Updated at 1:45 p.m. June 12:

Applications to receive grant funding from the Fort Bend County COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program will open at 8 a.m. June 15.

The application can be submitted online on the Fort Bend County website, according to a June 10 webinar about the application process for the program.

The county has allocated $22 million to eligible small businesses from the $134.3 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“The $22 million should help roughly 2,200 businesses,” Jeffrey C. Wiley, president/CEO of the Fort Bend County Economic Development Council, said during the webinar. “We know that there's [10,000] to 15,000 businesses that are active in Fort Bend County, so we know this is going to get oversubscribed."

Along with the other webinar speakers, Wiley encouraged all businesses to apply even if they do not initially qualify for the funds.

“It'll give us a good benchmark for folks to go back to Commissioners Court and say, ‘We're overwhelmed,’” Wiley said. “We’ll make our case ... to go back to Commissioners Court as funds become available to reallocate to make this the priority.”

County Judge KP George said at the webinar the county is looking into adding another $4 million to the grant program.

More information about the application process is available in the recorded webinar available here on Youtube.

Updated at 8:04 a.m. June 10:

Starting June 15, small businesses in Fort Bend County can apply for grant money to help them recover from the coronavirus pandemic, according to the June 9 regular Commissioners Court meeting.

At the meeting, the court approved in a 4-1 vote to adopt the guidelines for which businesses can apply and receive grants for the small-business emergency grant program. Precinct 3 Commissioner Andy Meyers voted against the item, stating during discussion he thought the guidelines were not equitable to all businesses hurt by the pandemic.

Fort Bend County has allocated a total of $22 million for this grant program out of $134.3 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Additional details about the guidelines and how to apply for a one-time grant of up to $10,000 will be provided in a 10 a.m. June 10 webinar hosted by the county, per a press release. The webinar will be recorded.

The grant guidelines

In the first two weeks, the county’s grant program will prioritize businesses that applied to the Small Business Association’s Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Economic Injury Disaster Grants but were denied or unable to receive funding because the SBA programs no longer had funding available, according to the draft of guidelines provided in the June 9 meeting agenda.

When the two weeks conclude, other eligible businesses may apply.

Businesses are eligible to apply for a one-time grant amount up to $10,000 if they meet the following criteria, per the guidelines:

  • are located in Fort Bend County;

  • experienced a loss of revenue of 25% or more as a direct result of the COVID-19;

  • were operational as of Feb. 15 and are not permanently closed;

  • have an annual revenue between $100,000-$2 million based on 2019 income or the last three months preceding April 3 if the business was not open for a full 12 months in 2019;

  • employ one to 10 full-time employees; and

  • be in good standing with the state and their respective city.

Documentation must be provided with the application to show that the businesses meets these requirements.

Businesses must also provide a description of how they will spend the funds in their application. They will have to provide receipts and documentation for audit purposes. Fund uses include the following:

  • personal protective equipment;

  • reopening supplies, equipment and renovations;

  • inventory;

  • utilities;

  • remote working expenses; and

  • leases/mortgage assistance.

These expenses must have been incurred as of April 3, per the guidelines that also state the county expects the business remain operational in Fort Bend County for at least one year or through Dec. 30.

The guidelines were crafted by a subcommittee of local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations that were led by Jeffrey C. Wiley, the president/CEO of the Fort Bend County Economic Development Council.

“I think the $22 million is a good number, but it needs to be increased over time, and I would hope that the Commissioners Court thinks about those increases,” he said. “We got to get business back as quickly as possible, or everybody's revenue source—the businesses, the city government, all of them—[will] suffer as a result of that."

Additionally, $1 million will be allocated to contracting consultation services for a future program to assist minority businesses, according to the motion by Precinct 2 Commissioner Grady Prestage.