Feb 4, 2021
This afternoon, I was in receipt of a letter from Dr. John Hellerstedt, the Texas Commissioner of Health, notifying me that Trauma Center Service Area “D” is no longer an area of high hospitalizations. I am, in turn, notifying the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission of my intent to “opt-in” once again to allow bars and similar establishments to reopen at 50% of capacity. Other businesses to go back to operating at 75% of capacity. These are private businesses, some, however are governed by the state. Additionally, hospitals may resume elective surgeries.

My reaction to this change is simply this: While I am certainly encouraged by the progress we have made over the last week, but I caution that this encouragement is guarded at best. The public should remain vigilant and responsive to the threat that COVID-19 continues to pose to our County. This virus continues to spread through the community through personal contact with persons outside of the immediate household. Tracing has shown us that this exposure is occurring at schools, workplaces, and those gatherings with friend groups and family members outside of their own household.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the reopening of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan initiative for new and existing borrowers. This round of the PPP authorizes up to $284 billion in potentially forgivable loans that can be applied to job retention and certain other expenses through March 31, 2021. For the most up-to-date information from the SBA on the new "First Draw" and "Second Draw" PPP loans, visit their website.

New applicants can apply for PPP loans through SBA approved "7a" lenders including many Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). For more information, please read the SBA's press release. To locate a lender near you, use the SBA Lender Match toolExisting PPP loan recipients should work with their current lender to apply for loan forgiveness. 

The SBA has also reopened Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications through December 31, 2021. The program is now accepting applications from all eligible businesses. The EIDL provides long-term, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations suffering a substantial economic injury due to COVID-19. For more information, visit the SBA's Disaster Loan webpage. Small business owners requesting loan reconsideration should e-mail PDC.Reconsideration@sba.gov.

For more information, watch the latest Governor's Small Business Webinar on the new round of PPP funding on our YouTube channel
The Governor's Office of Small Business Assistance, in partnership with the Texas Music Office, will provide an update on the Shuttered Venue Operator’s (SVO) Grant. The webinar will focus on the information required for small businesses to get ready to apply for the new grant through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

Senator John Cornyn, author of the new bill that enacted this funding, will open the event. The expert panel will include Tim Jeffcoat, District Director of the SBA in Houston, and Blayne Tucker, music industry lawyer, venue operator and champion of the new bill.

The panel will answer questions live during the webinar. We hope you will join us for this informative virtual event!

Economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas predicted Friday that Texas will see 4.2% job growth this year, which amounts to the state adding 518,000 jobs. “Which is quite strong,” said Keith Phillips, assistant vice president and senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

He said, “But even at 4.2%, we’re going to be slightly below pre-pandemic jobs so we won’t catch up to where we were prior to the pandemic.”

Phillips said the COVID-19 vaccine will help drive economic growth in the second half of the year and possibly as early as the second quarter.

Last year, he said Texas fared better than the rest of the country.

While the number of jobs nationally fell by 6.2% in 2020, they decreased by only 4.5% in Texas.

U.S. B-1B bombers will deploy to Norway for the first time, in both a message to Russia and a sign of the growing importance of the Arctic. B-1Bs from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, will fly out of Orland Air Base on the coast of the Norwegian Sea. While bombers have repeatedly flown alongside Norwegian aircraft, this will be the first time Lancers will operate out of a base in the country, according to U.S. European Command.

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

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.

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.