COVID 19 Updates
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
House COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Relief for Chambers
A proposal to expand access to the Paycheck Protection Program to all 501 (c) organizations is part of the $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package introduced by House Democrats this week.
Chambers of commerce have been urging their congressional delegations to support (c)(6) inclusion for weeks. It’s great to see lawmakers recognize the vital role chambers are playing during this crisis, helping companies access capital, sharing best practices for reopening, coordinating the sourcing of personal protective equipment, helping displaced workers find new jobs and more.
Among other priorities, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act, the bill provides nearly $1 trillion to state and local governments. View the complete bill summary here.
One additional provision within the bill is the extension of the $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021. We are hearing from many chambers that, as states ease stay at home restrictions, this benefit is undermining businesses' ability to bring back employees, who are instead opting to stay on unemployment because of this added benefit.
The bill faces opposition in the Senate, where Senate Republicans are drafting their bill with a heavy emphasis on liability protections for businesses. No word yet on whether that bill will allow for (c)(6) inclusion in PPP. Expect bipartisan negotiations on a final package in the weeks ahead.
Reopening Resource Roundup – May 15, 2020
The U.S. Chamber launched a new Reopening Business Digital Resource Center that includes state-specific guidance, industry sector-specific guidance and more.
The National Governors Association is tracking state actions addressing business reopening on this chart.
Back to Work Surveys:
Here are two examples of back to work surveys chambers used to gain reopening insights from area businesses:
Indy Chamber President & CEO Michael Huber spoke to MSNBC's Alicia Menendez about the chamber’s ongoing efforts to connect people with jobs and resources through the Rapid Response Hub and Rapid Response Talent.
The Charleston Metro Chamber, working with a variety of partners in its three-county region through the One Region initiative, released phase one of re|IGNITE, a plan to safely reopen businesses. The plan is meant to provide confidence for employers, their employees and the community to safely reopen when the time is right.
Oregon Chambers: The Springfield Chamber and Eugene Area Chamber worked together to release Back to Business: A Guide to Reopening
Greater Des Moines Partnership released DSM Forward, a compilation of playbooks to help businesses prepare for economic recovery. DSM Forward includes industry specific playbooks as well as business function playbooks.
The Little Rock Regional Chamber worked with local advertising agencies to create a quick reference guide to help businesses formulate their relaunch messaging.
Commerce Lexington released An Introductory Guide to Reopening Your Business in the Era of COVID-19 to provide area businesses with policies and procedures to consider as they prepare to reopen.
The Wilmington Chamber released Smart Restart Hanover County, a framework to help get regional businesses back to work.
The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber’s Rapid Response South Sound site is leveraging experts from area business to provide assistance to impacted businesses in the areas of financial assistance, HR & employee services, communications & marketing and more.
The Napa Chamber formed the Countywide Business Advisory Group to work with health and government officials to develop guidelines and rules of engagement to reopen businesses and facilitate economic recovery. The chamber also launched the Community Assist Campaign, an ongoing video series to spark positive, productive conversations during a difficult time.
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Procter & Gamble Co., CVG and Brain Brew Custom Bourbon at Eureka! Ranch are helping businesses resume operations by providing free RESTART Kits.
The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Tulsa Regional Chamber partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance to provide a directory of companies supplying Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other supplies needed for operating according to guidelines set forth by the CDC.
- McKinsey & Company: Digital strategy in a time of crisis
- HBR: Leading Through Anxiety – Inspiring Others When You’re Struggling Yourself
- S. Chamber: Federal Liability Problems and Solutions
- Cognizant: After the Virus – A Special Report Looking Back on the Next Five Years
- Weathering the Storm: How Congress can help businesses and workers get to the other side of this pandemic and beyond
Chamber of Commerce COVID Updates & Best Practices
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:
- U.S. Chamber Of Commerce: Businesses Are Worried About Getting Sued As They Reopen
- Utah governor signs bill shielding businesses, property owners from coronavirus-related suits
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.
- U.S. Chamber: State-by-State Business Reopening Guidance
- MultiState Associates: COVID-19 State Reopening Guide
- McKinsey & Company: The Restart
Chamber Restart/Reopening Examples
- Calgary Chamber
- Tulsa Regional Chamber
- Charleston Metro Chamber
- Virginia Chamber
- Greater Louisville Inc.
- Mobile Area Chamber
- Nashville Area Chamber
- Columbia Chamber
- Greater Kansas City Chamber
- Michigan West Coast Chamber
- Greater Houston Partnership
- Nixa Area Chamber
- Billings Chamber of Commerce
- Maryland Chamber of Commerce
- Association of Washington Business
Chambers in the News
- Chamber Corner: It’s time to rally around #ChamberStrong
- Adam Knapp On BRAC’s Indicator Dashboard
- Bob Duffy: Gradual reopening in NY will be based on data, science
- Buffalo Niagara Partnership: Businesses getting hit hard by pandemic, survey shows
- Houston, Orlando, Colorado Springs featured on DCI Podcast
- As business community’s needs surge, Oregon chambers of commerce dig in, reach out, forge ahead
- Local Businesses Rely on Chamber of Commerce
ACCE Launches Executive Support Alliance
Chamber of commerce CEOs are facing a variety of challenges dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. They are seeking support from their peers, leadership and staff to help their members, and their communities, rebound from these difficult times.
ACCE is pleased to launch the Executive Support Alliance, a team of industry consultants and retired chamber execs. These industry pros have stepped up to provide free coaching and support for chamber leaders in areas including programming, human resources, financial, legal, marketing & communications, strategic planning, board management, executive coaching and more.
"The chamber community is in this together, and it's inspiring to see the positive response we received when we reached out to our industry partners to organize this program," ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly said. "The coaching sessions will help many chamber executives navigate challenging conditions, and we appreciate the commitment of our alliance partners."
To take advantage of this new initiative and schedule a no-cost, 1-hour coaching session, contact Anissa Starnes at email@example.com to be matched with a consultant.