City of Austin awards $23.7 million in local economic relief, additional $9.3 million in process
AUSTIN, TX – The City of Austin Economic Development Department announces the award of more than $23.7 million in relief grants and loans to individuals and small businesses impacted by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The funds have been dispersed through seven funding programs created by Economic Development Department staff in the five months since Austin Mayor Steve Adler declared a local state of emergency due to the global pandemic. An additional $9.3 million in additional relief grants are currently in process for development and distribution in the coming weeks.
“Our staff worked to quickly distribute millions in financial relief to Austin’s local businesses and workers, non-profits, and childcare providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” notes Veronica Briseño, who was appointed as Austin’s Chief Economic Recovery Officer in March 2020. “We created seven new programs in five months as an emergency response to get these vital recovery dollars into the hands of the individuals and businesses who need support right now.”
Recovery Funding Programs
- The Austin Childcare Provider Relief Fund awarded $900,000 in grants to 72 childcare providers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Austin Creative Space Disaster Relief Program awarded $987,943 in grants to 32 for-profit live music venues, performance spaces, art galleries, arts-focused non-profits, and individual artists facing temporary or permanent displacement.
- The Austin Creative Worker Relief Grant will award $3,342,500 in grants to over 1,600 creative sector workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. in process
- The Austin Economic Injury Bridge Loan Program awarded $645,000 in short-term, low interest loans to 19 small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Austin Music Disaster Relief Fund awarded $1.5 million in grants to 1,500 performing musicians impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Austin Non-Profit Relief Grant awarded $3.5 million in grants to 217 non-profit organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Austin Small Business Relief Grant awarded $16,243,367 in grants to 885 small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Equity in access to these recovery funds was a priority for our department as we planned and implemented each of the grant programs,” adds Sylnovia Holt Rabb, Acting Director for the Economic Development Department. “Data clearly shows that the pandemic is having disproportionate impacts on communities of color and businesses owned by women and people of color.”
Equity strategies used by the Economic Development Department included circulating press releases and promotional materials in English and Spanish; allowing applicants to complete grant applications in Arabic, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, English, Spanish, and Vietnamese; and contracting with local community organizations to provide one-on-one application assistance to anyone who needed support. Several programs also prioritized half of the available funds to applicants that scored highest based on factors like the income, race, ethnicity, and gender of the workers, owners, or Board of Directors.
To provide greater transparency and accountability for the COVID-19 recovery programs, the Economic Development Department created and published interactive dashboards for each grant. Each dashboard displays information such as the number of applications received for each program, profiles of applicants (minus personal identifying information), and approval and denial rates. The dashboards can be viewed online through ATXrecovers.com.
"We've seen $128 million in requests for funds from small businesses which far exceeds the amount of money currently available," notes Susana Carbajal, Assistant Director for the Economic Development Department. "Until other federal recovery funds are allocated, we are working to meet industry needs through other services - including providing free online coaching and classes for business owners, and updating our recovery website ATXrecovers.com, with new information about grants, loans, tax assistance, legal aid, and more.
The Economic Development Department will launch several new grants in the coming weeks, including programs to support commercial property owners, non-profits, technical assistance for businesses and individuals, as well as offer mental health support to local workers.
As additional recovery programs are developed and launched, all eligibility and details will be available on www.ATXrecovers.com. This website is intended to be a helpful resource for individuals, businesses, and non-profits recover from the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It features up-to-date lists of resources for businesses and individuals; updates on local, state, and federal recovery policies; and economic indicators for the local economy.
About the City of Austin Economic Development Department
The City of Austin Economic Development Department supports business growth, creative industries, and local communities. These programs build an equitable, sustainable economy to improve the lives of all Austin residents. To learn more about helpful resources, visit www.austintexas.gov/edd and follow @econvitalityatx on Twitter.