The University of Houston Texas Gulf Coast Small Business Development Center Network is helping small business owners brave the steep financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Funded by a $4 million grant from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA), the SBDC Network has launched the COVID-19 Business Disaster Recovery Assistance Program—the only program in Texas to provide access to disaster capital and resources needed to recover, rebuild and grow.
Small businesses that have experienced supply chain disruptions, staffing challenges, a decrease in revenue or even closure as a result of the pandemic will have access to business advising, education and training. The program will serve SBDC’s 14 locations across southeast Texas.
“I am so proud that the UH SBDC Network will be able to continue its work to advance the region’s economy with little or no interruption, guaranteeing the success of what is the backbone of our nation’s economy – small businesses,” said Renu Khator, UH president.
The SBDC Network COVID-19 Business Disaster Recovery Assistance Program will act as a one-stop shop to help small business owners access relief, recovery and ongoing survival resources. SBDC expert advisors will help business owners navigate COVID-19 federal funding opportunities, such as SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan.
“The SBDC Network is at the forefront providing resources and tools to help small businesses through this economic disaster,” said Steve Lawrence, executive director of the SBDC Network. “I encourage business owners to take advantage of our services and attain the available tools. If you have any doubt in your mind or any questions about SBA’s programs, my recommendation is to apply, apply and apply.”
In an effort to retain and find new clients, advisors will also provide advisory services in operations, finance, accounting, financial analysis, sales and marketing, strategic planning, government procurement and international trade.
Business owners will also have access to free business webinars ranging from various topics such as SBA disaster loan instructions, COVID-19 best practices, food & restaurant, social media marketing, technology and more. All webinars will provide quick bursts of solutions and tips to help businesses stay afloat.
To build a more resilient economy after COVID-19, the program will help small business owners strengthen their infrastructure, improve their business continuity strategy and develop an emergency preparedness plan. “Our no-cost professional advising, and mentoring, can make a big difference in success or failure during these difficult times,” Lawrence said.
The SBDC will continue to work with the University of Houston Bauer College of Business, Houston District SBA Office and chambers of commerce to aid businesses impacted by COVID-19.
In March, President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act, the largest economic relief package in American history. From SBA funding provided through the CARES Act, the SBDC Network will distribute funding to its field centers so they can add staff and accommodate the growing needs of small businesses.
“Our 14 SBDC locations are here to help - whether you’re starting your business, growing, expanding or just trying to survive,” said Lawrence.
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in early March, the SBDC Network has conducted 1,494 new advising sessions and 791 existing client sessions - helping with SBA loans, cash flow, employee impact and more. Click here to learn more about the COVID-19 Business Disaster Recovery Assistance Program and access online resources 24/7.
-Article by Toni Carter, manager, Communications, UH Texas Gulf Coast SBDC Network