April 30, 2021
The Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) offers grant awards to restaurants and other hard-hit food service enterprises. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses no later than March 11, 2023. Women, veterans, minorities, and other socially and economically disadvantaged persons are the priority groups in the first 21 days of the application period.  
Owners can apply through SBA-recognized Point of Sale (POS) vendors or directly via SBA in a forthcoming online application portal: https://restaurants.sba.gov. Eligible entities who have experienced pandemic-related revenue loss include:
  • Restaurants
  • Food stands, food trucks, food carts
  • Caterers
  • Bars, saloons, lounges, taverns
  • Snack and nonalcoholic beverage bars
  • Bakeries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Brewpubs, tasting rooms, taprooms (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Breweries and/or microbreweries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Wineries and distilleries (onsite sales to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Inns (onsite sales of food and beverage to the public comprise at least 33% of gross receipts)
  • Licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase products
Registration for the SBA application portal will begin on Friday, April 30, 2021, at 8:00 am CT.  Applications will open on Monday, May 3, 2021, at 11:00 am CT.

We learned today that the U.S. economy grew at 6.4% in the first quarter of this year. We were expecting growth of around 6%, so this was higher than our expectations.

The economy grew 4.3% in the 4th quarter of 2020. The growth last quarter is a pickup from that decent pace. The economy benefitted from rising vaccinations, lower virus cases, and a fresh infusion of government stimulus checks in February and March. Consumption, business investment, real estate, and government spending were all up.

Big picture: The strong growth last quarter is the latest sign of the remarkable recovery the economy has had from the COVID-19 recession. This is a testament to the underlying strength of the U.S. economy prior to the pandemic, the incredibly strong tendency of the economy to grow absent outside catastrophes and bad policies, the excellent response from the Federal Reserve, and the large fiscal support from Congress.
The economy has now grown enough since the second quarter of last year, when it bottomed out because of the COVID-19 shutdown, that it is now roughly the same size it was before the pandemic struck. Since the recession didn’t start until late March, this means it took a year for it to rebound. That is one-third the time it took for the economy to reach its size prior to the Great Recession, when it took more than 3 years to recover.

Even more remarkably, the economy could return to the size it would’ve been had COVID-19 never interrupted its growth by late this year and then grow above that level. It will take growing above the previous trend for a long time to replace the lost output during the shutdown, but this is still great news.
Looking ahead: The economy is going to grow even faster the rest of the year as vaccinations rise and case levels fall, allowing the beleaguered service sector to revive. We are anticipating growth of 10% in the second quarter and more than 7% in the third quarter.

The downside risks are rapid inflation (which grew 3.5% in Q1), an unanticipated viral surge, and large policy shifts from Washington. Absent those events, we should enjoy economic growth at levels we haven’t seen in many years.

—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
State lawmakers are sending the Governor a bill that would permanently let people buy alcohol to-go from Texas restaurants. The measure heads to Greg Abbott's desk after the Texas Senate gave near unanimous approval to the measure Wednesday. North Texas Republican Kelly Hancock, who sponsored the bill in the upper chamber, said it will help the restaurant industry bounce back from the pandemic, "Making tools for alcohol to-go permanent will accelerate the industry's recovery, supporting thousands of jobs and small businesses." 
The Governor issued a waiver last March allowing to-go alcohol sales.(Source:KACU)
U.S. Travel continues to fiercely advocate for the restart of all segments of travel, engaging with the Biden administration and members of Congress on the critical needs of our industry.

Last week, the World Travel & Tourism Council released their annual economic impact data for the U.S., underscoring the devastating losses of the travel and tourism industry with figures that align with U.S. Travel’s own 2020 estimates. The steep declines in spending, jobs and economic output make it clear that an overall U.S. economic recovery hinges on a revival within the travel sector—and, as the world’s largest tourism economy, the U.S. will be key in driving the global tourism economic recovery as well.

As other parts of the world take steps forward to lay plans for reopening travel, U.S. Travel is leading with the development of a blueprint for reopening international inbound travel to the U.S. Key messages include communicating steps the federal government can take to welcome back visitors from around the world and the need for the creation of a data-driven, risk-based roadmap in the month of May, defining clear benchmarks to reopen all international inbound travel by July 2021.

In addition, U.S. Travel has partnered with two academic institutions on white papers to educate federal (including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state policymakers on the potential for safe professional meetings and events (PMEs) and to encourage the endorsement of PME guidelines as a means to differentiate a business meeting from other mass gatherings. A full campaign including resources for the industry to engage elected officials on this topic will be shared in the coming weeks.
Internships are professional learning experiences that offer meaningful, practical work to a student’s field of study or career interest. An internship gives students the opportunity to gain knowledge, career development, and to grow useful skills for future jobs. Interns can bring new positive energy and insight to the workplace. 

We asked the Spring intern for the Abilene Industrial Foundation, Mary Moore, to share about her experience this semester. Take a look at the link!

Looking for an intern? Be sure and post your opportunity on abileneworks.com.
Eligibility for the Chamber’s Business Spotlight of the Week is just one of the benefits of partnering with us. Along with a highlight in our Monday Morning Memo and on our social media pages, Businesses of the Week also are featured on 95.1 The Wolf and 96.1 Q Country for an entire week. That’s 42 mentions and a $500 value in radio advertising all at no cost to you, our valued partner!

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

MAY 3 GREAT WEST TEXAS ECONOMIC REBOOT RIBBON CUTTING Join us on Monday, May 3 as we close Cypress Street for about an hour and celebrate the official reopening of this economic highway that we call Abilene. We’ll be at the corner of North 2nd and Cypress (by the cool new park) at 3:30 pm sharp. (Note: in the meantime, the economy is open – please keep spending local!) Set a reminder.

MAY 4 SALUTE TO SMALL BUSINESS LUNCHEON The Abilene Chamber of Commerce will be spotlighting the individuals and businesses who, through their independent entrepreneurial spirit, play a vital role in building the community and the economy. To be nominated is a reward in itself and a nomination serves as a great tribute to a company’s leadership and employees. All small business nominees and recipients will be recognized at the Salute to Small Business Luncheon. Register here.

MAY 5 SMALL BUSINESS WEEK WAKE UP WEDNESDAY Our regularly scheduled Wake Up Wednesday sponsored by First Financial Bank and America's SBDC with a focus toward small businesses and Small Business Week. Register here.

MAY 6 WEST TEXAS ENTREPRENEURSHIP BOOTCAMP You have the idea and the determination to make it happen, and we have the entrepreneurship resources to help you take your idea or business to the next level. Details here.

MAY 18 GLOBAL FORUM ON ECONOMIC RECOVERY Why it matters: As we look towards recovery, it's clear that investing in U.S. competitiveness and working with our international allies and partners will be critical to building a better and more inclusive future–creating healthier communities, supporting entrepreneurship, and expanding access to innovative technologies. Details here.