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Lawmakers Anticipate COVID-19 Implications for Upcoming Legislative Session

7/14/20
Texas lawmakers anticipate the global pandemic will have implications for the 87th Texas legislative session, potentially impacting issues such as the state budget as well as health care costs.  Three state lawmakers discussed the upcoming legislative session during the Partnership's Future of Texas Business Resource Group virtual event on July 10. Partnership Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy Lindsay Munoz moderated the discussion, featuring: State Senator Nathan Johnson of Senate District 16 Texas House Public Health Committee Chair Senfronia Thompson of House District 141 Texas House County Affairs Committee Chair Garnet Coleman of House District 147 COVID-19  The panel discussed Texas' response to the pandemic. Senator Johnson laid out the importance of moving through the rise in confirmed cases and improving contact tracing programs. Representative Coleman noted the importance of collecting data on the virus' impact on racial and ethnic groups across Texas. Representative Thompson highlighted how the virus has emphasized racial and socioeconomic disparities. Access to Health and Health Care In response to COVID-19 and the state's ongoing health needs, these legislators discussed proposals to improve Texans' access to care. Senator Johnson pointed to methods of investing in the social determinants of health to lower health care costs. Concerning access to mental and public health care, Representative Thompson and Representative Coleman discussed ensuring the funding for the health care safety net, including the 1115 Waiver and DSRIP funding. The panel of legislators agreed that the state should approach health care issues as an investment. They discussed a variety of methods to protect access to care and address the population of individuals between the 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level who need affordable, quality care. State Budget While the impact of COVID-19 on the state budget is still being calculated, legislators anticipate that the next biennial budget will involve significant reductions. Representative Thompson discussed potential reductions to state health care services. She also noted the importance of protecting public education funding. Regarding the transformational school finance reform legislation passed last session, Representative Thompson said, "House Bill 3 was the first time that we did not fund public education based on zip codes." In comparison to the Great Recession state budget of 2011, Representative Coleman said that "We have been able to crawl out of holes before, but this one is different." It is possible that legislators may consider alternative revenue sources, including re-examining the tax structure for exemptions.  The state lawmakers concluded that we will have a much clearer picture of the state budget in the months approaching session, which begins January 12, 2021, as federal stimulus funds flow into the state and the effects of the pandemic continue.  Future of Texas presentations are open to Partnership members. Members also have ongoing access to a recording of the presentation. Learn more about membership.  Learn what other Texas lawmakers anticipate for the upcoming legislative session here. See the Partnership’s COVID-19 Business Resource page for the latest updates and guidance. Learn more about the Future of Texas Business Resource Group. 
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Economy

Small Biz Insider: Advice for 2020 Graduates, Houston's Newest Entrepreneurs

7/7/20
Houston-area colleges and universities graduate more than 100,000 students each year. But 2020 is an especially challenging year for these new graduates, including those who aspire to start their own business venture. Houston faces a dual economic challenge stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and the oil downturn. Together, these two factors have created an economic situation that’s quickly surpassed unemployment numbers from the Great Recession of 2007-2009.  Our guests on this episode are: Dr. Yolanda Norman is the Assistant Director of the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering Career Center and leads the UH Cooperative Education Program. She is also the founder and CEO of FirstGenCollege Consulting.   Dr. Hesam Panahi is Interim Executive Director of the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He's also a Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the Jones Graduate School of Business as well as a Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Houston. Here are some highlights from this episode:  Is now the best time to be an entrepreneur in Houston given the economic conditions? Yes and no. Dr. Panahi said on the one hand, there are a lot of new opportunities to innovate and new problems to solve. Plus, with so many furloughs and layoffs, there's a pool of very talented people available to pull into the startup ecosystem. But raising money for your venture will be tough. Dr. Panahi said many are putting whatever resources they have into their existing businesses and investments, so finding someone to write a check will be difficult.    Graduating without a job or venture opportunity? Take inventory of your skills and projects. Dr. Norman and Dr. Panahi said they've had several students who've either had their job offers rescinded or had new job start dates pushed back to next year. So what now? Dr. Norman said new graduates should consider the projects they've done, their capabilities and what they can bring to the table. Include that in your resume and cover letter. Tell others what value you can offer as an entrepreneur.    Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, whether you're planning to start your own business venture or not. "There are things entrepreneurs do that you can apply in your day-to-day routine," said Panahi. Entrepreneurs take on a ton of risk, not knowing what the outcome is going to be, and they try to mitigate that risk as much as possible but are flexible enough to quickly change direction if they need to. Even if you don't want to be an entrepreneur, get involved in entrepreneurship programs and you'll find bits and pieces that'll be useful to you.    Small Biz Insider is presented by:    Click here for more COVID-19 resources for small businesses. Visit the Partnership's COVID-19 Resource page for updates, guidance for employers and more information.  The Small Biz Insider podcast is part of our digital series highlighting entrepreneurs in the greater Houston region who are making a big impact in the small business community.  Subscribe to Small Biz Insider through these popular podcast players: Listen on Apple Podcasts Listen on Google Podcasts Listen on Spotify
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Centers for Small Business

The Houston office of the U.S. Small Business Administration helps connect companies and entrepreneurs with the tools and resources necessary for success. 

The Small Business Development Center at the University of Houston offers workshops, advisory services, research assistance and much more for small businesses in the area. 

Free consulting on finding contracting opportunities that match your business.

The WBEA provides support to entrepreneurs in education, scholarships, and matchmaking with corporate contracting offices. We are committed to inspiring and empowering women who want to start or expand their business.

Promoting the growth and success of local small businesses, with special emphasis on historically underutilized groups by ensuring their meaningful participation in the government procurement process.

Provides quality business education, access to capital, business support services and alumni service for business owned who are poised to grow.

A small business program that provides resources, education, and connection to capital to help Houston-area entrepreneurs start or expand a business.

Rice University’s Susanne M. Glasscock School of Continuing Studies is partnering with The Ion to provide education and insight to small business owners, helping them return to normal operations and recover from the closures.

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