COVID 19 Updates

House COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Relief for Chambers

Will Burns on Friday, May 15, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

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.

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Reopening Resource Roundup May 15, 2020

Will Burns on Friday, May 15, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

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 Manatee Chamber launched Recover Manatee to provide information and guidance to help to assist the region’s businesses as they reopen, including industry-specific guidelines.

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.

Recommended Reading

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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

Tags: Covid-19, Restart

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ACCE Launches Executive Support Alliance

Will Burns on Monday, May 4, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

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 to be matched with a consultant.


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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 

Tags: Restart

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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

Tags: Restart

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ACCE Continues to Call for Federal Support for Chambers

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

Chambers of commerce across the country continue to call on congressional leaders to support the inclusion of chambers and other 501(c)(6) organizations in federal stimulus programs.  

Lawmakers have taken notice, and as Congress drafts the next largescale relief package, and chambers must continue to communicate with their elected officials and local media. 

Congressmen Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) continue to provide leadership in the House, following the letter they submitted to Speaker Nancy Pelosi last month. There was also a similar letter in the Senate, led by Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA) Joe Manchin (D-WV). Many other lawmakers have voiced their support as well, including:

We’ve also seen great examples of chambers showcasing the community leadership they are providing during this crisis and raising awareness of how chambers were left out of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Continue to urge your federal lawmakers to support chambers of commerce in the next stimulus package, and please share your stories of community impact using the hashtag #ChamberStrong. Keep up the great work, and let ACCE know how we can support you.

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Chambers Support Cultural Institutions

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

Recognizing the important role cultural institutions play in communities across the country, chambers of commerce are signing on to a letter urging congressional leaders to provide financial support for these institutions as part of an upcoming stimulus package.

“Collectively, the nation’s performing arts centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums are losing millions of dollars a day due to closures and are in desperate need of significant federal support to continue to employ many thousands of people, rebuild our nation’s tourism industry, and simply survive the months to come,” the letter states.

View the complete letter here. If your chamber is interested in signing on to the letter, email Will Burns at by close of business Monday, May 4.

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Midwest Chambers Unite to Support Coordinated Reopening of the Economy

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

More than 40 Midwest and Great Lakes region chambers have united to support a coordinated reopening of the region’s economy. The metro chambers from Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky released the following statement:

“Businesses throughout the Midwest and Ohio River Valley are anxious to get back to work while maintaining the well-being of our workforce and communities.

Successfully combatting COVID-19 will require aggressive, collaborative action among governments, health care professionals, businesses and citizens.  While actions taken in our individual states are central to our own recoveries, we all will continue to be impacted by decisions made – and not made – in other locales.

Recognizing that our economies are interconnected and that people regularly cross state boundaries to access jobs, services and supplies, we support the efforts of our Governors to work together to establish coordinated recovery plans and protocols that will strengthen our economy and preserve our health and safety.

As organizations representing businesses in some of the hardest hit and most important economic engines in the nation, we will continue to serve as critical counselors to our leaders in our state capitols and Washington DC.”


The following organizations have signed on in support of this statement:


Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce



One Southern Indiana

Greater Ft. Wayne, Inc.

South Bend Regional Chamber

Southwest Indiana Chamber

Indy Chamber

Aspire Johnson County

One Zone Commerce

Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce



Greater Louisville Inc. 

Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

Commerce Lexington Inc. 

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce

Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce



Lansing Regional Chamber

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber

Midland Business Alliance

Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce

Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance

Detroit Regional Chamber

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

Lakeshore Advantage

Michigan West Coast Chamber

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce

The Right Place, Inc.

Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysbury



Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce

Minneapolis Regional Chamber

TwinWest Chamber of Commerce



Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

Greater Cleveland Partnership

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce

Columbus Chamber of Commerce

Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce

Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce

Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce

Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber



Wauwatosa Chamber of Commerce

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

Greater Green Bay Chamber


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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


Tags: Restart

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