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4/16 - COVID-19 Highlights for the Business Community

The following is our latest on coronavirus response and news:

  • TEXAS RRC DISCUSSES OIL PRORATION IN TEXAS: The Texas RRC heard over ten hours of testimony concerning whether or not the agency should get involved in determining oil production due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the oil industry. Some producers testified that due to the large decrease in market demand, storage will be full in 4 to 5 weeks, the cost of production exceeds the current market, and proration is the preventative measure that needs to be taken in order to ensure hundreds of thousands of oil-industry jobs are not lost. Others cautioned the RRC on involvement instead they recommended allowing for the market to self-regulate over-production. RRC Chairman Wayne Christian wrapped up the hearing by saying the commissioners will "deliberate and reconvene in the near future". The hearing in its entirety can be found here.

  • SBA AND DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY UPDATE THEIR PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM FAQ: The Paycheck Protection Program was established in Section 1102 of the CARES Act. The program was designed to provide forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. The US Department of Treasury previously released a PPP information sheet for borrowers. Additionally, the Small Business Association and the Treasury have updated their PPP FAQ that provides additional guidance for borrowers and lenders. The FAQ includes answers to questions related to eligibility, how to interpret statute, and program qualifications for lenders. The federal government will not challenge lender PPP actions that conform to this guidance. The document is updated on a regular basis and questions and answers in the FAQ include, but are not limited to:

  • Are small business concerns required to have 500 or fewer employees to be eligible borrowers in the PPP? No. Go to www.sba.gov/size for the industry size standards.

  • Does my business have to qualify as a small business concern in order to participate in the PPP? No.

  • Do PPP loans cover paid sick leave? Yes. Learn more about the Paid Sick Leave Refundable Credit here.

  • TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE ALLOWS FOR FLEXIBILITY IN COMMERCIAL PREMIUM ADJUSTMENTS AND MIDTERM PREMIUM AUDITS: TDI has allowed for flexibility in the conduction of audits for commercial policyholders that have reduced operations due to COVID-19


  • WHAT DOES REOPENING THE ECONOMY LOOK LIKE?: From lawmakers to employees, the big question on Americans' minds is when, and what will a return to work look like? It's a question that begs more questions. But according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, returning to work is certain to be gradual, phased-in, and will vary by factors such as location, sector, business type or size, and the health status of workers. 


  • In Texas: Governor Greg Abbott has announced that he will lay out Texas' plan for reopening the state in a briefing this coming Friday. This news comes after Lt. Governor Dan Patrick established a Business Task Force to re-start the state economy. While Governor Abbott's "stay at home order" is in place through April 30th, Lt. Governor Patrick has already made clear that he wants Texas to reopen by the first week of May. We expect to know on Friday whether this strategy is still in place.

  • U.S. CHAMBER UNVEILS SAVE SMALL BUSINESS INITIATIVE: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has launched the Save Small Business Grant Fund. Funded by contributions from corporate and philanthropic partners, the program provides $5,000 supplemental grants to small employers in economically vulnerable communities. Click here to see if your business is eligible.


  • SENATOR CRUZ MEETING: Earlier this week, Chamber members had the opportunity to join Senator Ted Cruz for a conversation surrounding the impact of COVID-19 on Chamber member businesses, updates on the CARES act, the latest from DC, and more. You can view that video here.

  • ECONOMIC IMPACT PAYMENTS: The first wave of the IRS' Economic Impact Payments should be deposited into accounts. If you have not yet received your payment, check the status here.

Previously shared updates


  • PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM LOCAL LENDERS: We're blessed in that Abilene's financial landscape is populated by strong, local institutions that qualify as SBA lenders. They are institutions we know and trust and are members of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce. View the list here.


  • COMFORT FOOD CARE PACKAGES: FEED YOUTH AND FAMILIES IN NEED AND STAY OPEN: Governor Greg Abbott today announced the Comfort Food Care Package (CFCP) program to provide meals for at-risk youth and families in communities across Texas as the state responds to COVID-19. As part of the program, participating restaurants offer CFCPs for patrons to purchase on behalf of families and youth in need. Read more and sign up here.

  • COVID-19 COMPLIANT BUSINESS PARTNER: To further encourage the business community to comply with new "Limited Shelter in Place" order, the Chamber is launching “COVID-19 Work Safe ABI” program.Businesses who adopt these principles are encouraged to publicly declare their pledge to do so. Take the pledge.


  • ABILENE CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU: Stay engaged with your favorite attractions through virtual events. Find things to do, local dining and more here


CHAMBER MEMBER EXCLUSIVE:

  • 4/16 WHAT IS HOSPITALITY'S NEW NORMAL? Join special panel discussion with renowned health and hospitality experts where they will provide their perspectives on how hospitality leaders are managing through the COVID-19 crisis—including a high-level overview of efforts to secure relief for the industry; what's in store for the future of travel; and how and when the industry can best position itself for recovery. Register here.


  • 4/23 GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES WITH DONALD KOHN: Mr. Kohn is the Robert V. Roosa Chair in International Economics and senior fellow in the Economic Studies program at the Brookings Institution.Register here.


  • 4/17 NATIONAL SMALL BUSINESS TOWN HALL: Join the U.S. Chamber for the fourth installment of their National Small Business Town Hall. This week, they'll continue the discussion to help business owners naviagte the aid available to them. Register here.


  • 4/22 CARES ACT, SBA LOANS AND USDA UPDATE FOR PRODUCERS: Given the extraordinary financial stresses affecting producers, many farmers are hoping that the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) new loan program established in the CARES Act may help keep their businesses in operation. Texas Corn Producers has asked K·Coe Isom, the nation's leading food and ag accounting and advisory firm, to shed light on the various aspects of the CARES Act, SBA Loans and USDA updates as it pertains to producers. Register here.


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