County Allocated $71.4 Million in Financial Assistance to the Small Business Community
Yesterday, Fort Bend County Judge KP George held a press conference to update the community on the efforts being taken as part of the county’s Small Business Agenda to stabilize and support small businesses in Fort Bend County and promote the growth of emerging businesses.
Judge KP George along with Fort Bend County Commissioners allocated $25 million in Federal funds provided through the CARES Act and increased those funds twice during the fiscal year of 2020. On April 27, 2021, through an allocation of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Court approved additional funds bringing the fund to $71.4 million to assist the small business community in Fort Bend County.
Judge George stressed the need to support small business owners and to help them with the funding needed to bring their employees back to work and get their businesses back into full operation. He also promised to continue efforts to provide pathways of support to businesses still in need.
“Our small businesses have faced unprecedented challenges this past year, and we have stepped up to provide them the support they need while jumpstarting Fort Bend County’s economic recovery,” Judge George declared. “Their success is our county’s success. I was talking to a restaurant owner who said the only reason why he is in business today is because of the support he received from the county.”
Judge George was joined by Mathew Ferraro President and CEO of the Katy Chamber of Commerce, Keri Schmidt President and CEO of the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, Angelique Bartholomew Vice President of Business Development with MPACT Strategic Consulting, Elizabeth Huff Sugar Land Economic Development Director, Cam Yearty Sugar Land Public Private Partnership Manager, Sterling Carter of Carter Brothers Consulting.
The Small Business grants are supporting diverse small businesses throughout Fort Bend County including business owners Bonita Billings (Billings Holdings and Investments), Robert White (Guru Kitchen, Aguja Azul, and JPTR LLC), and Nozer Buchia (Equip Cap Brokerage, LLC) who were also in attendance and spoke on the support they have received from the County.
“When we had to shut down in March of 2020 it was gut-wrenching. The only thing that I could think about is my employees, but Fort Bend County stepped in and we have been able to stay there,” said Bonita Billings.
In addition to supporting established businesses, the county also launched the Small Business Recovery Program in partnership with Carter Brothers Consulting to help coach small businesses, particularly minority and disadvantaged businesses, during the COVID-19 crisis.
Judge George spoke of the partnership with Workforce Solutions and their commitment to providing employment opportunities to residents while ensuring that businesses are provided with a skilled workforce.
Judge George also announced the reappointment of educator and advocate Monica Riley to the Gulf Coast Workforce Board, and two new appointees to the Board, Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce CEO Keri Schmidt, and attorney and Lamar Consolidated ISD Trustee Alex Hunt.
Applications are currently being accepted for the Small Business Grant Program at FortBendCountyTX.gov.