AUSTIN (KXAN) — After taking a huge hit throughout the pandemic, several small businesses are still trying to bounce back.

With rising rent costs and inflation sky high, the City of Austin Economic Development Department hopes a new program will lend a helping hand to local business owners.

The Small Business Resiliency Program is designed to support mom-and-pop shops that were operating successfully prior to the pandemic in Austin’s highly impacted industries.

This 12-week training program will offer coaching, access to professional experts, peer support, resiliency planning and additional resources.

Economic Development Department Director Sylnovia Holt-Rabb says it’ll also create an opportunity for business owners to network with others in similar situations.

“Now that we’re post-pandemic, we’re trying to strategize how you regain that market share,” she explained. “How do you get back to the revenues that you had pre-pandemic?”

According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, 4,933 establishments — representing 9.7% of businesses — exited in Austin in 2020.

Up to 25 business owners will be selected to participate in the Small Business Resiliency Program.

Weekly sessions will run from July 12 through September 27 on Wednesday evenings.

Selected applicants will be required to pay a non-refundable and non-transferrable $300 tuition fee.

Eligible businesses must be located in the Austin-Round Rock metro area — including Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties — and not currently planning to sell or exit their business within three years of the program’s end.

Participants will meet in person for lectures, expert training, and peer activities. The program concludes with a final presentation of their resiliency plans to the cohort and invited guests. 

The application is up online and will remain open until May 22 at 5 p.m.