April 6, 2021
ABILENE CHAMBER: PULSE ON EMPLOYMENT CHALLENGES
The Abilene Chamber and Abilene Industrial Foundation continue to hear a recurring theme from conversations with the business community about lack of available workforce. While not unique to Abilene, your Chamber is working to find creative resources for you and your business. Please complete this short two-minute survey to help our team determine the best course of action.
TEXAS ECONOMIC SNAPSHOT: FEBRUARY
The Texas economy continues to recover from the impacts of the global pandemic and remains one of the strongest and most diverse economies in the nation. Below is a snapshot of the state's economic status:

Unemployment Rate: 6.9%
Workforce: 14 million
Manufacturing Activity: Expanded
Trade, Transportation and Utilities: 14,800 jobs added
New Projects Announced: 39
Capital Investment Announced: $354.3 million
Texas exports: approximately $27.36 billion

With the travel climate improving, scheduled flights are increasing. There are an average of 3,885 daily departures each way scheduled for April 2021. (Airline Data Inc.)

For the full snapshot, click here.
ABILENE CITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS CHANGE IN DOWNTOWN HOTEL CONSTRUCTION FIRM
A "design-build" agreement with DPR Construction for the city's planned downtown convention center hotel is on Thursday's Abilene City Council agenda.

Also to be discussed are a number of plans for airport improvements and appointment of a board to study an "entertainment district" downtown.

"This is not a notice to proceed," City Manager Robert Hanna clarified in a media briefing Monday. "So it doesn't mean we approve this and then we suddenly start construction on the hotel."

The step is an important one, Hanna said, though exactly when the project would start seeing overt forward motion still is "dynamic."

HUMANITIES TEXAS ANNOUNCES WINTER STORM RECOVERY GRANTS
Humanities Texas invites Texas cultural and educational institutions that suffered losses or damages to humanities collections as a result of the February 2021 winter storm, or incurred costs related to resuming humanities programming that was postponed or cancelled as a result of the storm, to apply for fast-track Recovery Grants.

For more information about eligibility, allowable costs, and the application process, visit the Humanities Texas website.

Humanities Texas will accept online applications through April 30, 2021. Please use the online form to apply.
SBA EYES EARLY APRIL TO BEGIN RESTAURANT REVITALIZATION FUND ROLLOUT
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is targeting early April to launch a phased rollout of the $28.6 billion Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), a senior SBA official testified during a Senate Small Business Committee hearing.

The American Rescue Plan Act, P.L. 117-2, created the RRF to provide restaurants with grants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, up to $10 million per entity, or $5 million per physical location. Restaurants and bars have been among the hardest hit businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, and members of the Senate Small Business Committee pushed for answers on how quickly the program could be launched.

The grant funds may be used to pay for the following eligible expenses:
  • Payroll costs;
  • Principal and interest payments on a mortgage, not including any prepayments on principal.
  • Rent payments, not including prepayments;
  • Utilities;
  • Maintenance expenses including construction to accommodate outdoor seating and walls, floods, deck surfaces, furniture, fixtures, and equipment;
  • Supplies including personal protective equipment and cleaning materials;
  • Food and beverage expenses within the eligible entity's scope of normal business practice before the covered period, which runs from Feb. 15, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2021, or another date as determined by the SBA;
  • Covered supplier costs;
  • Operational expenses;
  • Paid sick leave; and
  • Any other expenses the SBA determines to be essential to maintaining the eligible entity.

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

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 10 THE 69TH TEXAS PANHANDLE POISON CENTER ABILENE MEDICATION CLEANOUT will be hosted by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) from 10 AM - 2PM at 1674 Pine Street (TTUHSC Campus). The Medication Cleanout uses a drive-through, drop-off format event and the collections provide a safe way for residents to dispose of unused, unwanted or expired medications in a free, legal and
environmentally sound manner. Click here for more information.

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.

APRIL 14 ACRONYM SOUP - GOVERNMENT TERMINOLOGY In Government Contracting there’s an Acronym for everything! SAM, IDIQ, BPA, MAS, MPIN, WAWF, & SDVOSB…just to name a few. Join Northwest Texas PTAC, Program Director Rich Lyles as he takes some of the mystery out of several common acronyms that government market partners are likely to encounter.

APRIL 21 MOCK DISCOVERY REQUEST: A CASE ANALYSIS Perhaps you haven't dealt with electronic discovery for a while/are comfortable with the next steps and/or are just looking for an outside resource to help confirm & support a current or upcoming case. Eide Bailly will be reviewing the discovery process by answering common questions from the electronic evidence standpoint.

APRIL 21 HR TRENDS IN 2021 Eide Bailly's HR Consulting Leaders will discuss inclusion and diversity, the importance of a focus on mental health and well-being, work flexibility, and changes in the areas of recruitment and employee engagement.

APRIL 22 AYP AFTER FIVE We've missed you! Join us at our first in-person networking event of 2021. We'll enjoy gathering again with our young professional community over drinks, eats and overlooking downtown Abilene at the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. Register here.

APRIL 28 ZOOM FOR MEETINGS Are you having issues using Zoom, or are you just looking to get the most out of your remote business meetings? If so, than this training is perfect for you. In this post COVID-19 business environment, learning how to use Zoom is more important than ever. Register here.