COVID 19 Updates
Chambers Win PPP Eligibility in New Relief Package
After months of fighting for access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), chambers of commerce and other 501(c)(6) nonprofit organizations gained long-overdue access to federal support after Congress agreed to a new COVID stimulus deal.
There are more than 6,500 chambers of commerce in the United States. Despite a long-standing reputation of supporting small business and promoting community prosperity, chambers were denied access to critical federal support when Congress first created the PPP
“Chambers of commerce stepped up with creativity, tenacity and commitment to help their communities through unprecedented times,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Thousands of chamber executives spent months advocating for PPP eligibility, and ACCE is grateful that our elected leaders finally took action to support the vital roles chambers play in the communities they serve.”
Chambers of commerce have been critical in supporting their communities during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. They launched helplines and provided advice to small businesses struggling to survive. They led community-wide efforts to leverage local businesses and their supply chains to ensure access to personal protective equipment. They administered local loan and grant programs and created campaigns to encourage residents to support local restaurants and retailers. Through it all, they were ineligible for the federal aid they frequently helped small businesses access.
"It has been inspiring to see chambers across the country stepping up and finding innovative ways to pivot and serve our communities under very challenging circumstances," said Jay Byers, CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership and Chair of the ACCE Board. "We thank our congressional leaders for working closely with the chamber industry to provide additional pandemic relief to our business members and our organizations as we continue to focus on economic recovery and growth strategies for our cities, regions, states and country."
Eligible chambers must not receive more than 15 percent of their revenue from lobbying activities. Lobbying activities may not comprise more than 15 percent of the total activities of the organization and lobbying expenses during the most recent tax year may not exceed $1 million.
SBA Releases Updated PPP Rules and Application
The Small Business Administration reopened the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal this morning. Chambers of commerce and other 501(c)(6) organizations are now eligible to apply. The PPP website has been updated with new details including the application form and the Interim Final Rule for the program changes recently signed into law.
- Reviewing the Small Business Administration's PPP resources.
- Watching this ASAE webinar with instructions from the prior application period.
- Reviewing the US Chamber's PPP guides that were created prior to 501(c)(6) organizations gaining eligibility: Summary of 501(c)(6) Eligibility | Guide to Small Business Emergency Loans (PPP) | Guide to PPP Loan Forgiveness
What We're Reading - Looking to 2021
As we head into the holiday season, we hope you get some well-deserved time off to reflect on all the great work you and your chambers have done during a challenging 2020. As we look ahead to the new year, we wanted to share a short reading list that highlights a few key trends and insights as you plan for 2021.
- LinkedIn recently asked its community of influences to share big ideas likely to change our world. The result was 24 ideas that will shape 2021.
- A recent Upwork Future Workforce Pulse Report surveyed 1,000 hiring managers and future hiring plans and the future of remote work. Those hiring managers believe that nearly 27 percent of the workforce will remain remote.
- The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council met on Dec. 8 and developed recommendations for the incoming Biden Administration that focused on four key areas: the economy, America’s role in the world, trade and China policy and inequity and inclusion in the workplace and society.
- A recent Entrepreneur magazine article highlighted a tend where underrepresented communities are building their own funding networks.
- A new report from Strada Education Network and Lumina Foundation explored the important role of intermediaries, like chambers, to provide leadership and strengthen public-private partnerships to tackle big community challenges.
- A recent conversation between Amy Liu, vice president and director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, and Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of the Lumina Foundation explored opportunities to redesign education, training and the workplace to adapt to an increasingly automated world.
- A new National Skills Coalition policy brief explores ways to boost digital literacy and help workers acquire industry-specific digital skills.
Weekly Roundup 11/6/2020
Chambers Showcase Commitment to Civility
In the aftermath of election day, with deep political dives and polarization, we believe there is a role for chambers of commerce to promote patience and civility. Here are a few examples of chambers that are working to reduce polarization and improve civil discourse. Share your chamber’s initiatives with me at email@example.com.
- The Salt Lake Chamber, along with the signatories from the business community, issued a statement last week promoting patience and civility regarding the election.
- Greater Des Moines Partnership CEO Jay Byers, CCE, IOM, co-authored an op-ed outlining the urgent need for communities to address big challenges with civility, decency and respect.
- The Leavenworth-Lansing Area Chamber launched the Indivisible Initiative, which seeks to repair the community’s divisions through intentional acts of compassion, kindness and respect.
- The Greater Naples Chamber’s Leadership Collier Foundation Alumni Association is making civility a priority and exploring how leaders can heal division through civil discourse.
- Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia President & CEO Rob Wonderling sent a message to his membership, drawing inspiration from the words of his incoming chair and reaffirming the chamber’s commitment to leading with civility and collaboration.
- As a result of the deterioration of civility in public discourse, the San Luis Obispo Chamber created a code of civilityto govern behavior at candidate forums and similar events.
- At the state level, voters went to the polls this week to elect 5,877 state representatives and 11 governors, and to decide 120 statewide ballot measures. Multistate Associated shared its post-election analysis and its Elections Dashboard.
- Chambers were active in several major referenda for transportation and transit projects went to the voters as well. Here is an overview of a few of the major initiatives from The Transport Politic.
- In a recent post, consultant Hardy Smith encourages organizations to take time to plan your 2021 planning activities.
- Fortune: Getting involved in diversity and inclusion is optional. That’s a problem.
- McKinsey & Company: Understanding organizational barriers to a more inclusive workplace.
- Inside Higher Ed: Employer-Based College Programs Here to Stay.
- Congratulations to the San Francisco Chamber on its 170thanniversary.
Weekly Roundup 10/30/2020
Winter is Coming
As the weather turns cold and restaurants continue to deal with COVID-driven capacity restrictions, chambers of commerce are seeking creative ways to support local restaurants. Here are a few examples:
- The Greater Des Moines Partnership announced the recipients of its Extend the Season Grant program, which provided outdoor heating equipment to local restaurants to help them continue to offer outdoor dining as winter approaches.
- The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership launched its Back to Business All Weather Grant program, which leverages $500,000 of CARES Act funds to provide eligible small businesses $5,000 grants to “winterize” outdoor business areas.
- Rochester Downtown Alliance and Chamber of Commerce are working to provide $2,000 grants to restaurants to help them reinvent outdoor spaces to keep customers warm as the weather turns cold.
- Several Rhode Island chambers are among the organizations that were awarded $3 million in grants to help the state’s businesses “Take it Outside.” The funds will be distributed to local businesses to help cover the costs of conducting business outdoors.
- The Waterbury Regional Chamber launched a BYOB campaign – Bring Your Own Blanket –to encourage consumers to support local restaurants by bringing their own blankets to dine comfortably outside.
Preparing for a Resurgence of COVID-19
- The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce shared a checklist of items that corporate leaders can address to minimize disruption and protect employees, customers and other stakeholders.
- A group of chambers in Michigan sent four recommendations to the governor and legislative leadership to inform ongoing policy decisions.
- ACCE board member, Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce outlined five tests for governments as they consider additional shutdowns.
What steps has your chamber taken to prepare for a fall resurgence of COVID-19. Send your initiatives to Will Burns.
What We’re Reading
- Korn Ferry: As people head to the polls next week, election day may be only the beginning of a long period of uncertainty and anxiety.
- Remote Worker Data: Recognizing that working-from-home will continue to increase over time, the National Association of REALTORS® conducted a study of the 3,142 counties that are best poised to provide a supportive environment for working remotely.
- McKinsey & Company: The next normal will require true transformation, business model shifts that alter your operations at the cellular level to elevate performance and the capabilities of your people.
- Transformation in St. Louis: The St. Louis Regional Chamber and four other organizations announced they will come together to combine their strengths into one organization to drive inclusive growth in St. Louis with a unified voice and bold agenda.
- Staffing Virtual Events: Staff roles for virtual events are different from in-person events. ASAE explores a few staff roles to help organizations deliver impactful virtual events.
- Social Networks & Economic Mobility: New research from the Brookings Institution dives deeper into how social networks in Charlotte affect access to economic opportunity. Charlotte Regional Business Alliance SVP of Economic Research Chuck McShane discussed the research with the report’s author in a recent episode of the Alliance’s podcast.
- Preserve Trust & Electoral Integrity: An unprecedented number of civil society groups, including public interest organizations, business associations, and faith-based organizations, as well as political leaders, have mobilized around ensuring an inclusive, credible, and peaceful election.
A Surge in Shopping Local Online
The COVID crisis has been tough on many Main Street businesses. And as we look toward the holiday shopping season, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are growing at a speed not seen since July. In the midst of a pandemic, shopping local and buying online are no longer mutually exclusive.
Many resilient small business owners adjusted business practices and boosted their online presence in order to continue serving their customers. From curbside pickup and remote ordering to videoconference consultations and social media promotions, small businesses showcased their agility and consumers responded.
A recent report by Facebook and the Small Business Roundtable highlighted some of the ways small businesses are leveraging internet tools to adapt during the crisis. The survey found that:
- 51 percent of businesses report increasing online interactions with their customers.
- 35 percent of businesses that changed operations have expanded the use of digital payments.
It’s not just businesses that are adapting. Consumers are combining their enthusiasm for social media engagement with their desire to support favorite local businesses. Coffee shops, restaurants, craft breweries and quirky boutiques are part of what make our communities unique. Residents don’t want to see their favorite local businesses fail. In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that 49 percent of consumers “made a purchase specifically to support a local or small business.”
Countless chambers of commerce around the world encouraged this behavior through social media campaigns to promote shopping local. They pulled small businesses together and collected and shared information about operational changes like curbside pickup, adjusted hours, special promotions and more. Then they rallied consumers to support their town’s small businesses and encouraged them to share via social media platforms.
Here are just a handful of examples.
- Greater Des Moines Partnership’s DSM Local
- Saratoga County Chamber’s Save Our Locals
- Minneapolis Regional Chamber’s Too Local to Fail
- The Chamber of Lawrence, Kansas’ #RiseLawrence
- Chattanooga Area Chamber’s Chattanooga To Go
- Arlington Chamber’s Shop Arlington First
- Halifax Chamber’s BuyHalifax
- Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s It’s Our Job
- Quad Cities Chamber’s Keep it QC
- Greater Maryville Chamber’s Uniquely Nodaway
- Pierre Area Chamber's Shop Where I Live
With the holiday shopping season upon us, it is more important than ever for chambers to continue to support their local businesses. Here are some partner resources that can help:
- October 27 Partner Webinar: Facebook's Holiday Boost
- November 10 Partner Webinar: Partner Webinar: Establish Your Online Advertising Strategy with Facebook
- Facebook Business Resource Hub
Weekly Roundup 10/16/2020
#ChamberStrong COVID Initiatives
- The Greater Cleveland Partnership has set an aggressive 10-year plan that addresses the immediate and longer-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic while strengthening the region through inclusive, technology-based growth.
- The Saratoga County Chamber will launch the “Save Our Local Businesses” campaign to help restaurants and other small businesses impacted by ongoing COVID restrictions during the year-end holidays.
- The Owen County Chamber of Commerce & EDC and the Owen County Community Foundation announced that the Owen County Economic Recovery Bridge Grant is now open for round two. Small businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000.
- The Asheville Area Chamber hosted a virtual career expo this week. Job seekers could participate from any device with an internet connection and upload resume’s browse information about local employers and meet with prospective employers via chat or email.
- The Greater Boston Chamber released its Roadmap to Economic Recovery this week, a set of policy principles developed to help lawmakers restore and strengthen the economy.
- Based on experiences through the pandemic, ten Montgomery County Pennsylvania chambers formed the Alliance of Montgomery County Chambers of Commerce to provide a vehicle for open dialog on emerging issues and establish a forum to leverage their collective voice for business advocacy.
- The Irving-Las Colinas Chamber and Irving Hispanic Chamber are working with the city on its Emergency Business Assistance Grant Program, which just expanded eligibility to independently owned franchises, sole proprietors and home-based business owners.
- The Nashville Area Chamber is working with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center to launch Renew Nashville, a citywide initiative designed to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with world-class expertise and resources aimed at increasing their rate of survival.
- Based on interviews with more than 100 board directors, Korn Ferry contends that CEOs for the future will need to demonstrate inquisitiveness, agility, humility, and an insatiable appetite for learning like no generation before them.
- LinkedIn recently explored generational differences in terms of how people are coping with the pandemic and reconnecting with the workplace.
- Business Roundtable, representing over 200 CEOs, announced corporate actions and public policy recommendations to advance racial equity and justice and increase economic opportunity in America.
- Axios: State officials plea for stimulus aid to save transit systems.
Weekly Roundup 10/9/2020
#ChamberStrong COVID Initiatives
- The Philadelphia Regional Recharge and Recovery Task Force, led by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and its CEO Council for Growth, released a Phase 1 recommendations and actions report detailing the immediate actions devised to stabilize the regional economy and ensure rapid recovery when businesses reopen.
- Four chambers in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, chambers leveraged CARES Act funding to jointly develop a new program to support businesses and help them adapt to new methods to address COVID-related challenges.
- Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce worked with the police department to promote civility and encourage business owners and patrons to be respectful and patient with safety measures put in place to protect employees and customers.
- Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Community College RI Divisions of Workforce Partnerships to create a series of free courses to help displaces workers and companies that have transitioned to remote work access digital skills training to help individuals skill up.
- The Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber of Commerce will administer grant programs to distribute $320,000 in grants to small businesses impacted by the COVID crisis and statewide stay at home orders.
- The Lindale Chamber Area Chamber created the Launch Local Festival to support businesses impacted by COVID-19 by creating an event that celebrates local companies, food, wineries and art.
- The Springfield Area Chamber launched its Education Resource Center for employers to gather as much information about school reopening as possible in one centralized location to answer questions from parents and employers alike.
- Barry Wilfahrt, CCE, IOM, President & CEO of the Grand Forks East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce participated in an online Q&A with the Grand Forks Herald, discussing COVID-related issues and economic resilience in Grand Forks.
- The Buffalo Niagara Partnership launched the It’s Our Job campaign to promote healthy behaviors, keep businesses open, encourage consumers to shop local and help stop the spread.
- The Ponca City Chamber is holding a scavenger hunt through the month of October to increase foot traffic at local businesses and provide the community something fun to do.
- The Salina Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched a small business grant program to assist small businesses with loss of income due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the stay at home order.
- The Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the company Ritual to give member restaurants an opportunity to pivot more smoothly to an online ordering format customers can access through their phones.
- With elections around the corner and voters encouraged to vote early or absentee, the South Bend Regional Chamber posted recordings of candidate interviews for many critical local races.
- New Public Affairs Council Poll finds the public is critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and believes the private sector has done a better job of balancing safety concerns with the need to re-open the economy. Learn more and browse other insights
- HBR: The Uncertain Future of Corporate HQs - Richard Florida explores trends around the COVID-driven rise of remote work and what it could mean for office reentry and corporate location decisions.
- RDG: In his latest blog post, Rob Radcliff explores how approaching philanthropic foundations for financial support is different from approaching corporations.
- Cushman & Wakefield: A report and webinar analyzing COVID-19’s impact on the office sector.
Weekly Roundup 9/18/2020
#ChamberStrong COVID Initiatives
- Minot Area Chamber of Commerce worked with Trinity Health to produce a toolkit that provides businesses with guidance on enhancing protections for employees and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- San Antonio Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Richard Perez recently discussed the current economic situation in the region and highlighted worked training and retraining initiatives that can help workers gain the skills needed for jobs that are in demand right now.
- Many chambers participated in the virtual Business Leaders United on the Hill event this week, calling on Congress to invest in digital skills training. To see some of the participants in their virtual meetings, view the hashtag #BLUontheHill.
- The Capital Region Chamber will manage the new Capital Region Advancement Fund, a new revolving loan fund that will immediately assist businesses throughout the Capital Region who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- With the COVID pandemic grounding the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance’s business recruitment team, the organization launched a new series of virtual mixers with site consultants to help maintain relationships with those who bring projects to the region.
- Saratoga County Chamber showcased Saratoga Hospital's COVID 19 Business Safety Consultation Program during an online meeting of its Small Business Owners Council.
Chambers are facing many challenges around events, including government restrictions on the size of gatherings, corporate policies that forbid employees from attending events, issues related to attendee confidence, Zoom fatigue and more. How is your chamber adapting? Please send me your most creative solutions to pulling off impactful events and we will share with the broader chamber community. Here are a few examples we've seen over the last few weeks:
- The Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber typically attracts 350 or more to its Epic Awards program. The state capped gatherings at 25 people, so the chamber had to get creative. They pre-recorded the program and had five sets of watch parties at area restaurants with outdoor seating for sponsors and honorees. The program was live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook and the chamber secured time on a local television station to rebroadcast. The event was a success financially, the chamber reached more people than in prior years and they received positive feedback from attendees sponsors and honorees alike.
- Greenville-Pitt County Chamber decided that another zoom event wasn’t going to be good enough for its annual Small Business Leader Awards. They partnered with a local church to host participants, speakers and honorees in person while broadcasting the event via live stream to the rest of its membership.
- Grand Rapids Chamber wanted to up the production value of its virtual events, so it teamed up with a local studio to live stream the chamber’s recent Health Care Summit.
- The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber took inspiration from the NFL Draft to create an engaging virtual experience for its Annual Best Places to Work Awards. The chamber streamed the event using its office as the main site. As the moderators went through the program, they broaght the various companies into the broadcast via Zoom.
- How do you host a socially distanced job fair? The Greater Rochester Chamber and the Longview Chamber recently promoted drive-thru job fairs to connect job seekers with opportunities in a safe outdoor environment.
- Feeding into our research on the future of chambers, this recent article from McKinsey & Company shows why we need to articulate our purpose as chambers, including solving our community’s greatest challenges.
- New research from Morning Consult and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Early Childhood Initiative offers key insights into how working parents are making school-age care decisions as schools shift online.
- In a recent article, Bruce Katz highlighted how the COVID-19 crisis has simultaneously heightened the need for the national leadership, but revealed the power and agility of the local leadership.
- Greater Louisville Inc. released Now Louisville, a new strategic plan to help the organization propel the region to the next level by creating deeper public-private partnerships and focus their action on strategic pillars that will move the needle and create measurable change.
Weekly Roundup 9/11/2020
Expanding PPP to 501(c)(6) Organizations
Our partners at ASAE have a new sign-on letter urging Congress to expand Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to 501(c)(6) organizations. It also calls for the following PPP-related provisions:
- Reauthorize until at least March 31, 2021;
- Include 501(c)(6) nonprofits in the so-called “second draw” program;
- Expand the definition for eligible “receipts” within the “second draw” program to include in-person event cancellations and lost revenue from certification programs and other education; and
- Apply lobbying language as outlined in Section 90001 of the HEROES Act and included in the broadly bipartisan Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act of 2020 (H.R. 6697).
The deadline to join this letter is Monday, September 14. Add your chamber today.
Congress remains deadlocked, but chambers of commerce across the country continue to create partnerships and find creative ways to support their communities through the COVID crisis.
- Mountain Lakes Chamber of Commerce launched a community partnership to support local restaurants and feed hungry kids.
- The Aurora Regional Chamber partnered with Invest Aurora to launch the Business Implications Survey, the second survey aimed at measuring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on area businesses.
- The Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce is administering another round of its Chamber Cares Small Business Grant program, with funding from the Washington State Department of Commerce.
- A coalition of health care and business leaders in Detroit recently launched the Rona 4 Real campaign to spread awareness of the seriousness of COVID-19 to Michigan’s young adults, ages 18-29.
- The Manatee Chamber of Commerce is helping to build awareness within its community on the various grants available to help businesses, individuals and nonprofits tap into federal CAREs act dollars to benefit the local recovery.
- McLean County Chamber is helping local businesses by distributing donated personal protective equipment to help keep them COVID-compliant.
In the most recent edition of Chamber Executive magazine, we focused on some of the ways chambers are working to address racial equity. Here are a few more recent examples we've come across.
- The Greenville Chamber, working with other community stakeholders, launched the Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission, a group of 35 leaders working to "implement significant change in the areas of racial inequities, social justice, and other key gaps identified as focus areas of the Black community."
- The Quad Cities Chamber highlighted diversity, equity and inclusion during its virtual annual meeting and launched a DEI toolkit to provide member businesses with a framework for action.
- San Angelo Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Walt Koenig recently published an op-ed to outline why the chamber’s board supports and encourages all community businesses to practice diversity, inclusion and equity in daily operations, hiring, development, and promotion decisions.
- The Greensboro Chamber’s State of Our Community event focused on COVID-19 recovery and how the community must address racial and economic divides as part of the recovery process.
- The United States recently celebrated the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance focused an episode of its podcast on renewing “The Dream” through educational equity, inclusive entrepreneurship and economic access.
- Siena College/Magicians of Main Street Poll: 90% of Chamber of Commerce Exec’s Say Business Conditions Have Worsened; Just over Half Expect Improvement
- ICC: World chambers report explores chamber of commerce response to COVID-19
- HBR: Adapt Your Business to the New Reality
- PolicyLink: A CEO Blueprint for Racial Equity
- Medium: Remote Work Is Killing the Hidden Trillion-Dollar Office Economy
The Week's #ChamberStrong COVID News
Summer is coming to a close, but chambers of commerce remain hard at work, supporting local businesses and promoting economic recovery. Here are a few recent examples we noticed this week:
- Commerce Lexington’s access loan program has approved $2,187,230 in grants to 151 businesses, an average of almost $14,500 per business. The $2.5 million small business stimulus program could wrap next week, but some members of the Urban County Council already are talking about a round 2 at some point.
- The Joplin Chamber launched the Ideas on Tap program to support those who have been laid off by with resources, programs, education, and places for people to work and start businesses of their own.
- The Cape Cod Chamber is helping businesses in key industries like tourism adapt and identify opportunities in a changing economy.
- The Terre Haute Chamber supporting businesses to help the downtown core evolve through the pandemic
- Family Forward NC was launched to help businesses of all sizes adopt family-friendly policies to improve child and family well being. Ashville Area Chamber President & CEO Kit Cramer is on the Initiative’s advisory council.
- The Metro Atlanta Chamber released the final report of its RESTORE Initiative that includes more than 120 recommendations to help Georgia recover quickly.
Keep sharing your examples with us. Email Will Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.