Mayor Sylvester Turner Announces New Program to Help Small Business Owners

HOUSTON - Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today that applications for the City of Houston’s Small Business Economic Relief Program (SBERP) will open at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

The program, which is funded with $15 million of the City's allocated CARES Act 2020 funds, will provide immediate and short-term grant assistance to small businesses and chambers of commerce that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 4 and must be completed online at

The maximum amount a business or chamber can receive from the SBERP is $50,000. A business may use the funds for payroll, accounts payable, rent, mortgage, personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees, and marketing strategies, including creating an online presence and other sales alternatives.

“SBERP funds will not be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Small businesses that are in most financial need and exhibit a moderate to high likelihood of surviving the pandemic's adverse impacts will receive the most consideration for grant funds,” Mayor Turner said. “I highly encourage you to take your time to complete your application fully and carefully before the Sept. 4 deadline.”

If approved for the grant, businesses will receive funds in two phases. The first half of the funds will be awarded upon grant approval. The second half will be given after completion of the Recovery and Resiliency component of the program. This component includes, but is not limited to, assistance in strategic planning, finance, marketing and human resource management.

“In addition to immediate financial assistance, the SBERP is also intended help small businesses sustain their operations during and after the pandemic. By utilizing the Recovery and Resiliency component, these small businesses can maximize their long-term, positive impact on our local economy through their contribution to job retention and the continued availability of their services,” said Office of Business Opportunity Director Marsha Murray. “We highly encourage those that did not qualify for other federal or local programs – or did not receive enough funds to mitigate the impact of the crisis –  to apply for this program.”
To qualify for the SBERP, business owners must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be a business whose principal place of business is located within city limits of the City of Houston.
  • Must have been in business for at least one (1) year as of March 1, 2020.
  • Must provide evidence of how business revenue has significantly decreased because of government restrictions or other challenges due to COVID-19.
  • A business qualifies if it generated $2 million or less in gross annual revenue pre-COVID-19.
  • Must be in good standing regarding City requirements (e.g. property taxes, personal property, grounds for debarment, etc).
  • Must commit to completing the Recovery and Resiliency component of this program provided via HBDi.

In addition to these requirements,  a weighted scoring matrix will be used to ensure the equitable distribution of grant funds. Applications will be prioritized based on several factors including geography, employee makeup, access to capital challenges, years in business, and demonstrated resiliency.

At today's press conference, Mayor Turner thanked Vice Mayor Pro-Tem Martha Castex-Tatum and all Houston city council members for bringing SBERP forward with a unanimous vote. He also thanked Director Marsha Murray of the Office of Business Opportunity for leading the development of SBERP and working with Houston Business Development, Inc. (HBDi), the program administrator.

HBDi is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation established in 1986 by the City of Houston. The corporation’s mission is to stimulate economic growth, support the expansion of small businesses, combat community deterioration and foster employment opportunities for low-moderate income citizens in the Houston metropolitan area and surrounding counties.