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Business Briefs: Thompson Dallas Lands Spot on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2021 Hot List

Plus, DFW-based Zirtue lending app secures $4 million in seed investment, small businesses can now apply for pandemic relief through the SOAR fund, and more.
By Mariah Terry |
The National Interior

Send your company’s latest business news to Kelsey Vanderschoot at [email protected].

Thompson Dallas, the 219-room hotel located in the historic George Dahl-designed building, The National, has made Condé Nast Traveler’s 2021 Hot List an annual review of the best hotels worldwide. Thompson Dallas is one of 69 hotels featured in the list’s 25-year-anniversary.

A room at the Thompson Hotel inside Dallas’ The National.

Part of The National’s $460 million preservation, Thompson Dallas is part of the largest adaptive reuse project in the history of Texas. Thompson Dallas exists alongside The National Residences, 324 luxury high-rise apartments.

Thompson Dallas was developed by Dallas-based Todd Interests and is located at 205 North Akard Street. The hotel encompasses 52 suites, two 49th floor penthouse suites—the highest in the state and most expensive in the city—four restaurants, a 14,000-square-foot National Ballroom, two acres of indoor-outdoor space, a full-service spa, a fitness center, and a resort-style pool.

Cindy Zelazny of Interiors Limited and Caroline Todd of Todd Interiors designed Thompson Dallas’ interiors, which features more than $2 million in art and custom furnishings. Merriman Anderson Architects handled architecture and design, and SWA Group managed landscape design.

Zirtue Lending App Secures $4 Million in Funding

Dennis Cail headshot
Dennis Cail

Zirtue, a Dallas-based lending app aimed at improving financial inclusion, received a major investment from Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of Northwestern Mutual. The investment follows Zirtue’s seed round and brings its total funds raised to $4 million in seed capital.

Dennis Cail, co-founder and CEO of Zirtue, founded the company with the idea of creating a solution for the millions of people who look to friends and family for loans, hoping his app would help preserve relationships and streamline the payment process. Friends and family loans total $184 billion annually; Zirtue automates the relationship-based loan process and sets the terms without fees and credit checks. To date, more than $10 million in loans have been processed through the platform.

The company has also partnered with AT&T, Toyota, and UT Southwestern for bill-pay lending, allowing borrowers to pay their bills via Zirture’s app.

Multi-Million Dollar SOAR Fund to Aid Small Business in Pandemic Recovery 

Small business owners and nonprofits in Texas can now apply for low-interest loans of up to $100,000 and free business support through the Southern Opportunity and Resilience fund, a multi-million-dollar collaboration between community finance organizations. The fund aims to provide access to capital to address historically disenfranchised communities’ needs during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The SOAR fund launched with more than $50 million in initial commitments and plans to lend at least $150 million to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 50 employees. The fund is partnering with 13 community development financial institutions, including BCL of Texas, which originates loans purchased by the fund.

The funds are available to businesses in Texas and 14 other southern states, in addition to Washington, D.C. The loans are intended for historically underbanked businesses, including those in rural areas and those owned by women, people of color, and immigrants.

“Underserved communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19,” said Gustavo Lasala, President and CEO of Texas-based community development financial institutions fund PeopleFund. “This kind of initiative brings together much-needed resources to help small business owners position their businesses in the best possible way for the recovery ahead.”

Applicants can sign up online to be matched with a lender.

Sunwest Communications Acquires Shiroma Southwest

Mary Shiroma headshot

Two of Dallas’ oldest and largest public relations agencies, Sunwest Communications and Shiroma Southwest have recently merged. Shiroma Southwest will bring to Sunwest its client portfolio, including restaurants, retailers, municipalities, and commercial real estate developers. These industries will help diversify Sunwest’s current client portfolio, including international oil and gas corporations, real estate, finance, tech, and family foundations.

Shiroma founder, Mary Shiroma, will serve as senior counsel in the newly merged firm, bringing Shiroma’s four employees with her as well.

“Mary Shiroma is a legend in the Dallas PR industry for good reason. She has built an incredible firm that is prolific and respected for the public relations strategy, counsel, and results it delivers for an impressive client roster,” said Crayton Webb, owner, and CEO, Sunwest Communications.

The merger will not affect clients and account teams, and the Shiroma team will move into Sunwest’s office later this year.

Ascent and Lincoln Rackhouse Partner on Data Center Management

St. Louis-based data center solutions provider Ascent has merged its data center management division with Lincoln Rackhouse, the data center division of Dallas’ Lincoln Property Co. The two newly merged teams will operate under the Ascent name.

Lincoln Rackhouse owns and manages a portfolio of data centers that total more than two million square feet in the U.S. and U.K. Ascent, which provides data center operations, maintenance management, consulting, and engineering, among other services, currently serves more than 800 critical data facilities across the U.S. and Canada.

Under the new partnership, the company’s data center acquisitions, development, and project management activities will accelerate Ascent’s growth.

“The combination will allow us to continue providing and growing our industry-leading solutions and services offering and to accelerate our development and deployment of innovative technologies. This is the first step in our next decade of strategic growth, market leadership, and best-in-class customer service,” said Bob Painter, President of Ascent.

Texas Ale Project Snags Two National Design Awards

Texas Ale Project, a veteran-owned craft brewery in Dallas’ Design District, recently won two nationally recognized design awards for its TAPWTR craft hard seltzer brand’s packaging campaign.

TAPWTR packaging for its two flavors.

Created in collaboration with California-based Saputo Design, TAPWTR’s packaging will be featured in Graphic Design USA’s Best of 2020 Packaging issue.

“Creating attractive and eye-catching packaging is a huge part of what we do, to perfectly accompany the look and feel of each of our beer and hard seltzer flavors,” said Kat Thompson, Texas Ale Project owner.

The packaging also won a Gold ADDY at the American Advertising Awards for best regional packaging campaign.

The DEC Network to Host Hybrid Dallas Startup Week in August

The DEC Network, a nonprofit focused on providing entrepreneurial support, announced plans to host its seventh annual Dallas Startup Week event from August 1 through 5. Sponsored by Capital One, the conference will host speakers, aspiring entrepreneurs, established small businesses, and corporate allies.

Dallas Startup Week sessions are separated into 19 unique tracks, including coding, healthcare, and cybersecurity. The event will also offer three summits: Disrupt Dallas on August 1, Women of Innovation Summit on August 4, and Corporate Startup Innovation on August 5.

The hybrid event will take place at Southern Methodist University, and registration is now open.

“DSW truly has something to offer for every entrepreneur and small business owner out there, especially in this post-COVID era when entrepreneurs are seeking resources on moving forward in the new normal,” said Bill Chin, CEO of The DEC Network.

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