BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The city of Brownsville has nearly half a million dollars to help small businesses and organizations attract new customers.   

Small businesses have been struggling across the country and in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Juan Kenigstein has owned his El Conquistador fabric shop in downtown Brownsville for more than 50 years, he says the pandemic took a major toll on his business and he has been struggling ever since.  

“We’ve been struggling all along. It has just been rough, very rough. I’m the only so only fabric shop downtown.” Kenigstein said. 

In 2021 the city of Brownsville received 65 million dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. From that amount, the city set aside $2.6 million for improving cultural events and tourism. 

In the past two years the city has given local businesses over 2.2 million dollars, now they have close to half a million to use before 2026.   

“We’re still targeting nonprofit organizations, now we’re just adding that component for small businesses for providing additional support to them,” said Efren Trujillo, the Brownsville director of grants and community development. 

Trujillo says they will begin accepting applications for the funds in January.   

They will provide 46 organizations with 10 thousand dollars each to use in any way to help their businesses flourish.  

“Our intent is to have some marketing efforts as well as some workshops so we could disseminate all this information and showcase the eligibility who’s eligible, what documentation or what information is needed,” Trujillo said. 

Esequiel Silva owns a coffee shop in the city and he says inflation has impacted his business, raising the prices of everything, from the equipment he purchases to even the coffee beans he roasts.   

“Because the few is affecting all the prices and being able to bring up products towards the consumer-friendly and in a consumer-friendly price range,” Silva said. 

Juan says he would use the funds to expand his inventory for his customers and help his employees.  

“buy more merchandise, new inventory, and just help the people that work over here,” Kenigstein said. 

To be eligible for these funds Trujillo says you must have had a business within city limits before March 2019. 

Trujillo says the city will soon announce a workshop for the public to learn more about the program and if you qualify.