Mayor Sylvester Turner, the Comcast Corporation, and several community leaders gathered at City Hall today to announce the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, which will award $5 million dollars of grants to hundreds of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned, small businesses in five cities nationwide, including $1 million in Houston.
Beginning on March 1 through March 14, eligible businesses in Houston, in addition to Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia, can apply for a $10,000 grant at www.ComcastRISE.com. A total of 100 grants in Houston, or 500 grants overall, will be awarded in May 2021. The Investment Fund is the latest extension of Comcast RISE, the multi-year, multi-faceted initiative launched in October 2020 that initially focused on black-owned, small businesses and then extended to BIPOC-owned to help those hardest hit by COVID-19. “The City of Houston knows the pandemic has created challenges for many small businesses, especially minority-owned businesses, and we continue to do everything we can to help them survive until things get better,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner. “The Comcast RISE Investment Fund will ensure that 100 small businesses that exist today continue to exist tomorrow. I highly encourage BIPOC-owned small businesses that are in most financial need to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.”
The Comcast RISE Investment Fund is focused on small businesses who have been in business for three or more years with 1-25 employees. Businesses must be in the following geographic locations to be eligible: Houston, TX (Harris and Fort Bend Counties).
To help drive outreach about the program and provide additional support, training and mentorship, Comcast has also awarded more than $2 million to nearly 20 community-based organizations in the five cities, including Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Greater Houston Black Chamber, Asian Chamber of Commerce, Greater Houston LGBT, Houston East End Chamber and Cámara de Empresarios in Houston, as well as the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), Operation Hope, Ureeka, U.S. Black Chambers, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Asian American Chamber of Commerce.
“Small businesses have always played an integral role in Houston’s growth and future,” said Ralph Martinez, senior vice president for Comcast’s Houston region. “In the midst of the pandemic, these entrepreneurs provided many of the services and resources that have kept our communities up and running.”
Studies show that BIPOC-owned, small businesses have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, and recent research by JPMorgan Chase Institute found that Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Houston and Philadelphia were in the top markets for sharp declines in local commerce spending. Additionally, the majority of applications for the Comcast RISE marketing and technology services component are from these five cities.
“Unfortunately, many small businesses in Houston were not able to withstand the many months of suppressed revenues. While we remain optimistic about our economic recovery, public-private partnerships will play a vital role in minimizing the disruptions that so many small businesses, specifically minority-owned business, are facing,” said Vice Mayor Pro Tem Martha Castex-Tatum who chairs the City of Houston’s Economic Development Committee.