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Wells Fargo donates $20M to Houston small businesses in underserved communities

The donation comes from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million initiative focusing on racially and ethnically diverse small business owners disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Photo via Getty Images

More than 500 businesses in the Houston area will benefit from a $20 million donation made by Wells Fargo to the Houston Fund for Social Justice and Economic Equity.

The equity fund will distribute the money in the form of grants for the purchase of property, equipment, and other assets to support economic development in underserved communities throughout the region.

“Small businesses play an important role in the Houston economy, and it is a benefit for our city to provide every tool needed to help them succeed,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says in a Wells Fargo news release. “This Wells Fargo grant program will allow small business owners to innovate, expand, and evolve in a way that improves their investments while also maintaining our reputation as a great place for economic development and company growth.”

For more information about the Houston Equity Fund grants, visit houstonequityfund.com.

The $20 million donation comes from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million initiative focusing on racially and ethnically diverse small business owners who’ve been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Fostering an inclusive economic recovery and helping small businesses sustain themselves and grow in the wake of COVID-19 is a priority for us,” says Charlie Scharf, CEO of Wells Fargo. “As a company, we have a commitment to make the communities where we operate stronger, and to do it at a very local level.”

In the past, Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund has supported Houston small businesses through grants to LiftFund and the Houston Community College Foundation, and other local grants enabled nonprofits such as the University of Houston Foundation, Texas Black Expo, Impact Hub Houston, and the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans to serve entrepreneurs.

Money from the Open for Business Fund primarily benefits small businesses owned by Black, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American entrepreneurs.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston-based SynMax has closed its first round of funding. Photo via Getty Images

A Houston-based satellite data analytics company is celebrating an oversubscribed round of recent funding.

SynMax announced this week that it closed its seed round at $6 million with an oversubscription of $2 million. The startup is providing geospatial intelligence software as a service to customers within the energy and maritime industries. The technology combines earth observation imagery and key data sources for predictive analytics and artificial intelligence.

The company reports that all of the investment came from SynMax customers. The round was led by Houston-based Skylar Capital, an investment management firm focused on the natural gas market.

“I am very excited about SynMax and the problems they are solving," says Bill Perkins, founder and managing partner of Skylar Capital, in a news release. "Their dedicated and skilled team has taken a unique approach and made the products that SynMax create 'essential intelligence' in both the energy and maritime awareness domains.”

According to the release, the fresh funding will go toward expanding SynMax's team "to continue building its suite of energy products and advance development of its maritime domain awareness product."

Launched in May, the SynMax Energy product suite uses SynMax’s AI to provide the accurate and timely energy intelligence. SynMax Maritime is launching Theia — a maritime domain awareness platform — in early 2023.

Founded in 2021, SynMax is led by CTO Eric Anderson, who previously worked as an analyst at Skylar Capital, according to LinkedIn. Headquartered in Houston, SynMax is hiring employees from all over.

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