COVID 19 Updates

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 

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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

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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


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More #ChamberStrong Examples of Community Resilience

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

Stopping on a dime and reallocating limited resources, chambers of commerce continue to provide community leadership during a time of crisis. Here are more #ChamberStrong resource center examples: 

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Rethinking the Chamber Business Model

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

These are challenging times for chambers of commerce – and for chamber executives. But it’s during times like these that chambers showcase their true value: providing catalytic leadership to address your community’s greatest challenges.

With state and local governments launching efforts to restart the economy and get people back to work, our roundtable calls with chamber executives in communities of all sizes are shifting to focus on economic recovery. As we move to reopen our communities and understand what the next normal will bring, we need to focus on the future of our chambers as much as we focus on the future of our communities.

Many of the influences identified in ACCE’s Horizon Report are more relevant than ever. In the current climate, it is crucial that we dive back into discussions about the nature of belonging and gathering and how many chamber business models rely too heavily on membership and event revenue. How can we ensure the ongoing stability of our organizations during a time of stay-at-home orders and social distancing? 

Our ongoing activities serve as a think tank for the future of chambers. But we want to hear from everyone in the industry. How are you thinking about your chamber’s business model? Over the last week, we’ve heard lots of discussions around:

  • Increasing mission-based fundraising from individual, corporate and philanthropic sources to focus on solving your community’s greatest challenges.
  • Opportunities for fee-for-service revenue. What services can your chamber provide that public and private sector organizations will pay for? Current chamber examples include: business retention and expansion; talent attraction; place-making, workforce solutions; custom economic research; executive relocation services; small business training and programs; diversity equity and inclusion training.
  • Exploration of different plug-and-play subscription models.

How are you approaching the future of your chamber? We would love to hear your ideas. There will be lots of upcoming virtual opportunities to provide you input. You can also email me at

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#ChamberStrong Updates - April 17, 2020

Will Burns on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 5:00:00 pm 

Chambers of commerce continue to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, helping companies access capital to keep their doors open and find the personal protective equipment they need while also helping their communities plan for the economic recovery.

Here are a few more innovative examples of chamber action that we’ve come across this week. Share your chamber stories online using the hashtag #ChamberStrong and continue to send them to Will Burns at

  • The Little Rock Regional Chamber coordinated a partnership with member companies that will enable the production of enough face shields to support six major hospitals in Central Arkansas.
  • The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama’s small business relief fund is helping small businesses stay open. "Well a lot of those small businesses that we’re helping, they’re part of this community. They’re what makes Tuscaloosa and Northport special. So we’re trying to do all we can to help them right now,” Chamber President Jim Page said.
  • Connected DMV, led by the Greater Washington Board of Trade, launched an economic recovery and renewal task force that will define specific actions to integrate and accelerate economic recovery efforts and restore the region to health.
  • The North Central Massachusetts Chamber launched an emergency micro-loan program and leveraged its existing online job board to help recently displaced workers identify new opportunities.
  • The Greater Rochester Chamber distributed thousands of masks this week to help companies prepare for new PPE requirements from the state.
  • The Boise Metro Chamber is providing personalized support to help businesses navigate the federal aid program, even as it faces its own challenges.
  • Florida Chamber President & CEO Mark Wilson penned an op-ed stressing the importance of a careful and research-based economic restart: “Our research, gathered from some of the brightest minds in Florida and around the globe, shows that returning to work will likely be surgical, measured, vary by regions, industry sectors, the type and size of businesses, and more — all while balancing the health and safety of workers.”
  • The Greeley Area Chamber and its foundation launched the Greeley Area Recovery Fund to support businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The chamber also launched to support local restaurants and keep residents connected to their local favorites.
  • The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation, along with several community partners, launched a community laptop drive to support the region’s K-12 students who do not have devices at home.
  • The Lawton Fort Sill Chamber launched the Keep Calm Shop Local campaign to help connect residents with local businesses. “We want to be able to provide a central location where businesses can get valuable information, resources, but also residents can find ways to support these local businesses, but also get the support they need too during this epidemic,” said Brandi Sims, the chamber’s communications manager.
  • A group of regional business organizations; including the Bristol Chamber, Kingsport Chamber and the Chamber of Commerce serving Johnson City, Jonesborough, Washington County; joined together to launch a local business recovery fund.
  • The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber and Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County teams have teamed up to launch a Rapid Response Team to consult and direct companies to advisors who will assist them in the Covid-19 crisis, on areas of concern, including capital and loan needs, unemployment and HR, legal assistance, communications, marketing and technology.
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ACCE COVID-19 Updates April 17, 2020

Will Burns on Friday, April 17, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

ACCE has been busy, hosting roundtable calls and webinars to help chambers leaders connect with peers and navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Here are a few links to recent ACCE COVID-19 calls and reminders of upcoming programs during the next couple weeks. 

ChamberChat Podcast: ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly joined Brandon Burton on the ChamberChat Podcast to discuss the many ways chambers are showcasing creativity and catalytic leadership as they lead their communities through the COVID-19 crisis. Listen Now

Demonstrating Member Value in a Crisis: This webinar, facilitated by membership expert Cathi Hight, explored how chambers are engaging with members and prospects and building a pipeline for the future by demonstrating the value of chamber membership, especially now when it is needed the most. Download recording and slides.

Events Division Roundtable Call: Event professionals share ideas and experiences on cancelling/rescheduling events, holding virtual events, keeping sponsors engaged and more. Download recording and saved chat

Finance & Operations Call: ACCE held its first finance and operations roundtable call. The call featured discussions on finance topics such as budget forecasting and adjustments; virtual bill pay and deposit protocol; membership, event and sponsorship forecasting; retention payroll tax credit and more. Listen to the audio here.

Upcoming Webinars & Roundtable Calls
Here are a few upcoming ACCE calls and webinars to help chambers navigate the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Membership Development Division
April 21 @ 2 p.m. EDT | REGISTER

Join your Membership Development peers for an all-division roundtable to share solutions, opportunities and strategies to help one another and our communities and chambers during the COVID-19 crisis 

COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Division
April 21 @ 3 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
This call will explore strategies and tactics for chamber board diversity, but we will also checkin on how chambers are approaching the COVID-19 crisis from a DEI perspective.

COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Finance & Operations
April 22 @ 1 p.m. EDT | 
Join your chamber finance and operations peers for this best practice-sharing roundtable conference call moderated by Jodi Owczarski, vice president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce. This call, the second in our COVID-19 Finance & Operations Roundtable Mini-Series, will feature discussions on HR topics such as: remote employee management; eliminating personnel costs; staff engagement and morale (virtual happy hours/ flexible schedules, EAP).

COVID-19 Webinar: Virtual Office Management
April 22 @ 2 p.m. EDT | 
With most states issuing stay-at-home orders, many chamber staffs are working remotely. Learn how the Salt Lake and Tri-City Regional chambers pivoted and retooled their existing teleworking policies to meet the demands of the COVID-19 crisis. 

COVID-19 Webinar: Events Pivoting to Digital
April 22 @ 3:30 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
Join your peers for ACCE's 30-minute webinar series on virtual chamber events to help you adapt to this ever-changing environment. This week Cally D'Angelo of the Gwinnett Chamber will share on the “digital pivot.” Learn how the chamber converted all chamber programming and events to a digital format and continue to evolve to meet member needs. 

Webinar: Outsourcing Finance and HR - Pros, Cons and How to Make it Work
April 23 @ 2 p.m. EDT | REGISTER
Are you considering outsourcing your finance or human resources staff functions to save administrative costs? In this webinar, a panel of your peers will discuss the advantages, pitfalls and lessons learned on how outsourcing can be an effective organizational management strategy – and when it has not worked. Panelists will also discuss how their decisions, with respect to outsourcing, have impacted operations during the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Roundtable Call: Finance & Operations
April 30 @ 1 p.m. EDT | 
Guided by participant comments and questions, the call will feature discussions on chamber operations topics such as: new processes (mail, voicemail, etc.); rent abatement and deferrals; and loans (mortgages and other loans). Jodi Owczarski, vice president of the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce will moderate this call, the final in our COVID-19 Finance & Operations Roundtable Mini-Series.

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