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5/13 - COVID-19 Highlights for the Business Community

The following is our latest on coronavirus response and news:

  • GOVERNOR ABBOTT EXTENDS COVID-19 DISASTER DECLARATION FOR ALL TEXAS COUNTIES: Governor Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation extending his Disaster Declaration for all Texas counties in response to COVID-19. Originally issued on March 13 and extended on April 12, the Disaster Declaration provides the state a number of resources to effectively serve Texans as the Lone Star State continues to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

  • LETTER TO CONGRESSIONAL LEADERS URGING SUPPORT FOR EMPLOYER LIABILITY PROTECTIONS: Governor Abbott, Lt. Governor Patrick, and Speaker Bonnen sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking them to support liability protections for Texas employers. The letter urges Congress to support the inclusion of legal protections for business owners, healthcare facilities and employees, and first responders held liable for COVID-19 exposure claims, in the next federal relief legislation.

  • GOVERNOR ISSUES PROCLAMATION REGARDING JULY 14TH EARLY VOTING FOR SPECIAL, RUNOFF ELECTIONS: To help ensure Texans have the opportunity to safely cast their votes, Governor Abbott issued a proclamation to increase the number of days in which polling locations will be open during early voting, such that election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices. The proclamation announces the suspension of Texas Election Code Sections 85.001(a) and 85.001(b), allowing in-person early voting to begin Monday, June 29, 2020 and continue through the fourth day before election day. 

  • OPEN FOR BUSINESS: As Texas and the Abilene community work to re-open, the Abilene Chamber is committed to helping you, our member, connect with potential customers. Every day, more and more individuals turn to your Chamber as their trusted source for business information. To help you share your story, the Chamber has made a few updates to your online Member Information Center (MIC). The following resources are now available:

  • Opt-in to use temporary logos that will be displayed on your profile allowing consumers to see your business is open. Chamber staff is standing by to help. Click here to add one of the three logo options below: 

  • OPTION ONE: Open for Business

  • OPTION TWO: Open for Business with Modified Hours

  • OPTION THREE: Open for Business - Working Remotely

  • Be sure and update your business hours to the most current. Directions here.

  • As always, the Chamber team is working and ready to serve. If you have any questions about your MIC login information or anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

  • UPDATE YOUR EMAIL PREFERENCES: Since mid-March, your Chamber has sent daily business updates, advocacy updates, our regularly scheduled Weekly Connection updates, and more. To better serve you and to narrow down which content you'd like to receive, we've created a newsletter preference page. From here, you can manage your preference and choose which updates you receive from the Chamber. Click here for more.

  • UPDATE FROM WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS OF WEST TEXAS: Unemployment rates continue to rise each week on average by 1,500 per week. Over 4,100 employers in the region have been impacted by COVID-19 due to layoffs, reductions in hours, temporary or permanent closings, etc. The top five Unemployment Insurance Claim Industries in the region are:

  • Full- service restaurants

  • Support activities for oil and gas operations

  • Drilling oil and gas wells

  • General medical and surgical hospitals and

  • Limited service restaurants

  • Click here to read more.

  • SMALL BUSINESS OPTIMISM FELL, BUT NEARLY 30 PERCENT EXPECT ECONOMY TO IMPROVE: Today brings data that wasn’t as bad as anticipated. In the midst of so much economic gloom, we’ll take that as a small win. The much-anticipated NFIB Small Business Optimism Index for April showed a smaller decline than expected. It came in at 90.9 compared to 96.4 in March. Click here to read more.

  • UPCOMING CHANGES TO THE WOMEN-OWNED SMALL BUSINESS CERTIFICATION: In summer 2020, the certification process for Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) will change as put forth by Congress in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Once the changes go into effect:

  • You will no longer be able to self-certify as a WOSB or EDWOSB.

  • You will have to either certify through an approved third-party entityor go through SBA’s FREE online certification at

  • Review the SBA’s latest FAQ and certification options table for more information. 

Previously shared updates:

  • HELP US GATHER A LOCAL RESOURCES: Do you have hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, etc. that would be beneficial to businesses working to re-open? We're gathering a list for the business community. Help us populate it! Click here for more.

  • UPDATE YOUR BUSINESS HOURS: We've been keeping track of business hours on Help us share with the public of your changes by updating your hours of operation here.

Webinars for business

  • 5/13 GOVERNOR'S SMALL BUSINESS WEBINAR SERIES - WEST TEXAS: The Governor’s Small Business Webinar Series - West Texas will provide small business owners and entrepreneurs with timely, relevant, actionable information on COVID-19 recovery resources. Businesses will also get the chance to connect with local experts and support systems.Click here to register.

  • 5/14 HOSPITALITY TRAINING: Sign up your employees and volunteers for the Abilene Convention & Visitors Bureau’s live Zoom version of its long-running Abilene Champions Hospitality TrainingMay 14. Reach out to or register here. The class builds skills for service industry employees and includes helpful knowledge to grow their appreciation of Abilene. It’s free and people can do it in pajamas. It’s never been so easy! 

  • 5/14 HOW WILL SPORTS, ENTERTAINMENT, AND RESTAURANTS MANAGE THE RETURN TO WORK? Join the U.S. Chamber Foundation on Thursday, May 14 at 3:00 p.m. EST for an important discussion on how high-density consumer industries, such as movie theaters, restaurants, and sports leagues, are planning for reopening—how to start that process, how to keep employees and consumers safe, ensuring consumer confidence, and what the “new normal” might look like as we start to reopen the full American economy. Register here.

  • 5/20 INTRODUCTION TO GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING (FEDERAL, STATE & LOCAL) In this LIVE Webinar facilitated by Cross Timbers Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC), attendees will learn about important topics in government contracting (i.e. Federal, State, and local), to better prepare potential contractors on next steps to start or continue their government contracting program with confidence. Register here.

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