Community

County Offers Business Grant Program For Rural Areas, Small Communities

Existing or potential business owners in Hidalgo County’s rural areas and small communities now have access to a new business grant program aimed at promoting business and jobs growth in those areas. The Small Town Economic Development (STED) Grant is accepting applications until March 15, 2018

“Hidalgo County is offering this new grant initiative in order to pursue economic development opportunities, advance business growth, and promote local economy,” Hidalgo County Economic Development Director Michael Leo explained. “This project seeks to encourage and provide participants with support, along with providing training sessions and in addition, resources for the development of the business proposals. Participants will have the opportunity to compete for prize grant money to be used for the betterment or launch of their business.”

The Small Town Economic Development (STED) Grant Program is an Hidalgo County initiative, spearheaded by County Judge Ramon Garcia, aimed to promote local and sustainable business entrepreneurship in rural and low population areas of the county.

Through this program, new or existing businesses in cities with a population less than 20,000, or unincorporated areas of the county, will be able to apply for up to $20,000 in grant funding to help create, maintain, or expand their business venture. Because it is a grant program, the funds will not have to be paid back, as long as the business continues to meet the original guidelines.

For a copy of the intent to supply form or more information contact Nestor Lopez at 956-318-2600. The deadline to submit the intent to apply form is March 15.

Among the eligibility rules are:

• New or existing business may apply.

• Businesses must be in a municipality with a population of 20,000 or less, or an unincorporated area within the county.

• Applicants must be an active participant of the business and own significant equity.

• Application must be submitted by March 15, 2018.

This project is funded by funds allocated to Hidalgo County from the Unclaimed Property Capital Credits from the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

This project will provide the participants with support and resources for the development of their business proposals. All proposals will be presented before  an evaluation committee for consideration and input. Applicants will be subject to a written evaluation of a business plan and an oral presentation before the evaluation committee.

Participants will have the opportunity to compete for prize grant money to be used for the betterment or launch of their proposal. Qualifying entrants can request an amount not to exceed $20,000 in grant funds committed to stay within the business.

Applicants are required to be active participants with management roles in the business and own significant equity. Applicants may consist of a single person or a group not to exceed six (6) members. The grant is for new or existing qualifying businesses with economic challenges. Challenges can be defined as having limited access to funding from traditional commercial sources and/or having access to resources due to geographic location. A qualifying business is one that has demonstrated stability and viability by remaining in business for two (2) consecutive years.

Applicants are eligible to submit one application per cycle. Once an applicant(s) has been awarded funding, they are ineligible to apply for future funding for a period of two (2) years.

The program is divided into four Phases. The first Phase is an “Intent to Apply” form, not exceed 1000 words. The description must include:

• The nature, demand, and purpose of the business.

• Amount to be requested and purpose

• Management, educational, and professional experience.

• Employment creation projections.

All intent to apply forms will be reviewed and a maximum of twenty (20) projects will be selected to move forward to Phase II. In Phase II, applicants will be asked to submit an executive summary of a business plan in accordance with a prescribed format. Hidalgo County will partner with the UTRGV Small Business Development Center to provide business advisement, provide training, and assist in the development of the executive summary.

Phase III will be the evaluation of the written plan by a panel of reviewers. Phase IV will be an oral presentation before the evaluation committee. The committee will then announce the winners.

For more information on the Small Town Economic Development Grant Program, contact Nestor Lopez at Nestor.Lopez@co.hidalgo.tx.us or by phone at (956) 318-2600.

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