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4/21 - COVID-19 Highlights for the Business Community

Business Updates for COVID-19

  • SURVEY: Last week we announced the objective of our weekly surveys. We want to hear how your company is doing, and in turn, gain guidance on what is happening in the Abilene economy during this ever-changing time. If you’re not the person that has the access to the information requested in the survey, please help us by forwarding the survey to the person in your organization who would have access. CLICK HERE to take this week's survey.

  • GOVERNOR ABBOTT PRESS CONFERENCE: It was announced yesterday afternoon that Governor Greg Abbott will hold a press conference to provide an update on the state's continued response to COVID-19 on today at 2:00 PM in the auditorium of the State Capitol.

  • COMPTROLLER GLENN HEGAR ISSUES STATEMENT ON HISTORIC DROP IN OIL PRICES: “Today’s market activity was unprecedented and likely indicative of very limited storage capacity. May contracts traded well into negative territory as the market prepares to shift focus to June contracts. While down somewhat, June contracts traded in a relatively stable range. While this unprecedented volatility is concerning, the greater impact to Texas will come if demand remains historically low for a prolonged period of time and supply gluts continue to strain storage capacity.” Read more here.

  • TEXAS STATE PARKS REOPEN FOR DAY-USE: On Monday, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced that State Parks will begin reopening for day-use only per Governor Abbott’s direction. New restrictions in effect include requiring individuals to wear face masks, maintain a six-foot distance from those outside of their party, and not gather with a group of more than five people.

  • PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM UPDATE: CONGRESS WORKING TO REPLENISH FUNDS: In a press release, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza announced the $350 billion PPP has run out of initial funds. They both urge Congress to appropriate additional funds to support the PPP. Chamber of Commerce representative Neil Bradly said in an INC. and Chamber of Commerce Small Business Town Hall that Congress is already working on appropriating an additional $250 billion to the PPP in their next stimulus bill, but is unsure when that will be passed due to arguments arising from other areas in that bill. Additionally the SBA released a Paycheck Protection Program Report that breaks down: the amount lended, how much was lended in each state, loan size, and loans by industry. The SBA processed more than 14 years' worth of loans in less than 14 days and provided payroll assistance to more than 1.6 million small businesses in all 50 states/territories and 74% of loans were for under $150,000. Nearly 5,000 small, medium and large lenders participated in the program and no lender accounted for more than 5% of the total dollar amount of the program. The report in its entirety can be found here.

  • GET CAUGHT DOING GOOD! Abilene businesses have big hearts and we want to see them in action. If you are feeding first responders, providing critical services or just doing things to make the day better in the community, we want to see you in action and make sure the entire community does, too. Click here to share your photos.

  • DEPARTMENT OF LABOR RELEASES UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE DATA: 5,245,000 INITIAL CLAIMS FILED IN THE WEEK ENDING APRIL 11: The DOL's unemployment data for the week ending April 11 shows 5,245,000 seasonally adjusted initial claims were filed. This is down 1,370,000 from the previous week. The 4-week moving average was 5,508,500, which is an increase of 1,240,750 from the previous week's revised average. The seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 8.2% for the week ending in April 4, which is 3.1% higher than the previous week. This is the highest level of insured unemployment rate in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ending in April 4 was 11,976,000 ,which is an increase of 4,530,000 from the previous week. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted insured unemployment in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. Additionally, the DOL includes unadjusted data. Specifically, in Texas initial data shows 273,567 claims for the week ending April 11. A total of roughly 1.03 million claims have been filed since the uptick due to COVID-19 began (March 14). The Texas Workforce Commission also began publishing details on historical numbers, including claims industry and by county in spreadsheet form here.

  • PRESIDENT SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER TO TEMPORARILY EXTEND DEADLINES FOR CERTAIN ESTIMATED PAYMENTS: The President's executive order temporarily provides relief to certain US businesses; including critical supply chains for US manufacturers. The order extends deadlines, for importers suffering "significant financial hardship" due to COVID-19, for the estimated payments described therin, other than those pursuant to 1671, 1673, 1862, 2251, and 2411 of title 19, United States Code. Pursuant to this order, the Treasury and Customs & Border Protection issued a joint Temporary Interim Final Rule that will provide importers with the option for a 90-day deferment period on the payment of duties, taxes and fees. To qualify, importers must: Demonstrate a significant financial hardship; have proof their operation has been fully or partially suspended during March or April 2020 due to orders from a competent governmental; and as a result of such suspension, the gross receipts of such importer for March 13-31, 2020 or April 2020 are less than 60% of the gross receipts for the comparable period in 2019. This action does not change deadlines for tariffs and fees for goods subject to antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD), and Section 201, 232, and 301 Trade Remedies.

  • TEXAS SET TO REOPEN SOME SECTORS CLOSED BY CORONAVIRUS: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott set the nation’s second-largest state on a path to reopening Friday, with an announcement that shopping, hiking and some medical procedures may restart as soon as next week. “If we waited until everybody has adequate testing we’d still be two or three months down the road,” said Steve Ahlenius, chair-elect of the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives and board member of the Texas Association of Business. “You just have to keep monitoring what’s happening.” Click here to read more.

Webinars for business

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 4/23 TOWN HALL WITH TWC EMPLOYER COMMISSIONER AARON DEMERSON: Texas Employer Commissioner Aaron Demerson will be joined by his legal staff and Adriana Cruz, Director of Governor's Office of Economic Development and Tourism Division to share information on resources for employers and address your questions. Register here.

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