Chambers Contribute to National Dialogue on Racial Inequity

Will Burns on Thursday, June 4, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

Chambers of commerce play a pivotal role in the communities they serve, a role built on leadership, trust and collaboration.

As communities grapple with the challenges of racial inequity, chambers are connecting with and listening to their community's most relevant stakeholders and seeking to be productive partners in local and national efforts to pursue meaningful solutions. Here are a few trends we identified during peer calls this week: 

Talk to Your Team: Many chambers created opportunities for their teams to come together to share how they are feeling about the current situation and provide input on how the chamber should respond. Some used professional facilitators, others simply tried to create an environment of candor and trust. One interesting idea was to offer for your chamber to buy each staff member a book on a topic related to racial inequity. Then hold periodic meetings for staff to discuss and exchange the books. Here are a few recommendations. Send me your recommendations and we’ll publish a chamber reading list next week.

Identify Key Stakeholders: Many forward-thinking chambers have developed relationships as part of ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, but it’s never too late to start conversations with organizations like the NAACP, Urban League, United Way, faith-based organizations, minority business owners and elected officials and more. Open lines of dialogue and …

Listen: Chambers have a propensity for action. They see a problem, they pursue a solution. Take the time to listen to the stakeholders you identified. Understand how your organization is perceived by their leaders and the communities they serve. You are not going to build trust overnight. Be a good listener, and identify ways to support and build alliances that could lead to meaningful change.

Here are some of the initial statements we've seen from chambers across the country. If your chamber has taken action, please share your examples with Will Burns at

Tags: DEI

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I'm heartbroken, but determined

Sheree Anne Kelly on Monday, June 1, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

I'm heartbroken to see our country look and feel the way it does right now. I'm angry at the injustice I see. I'm sad for so many who are personally impacted across the country as community leaders, business owners, and most importantly as individuals. I'm worried for members of my staff, my friends, my neighbors, my own community… I've heard from so many who have emotions that run from anger, to fear, to exhaustion.

My personal ethics don't allow me to simply watch this unfold. Racism and systemic injustice cannot be tolerated. Discrimination and acts of hate are not OK.

We are community leaders, conveners and trusted voices across the country and around the world. We need to use that power to help. Convening many stakeholders and bringing disparate voices to the table for meaningful local conversations are critical. We have a voice we can use, but we also need to listen first. Listening builds mutual understanding, and there's not enough of that right now.

Now is the time to bring your community stakeholders together to share perspectives and find ways to work collaboratively through and beyond where we are today. Thoughts and prayers alone won’t build us a stronger, more united country. We need action.

All of our peer group and division calls this week will focus on how we as an industry can be active partners in affecting change. I look forward to hearing your thoughts – and as always, I'm also happy to be in touch directly. Thank you for all you're doing for your communities and let's build a path to a better future together.

United with you,
Sheree Anne

Tags: DEI

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House Approves Changes to PPP

Will Burns on Friday, May 29, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

The House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886). The bill makes several positive changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but it does not address the issue of 501 (c)(6) eligibility.

Among other changes, the bill extends the forgiveness period for eligible expenses from eight weeks to 24 weeks. It also adjusts the restrictions requiring that 75 percent of the loan amount goes to payroll, changing the ratio from 75/25 to 60/40.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week. The bill is expected to remain narrowly focused on changes to the current program and it will not address expansion. The next big federal package is likely to be the next opportunity to address (c)(6) inclusion. 

ACCE will continue to work with our partners at the U.S. Chamber and ASAE to push to expand PPP eligibility to chambers of commerce and other 501 (c) organizations.

See ACCE’s recent op-ed in the Washington Business Journal.

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How Will COVID-19 Change the Future of Work

Will Burns on Friday, May 29, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work published a special report that considers how COVID-19 could change the world of work, education, health, shopping, entertainment and more.

“We imagined what would it be like if we were in 2025 and then looking back at what happened in the aftermath of the virus,” said Benjamin Pring, director of the Center for the Future of Work. “In that way of stretching your imagination, it gives you a different perspective. It offers a different way of looking at things, getting beyond the short-term panic and thinking about how we separate the changes that will become permanent from the short-term changes that will revert back to normal.”

A few highlights include:

Business Travel Loses its Cool: Is business travel the engine of commerce that we thought it was? Will virtual meeting and event alternatives, along with the environmental benefits of less air travel, lead to new habits around business travel.

The Birth of the Clean Regime: While workers may not be clamoring to get back into the office, it is clear that people want to quickly return to social spaces – parks, cafes, gyms, movie theatres, etc. As venues reopen, cleanliness is more important than ever, both in terms of combating the virus and strengthening consumer confidence to reenter these spaces. “This might be a complete shift in our perspective on the world. There is going to be a commercial opportunity around that. If conspicuous cleanliness is suddenly chic and cool, then there is going to be money to be made riding that wave.”

Online’s Big Bang: In the future, will solutions that were considered digital alternatives become the new norm. Up until the virus, technology played more of a supporting role in the delivery of education and health care. After the virus, digital solutions will play a much more central role. “What we are going to see in the next five years is that everything that can go online is going to go online,” Pring said.

Everyone’s Home is Their Castle: Will converted bedrooms and garages make way for more substantial, dedicated working space. Before the crisis, about 5 percent of Americans regularly work from home. During the COVID-19 crisis, a far greater number, perhaps 80 percent of knowledge workers worked from home regularly and there was not a massive hit to productivity. Coming out of the crisis, Pring estimated that 20-25 percent of knowledge workers may shift to working from home most of the time. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to go into physical offices when we need to do something that really requires that face-to-face interaction,” Pring said. “But the idea that people will regularly do that, Monday through Friday from nine to five, to do work that they could so just as easily at home will become less common.”

Read the complete report online here.

More Future of Work Reading  

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Congress Considering Changes to Paycheck Protection Program

Will Burns on Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

Both houses of Congress are considering changes to the Paycheck Protection Program. 

According to the U.S. Chamber, the Senate may take action today to pass a bill that includes revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program that would extend the period in which small businesses can use the funds. Next week, the House is expected to consider the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886). The bill makes a number of positive changes to the PPP, but it does not address the issue of 501 (c)(6) inclusion. 

Contact your Congressional delegation and encourage them to make 501(c)(6) organizations eligible for financial relief under PPP. 



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House COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Relief for Chambers

Will Burns on Friday, May 15, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

A proposal to expand access to the Paycheck Protection Program to all 501 (c) organizations is part of the $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package introduced by House Democrats this week.

Chambers of commerce have been urging their congressional delegations to support (c)(6) inclusion for weeks. It’s great to see lawmakers recognize the vital role chambers are playing during this crisis, helping companies access capital, sharing best practices for reopening, coordinating the sourcing of personal protective equipment, helping displaced workers find new jobs and more.  

Among other priorities, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the bill provides nearly $1 trillion to state and local governments. View the complete bill summary here.

One additional provision within the bill is the extension of the $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021. We are hearing from many chambers that, as states ease stay at home restrictions, this benefit is undermining businesses' ability to bring back employees, who are instead opting to stay on unemployment because of this added benefit.

The bill faces opposition in the Senate, where Senate Republicans are drafting their bill with a heavy emphasis on liability protections for businesses. No word yet on whether that bill will allow for (c)(6) inclusion in PPP. Expect bipartisan negotiations on a final package in the weeks ahead.

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Reopening Resource Roundup May 15, 2020

Will Burns on Friday, May 15, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

The U.S. Chamber launched a new Reopening Business Digital Resource Center that includes state-specific guidance, industry sector-specific guidance and more.

The National Governors Association is tracking state actions addressing business reopening on this chart.

Back to Work Surveys:
Here are two examples of back to work surveys chambers used to gain reopening insights from area businesses:

Indy Chamber President & CEO Michael Huber spoke to MSNBC's Alicia Menendez about the chamber’s ongoing efforts to connect people with jobs and resources through the Rapid Response Hub and Rapid Response Talent.

The Charleston Metro Chamber, working with a variety of partners in its three-county region through the One Region initiative, released phase one of re|IGNITE, a plan to safely reopen businesses. The plan is meant to provide confidence for employers, their employees and the community to safely reopen when the time is right.

Oregon Chambers: The Springfield Chamber and Eugene Area Chamber worked together to release Back to Business: A Guide to Reopening

Greater Des Moines Partnership released DSM Forward, a compilation of playbooks to help businesses prepare for economic recovery. DSM Forward includes industry specific playbooks as well as business function playbooks. 

The Manatee Chamber launched Recover Manatee to provide information and guidance to help to assist the region’s businesses as they reopen, including industry-specific guidelines.

The Little Rock Regional Chamber worked with local advertising agencies to create a quick reference guide to help businesses formulate their relaunch messaging.

Commerce Lexington released An Introductory Guide to Reopening Your Business in the Era of COVID-19 to provide area businesses with policies and procedures to consider as they prepare to reopen. 

The Wilmington Chamber released Smart Restart Hanover County, a framework to help get regional businesses back to work. 

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Rapid Response South Sound site is leveraging experts from area business to provide assistance to impacted businesses in the areas of financial assistance, HR & employee services, communications & marketing and more.

The Napa Chamber formed the Countywide Business Advisory Group to work with health and government officials to develop guidelines and rules of engagement to reopen businesses and facilitate economic recovery. The chamber also launched the Community Assist Campaign, an ongoing video series to spark positive, productive conversations during a difficult time.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Procter & Gamble Co., CVG and Brain Brew Custom Bourbon at Eureka! Ranch are helping businesses resume operations by providing free RESTART Kits.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Tulsa Regional Chamber partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance to provide a directory of companies supplying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies needed for operating according to guidelines set forth by the CDC.

Recommended Reading

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Important #ACCE20 Announcement

Sheree Anne Kelly on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

ACCE has spent two months evaluating the COVID-19 crisis. After talking with experts and partners, we have made the decision to cancel our 2020 convention scheduled for July 13-16 in Dallas due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This event is, for so many in our industry, the highlight of the year for professional development and chamber community building. Cancelling was not an easy decision, but my top concern is the safety of our members and partners. There are many other challenges including the financial impacts chambers have faced, logistical and transportation hurdles, bans on large events, among other factors.

All current #ACCE20 registrants, sponsors and exhibitors will receive a follow-up message from a member of our team shortly.

We have no intention of abandoning our efforts to take the ACCE Annual Convention to Dallas. We are working with all of our partners to secure a future convention there. We will update you as we know more.

We look forward to a time when we can bring everyone back together face-to-face. It is difficult to match the energy of an ACCE Convention and how it translates into innovation and creativity in us all. But as ACCE has ramped up our virtual programing, we’ve found inspiration in the peer sharing and connections made online. Participation and engagement are at an all-time high, and we will continue to provide more opportunities to connect, share and learn.

In fact, we are planning a major virtual event this fall focused on the road to recovery and the future of chambers. These are critical topics, and more details are coming soon.

Thank you for all the work you are doing to guide your communities through this crisis. Your efforts showcase the vital role chambers play. Let me know how we can help.

All my best,

Sheree Anne

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ACCE Announces 2020 Chamber of the Year Finalists

Will Burns on Monday, May 11, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 


The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced the finalists for the 2020 Chamber of the Year competition, sponsored by MemberClicks.

“Congratulations to the Chamber of the Year finalists. These chambers are among the most impactful organizations within the industry,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “These chambers are community champions, providing the catalytic leadership needed to help address their region’s greatest challenges.” 

Finalists for 2020 Chamber of the Year are (sorted by category):

Category One:

Category Two:

Category Three:

Category Four:

In the final phase of the competition, a judging committee conducts interviews with leaders representing each finalist chamber. One winner from each category will be named later this year.

Learn more about Chamber of the Year here.



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Chamber of Commerce COVID Updates & Best Practices

Will Burns on Friday, May 8, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

COVID-19 Legal Liability Issues: A wide array of challenges remain around legal liability issues, from exposure liability and safe workplace requirements, to the potential for discrimination claims and health privacy concerns. Here are a few updates from this week:

501(c)(6) Inclusion in PPP: Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of representatives to ensure chambers of commerce have access to federal assistance like the Paycheck Protection Program. H.R. 6697, the Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act, was introduced by Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Greg Steube (R-FL), and Gil Cisneros (D-CA). Encourage your congressional representatives to co-sponsor and support the legislation. Learn more here.  

Best Practices for Membership Renewal: We updated our COVID-19 Resource Guide with a section addressing best practices for membership renewal during times of crisis. This new section features tips and insights culled from ACCE’s Membership Development Division, along with template and sample communications.

Supporting Cultural Institutions: More than 140 chambers of commerce signed on to a letter urging Congressional leaders to support cultural institutions like performing arts centers, aquariums, zoos and museums.   

Reopening Resources

Chamber Restart/Reopening Examples  

Chambers in the News

Tags: Covid-19, Restart

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