With billions of dollars in forgivable loans available from the Small Business Administration, Elizabeth Christian, CEO of the well-known Austin public relations firm, took action immediately.
She got a loan in five days.
"When the SBA Paycheck Protection Program was announced, we jumped on it," she said. "For most small businesses, having a forgivable loan for two months of payroll and rent, with no personal guarantee by the small business owner, is an amazing benefit. For some, it will be the difference between life and death for the company."
Some Austin businesses have struggled to get answers from the SBA, but Christian was able to secure a loan quickly.
She contacted Eddie Safady, vice chairman of Prosperity Bancshares. Prosperity is ECPR's long-term banker. With Safady engaged step-by-step, the company submitted its application on April 3—the first day the SBA accepted applications.
Christian said her firm executed loan documents on April 7 and were fully funded within 24 hours. She said she received the full amount of what she had applied for, enough to cover her payroll needs for two and a half months. She declined to reveal a specific amount.
ECPR employs 21 people in an office at 8008 Spicewood Lane. On March 27, President Donald Trump signed into law the $2 billion Cares Act, which includes $377 billion to small businesses. Any portion of a loan used to maintain payroll, keep workers on the books or pay for rent, mortgage or existing debt can be forgiven, provided workers stay employed through the end of June.
"Unbelievable!" said Christian. "Many businesses—I hope—are having the same experience, but we felt particularly lucky to be working with an independent bank with which we've had a 25-year partnership," said Christian.
ECPR, established in 1995, specializes in media relations, video production, legislative efforts, social media, event planning and crisis communications. Christian was an assistant business news editor of The Los Angeles Times in the 1980s, and she is the daughter of the late George Christian, press secretary to President Lyndon Johnson. Her husband, former Austin Mayor Bruce Todd, is of counsel to ECPR.
Founded in 1983, Prosperity Bank has 242 locations and is owned by Prosperity Bancshares In., a $22.7 billion Houston-based holding company.
"The government came through, and so did our bankers," Christian said.
The University of Texas-Austin continued its march toward a new normal on Friday, as university President Gregory Fenves marked his last day of leadership after five years in office—the final two months of it dominated by sweeping pandemic-era changes on campus.
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Protests over police killings planned for Austin this weekend following widespread demonstrations across U.S.
At least two protests are planned in Austin this weekend over the recent killings of black men by police: Mike Ramos, who was fatally shot by an Austin Police Department officer on April 24 in Southeast Austin, and George Floyd, who died in police custody on Monday after a Minneapolis Police Department officer knelt on his neck. Both events were filmed.
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As Texas navigates reopening restaurants and bars safely, al fresco spots provide the perfect place for long-quarantined Austin residents. Some of these favorites are open only on the patio, others are allowing customers to eat to-go orders in the space, and a few are full service—the details are subject to change. This is not an all-inclusive list, but here they are, in no particular order:
Upscale seafood fare is served under striped umbrellas on the tree-lined porch, with dogs allowed and an unfettered view of South Congress foot traffic.
Address: 1400 S. Congress Ave.
- Reopening today: the zoo (masks required), water parks (advanced tickets required), driver's license offices (appointments required).
- As protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis spread to cities around the county, a demonstration drawing attention to both Floyd and Mike Ramos is planned for Austin this weekend.
- With local businesses concerned they can't make a profit at limited capacity, the city council may soon allow the use of sidewalks and parking lots to increase it, CBS Austin reports.
- KUT notes that, ultimately, it's up to voters to decide who votes by mail.
- Aaron Franklin will be inducted into the Barbecue Hall of Fame, writes Daniel Vaughn at Texas Monthly, just as his restaurant faces its biggest challenge yet.
'This has dwarfed anything else we've seen': Nonprofits adapt to soaring need, fewer volunteers and a fundraising slump
Since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Austin, the Central Texas Food Bank has seen a tenfold increase in food costs.
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