While Harvey had a devastating impact on the area’s residential community, what we’ve not yet come to fully address or understand is the impact Harvey had on small businesses.
44 Percent of Area Small Businesses Affected by Harvey
The Small Business Administration issued more than 3,300 unique identifiers for businesses in the aftermath of Harvey. This represents almost 44 percent of all businesses in the Lake Houston area. While some business devastation was obvious in Humble along I-69, or Town Center and Kings Harbor in Kingwood, a multitude of other low-profile businesses also suffered physical damage and economic loss.
There is no FEMA equivalent for small businesses; many were left without help after Harvey. As a result, many small business owners depleted life savings, took out home equity loans or drew down retirement accounts to keep their businesses running. For the many that lost homes as well as businesses, circumstances were even more dire.
Many small business owners depleted life savings, took out home equity loans or drew down retirement accounts to keep their businesses running.
The SBA made a significant positive impact to the area’s small businesses. But not all businesses qualified for a loan and a majority of SBA funding went to residents. Typically, 80 percent goes to residential and 20 percent to small businesses.
Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership Helps Address Gaps
To address this imbalance, the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership partnered with SBA, LiftFund, Federal Home Loan Bank, Lake Houston Area Relief Fund, Rebuild Texas Fund and several others. Our goal: to help small businesses via zero interest deferred loans, newly developed grant programs, tax credits and disaster recovery assistance.
We cannot meet current demand for all small business assistance. However, we can build long-term support systems to help the Lake Houston Area recover, and to keep it vibrant and growing.
Two small business funding programs have begun to make a significant impact in our area; both focus on accelerating recovery from Harvey.
Zero Interest Loans from LiftFund
First, LiftFund has been a partner of the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership and Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce since October of 2017. We hosted their first satellite workshop in the chamber offices on November 2, 2017, and have since funded several Lake Houston area businesses with zero interest loans up to $25,000 with a four month deferment period.
The current LiftFund minimum application requirements include a direct physical and or financial impact from Hurricane Harvey, having been in business at least one year prior to Harvey, and the ability to provide other documentation. That documentation includes three months of business and personal bank statements along with the company’s most recently filed tax return. LiftFund’s disaster recovery loan application link is: https://www.liftfund.com/texas-rebuild-initiative/.
Grant Program for Small Businesses
Our second small business funding program launched in March 2018 – the Lake Houston Harvey Small Business Grant Program. It provides grants ranging from $2500 to $5000 for businesses directly impacted by Harvey. It only covers the Lake Houston area – zip codes 770044, 77338, 77339, 77345, 77346 and 77396. Individual companies must have been in business at least a year before Harvey and provide business and personal bank statements along with their most recently filed federal tax return.
Grant dollars can be used for operations and asset purchases directly related to Harvey recovery. The full guidelines and qualification criteria can be found on the Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership’s website: http://www.lakehoustonedp.org/lha-harvey-small-business-grant/or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Small Businesses Employ 80 Percent of All Employees
Small businesses employ roughly 80 percent of all workers in both Texas and the United States. We must make sure that our recovery includes homes and the life blood of the Lake Houston area, our small businesses. So please, share this information with small business owners you may know so we can help them rebuild and thrive. Let them know that the broader community is working on their behalf.
Posted by Mark Mitchell
President, Lake Houston Economic Development Partnership
242 Days since Hurricane Harvey