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City Manager Odis Jones Hosts Virtual Meeting with Small Businesses To Receive Feedback On CARES Act Grant Program & Discuss Operational Challenges Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic
City Manager Odis Jones met virtually with Missouri City small businesses on Wednesday, Oct. 14 to receive feedback directly from owners and managers regarding challenges that have impacted their companies during the pandemic and the application/review process for Missouri City’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Small Business Lease/Mortgage Assistance Grant Program.
The program, which launched on Sunday, Oct. 11 provides lease and/or mortgage funding of up to $15,000 for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy and are critical to the City’s economic development and growth,” said City Manager Jones. “Many of these companies were shuttered due to COVID-19 regulations and through no fault of their own.”
He also explained that the City launched the Council-approved grant program to “make sure that businesses who are struggling can become more stable. If a company is without two or three months of income, that’s going to hurt, and the City is stepping in to help.”
Earlier this month, City Council Members approved an additional $500,000 for the CARES Act Business Grant Program, which increased the total funds for the initiative to $1.5 million.
About 20 businesses from across the City joined the Zoom discussion, providing vital details about the struggles they face with day-to-day operations and describing how the grants will assist them with keeping their doors open to provide essential business services for residents and stakeholders. Here are some highlights of what they shared:
“These grants are important to us because we took a pretty hard hit due to COVID. Everything we had cakes for – parties, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs – were canceled. We had to refund monies, and we got no relief from the landlord. So this will help a lot.” Jonathan Lindsley, owner of Sweets in the Sky bakery
“Mr. Jones, I want to applaud you for being sensitive to and catering to the needs of small business owners. You’ve faced opposition, and you’ve fought hard for us.” Darryl Austin, Proprietor of Sugar’s Cajun Cuisine & Bar
“COVID hit us pretty bad. We had about 18 residents and 16 staff who tested positive. About 10 residents never came back. We’ve lost 30 percent of our business. I want to thank Mr. Jones and his team for reaching out and assisting us. I have been able to access other funds so we haven’t had to lay anyone off, but quite honestly, it’s getting more and more difficult, so I do appreciate this opportunity that you have given us.” Bobby English, Owner of Optimum Personal Care
“Mr. Jones, I would like to say thank you for moving so fast. I didn’t expect this to come so soon.” Melanie Allen of Catfish Willy’s
“We’ve been hit pretty hard as far as the pandemic. We were shut down and then only allowed to take one client at a time. I lost two stylists from my salon – that’s how I pay the rent. My landlord gave me a deferment, which at the time, I was happy about. But the landlord has split my back rent payments into six months, which has added an additional $1,000 to my rent each month. It’s been pretty hard. Our clients are mostly older women who are afraid to come out because of the pandemic. But we used the first grant from Fort Bend County to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) and upgrade the salon to COVID standards.” Ella Bilton of Salon EJS
The companies also shared feedback with staff on the City’s inspections process, the increase in permitting fees and the need for additional outdoor dining considerations. City Manager Jones and his team are following up on all three and will collaborate with the business community to identify solutions.
Mr. Jones also informed the businesses that the City is working to see if additional funding is available for this CARES Act program and asked the owners and managers how specifically they could benefit from supplemental money should it become available. The companies identified the following uses as essential to their operations:
To view the full virtual MCTX discussion, click on this YouTube link.
The City has informed small businesses about the grants through canvassing along Missouri City’s economic thoroughfares. Digital messages have also been posted on electronic boards on Texas Parkway and Highway 6, as well as the TxDOT sign on Gessner Road. To date, about 62 small businesses have applied for the funding. Applicants will be assisted on a first-come, first-serve basis and all funds must be disbursed by Dec. 31, 2020.
Interested businesses are encouraged to click the CARES Act Programs graphic below or on the top of the City website homepage to review eligibility requirements and to apply.
As part of the Small Business Assistance program:
Small businesses with additional questions may email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the CARES Act call center at 281.403.8690. Case managers will be able to assist callers Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 pm.
For more information about Missouri City, please watch the City website: www.missouricitytx.gov, like us on Facebook—fb/MissouriCityTX, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat—@MissouriCityTX and Nextdoor, watch Missouri City Television (Ch. 16 on Comcast and Ch. 99 on AT&T U-verse) or download the MCTX Mobile app (available for free in Google Play and the Apple app store).