Fort Bend County launched a small business relief program to help vulnerable businesses get through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fort Bend County Judge KP George and other county officials announced the launch of the $22 million Fort Bend County Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program at a June 15 press conference.

The program is funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and is designed to provide grants up to $10,000 to cover “the most immediate financial needs” of small businesses, according to the program’s website. The program will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.

The grant funds can be used for personal protective equipment (PPE), inventory, utilities, remote-working expenses, leases, interest-only mortgage assistance, and reopening supplies, equipment and renovations, per the website.

For the first two weeks of the program, applications will be open exclusively to businesses that applied for but were denied funding from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan Advance, also called Economic Injury Disaster Grants (EIDG). These applicants will need to provide a signed statement indicating the business has not received SBA assistance.

After two weeks, or on June 29, all eligible small businesses will be able to apply for the Fort Bend County grant program.

To be eligible for the Fort Bend grant program, a small business must:

  • Be located in Fort Bend County;
  • Have an annual revenue of between $100,000 and $2 million;
  • Be a for-profit business;
  • Have been in operation since Feb. 15, 2020;
  • Not have permanently closed;
  • Have lost at least 25% of revenue as a direct result of Covid-19;
  • Be in good standing with state and local taxes, fines or other payments;
  • Employ between one and 20 full-time equivalent employees. For businesses with multiple locations, employee count will be calculated per location.

Harris County launched a similar small business relief program in April. The $10 million program was approved by Harris County Commissioners Court on April 7. After it was live for just 28 hours, the loan application portal was paused indefinitely on the evening of April 10. HGAC received more than 7,100 eligible applications seeking more than $150 million.

The Harris County loan program made the first cash disbursements to successful applications on May 5, according to a press release.

-Houston Business Journal