Feb 11, 2021
For the safety of our staff, our offices will be closed today. However, everyone is a phone call, text or email away. Stay safe and warm out there!

Get in touch with staff here.
The Comptroller’s most recent edition of Fiscal Notes takes a closer look at some of the industries most affected by the pandemic such as leisure and hospitality providers, restaurants and bars, retailers, passenger airlines, and hospitals. Texas’ unemployment rate spiked at 13.5% in April 2020, and by November 1.15 million Texans remained unemployed. Low-wage workers, disproportionately employed in service industries, bore the brunt of job losses.
Restaurants and bars suffered the heaviest total losses, falling by 10.1% or 112,500 jobs. Arts, entertainment, and recreation industries experienced the greatest percentage decline at 29.6% or 42,800 jobs. Texas has more than 500 hospitals, more than any other state, that have struggled to meet unprecedented demand and have lost significant revenue by being forced to cancel or curtail non-emergency services. On the other hand, some industries are thriving such as wine and liquor companies who are showing strong year-over-year growth thanks to increased sales at grocery and liquor stores.
The article notes that 2021 holds a lot of economic uncertainty. These differences in the degree certain sectors have been affected has raised concerns over a "K-shaped recovery" in which different sectors, industries, and employee groups fare differently. These disparities will “make our recovery more challenging” with some groups recovering over time, and others remaining in recession. One bright spot is the way the public, businesses, schools and others have risen to the occasion by restructuring their workplace practices and accelerating their use of technology.
The Office of Texas Economic Development has released a snapshot of Texas' current economic status. In December, Texas added 27,000 Professional/Business jobs, 20,100 Trade/Transportation/Utilities jobs, and 6,600 Education/Health Services jobs. The unemployment rate fell to 7.2%, and continues to remain lower than the 13.5% spike in April. More highlights from the snapshot can be found below:
  • In November, Texas exports totaled approximately $23.58 billion, up from $15.8 billion in May
  • Initial unemployment claims through January 16 continue to be lower than the highest spike in April
  • In December, service sector activity experienced a slight increase and retail sales activity remained steady
  • Hotel occupancy was 25% in mid-April, but has increased to 40-45% for most of November and early December
  • Air passenger throughputs on November 29 were the highest since the start of the pandemic
  • 80% of American travelers have plans to take a leisure trip sometime in 2021
The Governor’s Committee to Support the Military recently released their 2020 report with recommendations for policy changes and legislative action to improve education, health care, quality of life, workforce development, encroachment, and infrastructure as they relate to the military community of Texas. 
“I am grateful for the Committee’s hard work in developing meaningful recommendations that will improve the lives of our military members and their families,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “The 15 major military installations and Army Futures Command in Texas are not only critical to our nation’s defense, they also add over $123 billion to the state’s economy and support, directly and indirectly, more than 633,000 jobs in communities across this great state. As we work this Legislative Session to unleash the full might of the Texas economy, we must ensure that the nearly 2 million military service members and veterans, and their families, who call Texas home have the resources they need to prosper. With the guidance of this Committee, we are one step closer to that important goal.”

Click here to read the recommendations.
On Jan. 22, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statewide directive asking local Chambers of Commerce to work with state emergency management officials to make COVID-19 Rapid Test kits available to employers.

The Abilene Chamber of Commerce has agreed to serve as a test kit distributor on a first-come, first served basis. Each test kit will contain 40 tests and can be administered by the employer in the event a suspected infection exists in the workplace which will in return allow employees to resume work more safely and quickly.

“From the Chamber’s perspective, it is our hope that by indicating a downward trend among those tested we may see a more rapid and full reopening of our local economy,” said Doug Peters, President & CEO of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. “Testing through use of these free test kits is entirely voluntary.”

Learn how you can participate here.
To help you with the economic uncertainty and to help forecast recovery, your Chamber in partnership with America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Texas Tech, is pleased to bring you an Economic Outlook Seminar on March 2 featuring renowned economist Dr. Mark Dotzour.

Dr. Mark G. Dotzour is a real estate economist who served for 18 years as Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University in College Station. He has given more than 1,600 presentations to more than 295,000 people and has written over 90 articles for magazines and journals. His research findings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Money Magazine and Business Week.

Prior to Dr. Dotzour, we’ll hear from local business leaders on what the local economy has been up to from different representatives of our economy: Jon Loudermilk, Homes By Design; Mike Fernandez, Texas National Bank; Jessica Adams, Vagabond Pizza; Nathan Lowry, Big Country Title; and David Smith, America's SBDC at Texas Tech. From the housing market, to oil and gas, to real estate, to retail, to banking these individuals know their stuff and we’re pleased they’ll be able to join us to help share more on what has been happening in their area of our business community.

While uncertainty still lingers, there’s still a lot to be hopeful and thankful for. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to learn first-hand what the economic outlook for our area looks like on March 2, 2021. Thanks to our partners America's SBDC at Texas Tech, Big Country Title, Homes by Design, Texas National Bank, Funeral Directors Life, Lawrence Hall - Abilene, the Abilene Industrial Foundation, and the Development Corporation of Abilene for supporting the event.

Click here to purchase tickets.
You don't want to miss these upcoming events for
your business.

FEB 17 GOVERNOR'S SMALL BUSINESS WEBINAR: UPDATES ON THE NEW ROUND OF PPP FUNDING Join us for the next Governor's Small Business Webinar for an update on the new round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding and other recovery resources through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Our panel of experts, including senior executives from the SBA and Small Business Development Centers, will provide up-to-date information on the PPP application process, loan forgiveness and other pandemic assistance for Texas small businesses and entrepreneurs. The virtual event will also feature a live Q&A with our expert panel. Register here.

FEB 11 STARTING A NEW BUSINESS Hosted by Content Director Jeanette Mulvey, at 12 PM this webinar encourages interactive discussion focused on giving you the information and insight you need to start up smartly and smoothly, even under tough conditions. You'll learn how to define your audience and find your niche, then pitch your idea to potential investors. Register here.

FEB 17 BUSINESS EDGE: FOCUED ON SOLUTIONS Business Edge is an opportunity for business professionals at all levels to discuss topics in a small group with other professionals. This webinar will be held during lunch (12PM - 1PM) with Eide Bailly  providing an overview of a topic and the rest of the participants providing input through idea generation and sharing. This is designed for the business professional who is solution-focused and is energized by small group dialogue. Register Here.

FEB 18 BUSINESS BEFORE AFTER HOURS Before you head out for the day, tune in to the zoom link found here from the comfort of your at-home office or office as we meet to end the day on a positive note making business connections at Business Before After Hours! This zoom meeting will begin at 4:00 PM. Links and more information here.

FEB 23 AYP AND THE DALLAS STARS Your AYP Committee is actively looking for ways to bring value to your membership and are excited to bring you an opportunity to hear from Executive Vice President, Business Operations and General Counsel for the Dallas Stars National Hockey League - Alana Matthews. Join us at 11:00 AM on zoom. Click here for more information.

FEB 24 AND 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! Join us at 9:00 AM to discuss common problems, and potential solutions all entrepreneurs may face. Click here for Feb 24 information.

FEB 24 MICROSOFT 365 PRODUCTIVITY & PLANNING Get the most out of your Microsoft 365 applications! In this training we’ll show you how to use the tools available in Microsoft 365 to maximize your business’s productivity and organization. This virtual webinar event is free and open to the public. Register here.

FEB 25 TABLE FOR 10 LUNCH EVENT Abilene Young Professionals presents our newest networking opportunity - Table for 10. Join us at 12:00 PM noon at Betty Rose's Little Brisket for conversation and networking! Click here to sign up.

FEB 25 TABLE FOR 10 EVENING EVENT Abilene Young Professionals presents our newest networking opportunity - Table for 10. Join us at 5:30 PM to meet new people and enjoy great food, with an appetizer on the house thanks to our partner at Betty Rose's Little Brisket! Click here to sign up.

MARCH 2 2021 ECONOMIC OUTLOOK To help you with the economic uncertainty and to help forecast recovery, your Chamber in partnership with America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Texas Tech, is pleased to bring you an Economic Outlook Seminar on March 2 featuring renowned economist Dr. Mark Dotzour. Please join us at 10:30 AM via zoom. Click here for more information.

MARCH 6 ABILENE ZOO At 10:00 AM the Abilene Zoo will host its Grand Opening of the Madagascar Exhibit. Click here to set a reminder.

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.