Jan 29, 2021
The Texas Governor’s Small Business webinar series reconvened Wednesday to update business owners on the newest round of Paycheck Protection funds. This new round offers insurance that small businesses will have improved opportunities to securing a loan. Some of the $284 billion total is set aside specifically for the smallest first-time and second-time PPP borrowers. Nestor Astorga, senior business advisor for COBRA in San Antonio, explained what business owners need to keep in mind if they want to get their loan forgiven, “So 60% or more should be used for payroll costs. And 40% or less for eligible non-payroll costs, which include rent, mortgage, utilities,” Astorga said.
In addition to covering additional expenses such as property damage costs, supplier costs, and worker protection expenditures, borrowers can now set their loans covered period between eight and 24 months depending on what they think is best. (Source: KACU)
The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported its initial estimate for GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2020 today. It showed the economy grew 4% to close a tumultuous year.

Details: The economy contracted 5% in the first quarter of 2020 as the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold. Then it plummeted more than 31% in the second quarter before rebounding more than 33% in the third quarter – both records that will likely never be beaten.
Why it matters: The 4% growth in the fourth quarter is about what forecasters anticipated. The resurgence of the virus in November and December certainly slowed growth. December saw the first monthly job loss since the height of the pandemic in April. Without the surge, the economy would have grown stronger.
Annually, the economy contracted 3.5% compared to 2019 (-2.5% on quarter-over-quarter basis). This is the first annual decline in GDP since 2009 and the Great Recession. The economy contracted 2.5% that year. 2020’s contraction is the largest annual decline since 1946 when the economy contracted because of the end of World War II.

Looking ahead: At its current pace, the economy will return to the size it was in December 2019, before the COVID-19 contraction began, sometime in the second quarter of 2021. That is a sharp bounce back considering how far the economy had fallen just a few months ago.

It will take the economy longer to get back to the size it would have been had the recession never occurred. The timing of hitting that mark will be determined by the rate of growth this year. Right now, the economy is tracking to grow strongly once we fully get over the virus. The services sector is eager to get back to work and consumers are equally eager to spend on services they have not been able to enjoy in almost a year now. With government support, a recovering labor market, and built-up savings, consumers should have the money to spend. We could see growth of 5% or more this year.
—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has new crop insurance coverage options this year designed to accommodate the wide variety of crops and cultivation practices across the United States.

Beginning with the 2020 crop year, farmers that double-crop some of their soybeans—but not the entire soybean crop—can purchase separate policies, depending on how those crops are cultivated. Wheat farmers, who frequently grow separate winter and spring wheat crops, now have similar options, as well.

In Texas, one of the changes with the most potential impact is the Enhanced Coverage Option (ECO). For the first time, many farmers will be able to buy an endorsement covering a portion of their deductible.

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JAN 29 TEXAS ECONOMIC OUTLOOK PANDEMICS AND THE TEXAS ECONOMY: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas will host its annual Texas Economic Outlook on January 29 virtually. At this event, Keith Phillips, assistant vice president and senior economist, will release the Dallas Fed’s 2021 forecast for Texas employment growth and share more details on the factors likely to influence Texas in 2021. Texas Economic Outlook will provide business and community leaders from across the state of Texas with the most up-to-date economic information to help them make informed business decisions. Register Now.

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.