Texas Business

Staff photo by Albert Villegas

Amy Piatt, with Texas Back in Business Market Outreach, answers questions to a group of business owners.

More than a dozen people attended a Texas Back in Business outreach event in Wharton for those who owned or own a small business and were affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Amy Piatt, with Texas Back in Business Market Outreach, said even now after more than two years following Harvey’s destruction to Southeast Texas, it’s not surprising that Wharton was affected in a manner that has business people seeking help – in 2020.

Piatt and Wharton Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Chad Odom spoke about how Texas Back in Business is a Hurricane Harvey relief program for small business in this state.

This new economic revitalization program that was introduced by the Texas General Land Office last month begins at $50,000, no less, for business people to apply for. They may apply for up to $250,000, if they can prove their small business was damaged by the hurricane.

The application process began last month and Piatt said there has been a good response.

This new federally-funded program ends March 2, and there is no cost online to apply through the following web address: TexasBackInBusiness.com.

Many of the dozen or more people who attended this first-time Texas Back in Business event at 9er’s in Wharton on Monday, Jan. 13 were familiar with Odom, who wasn’t heading WEDCO very long before Harvey caused widespread damage to the city, mostly through flooding.

He echoed Piatt’s words that Texas Back in Business funds may create or retain much-needed jobs, and can be used for operating capital, repairs, inventory, machinery, equipment, supplies and other expenses directly related to the business.

The pair, who were joined by the GLO Community Outreach Coordinator Shannon Longoria, said each business may have unique circumstances attached to their experiences. Regardless of what it is, each urged survivors of this hurricane to speak and share it in the application process. 

According to Texas Back in Business, to meet the minimum eligibility requirements, a small business must:

• Have been in business on August 25, 2017;

• Be defined as a small business by the Small Business Administration; 

• Have experienced damage from Hurricane Harvey; and

• Be located in one of the 49 Hurricane Harvey impacted counties deemed eligible by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for disaster recovery funds. Wharton County is one of them.

There is a FAQ section on the Texas Back in Business website to answer basic questions.

Piatt said when a business meets the basic qualifications, applicants will be entered in a random selection process to give all applicants an equal opportunity for the program. She said if selected, applicants will then be contacted via email to schedule an office or site visit with a grant officer to confirm the business’s qualifications for funding approval and amount of grant qualification.

Funds are expected to be disbursed later this year to those who qualify.

Piatt reminded attendees that this is not a loan that needs to be paid back, and that this program is not affiliated with the U.S. Small Business Bureau. She reminded them that it is a federal grant.

 According to the Texas Back in Business, this program is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). In the state’s Hurricane Harvey CDBG-DR action plan, the Texas GLO allocated $100 million for an economic revitalization program to help small businesses impacted by Harvey. 

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