Small Business Support

– Support the formation, survival, and growth of small and micro businesses

Harris Hub (Ongoing)

The Harris County Harris Hub program is a targeted investment in the recovery and development of Harris County’s small businesses. Harris Hub provides funding to Business Support Organizations (BSOs) to increase their capacity to provide in-depth and culturally competent technical assistance to small and microenterprises affected by the COVID19 pandemic. Harris County is working with vendors BakerRipley, ROADS Consulting, and FORWARD Platform to provide small business owners with individualized, tailored technical assistance in the areas of marketing, financial management, hiring, and more. This program is designed to target underserved small businesses, including those owned by women, veterans and persons of color. Small businesses that complete 30 hours of technical assistance in the program are eligible for a $5,000 grant (depending on available grant funding).

Click here to apply for technical assistance:

Revolving Loan Fund

More information in Quarter 3 2024.

Small Business Support (2021)

In 2021, Harris County created a $30 Million Small Business Relief Fund to accelerate recovery for microenterprises and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund provided grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 to eligible microenterprises and small businesses located inside Harris County. LiftFund, a Texas Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) with over 25 years’ experience serving small and underserved entrepreneurs, administered the program and coordinated outreach through 90 community partners and five navigator agencies.

The Fund accepted applications from September 20, 2021 to October 4, 2021 and received 9,611 eligible applications and of those, more than 25% (2,577) received funding.

Workforce Development

– Increase access to quality jobs with a living wage

Hire Up Harris (Ongoing)

Hire Up Harris is a workforce development initiative dedicated to supporting residents of Harris County by connecting them to training opportunities for high-quality jobs that pay a living wage, provide benefits, and have the potential for further economic advancement. Harris County prioritizes programming that couples skills training with soft skills development and wraparound support services to best assist underemployed and unemployed individuals. Further, Harris County aims to build capacity among organizations that provide workforce training via evaluation efforts to instill best practices that will result in transformational outcomes.

Hire Up Harris is administered by two subrecipient vendors, Wesley Community Center and Volunteers of America Texas. This ARPA-funded program began in the spring of 2023 and will allow up to 700 Harris County residents to enroll in training.

Please go to ARPA Workforce Program page for details.

Apprenticeship Advantage (Ongoing)

Apprenticeship Advantage promotes the apprenticeship model of workforce development, which includes on-the-job training and early job placement in partnership with employers. Program goals include creating and expanding opportunities for U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) in traditional and high-growth emerging industries within Harris County. Apprenticeship Advantage develops the Harris County workforce while fostering access to apprenticeship opportunities for underemployed and unemployed residents, dislocated workers, opportunity youth, people of color, women, and those without college degrees. This program responds to the COVID-19 public health emergency’s economic impact on Harris County workers, including disproportionate challenges for those without living wage jobs.

Complementing training opportunities, wraparound support services included in the program increase apprenticeship retention, completion, and job placement rates. The program includes apprenticeships for in-demand technical skills, supports the energy transition with green jobs such as low-emission vehicle repair, and features the first-ever International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) apprenticeship for sports and entertainment sector employees.

Apprenticeship Advantage is administered by two subrecipient vendors, the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation and NPower. The Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation will provide pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training across ten union trades and NPower will provide apprenticeship training and job placement in digital skills careers, including cybersecurity. The program began early 2023 and will allow up to 966 Harris County residents to enroll in apprenticeship.

Please go to ARPA Workforce Program page for details.

Financial Stability

– Promote household financial stability, increase income and assets & reduce debt burden

Flexible Financial Assistance Program (2021)

In 2021, Harris County and Catholic Charities partnered to administer a total of $60 million in financial assistance to Harris County residents. The allocated funds were part of a larger portion of federal funds received by Harris County through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA,) in response to the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program provided a one-time cash transfer of $1,500 to households located within Harris County that met eligibility requirements such as having at least one household member enrolled in a public assistance program, or a total household income at or below 60% of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Area Median Family Income. Recipients were allowed to use the payment for any COVID-related emergency expenses such as healthcare, rent or mortgage, utilities, food, internet, transportation, childcare, and other past due expenses.

Special Projects

Disparity Study Fund

The Harris County Disparity Study Fund supports Community Colleges and Independent School Districts in developing inclusive procurement practices through the completion of a Disparity Study. The Fund will provide financial resources to pay a vendor to conduct disparity studies regarding the utilization of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs), upon the condition that recipient institutions create and adoption of M/WBE programs designed using national best practices to remedy any race and gender disparities identified.

The fund is currently supporting studies at Lone Star College, Aldine ISD, Alief ISD, and Spring ISD.

Please go to Disparity Study Fund page for details.

Essential Worker Board

The Harris County Essential Worker Board (HCEWB) was established in 2022 by the Commissioners Court to be comprised of Essential Workers to provide feedback and recommendations to the Department of Economic Equity and Opportunity (DEEO) and other relevant Harris County Departments and, where appropriate, serve in an advisory capacity to Commissioners Court on Harris County programs, policies, and initiatives that recognize and support workers.

For more information, visit the Essential Workers Board website.

OSHA Pilot Training Program (2023)

In January 2023, the Harris County Commissioner’s Court approved the Construction Workers Safety Policy.  The adopted policy ensures that Harris County employs prime contractors and subcontractors to prioritize the health and safety of their workers, thereby improving the quality of Harris County construction projects while enhancing the safety of workers.  To support prime and subcontractors, Harris County sponsored free OSHA certifying courses, including OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 construction safety workshops in English and Spanish and the workshops were strategically held in each precinct from June 2023 to September 2023. Out of the 184 participants the pilot program served, 176 Harris County residents completed the required hours of training and earned OSHA certification.