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

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More Restart Resources

Will Burns on Friday, May 1, 2020 at 12:00:00 pm 

Last week, we showcased how a few chambers organized their back to work plans. We have a few more examples to share this week, but we also wanted to highlight a couple of specific areas: 

Guidance to Employers: It is no surprise that chambers are being relied on as a trusted source of information by businesses seeking help as they reopen. Chambers are fielding questions, launching toolkits, holding webinars and more. Here are a few new examples:

  • The Greater Kansas City Chamber: The chamber launched the #SafeReturnKC guide to help organizations reopen their workplaces in a thoughtful, safe manner. The chamber also provided training to several staff members and stood up a help desk to assist businesses with specific questions.
  • Colorado: As Colorado reopens, Northern Colorado chambers have updated the website to share the latest guidance, including industry-specific checklists.
  • Greater Louisville Inc.: GLI’s Renewal Task Force released its recommendations to reopen the regional economy this week. The recommendations outline a thoughtful, regional, phased-in approach to reopening that addresses key concerns and offers industry-specific guidance.
  • Quad Cities Chamber: The chamber launched a new toolkit to help businesses navigate the new normal and ensure the safety of our region, providing guidance to safely serve your customers and accommodate your employees.
  • The Mobile Area Chamber: The chamber released a guidebook of recommendations for reopening and keeping your workplace safe. 
  • Lake Champlain Regional Chamber: The chamber released a step-by-step guide to help businesses safely reopen and ensure their employees and customers remain and feel safe.

Helping Employers Access PPE: Chambers are stepping up to help businesses obtain the personal protective equipment needed to reopen safely. 

  • The Greater Cleveland Partnership launched a platform to connect providers of essential supplies with buyers that continue to operate. The site also helps manufacturers interested in shifting their operations to produce high-demand supplies.
  • The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce launched a marketplace to connect businesses in need of supplies with the manufacturers producing them.
  • Alabama chambers, including the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Business Council of Alabama and Dothan Area Chamber partnered with Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth's office to develop a personal protection equipment database for businesses to connect them to PPE suppliers.

Recommended Reading

Additional Resources 

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Guide to Reopening Your Workplace

Will Burns on Friday, May 1, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

Many states are beginning to announce timelines for reopening businesses to get the economy restarted. As chambers provide support and resources for businesses planning to reopen, they are also starting to think about reopening their chamber offices.

During ACCE’s roundtable calls this week, several participants highlighted Cushman & Wakefield’s recently released Recovery Readiness: A How-to Guide for Reopening your Workplace. The resource includes a comprehensive guide, a recorded webinar, a general check list and two industry-specific checklists. 

We’ve heard from many chamber leaders who plan to continue work-from-home policies in the short-term. As you begin to formulate your reopening plan, the six steps outlined in the guide are a great place to start:  

  1. Prepare the Building – implement cleaning plans, pre-return inspections, and HVAC and mechanicals checks
  2. Prepare the Workforce – create policies for deciding who returns, shift/schedule management and employee communications
  3. Control Access – enforce protocols for safety and health checks, building reception, shipping/receiving, elevators and visitor policies
  4. Create a Social Distancing Plan – follow guidelines for decreasing density, schedule management and office traffic patterns
  5. Reduce Touch Points & Increase Cleaning – implement open doors, clean-desk policy, food plans and regular cleaning of common areas
  6. Communicate for Confidence – recognize the fear employees may feel in returning, communicate transparently and listen/survey regularly

Access the complete guide here.

The Gwinnett Chamber is ready

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Back-to-Work Plans & Frameworks

Will Burns on Friday, April 24, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

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:

  1. Maximize employment in all current essential sectors, like health care, construction, transportation, retail and more
  2. Expand reopened sectors, like restaurants, salons, fitness centers, recreational and cultural centers
  3. 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:

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

Resources Mentioned Above


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