March 4, 2021
The Abilene Chamber, on behalf of its members and affiliates, are actively pursing a pro-growth agenda for the 87th Texas Legislative Session that creates an environment that encourages job growth, population growth and entrepreneurship.

Take a look at some of the bills we're currently watching:

  • HB1195/SB372 - Taxes - Forgiveness of a loan made under the Paycheck Protection Program for franchise tax purposes
  • HB 593 - establishing an intergovernmental development corporation to foster minority- or women-owned construction businesses
  • HB1557 - Relating to the Texas Economic Development Act.
  • HB 1791 - Eligibility for job-training programs provided under the self-sufficiency fund

Click here to access the Chamber's Legislative Agenda or to reach out to our Government Affairs team.
Serving as the region's advocate for business at the local, state and federal levels, your Abilene Chamber has signed on to a coalition to urge the extension of the deadline for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) through Dec. 31, 2021.

Extending the PPP Deadline through the end of this year will ensure that the segment of small businesses facing the greatest obstacles will not get left behind.

To view the full coalition letter, click here.
Yesterday, your Abilene Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual 2021 Economic Outlook aimed to give local businesses and industries a forecast on what to expect for this year. The virtual event started with a look back at how various sectors of our local economy have handled the unique economic situation the pandemic created. Thank you to Jon Loudermilk, Homes By Design; Mike Fernandez, Texas National Bank; Jessica Adams, Vagabond Pizza; Nathan Lowry, Big Country Title; David Smith, America's SBDC at Texas Tech; and Calvin Davis, U.S. Small Business Administration for serving as our local panel of experts.
To purchase a recording of the event featuring former Chief Economist of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, Dr, Mark Dotzour, contact Stephanie Burke here.

Thank you to our sponsors who made the event possible: America’s SBDC at Texas Tech; Big Country Title; Homes by Design; Texas National Bank; Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company; Lawrence Hall Abilene; Abilene Industrial Foundation; Development Corporation of Abilene.
The Small Business Administration has some key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) which will be available for a limited amount of time to ensure America’s smallest businesses get exclusive access. If you are a small business owner with 20 employees or less, or are self-employed; there is new information for you. 

Please join us for a series of webinars hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration, Public Private Strategies Institute, & other stakeholders to hear about:
  • What steps you can take now to take advantage of this special opportunity, which closes at 5:00 P.M. EST, Tuesday, March 9th, 2021.
  • Additional changes and recent policy announcements made by Biden-Harris Administration
  • Have your questions answered by SBA Leadership

Mar. 3, 12:30 p.m. ET, Women Business Owners, Click here to register.
Mar. 4, 3:00 p.m. ET, Asian-American + Pacific Islander, Native American + Tribal Small Business Owners; Click here to register.
Mar. 5, 1:00 p.m. ET,  Black + African-American Small Business Owners, Click here to register.
Mar. 5, 3:00 p.m. ET, Hispanic Small Business Owners, Click here to register.
Mar. 6, 2:00 p.m. ET, Veterans, Self-Employed Business Owners, Click here to register.
Mar. 8, 3:00 p.m. ET, LGTBQ Business Owners, Youth Entrepreneurs, Restaurant Owners, Click here to register.
In a year full of economic data outliers, personal income stands out. It is supposed to fall during periods of economic contraction and remain down for some time after. And yet, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ release of income in January, it is now more than 12% higher than it was pre-pandemic. Keep in mind, the economy was doing really well back then. The tremendous rise in income is stunning.
By the numbers: Driving the year-over-year increase was a 10% increase in January alone. That is the second highest monthly increase on record, coming in behind only a 12.4% increase in April 2020. The economy is doing well, all things considered, and the underlying data show that. Wages and salaries of workers rose $7.2 billion, or 0.7%, in January compared to December. In normal times, this would be a large increase. The overwhelming reason income jumped so much last month was government transfers though. They rose $140 billion, representing more than 86% of the total monthly increase.

The government transfers were almost all the latest round of pandemic relief payments, the $600 per person checks that mostly went out in January. Supplemental unemployment insurance benefits also contributed to the rise in income. They increased about $20 billion in January.

Higher income lead to a 2.4% increase in spending, after consecutive declines in November and December. Spending should continue to rise because Americans were unable to spend all the additional income last month. Savings increased $328 billion in January alone. Americans have compiled more than $1.8 trillion in savings above normal in the last 11 months. Those savings are available to boost spending in the coming months.
Looking ahead: February is likely to see a pullback in income because of the end of the relief payments, but March could see another strong rebound if Congress passes another round of payments it is considering now. The economy is poised for major growth starting in earnest when vaccines drive the virus to levels that allow close-to-full reopening.

—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
You don't want to miss these upcoming events for
your business.

MARCH 4 CYBERSECURITY FOR SMALL BUSINESS Join the Abilene Chamber, the Abilene Industrial Foundation - Develop Abilene, and America's SBDC at Texas Tech for the fundamentals on cybersecurity for your small business. This "Cybersecurity for small business: The Fundamentals" webinar is intended to share the "how to's" of cybersecurity as recommended by NIST, the National Institute of Standard's and Technology. You, your team, your company or community group will learn the steps for understanding cybersecurity risks and the risks and the steps to mitigate them. Register here.

MARCH 5 FEDERAL HUBZONE OVERVIEW Are you in a HUBZone? Learn how to find out and what it means if you want to sell your product or service to the U. S. Government! Register here.

MARCH 10 HOW TO DEVELOP A CAPABILITIES STATEMENT Everyone knows what a great resume can do you’re their career, but what about a great resume for your company? Come learn about the basics of developing a Capabilities Statement. A Capabilities Statement is the “Resume for your business” and it tells potential clients who you are, what you do, and how you are different from your competitors. You’ll learn to identify the key components of a capabilities statement and identify how a strong Capabilities Statement can help you do more business in the public sector. 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.