March 26, 2021
The Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program administered by the Community Foundation of Abilene opens on April 5th! Grants from $2,500 up to $50,000 are available, and the total program funding is $500K+.

  • The program is funded through a grant to the City of Abilene, Texas Government from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Coronavirus Aid, Relief Economic Security Act (CARES Act).
  • Grants will provide pandemic-relief grant funding to eligible small businesses impacted by COVID-19 that operate in Abilene, Texas.
  • These funds do not need to be paid back.
  • Grant funds cannot be used to cover/reimburse any items or expenses that were already covered through another federal program (EIDL, PPP, etc.)

Two public informational sessions will be held via zoom on March 29 and April 13.

Registration for the zoom sessions and more information on the application process can be found here.
  • Additional CFAP 2 assistance of $20 per acre for producers of eligible flat-rate or price-trigger crops. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $4.5 billion to more than 560,000 producers.
  • An increase in CFAP 1 payment rates for cattle. USDA estimates additional payments of more than $1.1 billion to more than 410,000 producers.
  • Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills Program. USDA will invest approximately $80 million in additional payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton based on a formula set in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 that USDA plans to deliver through the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills program. 
FSA will automatically issue payments to eligible price trigger and flat-rate crop producers based on the eligible acres included on their CFAP 2 applications. Eligible producers do not need to submit a new CFAP 2 application. For a list of all eligible row-crops, visit USDA estimates additional payments of more than $4.5 billion to more than 560,000 producers, according to the mandated formula.
As a first step in retargeting existing programs, USDA will re-open sign-up of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) for at least 60 days beginning on April 5, 2021. USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) has committed at least $2.5 million to improve outreach for CFAP 2 and will establish partnerships with organizations with strong connections to socially disadvantaged communities to ensure they are informed and aware of the application process.
To read the full release, visit
New unemployment claims nationwide have fallen to their lowest level since the start of the pandemic, according to the U.S. Labor Department. Texas saw an uptick in people seeking benefits. Nearly 80,400 people in Texas filed initial unemployment claims last week. That's an almost 9% increase from the week before, when more than 73,000 people in the state applied for jobless benefits for the first time. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, more than 1.1 million Texans have received an unemployment payment in the last ten days. (Source: KACU)
For much of the pandemic we’ve heard about the k-shaped recovery,” where some industries are recovering sharply, while others continue to suffer. A similar situation is occurring among states when it comes to their labor markets. Some states still suffer enormous job losses compared to prior to the pandemic, while others have lost fewer. And one has added jobs.

What’s happening? The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports jobs by state and by industry. As of January, California had lost the most jobs (-1.74 million) compared to its employment level in February 2020. New York (-1.1 million), Texas (-620,000), Florida (-580,000), and Illinois (-475,000) have had the next biggest losses.

Those states are among the biggest states, so it makes sense they’d have the largest losses. Looking at losses as a percentage of February 2020 workforce, California (5th largest, -10%) and New York (2nd largest, -11%) are still high. However, Hawaii has seen the largest share of their workforce put out of work (-18%). New Mexico (-10%) and Nevada (-10%) are also in the top five.

On the flip side, Idaho is the only state that has added jobs (+9,000). Montana (-12,300), South Dakota (-12,400), Wyoming (-15,000), and Utah (-19,000) have had the least job losses. As a percentage of work force, Idaho (+1.2%), Utah (-1.2%), Arkansas (-1.7%), Montana (-2.5%), and South Dakota (-2.8%) have had the smallest losses as a size of their workforce.

What about industry job changes by states? Unsurprisingly, Leisure and Hospitality (-4.2 million) has lost the most jobs – this is why Hawaii ranks so high as a percentage of its workforce. California (-800,000), New York (-365,000), Florida (-290,000) have suffered the most losses in the industry.

Education and Health Services has lost the next most jobs (-1.2 million). New York (-172,000), California (-129,000), and Pennsylvania (-75,000) have had the most losses.

Learn more: If you would like more data on job losses by industry in other states, please contact me. We have the complete data ready and available for you.

—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
This Saturday Abilene Parks and Recreation is hosting two family friendly events. We learn about the Mayor’s Hike in the morning and the Easter Egg Hunt that evening.

You interact with hundreds of businesses each week. Now, think of those that are doing exceptional work, whose contributions to our community are elevating our region and who make your life just a little bit better. Got them in mind? Nominate them for the Small Business Awards Luncheon sponsored by America's SBDC at Texas Tech, Keep It Local Driven by First Financial Bank, Star Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram and Hyundai.

Deadline is March 31

NEW BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD The New Business of the Year Award is to recognize a new business Chamber member operating for more than one year and less than three years that has gained an expanding positive reputation. Nominees must have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees. Judging for this award will be based on potential community impact, use of innovation and technology as well as business growth.

SMALL BUSINESS YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR Chamber member, business owner who has owned their business for more than one year, under the age of 40 who has taken risks in business – started a new venture; expanded into a new area; taken on a difficult project; someone whose thinking is “outside the box”; an astute businessperson with a vision for the future.

THE COMMUNITY INVESTMENT AWARD is to recognize a local Chamber member business with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees, for its outstanding community service contributions such as special programs, partnerships, in-kind support of goods and services, employee volunteerism or other activities that have resulted in a positive impact on our community and citizens. Judges will consider all nominees for their impact, creativity, commitment and employee participation.

FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR AWARD This award honors a family-owned and operated business with less than 25 full-time employees. The owner must also serve as a majority owner and operator or bear principal responsibility for operating a small business with at least 10 years. They must demonstrate increased employment opportunities for family members and non-family members.

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

MARCH 26 POWERING TEXAS MEMBER UPDATE & DISCUSSION The Powering Texas team and industry experts will be discussing legislative priorities, the Texas energy grid, and upcoming priorities. 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.

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! Register here.

MARCH 31 BUSINESS STRATEGY: DYNAMIC FINANCIAL PLANNING The next Governor’s Small Business Webinar will offer guidance on dynamic financial planning for Texas small businesses and entrepreneurs. It is essential for all businesses to focus on cash flow management as they look ahead and plan for the future. Join us as we bring together a panel of experts to answer questions and advise business owners on tools and techniques for business planning and strategic cash flow management. This webinar will also provide an update from the U.S. Small Business Administration on federal funding and the recently passed American Rescue Plan Act. Register here.

APRIL 7 WAKE UP WEDNESDAY SPONSORED BY HSU HOUSTON LANTRIP CENTER FOR LITERACY Monthly morning social business networking event. Open to sponsor employees and guests, Chamber members and prospective members. Features a short sponsor presentation, food/beverages, update on Chamber activities and door prizes. Register here.

APRIL 7 ABICHAT LUNCHEON SPONSORED BY ABILENE REGIONAL AIRPORT Our ABIChat luncheon series is back for 2021 with our first in-person luncheon of 2021on April 7th featuring community leader, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of First Financial Bank Texas, Ron Butler. Register here.

APRIL 13 GOVERNMENT CONTRACT TRAINING Have interest in working with the government? Want to learn more about proposal writing techniques and pricing methods? Join us for this full day workshop on April 13 8:00 am - 4:00 pm featuring Sandra Burns, CEO, and Greg Hansen, CFO, of Project Solutions, Inc (PSI). Register here.