focusing on microenterprises -- businesses of 1-5 employees. Qualifying microenterprises must have been in businesses at the time of the storm, be current on federal business taxes, and have proof of Hurricane Harvey’s impact.

“The impact of external shocks like Harvey sets business owners, particularly small minority- and women-owned businesses, back for years to come,” explained Dr. Paula Pineda, who leads the Economic Development team at the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department. “Serving microenterprises exclusively has allowed us to assist Houston’s ‘mom and pop’ small businesses that were disproportionately set back and yet disproportionately excluded from resources such as the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] loan.”

Approximately $2.5 million in grants are in the approval pipeline, with awards ranging from a minimum of $75,000 to the maximum amount of $150,000. The program is succeeding in soliciting applications – 200 since its soft launch - from historically disadvantaged businesses: the majority of applicants are minority-owned and/or women-owned. All applicants who receive the City’s recommendation must be approved by the Texas General Land Office, which has been a strong supporter of the City’s microenterprise initiative.

A total of $24.9 million has been allocated for the Small Business Grants program, which aims to serve between 150 and 250 microenterprises. The Harvey Economic Development Program is one of eight prongs of the City’s $835 million Harvey recovery effort, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and managed by the City’s Housing and Community Development Department.

Information on the Harvey Economic Development Program, including eligibility details and the application, are available at recovery.houstontx.gov/hedp. There, small businesses can also find a plethora of resources, including assistance with taxes, computer access, and federal requirements. Applications will remain open through the end of 2021 or until funds have been depleted.

The City of Houston Housing and Community Development (HCDD) makes long-term investments to better the lives of Houston residents by creating opportunities for every Houstonian to have a home they can afford in a community where they can thrive. Our department will spend approximately $450 million in federal, state, and local funding this fiscal year to construct and maintain affordable homes, reduce barriers to homeownership, support the work of social service providers, build public amenities, and facilitate disaster recovery efforts. Learn more about programs and resources for Houstonians at www.houstontx.gov/housing.