Small Business Relief Grant Preliminary Metrics

The City of Austin has posted preliminary metrics taken from applications for the Small Business Relief Grant Program, which closes tomorrow, July 24 at 5PM. As of Tuesday evening, July 21, there were 1,333 applicants. 67% of these businesses have been partially operating during the pandemic, 22% have been completely closed, and 11% have been fully operational. The vast majority (784 applicants) are LLC’s, with 231 being sole proprietors and 237 operating under a different business structure. 1,105 applicants have received some other form of recovery funding, reporting an average of 6.9 employees with an average annual revenue of $974,000.

44% of businesses applying for funding have been in business for five years or under, 24% for six to ten years, 17% for ten to twenty years, 10% for over twenty years, and 4.35% for less than a year. 49% of executives applying are white, 18% are Asian, 14% are Hispanic/Latino, 7% are Black/African American, and 5% prefer not to answer. 700 executives are male and 606 are female. 440 applicants are between the ages of 30-39, 436 are between the ages of 40-49, 255 are between the ages of 50-59, 139 are over 60, 55 are between the ages of 20-29, and 8 prefer not to answer.

The top ten industries applying for the grant are, in order: Restaurants, Commercial Kitchens, Bars (268); Personal Care Services such as Barbers, Salons, Nail Salons, etc. (149); Arts, Entertainment, Recreation (145); Other Services (137); Retail (118); Health Care and Social  Assistance (112); Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services (77); Educational Services (70); Information, Software, Telecommunications, Media, etc. (43) and Finance, Insurance, Real Estate Rental and Leasing (42).

You still have a little over 24 hours to apply for this grant. If you are unsure if your business qualifies, take a minute to go over the eligibility criteria and grant FAQ, which has been updated with a list of questions received from businesses (refresh your browser window!) This page also contains charts of the metrics mentioned above. If you still have questions after reviewing the grant information page, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Better Business Bureau, who is administering the grant. They can be reached at 512-318-2683 and businessreliefgrant@austin.bbb.org. You can also reach out to us at for assistance at hello@ibuyaustin.com .

Gather your documentation, take a deep breath, and good luck!

Grant Funding For Austin Businesses Is Here

Good news for small businesses suffering financial hardship due to COVID-19! On July 7th, applications opened for the City of Austin’s Small Business Relief Grant program, which provides assistance of up to $40,000 per qualifying business to be used for rent, payroll, and other approved expenses incurred between March 1 and July 7, 2020. $16.5 million in federal funding from the CARES Act has been set aside for this program.

To be eligible, businesses must be able to demonstrate an economic loss associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, have been in continuous operation for at least two years, have under $5 million in annual revenue, be located within a City Council District, provide one year of federal tax returns, and have fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees (full time = 30+ hours/week, and two half-time employees would count as one full-time equivalent employee.) The grant is open to businesses operating under various business structures such as partnerships, sole proprietorships, LLCs, cooperatives, etc. Businesses who aren’t eligible include those engaged in multi-level marketing, lobbying, those who receive more than one third of their annual revenue from gambling, religious institutions, businesses debarred from contracting with the federal government, government entities, individuals, and nonprofits (there is a separate City grant for nonprofits, up to $20k.) Full-time City of Austin employees are not eligible for the Small Business Relief Grant.

Eligible expenses include rent, payroll, facility and business modifications for safety compliance, PPE, sanitation and cleaning, inventory, business insurance, technology, business adaptation and worker training, operational costs, and more. The grant does not cover lost sales or sponsorships, merchandise sold for marketing purposes, or costs that have been paid for by other COVID-19 grants or loans.

Applications will close at 5pm on July 24, and no priority is given to early applicants. Half of the applications will be evaluated according to a scoring matrix, and the other half will be distributed according to a lottery. For more information about the scoring matrix and detailed eligibility criteria, visit https://www.austintexas.gov/department/austin-small-business-relief-grant. For complete resources on Covid-19 recovery, visit www.atxrecovers.com.

AIBA and the Local Economies Council are working with the City and the Better Business Bureau, the administers of the application and selection process, to get information and assistance to local businesses in Austin. Please reach out to us at hello@ibuyaustin.com or 512-441-2123 with questions or if you need technical assistance in completing the application.

Manor Road: The Newest IBIZ District

Manor Road: The Newest IBIZ District

We are pleased to announce that Manor Road is joining the IBIZ Districts Program! Close to campus but far enough away to have its own distinct flavor, Manor Road has become a favorite destination for restaurants, patio happy hours, and artful entertainment, including the east side’s first community theatre. The district runs from Salina Street at the west to Alexander Avenue on the east, with a largely residential area separating it from Airport Boulevard.

Manor represents a world of food tradition: Southern comfort food, Mediterranean, Thai, Mexican, Tex-Mex, Italian, Peruvian… You will find farm-to-table concepts, a restaurant with its own butcher shop, an award-winning bakery, famous Austin ice cream, freshly squeezed juices, shaved ice, biscuit sandwiches, burgers, and a patio coffee shop, as well as neighborhood bars where you can find real food, craft brews, creative cocktails, a range of authentic mezcal and tequila, and all the old favorites– variously coupled with conversation nooks, ping pong, hula hooping, corn hole, air hockey, and even–in case you get bored–TV. Not to mention parking, which actually exists in this district!

Manor Road also has apartments, convenience stores, automotive services, a head shop, organic apparel for kids, media post-production, waxing, bookkeeping, and tax services, so you can take care of business here and not just go out for food and drinks all the time… not that you shouldn’t!

All locally-owned businesses in the Manor Road IBIZ District are members of AIBA, making it a Premiere District– the first in the IBIZ Districts Program. A special shout-out to the first IBIZ Premiere Merchants who led the way: Amy’s Ice Creams, the El Chile Group (El Chile, El Chilito, Yuyo), Hoover’s Cooking, Planet K, and The Vortex. Thank you!

To stay in the loop with Manor Road and help build community, please follow their social media (Facebook, Twitter) and use the hashtags #ManorRdIBIZDistrict and #AustinIBIZDistricts.

Let’s give a warm welcome to the Manor Road IBIZ District!

Top Reasons to Shop Local For the Holidays

Black Friday is nearly upon us! But you don’t have to fight the crowds to wrestle over merchandise in the hopes of grabbing a loss-leader item before they’re gone. We’re here to tell you there’s a better way! It’s shopping locally! There are so many great reasons, we’ve put together a list to get you started:

  1. Keep your money in the community. For every $100 spent at a local business, $45 stays in Austin, vs. only $13 for every $100 spent at a chain store. That’s money to fix the roads, maintain our parks, and sustain local services!
  2. Local business owners are your friends and neighbors. It’s not just a great idea to support your friends and neighbors, it’s a lot more fun! You can stand in line to be checked out by a bored cashier who just wants to get their shift over with and go home, or you can strike up a conversation with someone who is excited to do business with you, to talk about the products you’re there to buy, and build a lasting relationship with a vendor you’ll love to visit for years to come.
  3. Quality. Sure, you can get the same commodities everywhere, but locally-made crafts and products made with care will beat assembly-line produced products any day. Don’t get the latest trendy nonsense, stand out from the crowd with something unique, fun, and local!
  4. Fun. Have you visited a vintage or thrift store lately, or checked out one of our local icons like Toy Joy or Sue Patrick? What about Book People or Wheatsville Co-Op? We have such fun, funky shops, there’s just no reason to suffer the hordes at the mall when you could be out actually enjoying yourself instead! Why make shopping a chore when it can be a delight?
  5. Convenience. Our IBIZ Districts are clusters of locally-owned businesses all conveniently located so you can easily get everything done without traveling all over the city. Shop, dine, enjoy entertainment, and get the services you need all within handy walking distance. And with 8 to choose from . . . well, why even choose? Visit them all!
  6. It just feels good. And isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Sometimes it seems like they’re all about stress and chores and family obligations, but really – they’re about togetherness and celebration and community. So why not extend that to every part of the process, including the shopping part!

We’re doing out part to help by letting you know about upcoming events like Small Business Saturday and the IBIZ District Holiday Shop Hop on December 8th, so you can get your shopping done and have a great time doing it, enjoy some entertainment, maybe find some great deals. If you know of other events or tips for keeping our holidays local, share them in the comments!

 

7 Ways to Stay Productive Over the Holidays!

7 Ways to Stay Productive Over the Holidays!

Ah, the Holidays. Costumes, pumpkins, and candy. Turkey, ham, and hayrides. Trees, presents, and family. A wonderful time of year.  But for the entrepreneur or business owner, it’s a time when it’s easy to get sidetracked and forget that a startup never rests.  So by all means, have some fun, relax, enjoy yourself. But also find some ways to stay productive, and try not to lose momentum for your business.

1)      Don’t Make Resolutions, Make Plans.  This is a great time to reevaluate your business and your strategy. Evaluate where you are, and where you want to be, and work on any necessary course corrections while it’s quiet and there’s no one around to bug you. There’s never enough time for strategic planning, so use any lull during this time of year for this vital, but often neglected, activity.

2)      Use Holiday Parties as a Networking Opportunity.  This is the time of year for parties. Yay, parties! So go, enjoy without guilt, and spend some time meeting new people and making new connections for your business. People are in a good mood, spirits are high, and this can be a great time to build some new relationships. But watch out for that killer eggnog. It really sneaks up on you!

3)      Host an Open House or Party. Want a chance to show off your digs, or otherwise bring people up to date on what you’ve been up to, and get a little PR for your company? Host a party! It’s a great time of year to get people to come and enjoy a libation or snack, and learn about your company at the same time. But a word of caution here – check the calendars very carefully to make sure you’re not scheduling your event at the same time as 15 other hot-ticket parties. If it’s a Facebook party or your little shindig, Facebook probably wins (nothing personal).

4)      Get Organized and Catch up on Your Emails. If business is a little slow, and no one’s around to meet with, great! Spend some time getting to “inbox zero,” and following up on all those little tasks you’ve let slip by. Clean off your desk! Purge old files! Throw out the dead plants! Whatever you’ve been neglecting, now’s a good time to get it done and start the new year with a fresh slate.

5)      Catch up on Your Reading. Have a pile of magazines you haven’t read? A long list of bookmarked articles you haven’t had time to get to? 50 Pinterest boards you’ve been meaning to check out? 150 YouTube videos you’ve been meaning to watch? Got a stack of business books you really wanted to read, but just haven’t had time? Put your feet up and spend some time catching up on all of it. Maybe you’ll learn something that will help you improve your business or your life. You never know!

6)      Take a Day Off.  As a startup, entrepreneur, or small business owner, it’s likely you don’t take much time for yourself. Constant sleep deprivation and packed schedules can take a toll on your overall productivity and satisfaction with your business.  If you need a break, now’s a good time to take it. Maybe just an extra day here or there, maybe just a long weekend or two, or maybe just starting later in the day once or twice. Catching up on your rest, seeing a movie, seeing your family, spending time with friends, all of these can improve your overall outlook and health, and help you to return to full productivity on your return. If you can do it, maybe take a whole week off and head out of town. It’s amazing how refreshing a real vacation can be. But at this stage, that might be asking a lot. A long weekend, properly spent, can be pretty darned refreshing.

7)      Keep an Eye Out for Bargains. Everything goes on sale this time of year, from office furniture to professional services, as folks try to end the year on a positive note. If you’re in the market for anything that might go on sale, spend a little time bargain hunting. You may save some cash, and gain the feeling of accomplishment that comes with getting a good deal. That being said, I’d still stay out of the stores on “Black Friday.” That level of shopping stress can negate the restful benefits of a whole month of long weekends.

We hope you find these tips helpful. I’m sure you have a few we haven’t thought of, so be sure to add them in the comments!

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