County, Chamber seek business answers
Michael Jenkins reunites with “Thunder,” the family cat, after a visit to Bridge City Animal Hospital, one of the area’s first businesses to reopen after Tropical Storm Harvey.
Dave Rogers /For The Record
The county’s new budget year hasn’t even started, but Orange commissioners’ court made an adjustment Tuesday that sounded like a good business plan.
They approved a request by Jessica Hill, executive director of the Orange County Economic Development, to free up $200,000 to fund small business grants to help the recovery of those hurt by Harvey.
“A few weeks ago, as we were developing our  EDC budget, we requested $550,000, and from that, $150,000 was set aside for the specific purpose of land acquisition and development,” Hill explained.
Hill wasn’t sure yet what the requirements would be to apply for the grants, but she wanted to move fast.
“We want to have the funds in the hands of businesses by November,” she said.
Commissioner Barry Burton heartily endorsed the idea.
“We’re always to looking to get new businesses in, but sometimes we forget the corporate business citizens here in the county, so we’re making an effort to take care of them,” he said.
“This is an excellent idea that you came up with,” he told Hill.
“The first step has to be to retain the businesses we’ve got.”
To that end, the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting an Orange County Business Recovery Meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at Lamar State College-Orange.
The meeting at the Nursing & Classroom Building, 201 Front Street Room 102, is open to all businesses.
Representatives from FEMA, the Small Business Administration and Texas Workforce Solutions will be on hand.
“We know that there were quite a few businesses in Orange County that were affected by Harvey and there were some that did not have flood insurance,” said Ida Schossow, president of the Orange Chamber.
“They’re trying to decide if they want to come back.
“We’re having this [Thursday meeting] to show them there are options.”
Schossow said the effects of Harvey went beyond the record rainfalls and feet of standing water in many homes and businesses.
“There are businesses that are affected that didn’t even get any water in them,” she said.
“They may not have been able to open because they didn’t have employees [available]. They didn’t have the flood but they got economic injury because everything was down.
“At the Business Recovery Meeting, we’re going to lay the options out.”
Schossow stressed that Thursday’s meeting wasn’t just for Orange Chamber members.
“It’s open to all businesses, because even if we lose business, Chamber members or not, it’ll affect the whole city,” she said.
“It’s important to get information. A lot of people whow were just closed seven to 10 days don’t consider them affected, but they have economic injury.
“And this is an important piece: People need to shop local. It’s always important, but more important now.”