ACCE Continues to Call for Federal Support for Chambers
Chambers of commerce across the country continue to call on congressional leaders to support the inclusion of chambers and other 501(c)(6) organizations in federal stimulus programs.
Lawmakers have taken notice, and as Congress drafts the next largescale relief package, and chambers must continue to communicate with their elected officials and local media.
Congressmen Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) continue to provide leadership in the House, following the letter they submitted to Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. There was also a similar letter in the Senate, led by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) Joe Manchin (D-WV). Many other lawmakers have voiced their support as well, including:
- John Cornyn (R-TX)
- Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA)
- Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
- New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation
- Mike Johnson (R-LA)
- Email me at email@example.com if you have other examples.
We’ve also seen great examples of chambers showcasing the community leadership they are providing during this crisis and raising awareness of how chambers were left out of the Paycheck Protection Program.
- ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly: Chambers of commerce are locating economic lifeboats for their members, but they can’t climb in
- Pennsylvania Chambers: 'Mini-news outlets' for businesses: chambers of commerce press for paycheck protections amid COVID-19 pandemic
- New Hampshire Chambers: Chambers of commerce scramble to support small businesses even as they fear for their own survival
- Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce: America's Chambers Of Commerce Need Relief
- Buffalo Niagara Partnership: America's chambers of commerce need relief
Continue to urge your federal lawmakers to support chambers of commerce in the next stimulus package, and please share your stories of community impact using the hashtag #ChamberStrong. Keep up the great work, and let ACCE know how we can support you.
Chambers Support Cultural Institutions
Recognizing the important role cultural institutions play in communities across the country, chambers of commerce are signing on to a letter urging congressional leaders to provide financial support for these institutions as part of an upcoming stimulus package.
“Collectively, the nation’s performing arts centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums are losing millions of dollars a day due to closures and are in desperate need of significant federal support to continue to employ many thousands of people, rebuild our nation’s tourism industry, and simply survive the months to come,” the letter states.
Midwest Chambers Unite to Support Coordinated Reopening of the Economy
More than 40 Midwest and Great Lakes region chambers have united to support a coordinated reopening of the region’s economy. The metro chambers from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky released the following statement:
“Businesses throughout the Midwest and Ohio River Valley are anxious to get back to work while maintaining the well-being of our workforce and communities.
Successfully combatting COVID-19 will require aggressive, collaborative action among governments, health care professionals, businesses and citizens. While actions taken in our individual states are central to our own recoveries, we all will continue to be impacted by decisions made – and not made – in other locales.
Recognizing that our economies are interconnected and that people regularly cross state boundaries to access jobs, services and supplies, we support the efforts of our Governors to work together to establish coordinated recovery plans and protocols that will strengthen our economy and preserve our health and safety.
As organizations representing businesses in some of the hardest hit and most important economic engines in the nation, we will continue to serve as critical counselors to our leaders in our state capitols and Washington DC.”
The following organizations have signed on in support of this statement:
Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce
One Southern Indiana
Greater Ft. Wayne, Inc.
South Bend Regional Chamber
Southwest Indiana Chamber
Aspire Johnson County
One Zone Commerce
Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce
Greater Louisville Inc.
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Commerce Lexington Inc.
Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce
Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce
Lansing Regional Chamber
Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber
Midland Business Alliance
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce
Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance
Detroit Regional Chamber
Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Michigan West Coast Chamber
Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce
The Right Place, Inc.
Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysbury
Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce
Minneapolis Regional Chamber
TwinWest Chamber of Commerce
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
Greater Cleveland Partnership
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
Columbus Chamber of Commerce
Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce
Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce
Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber
Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce
Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce
Greater Green Bay Chamber
Back-to-Work Plans & Frameworks
As states begin to announce timelines for relaxing stay-at-home and business closure orders to restart the economy and get people back to work, chambers of commerce are playing a crucial role in helping to navigate the many challenges their regions will face.
From coordinating or participating on restart task forces, to developing frameworks and plans for kickstarting the economy in a safe and responsible manner, here are a few trends we’ve seen in plans that have been released so far:
Health and Safety at the Center
The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) plan leverages the Key Health and Safety Indicator Dashboard created by the Medical College of Wisconsin, which provides real-time metrics to support informed decision making.
“This dashboard will provide the basis for reengaging the region’s economy, while helping ensure that we not take an unwanted pitstop,” said MMAC President Tim Sheehy. “There will be flare-ups in the future. Being prepared to handle them is the best way to keep the economy running.”
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s RESTART Task Force also engaged a subset of leaders from the region’s medical systems to develop its Principles of a Responsible Return to inform the actions of state and local leaders.
Key tenants of restart plans include:
- Increasing testing and tracing capacity
- Ensuring adequate hospital capacity to treat patients requiring hospitalization
- Boosting your region’s supplies of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies needed for businesses to reopen safely
- Protecting vulnerable populations
A Phased Approach to Reopening
Keeping the health care considerations in mind, and clearly understanding that communities are going to have to be ready to respond to new flare-ups of COVID-19, many restart plans focus on a gradual approach to reopening.
In Louisiana, nearly 50 organizations endorsed a framework for restarting the economy in phases.
“It is our hope that this framework provides a solid starting point for individual businesses and governmental leaders to make decisions on how and when to safely open more of the state’s economy,” said Adam Knapp, president and CEO of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber. “We know that it is vitally important to be smart under the new normal that we find ourselves in, and that with careful planning and collaboration, we can safely and effectively return businesses to commerce, employees to work and our economy to stable footing.
The plan calls for a three-phase approach to getting people back to work:
- Maximize employment in all current essential sectors, like health care, construction, transportation, retail and more
- Expand reopened sectors, like restaurants, salons, fitness centers, recreational and cultural centers
- Embrace a new normal across all sectors, to enable the economy to operate in an ongoing manner, as safely as possible, boosting business operations as public health benchmarks are met
Throughout these phases, effective communication and business support will be crucial. Chambers of commerce are positioned to play a community leadership role in this area. Here are a few examples:
- MMAC’s plan includes Worksafe Practices for businesses to follow
- The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama recently released a Playbook for Reopening Your Business
- The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s RESTART Task Force is developing restart playbooks by industry
- The Charlottesville Regional Chamber recently launched Project Rebound to identify challenges and build actionable strategies to rebuild the economy
Many Challenges Remain
As states begin to ramp up their restart plans, many challenges remain. It is crucial that chambers are active participants in efforts to address these challenges, and the U.S. Chamber has provided a great starting point in its Implementing a National Return to Work Plan.
- Access to Child Care: With school closures and social distancing requirements, how can we phase in additional access to child care? Communities across the country are facing challenges providing child care to essential workers. Creative solutions and financial assistance to providers will be required to meet the growing demand as residents get back to work.
- Public Transportation: Millions of Americans rely on public transportation for their daily commute. Social distancing requirements make public transportation systems less efficient and impact their ability service levels.
- Regulatory and 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.
We Want to Hear from You
What steps has your chamber taken to help your community get back to work? Send your examples to Will Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources Mentioned Above
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Implementing a National Return to Work Plan
- Baton Rouge Area Chamber: Release | Plan
- Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce: Release | Plan
- Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber: Plan | Playbooks by Industry
- Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama: Playbook for Reopening Your Business
- Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce: Project Rebound
More #ChamberStrong Examples of Community Resilience
Stopping on a dime and reallocating limited resources, chambers of commerce continue to provide community leadership during a time of crisis. Here are more #ChamberStrong resource center examples:
Rethinking the Chamber Business Model
These are challenging times for chambers of commerce – and for chamber executives. But it’s during times like these that chambers showcase their true value: providing catalytic leadership to address your community’s greatest challenges.
With state and local governments launching efforts to restart the economy and get people back to work, our roundtable calls with chamber executives in communities of all sizes are shifting to focus on economic recovery. As we move to reopen our communities and understand what the next normal will bring, we need to focus on the future of our chambers as much as we focus on the future of our communities.
Many of the influences identified in ACCE’s Horizon Report are more relevant than ever. In the current climate, it is crucial that we dive back into discussions about the nature of belonging and gathering and how many chamber business models rely too heavily on membership and event revenue. How can we ensure the ongoing stability of our organizations during a time of stay-at-home orders and social distancing?
Our ongoing activities serve as a think tank for the future of chambers. But we want to hear from everyone in the industry. How are you thinking about your chamber’s business model? Over the last week, we’ve heard lots of discussions around:
- Increasing mission-based fundraising from individual, corporate and philanthropic sources to focus on solving your community’s greatest challenges.
- Opportunities for fee-for-service revenue. What services can your chamber provide that public and private sector organizations will pay for? Current chamber examples include: business retention and expansion; talent attraction; place-making, workforce solutions; custom economic research; executive relocation services; small business training and programs; diversity equity and inclusion training.
- Exploration of different plug-and-play subscription models.
How are you approaching the future of your chamber? We would love to hear your ideas. There will be lots of upcoming virtual opportunities to provide you input. You can also email me at email@example.com.
#ChamberStrong Updates - April 17, 2020
Chambers of commerce continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, helping companies access capital to keep their doors open and find the personal protective equipment they need while also helping their communities plan for the economic recovery.
Here are a few more innovative examples of chamber action that we’ve come across this week. Share your chamber stories online using the hashtag #ChamberStrong and continue to send them to Will Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Little Rock Regional Chamber coordinated a partnership with member companies that will enable the production of enough face shields to support six major hospitals in Central Arkansas.
- The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s small business relief fund is helping small businesses stay open. "Well a lot of those small businesses that we’re helping, they’re part of this community. They’re what makes Tuscaloosa and Northport special. So we’re trying to do all we can to help them right now,” Chamber President Jim Page said.
- Connected DMV, led by the Greater Washington Board of Trade, launched an economic recovery and renewal task force that will define specific actions to integrate and accelerate economic recovery efforts and restore the region to health.
- The North Central Massachusetts Chamber launched an emergency micro-loan program and leveraged its existing online job board to help recently displaced workers identify new opportunities.
- The Greater Rochester Chamber distributed thousands of masks this week to help companies prepare for new PPE requirements from the state.
- The Boise Metro Chamber is providing personalized support to help businesses navigate the federal aid program, even as it faces its own challenges.
- Florida Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson penned an op-ed stressing the importance of a careful and research-based economic restart: “Our research, gathered from some of the brightest minds in Florida and around the globe, shows that returning to work will likely be surgical, measured, vary by regions, industry sectors, the type and size of businesses, and more — all while balancing the health and safety of workers.”
- The Greeley Area Chamber and its foundation launched the Greeley Area Recovery Fund to support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The chamber also launched Greeleytogo.com to support local restaurants and keep residents connected to their local favorites.
- The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation, along with several community partners, launched a community laptop drive to support the region’s K-12 students who do not have devices at home.
- The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber launched the Keep Calm Shop Local campaign to help connect residents with local businesses. “We want to be able to provide a central location where businesses can get valuable information, resources, but also residents can find ways to support these local businesses, but also get the support they need too during this epidemic,” said Brandi Sims, the chamber’s communications manager.
- A group of regional business organizations; including the Bristol Chamber, Kingsport Chamber and the Chamber of Commerce serving Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County; joined together to launch a local business recovery fund.
- The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County teams have teamed up to launch a Rapid Response Team to consult and direct companies to advisors who will assist them in the Covid-19 crisis, on areas of concern, including capital and loan needs, unemployment and HR, legal assistance, communications, marketing and technology.
ACCE COVID-19 Updates – April 17, 2020
ACCE has been busy, hosting roundtable calls and webinars to help chambers leaders connect with peers and navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Here are a few links to recent ACCE COVID-19 calls and reminders of upcoming programs during the next couple weeks.
ChamberChat Podcast: ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly joined Brandon Burton on the ChamberChat Podcast to discuss the many ways chambers are showcasing creativity and catalytic leadership as they lead their communities through the COVID-19 crisis. Listen Now
Demonstrating Member Value in a Crisis: This webinar, facilitated by membership expert Cathi Hight, explored how chambers are engaging with members and prospects and building a pipeline for the future by demonstrating the value of chamber membership, especially now when it is needed the most. Download recording and slides.
Events Division Roundtable Call: Event professionals share ideas and experiences on cancelling/rescheduling events, holding virtual events, keeping sponsors engaged and more. Download recording and saved chat.
Finance & Operations Call: ACCE held its first finance and operations roundtable call. The call featured discussions on finance topics such as budget forecasting and adjustments; virtual bill pay and deposit protocol; membership, event and sponsorship forecasting; retention payroll tax credit and more. Listen to the audio here.
Upcoming Webinars & Roundtable Calls
Here are a few upcoming ACCE calls and webinars to help chambers navigate the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Membership Development Division
April 21 @ 2 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
Join your Membership Development peers for an all-division roundtable to share solutions, opportunities and strategies to help one another and our communities and chambers during the COVID-19 crisis
COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Division
April 21 @ 3 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
This call will explore strategies and tactics for chamber board diversity, but we will also checkin on how chambers are approaching the COVID-19 crisis from a DEI perspective.
COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Finance & Operations
April 22 @ 1 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
Join your chamber finance and operations peers for this best practice-sharing roundtable conference call moderated by Jodi Owczarski, vice president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. This call, the second in our COVID-19 Finance & Operations Roundtable Mini-Series, will feature discussions on HR topics such as: remote employee management; eliminating personnel costs; staff engagement and morale (virtual happy hours/ flexible schedules, EAP).
COVID-19 Webinar: Virtual Office Management
April 22 @ 2 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
With most states issuing stay-at-home orders, many chamber staffs are working remotely. Learn how the Salt Lake and Tri-City Regional chambers pivoted and retooled their existing teleworking policies to meet the demands of the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Webinar: Events Pivoting to Digital
April 22 @ 3:30 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
Join your peers for ACCE's 30-minute webinar series on virtual chamber events to help you adapt to this ever-changing environment. This week Cally D'Angelo of the Gwinnett Chamber will share on the “digital pivot.” Learn how the chamber converted all chamber programming and events to a digital format and continue to evolve to meet member needs.
Webinar: Outsourcing Finance and HR - Pros, Cons and How to Make it Work
April 23 @ 2 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
Are you considering outsourcing your finance or human resources staff functions to save administrative costs? In this webinar, a panel of your peers will discuss the advantages, pitfalls and lessons learned on how outsourcing can be an effective organizational management strategy – and when it has not worked. Panelists will also discuss how their decisions, with respect to outsourcing, have impacted operations during the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Finance & Operations
April 30 @ 1 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
Guided by participant comments and questions, the call will feature discussions on chamber operations topics such as: new processes (mail, voicemail, etc.); rent abatement and deferrals; and loans (mortgages and other loans). Jodi Owczarski, vice president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce will moderate this call, the final in our COVID-19 Finance & Operations Roundtable Mini-Series.
America's Chambers of Commerce Need Relief
Dependable, local chambers are locating the economic lifeboats
for their members, but they can’t climb in
Peak COVID-19 hospitalization is quickly approaching in Little Rock, Arkansas. The local medical community realized they are reaching a critical PPE shortage, with face shields top of the list. Dr. Larry Whitman, Dean of Engineering at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock found a medically approved 3-D model for a face shield online, and he sought ways to source its production. He reached out for help.
To ensure medical-grade usage, CHI St. Vincent Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gerry Jones was brought in to approve the prototype. Now how to print? Little Rock Superintendent of Schools, Michael Poore agreed to share the district’s 3-D printers that weren’t being used during school closure. Local plastic company Mr. Plastic provided plastic sheeting to fit into the headband prototype. An ingenious local solution was forged, but couldn’t be scaled up to meet the total need.
Local firm, Schueck Steel stepped in to make the headbands in mass quantities out of aluminum, and supplemented much of the cost of the total effort with its own funds. Over 500 sheets of plastic were found for sale in Houston, then shipped to Kansas City to be die cut. Arkansas-based Sage V Foods was looking for a way to give back to the community, and made a generous donation to help cover the cost.
Within four days of the issue being raised, 200 3-D printed face shields were in use locally. Within 10 days, more than 4,000 aluminum face shields will be distributed. Five hundred will go to each of the six hospitals in the area and the rest to first responders.
Who facilitated each step in this local effort? Not government. Not a national health foundation. The Little Rock Regional Chamber.
There are more than 6,500 chambers of commerce across the U.S. Most people associate chambers with small business support. And chambers are a dependable local lifeline for small businesses fighting to keep their doors open through COVID-19. Chambers nationwide have set up small business hotlines; there have been thousands of chamber-led webinars on how to navigate CARES Act resources and SBA loans; and some chambers have procured and administered gap loans and grants to infuse cash into local businesses. Among countless other innovative initiatives.
To date, over one million small businesses have been approved for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the recent CARES Act. This highly beneficial loan can be forgiven if the organization meets certain criteria. This is a much-needed resource helping to keep businesses afloat.
While chambers are front and center serving their communities through this crisis, they are left out of receiving PPP funds. Other nonprofits are eligible, but those registered with the IRS as 501(c)(6) groups—which most chambers of commerce are—were excluded.
This puts chambers of commerce in the position of fighting for their communities and providing critical support in the fight against COVID-19, while facing business-threatening financial impacts of their own, due to shrunken membership dues and canceled events that have cleared calendars and undermined critical sources of revenue.
America’s chambers of commerce are locating the lifeboats so their members can navigate the way forward for their employees, customers and business partners, but they can’t climb in.
This needs to change—and it can.
Our members across the U.S. are imploring the administration and congressional leaders to include chambers and other non-profit 501(c)(6) organizations in the next COVID-19 aid package so they/we are eligible for federal stimulus dollars.
That way, your own local chamber of commerce can connect and empower the arsenal of recovery in ways large and small, just like they did in Little Rock.
Sheree Anne Kelly is President & CEO of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) based in Alexandria, Va. ACCE represents and supports the work of chambers of commerce across the U.S. and around the world. More than 10,000 chamber executives are part of their membership, who deliver community leadership in areas like talent and workforce, education attainment, and equitable economic development. www.acce.org
#ChamberStrong Response to COVID-19
Chambers of commerce continue to showcase creativity and catalytic leadership as they help organize and lead their communities through the COVID-19 crisis. Chambers are leading efforts to assist companies seeking financial support, coordinate the sourcing and manufacture of personal protective equipment, support businesses by promoting carry-out and online sales and keeping their communities informed.
Here are a few more innovative examples we’ve come across this week. Share your examples online using the hashtag #ChamberStrong and continue to send them to Will Burns at email@example.com.
- The Orlando Economic Partnership launched the OEP Marketplace to support the region by creating a platform to match companies with needs with companies that can help. Companies who are hiring can also use the marketplace to post jobs.
- The Sacramento Metro Chamber partnered with the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber to launch a Rapid Response Business Triage Hotline to provide a go-to place for any business to navigate the local, state, and federal resources available to businesses to address critical needs brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Quad Cities Chamber reached out to businesses encouraging them to donate their extra personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Salvation Army amid critical supply shortages created by the pandemic. So far, the Salvation Army has received about 7,000 surgical masks, 5,000 latex gloves, 70 surgical gowns and 15 Tyvek coveralls from area businesses.
- The Springfield Area Chamber took its monthly Good Morning Springfield program only by hosting the monthly mixer via zoom and Facebook Live simulcast. Watch the recording here.
- The Indy Chamber’s Rapid Response Loan Fund was featured in a new report by Bruce Katz: Setting up a local small business emergency relief fund: Lessons from three first movers
- The Oklahoma City Chamber worked with local partners to launch the Oklahoma City Small Business Continuity Program to quickly put funding into the hands of small business owners to help retain jobs during this unstable time.
- The Los Angeles Area Chamber is leveraging its incubator, the Bixel Exchange, to provide one-on-one advising for regional entrepreneurs in areas like supply chain disruption, credit and finance issues, customer engagement, technology plans for enabling remote work and more.
- The Jefferson Chamber released a Voice of Business PSA to keep the community informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- South Bend Regional Chamber President & CEO Jeff Rea, CCE was selected by St. Joseph County and the City of South Bend to serve as COVID-19 Response Coordinator, a new role to aid intergovernmental communication and coordination as the community navigates its response to the COVID-19 crisis. This move highlights how the city and county recognize the chamber as a valuable community resource, as Rea will remain employed by the chamber as he leads the coordination of the public and private sector response.
- The Dallas Regional Chamber turned its talent attraction website into a source for job leads for displaced workers. The chamber built the site in conjunction with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and Indeed.com.
- The Iowa City Area Business Partnership partners with other stakeholders to launch the We’re In This Together collaboration to serve as a one-stop hub for information and updates, including a weekly “State of the Community” webinar that provides regular updates from different government agencies and industry sectors.
- The Greater Memphis Chamber launched several new initiatives including a list of immediate job opening in the Memphis region and the Open 901 directory for local businesses to promote their to-go, online or modified business hours to the greater community.
- TYPROS, Tulsa’s Young Professionals, is hosting “Take Out Nights” to support local businesses by dining out at a local restaurant on the same night of the week. They are also offering virtual “community hours” where they livestream conversations with local city, business and community leaders on how they are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The TYPROS Foundation is also providing micro-grants up to $500 to individuals or organizations who have innovative ideas to support the community during this time.
- The St. Joseph Chamber partnered with a local web designer to launch Couch & Click, a website that highlights ways that residents and companies can continue to support local businesses.
- The Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership launched a marketing blitz, Get. Gather. Go., to encourage businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. The goal is to GET businesses informed on the Paycheck Protection Program, have them GATHER the necessary information, and GO apply.
- The Des Moines Downtown Chamber is organizing weekly virtual roundtables to support local businesses from the hardest-hit industries.