COVID 19 Updates
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.
House Approves Changes to PPP
The House of Representatives passed the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886). The bill makes several positive changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), but it does not address the issue of 501 (c)(6) eligibility.
Among other changes, the bill extends the forgiveness period for eligible expenses from eight weeks to 24 weeks. It also adjusts the restrictions requiring that 75 percent of the loan amount goes to payroll, changing the ratio from 75/25 to 60/40.
The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week. The bill is expected to remain narrowly focused on changes to the current program and it will not address expansion. The next big federal package is likely to be the next opportunity to address (c)(6) inclusion.
ACCE will continue to work with our partners at the U.S. Chamber and ASAE to push to expand PPP eligibility to chambers of commerce and other 501 (c) organizations.
See ACCE’s recent op-ed in the Washington Business Journal.
How Will COVID-19 Change the Future of Work
Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work published a special report that considers how COVID-19 could change the world of work, education, health, shopping, entertainment and more.
“We imagined what would it be like if we were in 2025 and then looking back at what happened in the aftermath of the virus,” said Benjamin Pring, director of the Center for the Future of Work. “In that way of stretching your imagination, it gives you a different perspective. It offers a different way of looking at things, getting beyond the short-term panic and thinking about how we separate the changes that will become permanent from the short-term changes that will revert back to normal.”
A few highlights include:
Business Travel Loses its Cool: Is business travel the engine of commerce that we thought it was? Will virtual meeting and event alternatives, along with the environmental benefits of less air travel, lead to new habits around business travel.
The Birth of the Clean Regime: While workers may not be clamoring to get back into the office, it is clear that people want to quickly return to social spaces – parks, cafes, gyms, movie theatres, etc. As venues reopen, cleanliness is more important than ever, both in terms of combating the virus and strengthening consumer confidence to reenter these spaces. “This might be a complete shift in our perspective on the world. There is going to be a commercial opportunity around that. If conspicuous cleanliness is suddenly chic and cool, then there is going to be money to be made riding that wave.”
Online’s Big Bang: In the future, will solutions that were considered digital alternatives become the new norm. Up until the virus, technology played more of a supporting role in the delivery of education and health care. After the virus, digital solutions will play a much more central role. “What we are going to see in the next five years is that everything that can go online is going to go online,” Pring said.
Everyone’s Home is Their Castle: Will converted bedrooms and garages make way for more substantial, dedicated working space. Before the crisis, about 5 percent of Americans regularly work from home. During the COVID-19 crisis, a far greater number, perhaps 80 percent of knowledge workers worked from home regularly and there was not a massive hit to productivity. Coming out of the crisis, Pring estimated that 20-25 percent of knowledge workers may shift to working from home most of the time. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to go into physical offices when we need to do something that really requires that face-to-face interaction,” Pring said. “But the idea that people will regularly do that, Monday through Friday from nine to five, to do work that they could so just as easily at home will become less common.”
More Future of Work Reading
Congress Considering Changes to Paycheck Protection Program
Both houses of Congress are considering changes to the Paycheck Protection Program.
According to the U.S. Chamber, the Senate may take action today to pass a bill that includes revisions to the Paycheck Protection Program that would extend the period in which small businesses can use the funds. Next week, the House is expected to consider the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act (H.R. 6886). The bill makes a number of positive changes to the PPP, but it does not address the issue of 501 (c)(6) inclusion.
Contact your Congressional delegation and encourage them to make 501(c)(6) organizations eligible for financial relief under PPP.