In a Nutshell: As businesses struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas Association of Business is staying true to its mission to protect and enhance the business climate in the Lone Star State. And that mission has only been strengthened by the pandemic. The association was key in convening the Texas Return to Work initiative that provides resources for businesses and employees to learn how to safely reopen and return to business as usual as much as possible. The organization’s website also offers Lone Star State businesses its COVID-19 Business Resource Tool Kit, which contains valuable news and information.
Many small and independent businesses struggle to maintain comfortable profit margins in a typical year. But with the COVID-19 pandemic hitting the U.S. hard, 2020 is proving to be especially challenging.
Stay-at-home orders in the early months of the pandemic kept many businesses shuttered and customers at home. And with inconsistent federal leadership, states have been left on their own to figure out how and when to reopen businesses.
In some cases, businesses have adapted — some retail stores and restaurants now offer contactless curbside pickup. Other businesses haven’t fared as well and have had to close their doors.
In the Lone Star State, the Texas Association of Business, aka TXBIZ, has been working to help affected businesses navigate these uncertain times. The association provides the latest information on how businesses can access credit, loans, and other valuable resources.
We recently spoke with Texas Association of Business COO Aaron Cox about the organization’s mission and its efforts to provide guidance to businesses and individuals during this challenging time.
With its consistent focus on supporting the state economy, the Texas Association of Business’s actions may also help to provide a template for other states struggling with how to best navigate the COVID-19 pandemic through a safe and economic perspective.
A Mission to Protect and Enhance the Business Climate in the Lone Star State
“The Texas Association of Business is the voice of Texas business,” according to the organization. “TXBIZ influences policy development and drives legislative decisions in Texas and Washington D.C. advocating for members’ bottom line.”
The organization not only represents small businesses but advocates for companies of all sizes across a wide range of industries.
“They, along with our 200 local chamber partners employ thousands of Texans and produce $8 billion annually in business,” according to the Texas Association of Business website.
The association works to help businesses in three main ways: advocacy, political engagement, and competitiveness.
“Advocacy is essential to business’ bottom line,” according to TXBIZ. “State and federal policies and regulations are being decided each day in Texas and Washington, D.C., but most companies do not have the time or resources to advocate for themselves.”
Texas Association of Business serves as a voice for these businesses and focuses on issues that will collectively benefit the state’s business climate.
When it comes to political engagement, the organization recognizes that electing strong leaders into legislative office is key to the bottom line of Texas’ businesses, according to the TXBIZ website.
“To educate Texas voters about issues and candidates means investing resources and mobilizing TXBIZ members and local chamber partners to reach millions of employees, with the ultimate goal of electing leaders who will protect the Texas business climate,” according to the association.
Remaining competitive is also key for Texas businesses.
“Texas is competing for jobs every day,” according to the organization. “Businesses considering moving to or expanding in Texas are looking at a variety of factors, from taxes and regulations to the cost of labor and our legal climate.”
The Texas Return to Work Initiative Addresses Employer and Employee Needs in the COVID-19 Pandemic
Of course, by mid-March when schools and businesses began shutting down, much of the country realized that things weren’t going to be business as usual.
In Texas, as in other states, numerous task forces convened to figure out how to help businesses during this unprecedented economic scenario.
And the Texas Association of Business played an integral role in launching the Texas Return to Work Initiative, which is a direct response to meet employer and employee needs during the COVID-19 crisis.
In addition to TXBIZ, the initiative was spearheaded by the Texas Economic Development Council, the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives, the North Texas Commission, and a growing list of Texas economic development stakeholders.
“The task force started with our board and was led by our 2019 Chairman Bob Cartwright,” Cox said.
The task force examined the work being done by the Texas governor’s task force as well as the lieutenant governor’s task force, Cox explained. He said both task forces did an exceptional job when it came to considering businesses during the pandemic.
“Those task forces provided guidelines, a framework and structure relative to employer outreach and some of them to get back to work,” Cox said. “However, the group felt there were a few items missing or that could be helpful for employers but also for employees. Also, the group wanted a mechanism for feedback and to gather data from businesses on how the pandemic is impacting them.”
So, the Texas Return to Work initiative set out to establish a two-pronged approach.
“One was the actual return to work guide,” Cox said. “It’s a living, breathing, dynamic document that’s filled with resources.”
Some resources are directly from TXBIZ’s partners in government while others were created by task force members as helpful documents they may use in their own businesses.
“It’s just trying to get items out there that are going to help employees not only get back to work and get back safely, but to have a model to reference,” Cox said. “It’s new to us, like we’re starting from scratch. And the contributing experts are from all different fields.”
The other approach involves having a barometer of sorts, he explained, to gauge sentiment and understand how Texas businesses are faring.
“And not only how they’re faring in terms of economic impact and the business of getting back to business, but what’s their outlook?” Cox asked. “Are you feeling better this week? Are you feeling worse? Are you feeling prepared?”
The Business Resource Tool Kit Offers Further Resources for Impacted Businesses
The Texas Association of Business also offers its COVID-19 Business Resource Tool Kit directly on its website.
“Texas Association of Business is working closely with local and state officials along with staying in contact with the White House, and U.S. government agencies so we can inform and equip businesses with the most important and up-to-date information to prevent the spread of the virus and prepare businesses for the near and long-term impact,” according to the website.
It’s imperative that the Texas business community pull together and use its influence to bend the curve on COVID-19 cases, according to the organization.
“Many of our state’s businesses are already providing strong leadership, outreach, policy, and compassion while navigating this unprecedented crisis,” according to the website.
The Business Resource Took Kit offers financial resource information, including the latest news on paycheck protections, unemployment, credit, and flexible loans.
It also provides business tools for communications.
“Find shareable resources, social media assets, and guidance for members, employees, and customers,” according to the organization.
The tool kit also address the health and safety of businesses and employees on multiple levels.
“Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security, and health of the American people,” according to the website. “Texas businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy.”
Finally, the tool kit offers the latest information on relevant legislative actions.
Whether Texas businesses are looking for ways to access additional support, such as loans, through the COVID-19 pandemic or just need an advocate in general, the Texas Association of Business is there for the Lone Star State.