Small businesses throughout Harris County that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will soon be able to apply for grants ranging from $5,000-$25,000. The new $30 million relief fund is subsidized by the American Rescue Plan Act Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
County commissioners unanimously approved Aug. 10 a partnership with LiftFund, an independent nonprofit that provides loans for entrepreneurs. This organization will help manage the program and help business owners apply, according to Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. She said at a press conference that small-business revenue is down 38% since January 2020, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey.
“Running a small business is a huge challenge even during the good times,” she said. “The personal sacrifices that small-business owners make day in and day out for their community are huge, and we owe it to them to support them as they make it through the COVID[-19] crisis and the associated economic challenges.”
Hidalgo said the selection process will be randomized but prioritized based on need. Social vulnerability index factors such as the location of businesses as well as the ethnicity and gender of business owners will be considered. Funds can be allocated to pay workers, suppliers and rent, among other needs.
The application window will open Sept. 20.