COVID 19 Updates
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.
More #ChamberStrong Examples of Community COVID Response
This week, we continue to share a variety of examples for how chambers of commerce are supporting their communities through challenging times, from facilitating access to capital and measuring economic impact to distributing personal protective equipment and launching new initiatives to help small businesses rebound and survive.
- The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and city of Tuscaloosa gave a final round of funding to businesses hit hard by COVID-19 -- $84,279 in funding to 38 businesses. In all 230 Tuscaloosa businesses have received funds from the $1M the city awarded to the chamber.
- The Durango Chamber in Colorado received $60,000 from a local resort and charitable foundation to launch programs to support local businesses, including educational programs and scholarships to cover chamber membership.
- The Nashville Area Chamber’s Research Center created models to forecast the economic impact to the State of Tennessee and the joint Nashville and Clarksville MSAs as a result of COVID-19. View the complete analysis here.
- The Northern Virginia Chamber launched NOVA Member Connector website to help the businesses that have been hit hardest during the COVID crisis and tell inspiring community stories.
- The Association of Washington Business and a broad coalition of employer advocates continue to urge Washingtonians to wear face coverings in public through its Stay Safe Washington initiative.
- The Santa Maria Valley Chamber is providing free personal protective equipment, including hand sanitizer, face masks and face shields, to struggling small businesses with 20 employees or fewer.
- The Lincoln Chamber of Commerce partnered with the city to launch www.LNKPPE.com, a website to help connect the community with locally sources personal protective equipment.
- The South Carolina Chamber teamed up with Duke Energy to launch a new program to help small businesses rebound and survive the COVID crisis, though targeted mentoring in crucial areas like marketing, legal support and finance.
Keep sharing your examples with us. Email Will Burns at email@example.com
Creative Ideas to Address Community Challenges
The U.S. Congress left town without an agreement on a new COVID-19 stimulus package, but chambers of commerce continue working to support economic recovery in the communities they serve. Here are a few interesting best practice examples we wanted to share this week:
Getting Capital to Small Businesses
- Greater Spokane Incorporated recently reopened its OPENTogether Small Business and Non-Profit Grant Program.
- The Pflugerville Chamber partnered with the city and community development corporation to launch Pflugerville Cares, a small business grant program.
- The Bend Chamber is working with the city to leverage federal CARES Act dollars for a business resiliency grant program.
Helping Businesses Reopen Safely
- The Spartanburg Area Chamber launched a fast-turnaround testing partnership to provide businesses with access to timely, reliable and affordable COVID-19 testing.
- The Odessa Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Discover Odessa and local arts partners to create the #MaskUpOdessa Poster Contest to encourage the community to wear masks. See the winners here.
- The Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council, an organization founded by the Greater Miami Chamber and Greater Miami Progress Foundation, launched a platform where certified MBEs that supply PPE products can be connected with buyers.
- The Newport Beach Chamber rolled out a free sign campaign to spread the word about the importance of wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines.
- Thanks to the ongoing support of member businesses, the Greenville Chamber’s Mask Up initiative continues to provide free masks to small businesses and nonprofits who need them.
Navigating School Reopening & Child Care Challenges
Helping Businesses and the Community Navigate
- Kalispell Chamber hosted a webinar with the superintendent of the school system.
- The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber created a Child Care Task Force to identify creative solutions for child care as schools transition to remote learning.
- The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama is compiling a database of child care service providers to support working parents searching for options.
- The Missoula Chamber is conducting a child care survey and working with the United Way and Missoula Economic Partnership to develop creative solutions to address child care needs.
- Also, view recent webinars from ACCE and the U.S. Chamber.
Keep sending us the great work your chambers are doing so that we can share it in future updates. Email Will Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
National Survey to Identify Small Business Funding Programs
Economic recovery for small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic prompts a series of critical, practical questions:
- What resources exist to support US small businesses during the on-going response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?
- How many of them are capitalized by federal, state, non-profit, or philanthropic funding and have special requirements?
- How many target micro businesses?
- How many are focused on supporting minority business owners, veteran business owners, and woman business owners?
- If you are helping a small business better understand their options to endure the economic impacts of the pandemic, what resources exist in your state?
ACCE is working with several national organizations to ask our members to help gather this information so it can be readily accessed from a single source.
Please share this message and link with your network of funding resources – community foundation, local CDFI, etc. Completing this questionnaire should take less than five minutes and it will yield significant insights regarding the available support for small businesses across our nation. It is anticipated that a wide range of vital resources will be identified through the broad networks of business and economic development partners.
Here is the survey link: https://forms.gle/VUbkdWwnE29GE1sGA
This questionnaire will remain open for input until August 14.
Since we are partnering with multiple organizations, it is possible that you will receive a request to complete this more than once. Please complete the form only once.
Thank you for helping us canvas the nation to identify vital resources to support our nation’s small businesses.
Congress to Take Up Next COVID Relief Bill – We Need Your Voice
Congress returns this week and is expected to begin debating the details of the next COVID relief package.
According to the latest reports, the two parties remain far apart on several key issues, including expanded unemployment benefits, funding for state and local government, school funding, liability protections and more. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion Heroes Act in May. Senate Republicans are expected to introduce a $1 trillion package this week.
This fourth relief package could be the last major initiative before the election. As the debate begins, ACCE encourages you to contact your federal officials and urge them to support expanding eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program to chambers of commerce and other 501(c)(6) organizations.
How is Your Chamber Engaging on School Reopening?
As many regions of the country continue to deal with COVID-19 spikes and new rounds of shutdowns, this week’s chamber peer calls raised lots of questions and concerns around schools reopening in the fall.
Just this week, California’s two largest school districts announced that instruction will be online-only this fall. Different jurisdictions are taking different approaches to reopening schools, creating struggles for chambers seeking to help businesses navigate workforce challenges created by the unpredictability of fall school schedules.
We know that lots of chambers are having discussions with government and school district leaders. ACCE is interested in learning more about how your chamber is engaging on these challenging issues. If you have any input to share with the rest of the chamber community, or if your chamber has issued a statement on school reopen, please share it with me at email@example.com.
Here are a few recent examples we’ve come across.
- The Greater Boston Chamber has been very active trying to gain a greater understanding of the plan for reopening schools. The Chamber’s “Future of Boston” series will hold an event on August 4 to hear from state and city leaders, and help industries and communities thrive.
- The Kentucky Chamber continues to keep members informed about ongoing discussions between state and local government and education leaders. The chamber also published an op-ed to highlight the critical importance of affordable and reliable broadband for students participating in distance learning activities.
- Greater Rochester Chamber President & CEO discussed New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plans to make his announcement the first week of August during a recent video update to members.
Chambers Continue to Wrestle with Reopening Challenges
As our communities continue efforts to reopen amid the COVID-19 crisis, chambers of commerce are working to address ongoing challenges to help avoid additional spikes, shutdowns and dips in consumer confidence.
Promoting responsible behavior around social distancing and facial coverings remains a priority. Many chambers placed their initial focus on rallying their business members around responsible reopening guidelines as a way to promote safety and boost consumer confidence as restrictions ease and consumers return to shopping, dining and recreation.
Discussion on recent ACCE roundtable calls has shifted to marketing efforts to promote responsible behavior to the public as local debates around mask mandates continue in many communities. With local mandates varying widely and confusion around enforcement and liability issues, last week we saw the U.S. Chamber and other business associations call for national standards on masks.
Examples of outreach to promote wearing masks
Many chambers have launched or supported regional initiatives to promote wearing masks:
- Austin Chamber – Let’s be a city of US campaign
- Charleston Metro Chamber – One Region #WearTheMask videos
- Charlotte Regional Business Alliance promoting Count on me CLT
- Daytona Regional Chamber Back in Business Safely
- Eau Claire Area Chamber – We Ask That You Wear a Mask
- Greater Fort Wayne Inc. I Am One PSA
- Greater Gainesville Chamber – Drive-Thru Mask Distribution
- Greenville Chamber promoting the Greater GVL Pledge
- Huntsville Madison County Chamber – Mask Up Huntsville
- McAllen Chamber of Commerce – Why I Wear a Mask
- Mobile Area Chamber – Keep Alabama Open PSA
- Orlando Economic Alliance promoting #DoYourPartORL
- Greater Phoenix Chamber supports the city’s mask requirement
- Greater Rochester Chamber "We're Open" Promos
- Greater Topeka Partnership – Topeka Promise
- Vail Valley Partnership - Wearing a mask, an easy way to support opening the economy
- The Atlantic: These 8 Basic Steps Will Let Us Reopen Schools
- #NOCOVID practical communications and messaging tips for local leaders to influence safer behavior
- McKinsey & Company: US Consumer Sentiment During the Coronavirus Crisis
- National Governor’s Association: Guide for Preparing the Future Workforce Now
- Morning Consult: About One-Third of Public Comfortable Returning to “Normal Routine”
Recent ACCE Programs
- Membership: Webinar on selling in the age of COVID featuring the Nashville Area Chamber and Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.
- YP Programs: Webinar on how chamber YP programs are adapting amid the COVID-19 crisis featuring the Tulsa Regional Chamber and ChamberRVA.
- Events: Several recent Events Division calls focused on virtual and hybrid events.
- View all upcoming webinars and roundtable calls.
Chamber Inclusion in PPP
This week we thank Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tim Scott (R-SC) for introducing legislation to expand Paycheck Protection Program eligibility to chambers of commerce and destinatioin marketing organizations.
While expanding eligibility to PPP may not happen until the next major legislative package is negotiated between the two houses of Congress, we are grateful to see lawmakers showing their support for the important role chambers are playing during this crisis.
Our partners at ASAE have launched a new sign-on letter. Monday is the deadline to add your chamber to the letter. Sign on today and continue to communicate with your elected officials.