March 17, 2021
ABILENE HOUSING MARKET HITS RECORD LOW INVENTORY
Abilene’s housing market’s inventory is at a record low, with less than 150 homes for sale right now. 

“So, there is no inventory out there. Not to say that there aren’t homes still selling, but the supply is certainly low,” said Shay Senter, president of Senter Realtors. 

Normally, Abilene would see 400-500 homes on the market, but with the low rates and houses selling fast, Abilene is at a record low of only 150 homes on the market. With that, comes a cost. 

COVID-19 RELIEF BILL KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
Restaurant Revitalization Fund. This new $28.6 billion grant program targets hard-hit restaurants and bars, with restaurants able to apply for grants based on lost gross revenue between 2019 and 2020. 
  • Restaurant owners that want to apply for RRF grants should immediately register with the government using the System of Award Management (SAM). To become active on the SAM system, you need to follow these steps:
  • First, create alogin.gov user account.
  • Sign up for a DUNS number (this typically takes 1-2 days to process).
  • Using your login.gov, DUNS number, and standard business info such as your Tax ID Number, register with SAM (it can take up to 2 weeks to get the SAM number).
  • Work with an accountant to prepare relevant paperwork that clearly shows your gross revenue loss in 2020 as compared to 2019.
  • Learn more

Shuttered Venue Operators grant program. This program hasn’t launched yet, but it’s expected to deliver $15 billion in aid to live venues, including movie theaters, concert spaces, and museums. Owners and operators eligible for the SVO grants can also apply for PPP funds. Find the guide on how to apply for these funds here.

Employee Retention Tax Credit extended. The ERTC has been extended for the third and fourth quarters of 2021. “That’s up to $7,000 per employee per quarter for four quarters,” said Bradley. “So if your business remains off, it hasn't recovered at the level it was in 2019, and you’re paying your employees, this is a really important tool.” More information on this program here.

Your Chamber will continue to update members with more information as it becomes available.
COVID-19 TESTS STILL AVAILABLE FOR FREE FOR ABILENE BUSINESSES
In early February, your Chamber leadership responded to a request from Governor Abbott's office to offer free COVID-19 tests to businesses.

Tests are still available for free should your business need them until early May.

Hear how the program helped our local small businesses and nonprofits from our partners at West Texas Rehab Center:

"The Abilene Chamber provided West Texas Rehab Center 240 COVID tests and 12 boxes of N95 masks. This gift made a huge impact on our organization in many ways.
 
In our Hospice of the Big Country department, employees are required by law to test for COVID a certain number of times per week in order to see our patients in nursing home facilities. As one can imagine, the cost of such requirements has been overwhelming. The amount of tests that were provided saved WTRC over $4,800 in testing supplies! Our nurses are also required to wear N95 masks, not the less expensive KN95 masks, when visiting a COVID positive patient, which unfortunately we have seen a lot of lately. The N95 masks saved us another $600! We have also been able to use the testing kits to test our other employees if they have an exposure to COVID. By utilizing the supplies given to us by the Chamber, it allowed us to provide testing on site, thus saving time in sending employees to other testing centers in town.
 
WTRC is a non profit facility, and financially planning for something like COVID wasn't exactly on anyone's radar prior to a year ago. The cost of keeping our patients and employees safe is exorbitant, but with the help of our community partners like the Abilene Chamber of Commerce providing over $5,400 in testing supplies, we can continue onward until we reach the end of this pandemic."

LEARN HOW TO CAPITALIZE ON THE B-21 ARRIVING TO OUR COMMUNITY
It’s no secret Abilene will soon be home to the B-21 Raider and we want to ensure YOU are prepared to work and secure contracts with Government. To arm you with the best proposal writing techniques, pricing methods and more, join us at our Government Contracting Training!
 
DATE: April 13, 2021
TIME: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
LOCATION: Community Foundation of Abilene
COST: $25 MAC Member (use promo code MAC Member)
          $30 Chamber members
          $60 Non-Chamber members

Leading the training session is Sandra Burns, CEO, and Greg Hansen, CFO, of Project Solutions, Inc. (PSI). PSI has managed over 700 projects in the US and internationally and provides technical assistance for the Small Business Administration. PSI is uniquely qualified to perform all facets of architectural and engineering, facility, business, and administrative services.

Attendance is limited for this full day workshop so register today HERE.
NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE SMALL BUSINESS FOR THIS YEAR'S SMALL BUSINESS AWARDS
You interact with hundreds of businesses each week. Now, think of those that are doing exceptional work, whose contributions to our community are elevating our region and who make your life just a little bit better. Got them in mind? Nominate them for the Small Business Awards Luncheon sponsored by America's SBDC at Texas Tech, Keep It Local Driven by First Financial Bank, Star Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram and Hyundai.

Deadline is March 31

NEW BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD The New Business of the Year Award is to recognize a new business Chamber member operating for more than one year and less than three years that has gained an expanding positive reputation. Nominees must have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees. Judging for this award will be based on potential community impact, use of innovation and technology as well as business growth.

SMALL BUSINESS YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR Chamber member, business owner who has owned their business for more than one year, under the age of 40 who has taken risks in business – started a new venture; expanded into a new area; taken on a difficult project; someone whose thinking is “outside the box”; an astute businessperson with a vision for the future.

THE COMMUNITY INVESTMENT AWARD is to recognize a local Chamber member business with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees, for its outstanding community service contributions such as special programs, partnerships, in-kind support of goods and services, employee volunteerism or other activities that have resulted in a positive impact on our community and citizens. Judges will consider all nominees for their impact, creativity, commitment and employee participation.

FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD This award honors a family-owned and operated business with less than 25 full-time employees. The owner must also serve as a majority owner and operator or bear principal responsibility for operating a small business with at least 10 years. They must demonstrate increased employment opportunities for family members and non-family members.

You don't want to miss these upcoming events for
your business.

MARCH 17 BUSINESS EDGE: Remote Work: Infrastructure Needs
Most companies in the last year were thrust into the decision to have more flexibility when it came to remote vs office work. In this month’s Business Edge, we’ll explore the infrastructure needs businesses need to be successful with our partners from Datroo Technologies. Register here.

MARCH 18 BUSINESS BEFORE AFTER HOURS SPONSORED BY TOLAR SYSTEMS, INC. Monthly evening social business networking event. Open to sponsor employees and guests, Chamber members and prospective members. Features a short presentation and update on Chamber activities. Register here.

MARCH 24 SECURITY AWARENESS Did you know your team is your first line of defense when it comes to your business’s cybersecurity? Learn how to boost your defenses by training your team on Security Awareness. This virtual webinar is free and open to the public. Register here.

MARCH 25 & 26, APRIL 1 & 2 ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL PHILANTHROPY VIRTUAL TRAINING SERIES The Friends of the Texas Historical Commission are leading this series on development training suited for large and small organizations from any discipline with limited development staff. They will highlight the best practices while facilitating dynamic group interactions to help attendees build and strengthen their fundraising "tool-kit" so they can more effectively and sustainably achieve their mission. Click Here to learn more and Click Here to Register Now.

APRIL 13 GOVERNMENT CONTRACT TRAINING Have interest in working with the government? Want to learn more about proposal writing techniques and pricing methods? Join us for this full day workshop on April 13 8:00 am - 4:00 pm featuring Sandra Burns, CEO, and Greg Hansen, CFO, of Project Solutions, Inc (PSI). Register here.