March 25, 2021
COVID-19 SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM OPENS APRIL 5 UNTIL FUNDS RUN OUT
Grants from $2,500 up to $50,000 are available. Total program funding: $500K+

The program is funded through a grant to the City of Abilene from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Coronavirus Aid, Relief Economic Security Act (CARES Act). Funds will be administered by the Community Foundation of Abilene. Grants will provide pandemic-relief grant funding to eligible small businesses impacted by COVID-19 that operate in Abilene, Texas. These funds do not need to be paid back.

Two public informational sessions will be held via zoom on March 29 and April 13.

Registration for the zoom sessions and more information on the application process can be found here.
CORONAVIRUS FEDERAL SMALL BUSINESS STIMULUS AID PROGRAMS
Between March 2020 and March 2021, Congress has passed multiple massive pieces of legislation to help individuals and businesses make it through the pandemic’s economic turmoil. These packages have included forgivable loans, direct payments, tax credits, grants, expanded unemployment benefits and more.

Both Trump and Biden administrations have implemented various programs and administrative changes throughout the pandemic. The most recent coronavirus bill is the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), signed into law by President Biden in March 2021.

Below are the top coronavirus aid programs and policy changes small businesses should know (click on each to learn more):


Click here for more information.
EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON TOURISM, ENERGY WEIGH ON TEXAS, NEW MEXICO, AND LOUISIANA
Economic performance within the individual states of the Eleventh District—Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana—reflected those states’ underlying relative dependence on the tourism and energy sectors in 2020 and the effects of COVID-19 cases and restrictions.
Overall, the U.S. experienced unprecedented economic swings because of the pandemic during 2020, with job losses in every industry, but particularly in leisure and hospitality and energy.

Employment Declines Widespread
The nation lost 10 million jobs from February to December 2020, an annualized rate of decline of 7.8 percent (Chart 1). Declines in Texas were less than the national average, while in Louisiana and New Mexico, they exceeded the U.S. average.
The pandemic most directly affected leisure and hospitality, with 3.8 million jobs lost nationally (a 26.2 percent annualized decline). Similarly, declines in this sector across the region ranged from 16.9 percent in Texas to 32.4 percent in New Mexico.

The share of total jobs in the sector was also a factor. Just before the pandemic, leisure and hospitality represented 11.1 percent of jobs in the U.S., 12.0 percent in Louisiana, 11.7 percent in New Mexico and 10.9 percent in Texas.

THIS MONTH'S ONE MILLION CUPS IS HOSTING JEFF CAROLI FROM SUN AND MOON FILMS
This upcoming "One Million Cups" will be partnering with Sun and Moon Films' own,
Jeff Caroli as he shares his experience with film, projects, and owning a business. Sun and Moon Films is a full service production and marketing company that shoots a variety of projects ranging from commercials, corporate communications, branded content, documentaries and feature film.

They have worked on projects alongside companies such as Intel, Oracle, Cisco, and Stanford University. Some of his notable work includes:


Sun and Moon is looking to expand its current Texas operations into West Texas and is looking forward to meeting everyone at the month’s One Million Cups!

Click here to view their homepage.
ENTER YOUR BUSINESS TO WIN A $25K PRIZE!
Applications for the U.S. Chamber’s annual Dream Big Awards for small businesses are now open!

Eligible applicants can enter to win up to two Business Achievement Awards, and all applicants will be considered for the Small Business of the Year Award (a $25,000 cash prize).  

The annual Dream Big Awards program honors the achievements of small businesses and highlights their contributions to America’s economic growth.

A BUSINESS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING REQUIREMENTS TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THE DREAM BIG AWARDS:
  • For-profit business operating for at least one (1) year primarily within the United States
  • Have less than 250 employees OR have gross revenues of less than $20 million in 2019 and 2020

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 31 ONE MILLION CUPS Are you an entrepreneur? Are you searching for a way to connect with other entrepreneurs to discover solutions for your small business needs? The Abilene Chamber of Commerce and McMurry University Center for Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship are excited to bring the Abilene community - 1 Million Cups! 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 7 WAKE UP WEDNESDAY SPONSORED BY HSU HOUSTON LANTRIP CENTER FOR LITERACY Monthly morning social business networking event. Open to sponsor employees and guests, Chamber members and prospective members. Features a short sponsor presentation, food/beverages, update on Chamber activities and door prizes. Register here.

APRIL 7 ABICHAT LUNCHEON SPONSORED BY ABILENE REGIONAL AIRPORT Our ABIChat luncheon series is back for 2021 with our first in-person luncheon of 2021on April 7th featuring community leader, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Financial Bank Texas, Ron Butler. Register here.

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.