March 12, 2021
COUNCIL GIVES NOD TO TASK FORCE TO STUDY 'ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT' IN DOWNTOWN, SODA
The Abilene City Council approved Thursday creating a task force, in partnership with the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, to study the pros and cons of an entertainment district downtown and in the South of Downtown Abilene (SoDA) District that would allow people to carry open containers of beer or wine.

District concept
The proposed entertainment district would allow for a person to walk into an establishment that has a beer or wine license for on-premise consumption, purchase a drink and then carry that as they walk to retail shops or other restaurants or bars in the designated area, City Manager Robert Hanna told the council.

Mixed beverages have a different type of permit, Hanna said, which may prevent people leaving an establishment with them.
The task force will include Hanna, the city attorney, chamber representatives and interested businesses or residents, Hanna said.
"It's not meant to be an exclusive list, but certainly a manageable group," he said.

The item was proposed by Councilman Weldon Hurt, who said that business owners in the SoDA District and another business in Abilene's main downtown contacted him about the possibility.

ECONOMY NEARS RETURN TO PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS
The recession caused by COVID-19 and the subsequent recovery have been unique compared to previous economic contractions. Most importantly, the rebound has been stronger and quicker compared to previous recessions.

What’s happening? The size of the economy should match its size prior to COVID-19 in the coming days. At the end of 2019, before COVID-19, the economy was about $19.3 trillion in total. By the end of the second quarter of 2020 it had contracted to $17.3 trillion. In the next couple of weeks, either before the end of the first quarter or early in the second quarter, the economy should surpass that $19.3 trillion level.
A recovery of a year to the previous peak is rapid. By comparison, it took from the end of 2007 to the middle of 2011 for the economy to get back to where it had been prior to the 2007-2009 Great Recession. That is 3-and-a-half years compared to a year.

Even more encouraging is that the economy’s size should surpass where it would have been had the COVID-19 recession never struck by late this year. That means it will be larger than the track we were on in less than a year-and-half. That is remarkable given how far we fell less than a year ago.

However, growth will have to remain above the previous trend for some time to make up the lost output during the recession and recovery.

Big picture. The causes of this strong recovery are many. The economy was in solid shape pre-COVID. The recession was caused by the virus, not something that occurred in the economy. The strong footing the economy was on, and that the COVID recession did not expose any bubbles or imbalances in the economy, put it in a good place to recover once the virus subsides. The enormous government response on from both the fiscal and monetary sides has also contributed greatly. 

—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT SMALL BUSINESS UPDATE
The U.S. Chamber, the National Restaurant Association, and CO— will be sharing an exclusive Small Business Update on the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act and how it could impact small businesses and restaurants TODAY, March 12, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Click here to register.
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.