Fort Bend Entrepreneur Initiative launches to provide free consulting services to small businesses

Friday, July 24, 2020

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BY: Jen Para - Community Impact

Fort Bend County reinforced its commitment to helping small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic at a July 23 press conference.

In addition to offering a COVID-19 small business assistance grant program, the county launched the Fort Bend Entrepreneur Initiative with consultants Carter & Carter to provide free one-on-one business coaching to small businesses, according to the conference.

“We're looking at small businesses, like nail salons, beauticians, barbershops [and] small restaurants,” said Sterling Carter, co-owner of Carter & Carter. “We're wanting to mirror the funds that they're receiving with the education that they need so they can recover from this pandemic.”

The consulting services will be provided in English or Spanish, said Stephen Carter, co-owner of Carter & Carter and Sterling Carter’s brother. The services will help businesses create customized recovery plans.

County Judge KP George said the program has a special focus on helping minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses to receive support to recover from the economic slowdown, but any local business struggling because of the pandemic can apply for the program.

“We are encouraging everyone. No matter what your limitations may be, we have a solution for you,” Stephen Carter said.

To apply for the Fort Bend Entrepreneur Initiative, Fort Bend County businesses can go online to www.fortbendentrepreneur.com or call 281-968-3641.

The funding for this free program comes from $1 million in federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, the county judge's offices confirmed via email.

COVID-19 small business grants

The Fort Bend Entrepreneur Initiative is meant to complement the Fort Bend County COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program, which launched June 15, County Auditor Ed Sturdivant said.

So far, about 2,000 eligible businesses have applied and been screened for an individual grant amount between $5,000-$25,000, Sturdivant said. These 2,000 businesses account for about $29 million of the $38 million total in grant funding, so another $9 million is available for local businesses, Sturdivant said.

The county has only processed about 10% of the payments to these 2,000 businesses, he said.

“Our commitment is to have the first 2,000 [businesses] either paid or in process of payment by the end of next week,” Sturdivant said.

Funding for the Fort Bend County COVID-19 Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program comes from federal and county funds—specifically, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and the Fort Bend County COVID-19 budget. The county received a total of $134.3 million from the federal coronavirus relief bill.

To apply for a small business grant, go to www.coronavirusfortbend.gov/covid19-small-business-emergency-assistance-grant-program.html.

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