Be Part of the Revitalization of Historic Downtown Brownsville

Who Qualifies?

  • For Profit & Non-Profit businesses
  • Existing Downtown Businesses
  • New Businesses
  • Commercial Property Owners
  • Investors/Developers

Does Not Qualify?

  • Public Sector (City, County, State & Federal Government)
  • K-12 Educational Institutions
  • Adult Video & Novelty Stores
  • Gambling, including sweepstakes
  • Businesses operating from residential properties/uses
  • Any other prohibited businesses defined by the City Ordinances and Zoning
  • Residential Property Owners
  • Multi-family units with no retail use

Applicant Criteria

  • A minimum of 50% or more of secured funding for total construction cost. 100% will be highly preferred. Letter of Intent with disclosure of amount of funds available will be required.
  • Activation of additional floors (for commercial and/or mixed use only).
  • Building’s level of blight and/or risk of deterioration.
  • Long-term durability and sustainability of the improvements and the ability to aesthetically transform the building.
  • Activates a vacant building or portion of a building for commercial purposes.
  • Commercial Property Owners have the property listed for lease on various platforms if vacant (Required). Preferred applicant with pre-leasing options.
  • Business creates or enhances the downtown area and has a long term sustainability plan.
  • Business Tenants will be required to create paying jobs. The amount of job creation will be based on the type of business occupying the space and amount of grants funds awarded the project.


  • It will be required to meet with BCIC and if necessary, City of Brownsville Historic Preservation Office and Permits Office prior to applying.
  • The applicant must not be involved in any litigation, owe taxes, or have liens filed that would affect the property for which the grant is intended.
  • Property owner or tenant may apply for same property/project up to the max award cap and funds are still available.
  • Owners of vacant buildings shall be eligible if the owner’s purpose is to rehabilitate the structure to attract eligible businesses. Lease must be on the listed and promoted on various sites. Pre-lease options will be preferred.
  • Vacant buildings are subject to a clawback provision if space is not occupied by a business within 12 months after completion of the project. No exceptions.
  • Funding is limited to one applicant per year.
  • Tenants are eligible to apply for rent subsidy assistance and property improvements for the same property if requirements are meant.
  • Rent subsidy assistance application must be submitted on a separate application and eligible to apply within six (6) months of operations. A Certification of Occupancy will be required before contracts are initiated.
  • Building or business owners are eligible to apply once required documents have been submitted to the City of Brownsville Permit Office and before work has begun. No grant will be awarded for work that has already been initiated or completed.
  • Any alterations to the building, including signage, façade, paint, awning, must meet the historic character of downtown and must be submitted to the Brownsville’s Historic Preservation Officer for their review prior to applying for the grant.
  • Construction quotes/bids are required for the review of the application. All construction bids submitted by an Applicant must be current and must be dated no earlier than ninety (90) days prior to the Application request. Bids shall be submitted on the contractor’s or project architect’s letterhead and shall contain the contractors name, address, telephone number and shall itemize the bid in a manner that allows BCIC to determine the bid components and authenticity of the bid.
  • Applicant shall commence construction described within the Application within 60 days from the date the grant is awarded by the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation Board.
  • All Applicants must complete the construction described in the application within twelve (12) months from the contract date.
  • Approval of all applications shall be with the understanding and agreement that, in the event the business (applicant) fails to remain open, or the business or property is sold or transferred and subsequently closes, within twelve (12) months after the funding of the grant, the applicant shall be considered in default of its obligations under the grant, and shall be required to reimburse BCIC the grant money received.
  • The applicant must agree that, in the event of default of its obligations, the applicant shall repay to the BCIC the amount of grant funds it has received, with interest, at the rate of 10% per annum, within thirty (30) days after the BCIC notifies the applicant of the default. The form of such payment shall be a cashier’s check or money order, made payable to the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation.
  • In-kind contributions to the improvements by the applicant will not be considered as an expenditure by the applicant. Only cash expenditures by the applicant may be used in calculating the cost of improvements.
  • The applicant must certify that the applicant does not employ, nor will it employ any undocumented workers (an individual who, at the time of employment, is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence to the United States or authorized under law to be employed in that manner in the United States). The applicant must agree that if, after receiving grant funds, it is convicted of a violation under 8 U.S.C. Section 1324a(f), the applicant shall repay the amount of the grant funds received by the applicant, with interest, at the rate of 10% per annum, within thirty (30) days after the BCIC notifies the applicant of the violation.
  • The BCIC shall have the authority to bring a civil action to recover any amounts that the applicant must repay to the BCIC under paragraph 22, 23, and 24 of this Section, and in such action may recover court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
  • The applicant must agree to allow the City of Brownsville, Main Street Brownsville and BCIC to promote the project and property including, but not limited to, using photographs and descriptions of the project and property in printed promotional materials, press releases, websites, and social media outlets.
  • Building owners and business owners agree to have a sign / banner placed on their building during the project and for up to 30 days after the completion of the project to acknowledge the BIG Grant Program. The sign will be provided by BCIC.
  • Applicants whose project is determined to be a historically designated building or located within the City of Brownsville Historic District must first obtain written certification and/or Administrative Review Approval of the project from the City of Brownsville Historic Preservation office. Office contact information: Juan M. Velez, 1034 E. Levee St., 2nd Floor, Brownsville; Phone: (956) 548-6142; Email: 

Documents & Requirements 

  • Site Location Selected
  • Business Plan
  • One Year Pro Forma
  • Construction Documents
  • Property Improvement Quotes
  • Financial Documents (Proof of Funding)
  • Job Creation (Minimum of 2 Weekly Employees, 1099/W-2)
  • Be Open minimum of 5 Days a Week

How the Program Works

Reimbursement Grant Agreement


Property Improvements 2.0

80/20 MATCH • $80,000 MAX

Eligible Cost:

  • Outdoor Signage 
  • Exterior Facade Improvements
  • Outdoor Seating
  • Permanent Landscaping
  • Windows & Doors Replacements/Repairs
  • Roof Replacement/Repairs
  • Awnings & Canopies
  • Exterior Lighting and Security
  • Interior Lighting and Security
  • Interior Flooring
  • Interior Build Outs including interior walls, painting

Who is Eligible:

  • Owners of Commercial Property Buildings
  • Business Tenants that want to make quality exterior improvements
  • Investors/Developers

Property Improvements with Vertical Activation 2.0

80/20 MATCH • $200,000 MAX

Eligible Cost:

  • Activation of 2 or more floors. 
  • Everything included in BIG 2.0 for first floor (Commercial Business Only)
  • Funds to assist with additional entrances and exits, elevators, fire escapes, private parking on the property
  • 2nd and above floors can be a mixed-use. 

Who is Eligible:

  • Owners of Commercial Property Buildings
  • Business Tenants occupying vacant commercial properties
  • Investors/Developers

Rent Subsidy Assistance 2.0

UP TO $12,000

Eligible Cost:

  • Months 1 – 6: 60% or $1,200
  • Months 7 – 12: 40% or $800

Who is Eligible:

  • Retail and Specialty Stores
  • Dining, Bars & Night Clubs
  • Cultural Venues
  • Professional Offices
  • Services
  • Manufacturing & Industrial


See the geographical area of Historic Downtown Brownsville where our BIG Grants Apply

Ready to Apply?



The Downtown Brownsville Business Improvement and Growth (BIG) Programs are grants offered by the Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC), in partnership with the City of Brownsville and Main Street Brownsville, to provide financial support to commercial property owners and tenants to make quality exterior and interior improvements to their commercial buildings and property in downtown Brownsville.

Our BIG Grants Program goals include: (1) Encourage property investment that directly relates to improving the aesthetics of building and places in Downtown Brownsville; (2) Expand business and employment opportunities in existing and deteriorated structures; (3) Enhance the visitors experience at our downtown attractions; (4) Help new and existing businesses succeed by enhancing their curb appeal; and Increase commercial property values.

With the launch of our BIG Grant 2.0 Program, BCIC is proud to partner with the Musk Foundation to boost and accelerate Brownsville’s downtown revitalization efforts through one of the organization’s most effective programs. The BIG Grant 2.0 Program exists in the heart of Historic Downtown Brownsville, while the original BIG Grant programs boundaries include the greater downtown area and travel corridors.

We encourage you to read the guidelines thoroughly and contact Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation (BCIC) and/or City of Brownsville’s Downtown District Manager to set up an appointment to discuss your project and grant process. Contact information is below.


BIG Grant Programs Contact:
Cori Peña, Director of Community Development
500 East Saint Charles, Brownsville, TX 78520
Miriam C. Suarez, Economic Development Specialist
500 East Saint Charles, Brownsville, TX 78520