HOUSTON -- The City of Houston has authorized the Houston Tourism Committee to proceed with three new grant programs beginning in 2021. The grant program, which has a total fund balance of $15,000 will provide matching grants for façade improvement, sign replacement and tourism development events.

“We’re very excited to offer these new programs and are excited to partner with local businesses, property owners and event organizers as they continue their work in improving the quality of life and attractiveness of Houston,” says Sean Johnson, director of the CDF and member of the tourism committee.

According to Johnson, there will be three grants: a façade grant, a sign replacement grant, and a tourism development grant.

The façade grant will be for individual grants of up to $2,500 that will reimburse business owners (or renters with the property owner’s written permission) for improvements to their storefronts. These improvements can include window replacement, the addition of shutters and window boxes, new paint, awning cleaning, repair or replacement or other improvements as approved by the tourism committee. The total amount budgeted for this grant program is $7,500. This program is currently only open for downtown businesses, but may be expanded to include businesses located on Jackson and Madison Streets in the future.

Sign replacement grants are for individual grants of up to $500 that can be used toward replacing signage for businesses in the downtown district. To be eligible for the grant, businesses will need to comply with the new sign ordinance, a provision of which provides that the design and materials used for downtown signage be more in line with the historical style of the downtown area. The total amount budgeted for this program is $2,500.

The tourism development grant is designed to help organizations improve their events. Grants may be used for the following: talent and production fees, special programming, event advertising, signage and banners, general advertising material and other items as determined by request. These grants are for up to $1,000 each. The total amount budgeted for this program is $5,000. Grant award winners for this program will be required to submit a tourism impact report prior to receiving fund reimbursement.

All grants are 100% matching grants, meaning that if the grantee were to spend $1000 on a project, the grant would cover $500 of the project, with grant money to be disbursed after the completion of the project and the presentation of applicable receipts.

The process for applying for a grant follows: Grant applicants will fill out an application (which will be available at City Hall) in January, and turn them in by the grant deadline, which will likely be in early March. The grants will be reviewed by the committee in March and accepted grantees will be notified shortly thereafter. Grant money will be issued after the grantees’ program or project has been completed and they have turned in their receipts and required impact reports.

If you have questions about the tourism grant program, please call Sean Johnson at (662) 316-9557 or email him at ilovehoustonms@gmail.com

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