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"When the SBA Paycheck Protection Program was announced, we jumped on it," Elizabeth Christian said.

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.

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