COVID 19 Updates
America's Chambers of Commerce Need Relief
Dependable, local chambers are locating the economic lifeboats
for their members, but they can’t climb in
Peak COVID-19 hospitalization is quickly approaching in Little Rock, Arkansas. The local medical community realized they are reaching a critical PPE shortage, with face shields top of the list. Dr. Larry Whitman, Dean of Engineering at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock found a medically approved 3-D model for a face shield online, and he sought ways to source its production. He reached out for help.
To ensure medical-grade usage, CHI St. Vincent Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Gerry Jones was brought in to approve the prototype. Now how to print? Little Rock Superintendent of Schools, Michael Poore agreed to share the district’s 3-D printers that weren’t being used during school closure. Local plastic company Mr. Plastic provided plastic sheeting to fit into the headband prototype. An ingenious local solution was forged, but couldn’t be scaled up to meet the total need.
Local firm, Schueck Steel stepped in to make the headbands in mass quantities out of aluminum, and supplemented much of the cost of the total effort with its own funds. Over 500 sheets of plastic were found for sale in Houston, then shipped to Kansas City to be die cut. Arkansas-based Sage V Foods was looking for a way to give back to the community, and made a generous donation to help cover the cost.
Within four days of the issue being raised, 200 3-D printed face shields were in use locally. Within 10 days, more than 4,000 aluminum face shields will be distributed. Five hundred will go to each of the six hospitals in the area and the rest to first responders.
Who facilitated each step in this local effort? Not government. Not a national health foundation. The Little Rock Regional Chamber.
There are more than 6,500 chambers of commerce across the U.S. Most people associate chambers with small business support. And chambers are a dependable local lifeline for small businesses fighting to keep their doors open through COVID-19. Chambers nationwide have set up small business hotlines; there have been thousands of chamber-led webinars on how to navigate CARES Act resources and SBA loans; and some chambers have procured and administered gap loans and grants to infuse cash into local businesses. Among countless other innovative initiatives.
To date, over one million small businesses have been approved for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in the recent CARES Act. This highly beneficial loan can be forgiven if the organization meets certain criteria. This is a much-needed resource helping to keep businesses afloat.
While chambers are front and center serving their communities through this crisis, they are left out of receiving PPP funds. Other nonprofits are eligible, but those registered with the IRS as 501(c)(6) groups—which most chambers of commerce are—were excluded.
This puts chambers of commerce in the position of fighting for their communities and providing critical support in the fight against COVID-19, while facing business-threatening financial impacts of their own, due to shrunken membership dues and canceled events that have cleared calendars and undermined critical sources of revenue.
America’s chambers of commerce are locating the lifeboats so their members can navigate the way forward for their employees, customers and business partners, but they can’t climb in.
This needs to change—and it can.
Our members across the U.S. are imploring the administration and congressional leaders to include chambers and other non-profit 501(c)(6) organizations in the next COVID-19 aid package so they/we are eligible for federal stimulus dollars.
That way, your own local chamber of commerce can connect and empower the arsenal of recovery in ways large and small, just like they did in Little Rock.
Sheree Anne Kelly is President & CEO of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) based in Alexandria, Va. ACCE represents and supports the work of chambers of commerce across the U.S. and around the world. More than 10,000 chamber executives are part of their membership, who deliver community leadership in areas like talent and workforce, education attainment, and equitable economic development. www.acce.org
#ChamberStrong Response to COVID-19
Chambers of commerce continue to showcase creativity and catalytic leadership as they help organize and lead their communities through the COVID-19 crisis. Chambers are leading efforts to assist companies seeking financial support, coordinate the sourcing and manufacture of personal protective equipment, support businesses by promoting carry-out and online sales and keeping their communities informed.
Here are a few more innovative examples we’ve come across this week. Share your examples online using the hashtag #ChamberStrong and continue to send them to Will Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Orlando Economic Partnership launched the OEP Marketplace to support the region by creating a platform to match companies with needs with companies that can help. Companies who are hiring can also use the marketplace to post jobs.
- The Sacramento Metro Chamber partnered with the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber to launch a Rapid Response Business Triage Hotline to provide a go-to place for any business to navigate the local, state, and federal resources available to businesses to address critical needs brought by the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Quad Cities Chamber reached out to businesses encouraging them to donate their extra personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Salvation Army amid critical supply shortages created by the pandemic. So far, the Salvation Army has received about 7,000 surgical masks, 5,000 latex gloves, 70 surgical gowns and 15 Tyvek coveralls from area businesses.
- The Springfield Area Chamber took its monthly Good Morning Springfield program only by hosting the monthly mixer via zoom and Facebook Live simulcast. Watch the recording here.
- The Indy Chamber’s Rapid Response Loan Fund was featured in a new report by Bruce Katz: Setting up a local small business emergency relief fund: Lessons from three first movers
- The Oklahoma City Chamber worked with local partners to launch the Oklahoma City Small Business Continuity Program to quickly put funding into the hands of small business owners to help retain jobs during this unstable time.
- The Los Angeles Area Chamber is leveraging its incubator, the Bixel Exchange, to provide one-on-one advising for regional entrepreneurs in areas like supply chain disruption, credit and finance issues, customer engagement, technology plans for enabling remote work and more.
- The Jefferson Chamber released a Voice of Business PSA to keep the community informed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- South Bend Regional Chamber President & CEO Jeff Rea, CCE was selected by St. Joseph County and the City of South Bend to serve as COVID-19 Response Coordinator, a new role to aid intergovernmental communication and coordination as the community navigates its response to the COVID-19 crisis. This move highlights how the city and county recognize the chamber as a valuable community resource, as Rea will remain employed by the chamber as he leads the coordination of the public and private sector response.
- The Dallas Regional Chamber turned its talent attraction website into a source for job leads for displaced workers. The chamber built the site in conjunction with Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas and Indeed.com.
- The Iowa City Area Business Partnership partners with other stakeholders to launch the We’re In This Together collaboration to serve as a one-stop hub for information and updates, including a weekly “State of the Community” webinar that provides regular updates from different government agencies and industry sectors.
- The Greater Memphis Chamber launched several new initiatives including a list of immediate job opening in the Memphis region and the Open 901 directory for local businesses to promote their to-go, online or modified business hours to the greater community.
- TYPROS, Tulsa’s Young Professionals, is hosting “Take Out Nights” to support local businesses by dining out at a local restaurant on the same night of the week. They are also offering virtual “community hours” where they livestream conversations with local city, business and community leaders on how they are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. The TYPROS Foundation is also providing micro-grants up to $500 to individuals or organizations who have innovative ideas to support the community during this time.
- The St. Joseph Chamber partnered with a local web designer to launch Couch & Click, a website that highlights ways that residents and companies can continue to support local businesses.
- The Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership launched a marketing blitz, Get. Gather. Go., to encourage businesses to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program. The goal is to GET businesses informed on the Paycheck Protection Program, have them GATHER the necessary information, and GO apply.
- The Des Moines Downtown Chamber is organizing weekly virtual roundtables to support local businesses from the hardest-hit industries.
Economic Recovery Reading List
Our communities need chambers of commerce now more than ever. Your mission-driven approach to community prosperity will help guide the recovery efforts. Chambers excel at convening the right stakeholders at the right time to address their community’s greatest challenges.
ACCE will continue to support chambers just as you support the communities you serve. As you start to think about what recovery looks like in your region, here is a reading list of helpful recovery resources that have been mentioned during our peer calls.
- McKinsey & Company – COVID-19 Implications for Business: Summary | Full Report
- U.S. Chamber: Implementing a National Return to Work Plan
- Business Roundtable: Principles for Safe Recovery
- American Enterprise Institute: A Roadmap to Reopening
- Brookings: When will your city feel the fiscal impact of COVID-19?
- Brookings: How our cities can reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic
- American Enterprise Institute: National coronavirus response: A road map to reopening
- Forward Cities: Developing rapid-response plans for cities to help entrepreneurs and small businesses in this time of economic crisis
- Bob Harris & Bill Pawlucy, CAE: Plan to Recovery – Association Strong
What steps is your chamber taking to plan for recovery? We’d love to learn more. Share your stories with Will Burns at email@example.com.
ACCE is working to support chambers with an economic recovery framework. We know recovery will look different in every community, based on industry makeup and community dynamics. But one thing that remains constant is that chambers of commerce have a vital leadership role to play.
ACCE Partners Continue to Support Chambers
During the past few week’s we’ve highlighted innovative chamber programs in the midst of a crisis. Just like our chamber members, ACCE’s corporate partners have showcased great leadership and the ability to adjust on a dime to assist the chamber community with thought leadership and other resources during challenging times. Here are some highlights:
- The Comcast Business Community page features lots of helpful content for businesses of all sizes. They also recently launched partnerships with several companies that provide small business tools along with a series of webinars to support businesses of all sizes.
- Facebook launched its Small Business Grants Program, offering cash grants and ad credits to help small businesses during challenging times. The company also launched its Business Resource Hub, which features tips and guides tailored to impacted industries.
- Constant Contact launched its Small Business Support Kit, which includes industry-specific action plans, live marketing advice and enhanced email packages that include free e-commerce and website builder tools.
- Power 10 shared guidance for chambers on how to proceed with ongoing fundraising campaigns. They also shared tips for managing remote work based on more than ten years of experience.
- MemberClicks is sharing practical tips to help chambers plan and execute effective virtual events and conferences.
- Grow with Google is hosting a livestream on May 6 to help small businesses discusover tools, tips and resources to help them manage their business remotely.
- Insperity’s blog is filled with HR advice and tips for supporting your chamber employees and member businesses during the crisis.
- Times are tough for the travel and tourism industry, but Collette shared eight ways to support tourism from home.
Advocacy to Help Chambers – ACT NOW
You serve as vital resources and champions for your region. And, you're making a huge difference during these challenging times.
Chambers deserve support for all you're doing during the COVID-19 crisis. These are the final days of drafting stimulus package #4. We need your help to get much-needed relief for chambers.
You can help RIGHT NOW in three ways:
- Reach out to your federal legislators. Let them know that the more than 6,500 chambers in the U.S. are serving as critical support systems in their communities. Most importantly, share with them specific stories of how your chamber is helping your community during this crisis. Stories show action, and we need to showcase the critical role you play, and the impact that chambers are having right now.
- Share those stories on social media about how you're making a difference during this pandemic. Use #ChamberStrong and tag your Members of Congress. To see a list of Twitter handles for Members of Congress, click here.
- If you haven't already, join thousands of association executives who've signed on to a letter going to the Hill. We've partnered with the American Society of Association Executives to show the power of all 501(c)(6) associations. This isour sign on letter asking that associations be included in the Paycheck Protection Program. Add your chamber's name here.
We'll keep fighting for chamber support while you fight for your communities. Let us know how we can help, and check our blog for the latest innovations we're hearing. Keep up the fight!
All my best,
ACCE Weekly Update - Chambers Response to COVID-19
Chambers Being Told they are Ineligible for EIDL Program
We are hearing reports of the Small Business Administration telling chambers of commerce that they are not eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program because chambers are considered “marketing cooperatives.” ACCE believes this designation is a mistake, and we are working with the U.S. Chamber to seek clarity from SBA. We will bring you updates as we get them.
U.S. Chamber Releases Guides to Federal Relief Programs
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce released new guides for businesses of all sizes to secure relief under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- Paycheck Protection Program: New emergency loans for small businesses and 501(c)(3) organizations.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program: The CARES Act expands the Small Business Administration’s long-standing Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDL). The EIDL program was created to assist businesses, renters, and homeowners located in regions affected by declared disasters. Chambers and other 501(c)(6) organizations are eligible for this program.
- Employee Retention Tax Credit: A new tax credit for employers who are closed, partially closed, or experiencing significant revenue losses as a result of COVID-19.
View all U.S. Chamber COVID-19 resources and updates.
Coordinating the Sourcing and Manufacture of Personal Protective Equipment
- The York County Economic Alliance, Hanover Chamber of Commerce, MANTEC, The Manufacturers' Association and many local partners are compiling information on available resources that can be donated, loaned out, or manufactured to meet the demands for critical supplies and expertise.
- The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber is coordinating with local hospitals to identify their needs and working with area businesses and manufacturers to coordinate donations of critical supplies.
Examples of Chambers Providing Access to Bridge Grants and Loans
- The Indy Chamber established its Rapid Response Loan Fund to provide fast and affordable bridge loans of $1k to $25k to help businesses until they can get additional funding from their bank or the SBA.
- The Greater Grand Rapids Chamber Foundation launched its Rapid Response Economic Relief Fund to deliver short-term financial support to small businesses in need.
- The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama worked with the Community Foundation of West Alabama to establish the Small Business Relief Fund to assist small businesses that have experienced a financial hardship as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce worked with regional partners to create the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Small Business Resilience Grant to help small businesses.
Additional Chamber Outreach Examples
- We’re all in this together … six feet apart: The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber launched a community outreach campaign to promote social distancing and allow anyone in the community to receive chamber updates during the crisis.
- Business Response Helpline: The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber launched a business response helpline to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 outbreak and its aftermath, by providing access to resources and relevant information.
- Digital Signage: The Carroll County Chamber in Maryland is using the dip in inquiries for advertising on its local digital billboards to repurpose the signage to promote shopping local and share positive local business stories.
- Central Oregon SOS: The Bend Chamber partnered with several other chambers, local governments and other partners to launch a new website to serve as a one-stop resource hub for employers, employees, and the community in this time of unprecedented uncertainty.
- Virtual Tip Jar: The Greater West Chester Chamber launched a “Virtual Tip Jar” to collect tips for working in the local service industry, including bartenders, servers, aestheticians, stylists, barbers, retailer sand others.
- Corporate Catering Matters: The Spartanburg Chamber is challenging employers who must have employees on-site to consider placing multiple, in-advance catering orders. Corporate catering greatly reduces potential exposure by limiting the number of people team members come into contact with on a daily basis. A local restaurant gains badly needed business and morale is listed for the team.
ACCE Weekly Update - Chambers Response to COVID-19
Winter is Coming
As the weather turns cold and restaurants continue to deal with COVID-driven capacity restrictions, chambers of commerce are seeking creative ways to support local restaurants. Here are a few examples:
- The Greater Des Moines Partnership announced the recipients of its Extend the Season Grant program, which provided outdoor heating equipment to local restaurants to help them continue to offer outdoor dining as winter approaches.
- The Alexandria Economic Development Partnership launched its Back to Business All Weather Grant program, which leverages $500,000 of CARES Act funds to provide eligible small businesses $5,000 grants to “winterize” outdoor business areas.
- Rochester Downtown Alliance and Chamber of Commerce are working to provide $2,000 grants to restaurants to help them reinvent outdoor spaces to keep customers warm as the weather turns cold.
- Several Rhode Island chambers are among the organizations that were awarded $3 million in grants to help the state’s businesses “Take it Outside.” The funds will be distributed to local businesses to help cover the costs of conducting business outdoors.
- The Waterbury Regional Chamber launched a BYOB campaign – Bring Your Own Blanket –to encourage consumers to support local restaurants by bringing their own blankets to dine comfortably outside.
What We’re Reading
- Korn Ferry: As people head to the polls next week, election day may be only the beginning of a long period of uncertainty and anxiety.
- Remote Worker Data: Recognizing that working-from-home will continue to increase over time, the National Association of REALTORS® conducted a study of the 3,142 counties that are best poised to provide a supportive environment for working remotely.
- McKinsey & Company: The next normal will require true transformation, business model shifts that alter your operations at the cellular level to elevate performance and the capabilities of your people.
- Transformation in St. Louis: The St. Louis Regional Chamber and four other organizations announced they will come together to combine their strengths into one organization to drive inclusive growth in St. Louis with a unified voice and bold agenda.
- Staffing Virtual Events: Staff roles for virtual events are different from in-person events. ASAE explores a few staff roles to help organizations deliver impactful virtual events.
- Social Networks & Economic Mobility: New research from the Brookings Institution dives deeper into how social networks in Charlotte affect access to economic opportunity. Charlotte Regional Business Alliance SVP of Economic Research Chuck McShane discussed the research with the report’s author in a recent episode of the Alliance’s podcast.
- Preserve Trust & Electoral Integrity: In recent weeks, an unprecedented number of civil society groups, including public interest organizations, business associations, and faith-based organizations, as well as political leaders, have mobilized around ensuring an inclusive, credible, and peaceful election.
ACCE Weekly Update - Chambers Response to COVID-19
- The Indiana Chamber will launch a new Talent Development Clearinghouse to help employers enhance the skills of their workforce and individuals learn about education, training and credentials needed for available jobs and emerging careers.
- The Greater Wausau Chamber will host a virtual State of the Labor Market event to help member businesses learn strategies for organizational success, talent attraction and retention.
- Guided by the results of a recent talent survey, The Wilmington Chamber will form new Talent Pipeline Management collaboratives for the construction and information technology industries.
- The Worcester Regional Chamber teamed up with several partners to launch a new program that will allow 800 unemployed or underemployed workers train for jobs in the information technology sector.
- The Coral Springs Coconut Creek Regional Chamber of Commerce will host its first diversity summit next month, highlighting topics including subtle discrimination, how to build an inclusive organizational culture, and how to increase equity in the community.
- The St. Paul Area Chamber adopted a diversity, equity and inclusion program that a local foundation was forced to eliminate due to budget cuts. The DEI Collaborative is a program that works with about three dozen leaders each year to boost diversity, equity and inclusion in local communities.
- The Nashville Area Chamber and Tennessee Chamber are a charter member of the new Tennessee Alliance for Equity in Education. The goal of the new alliance is to seek solutions for closing gaps in opportunity and achievement for historically underserved students.
- The Paso Robles Chamber partnered with the city to launch a propane reimbursement program for local restaurants and businesses seeking to provide heated outdoor public spaces.
- Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Ashli Watts recently authored an op-ed highlighting some of the findings of the chamber's recent Achieving Equity to Build a Stronger Kentucky report, which highlighted the realities of inequality across the state and recommended changes to achieve greater equity.
- Greater St. Louis Inc. is participating in a civic partnership to develop workforce housing with attainable rents in a location that helps connect people with jobs and career opportunities.
- The Orlando Economic Partnership announced that nearly 100 CEOs and top executives joined a regional effort focused on raising the growth potential of residents by creating opportunities for those long-affected by racial inequality and ensuring pathways for participation in the economy.
- Hundreds of Spokane, Washington artists are getting help promoting their job skills during the global crisis from a new, local marketing campaign titled “Arts Mean Business.” The promotional project for artists was conceived by local nonprofit Spokane Arts and funded by CARES Act monies awarded by Greater Spokane Incorporated.
- The Grand Rapids Chamber and Detroit Regional Chamber are among several coalition partners launching an innovative pilot program to address child care accessibility, affordability and quality.
- The Michigan West Coast Chamber launched its new magazine, "The West Coast Way," built around the chamber's core values and key priorities that best serve its members.
- South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce will administer a new Restaurant Innovation Grant program to compensate local restaurants for operational changes they've made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Portland Business Alliance developed a roadmap for recovery that offers a way forward for elected officials, public agencies, businesses, nonprofit leaders and community advocates to come together to get Portland’s economy back on track.
- It was a tricky 2020, but with many major projects in the works, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership believes there is hope on the horizon.
- The Louisville business community rallied to support and fund Greater Louisville Inc.'s inclusion initiatives.
What We're Reading
Morning Consult is tracking how consumer attitudes are shifting across a wide range of categories to gain insight into when consumers will be ready to return to "normal" and what habits may be changed forever.
New research from the Brooking Institution highlights the critical need for a workforce development strategy that supports workers who will need to switch industries or occupations.
U.S. Cities face a $90 billion shortfall in FY 2021 according to data shared by the National League of Cities (NLC). The COVID crisis continues to wreak havoc on municipal budgets, and this week NLC urged congress to approve direct aid to local governments.
Call to Action: New Sign-On Letter for 501(c)(6) Organizations
Last week we reached out to encourage you to contact your congressional delegation asking them to include chambers of commerce organized as 501(c)(6) organizations in the third COVID-19 stimulus package. Despite the outreach of thousands of chambers and other trade associations, the most robust offerings in the CARES Act were not expanded to include (c)(6)s.
Congress is drafting a new phase four federal relief package, and we are asking for your help again. ACCE is partnering with the American Society of Association Executives on a new sign-on letter to Congress and the Trump Administration. We are working to get as many chambers and trade associations as possible to sign on to a letter urging Congress to:
- Provide $25 billion in immediate capital assistance to trade and professional associations;
- Include 501(c)(6) organizations in the Paycheck Protection Program or similar Small Business Administration loan expansions; and
- Create a pandemic risk insurance program with a federal backstop for prospective insurance claims related to a pandemic or epidemic.
Please add your chambers name to the letter by Thursday, April 2 at 12 pm ET.
We will continue to partner with other organizations to advocate for this change. If you are speaking to your federal legislators, please share the message that chambers – and other associations – are delivering critical community services during this pandemic, and deserve federal support to continue our crucial role.
We will continue to update you on this and helpful resources each week. Thank you for all you’re doing. You are an amazing community.
ACCE Weekly Update on Chamber Response to COVID-19
ACCE continues to support the chamber community as it responds to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are organizing regular calls with chamber CEOs and staff, and we want to share some of the key themes and insights we learned this week.
Remember to check our Coronavirus Resource Guide because we update it regularly with relevant resources. If you are interested in participating in an upcoming COVID-19 roundtable call, contact Will Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calling All Members
Many chambers have instituted an all-hands-on-deck campaign to call every member. Staff are being repurposed, along with chamber ambassadors, to complete this outreach as quickly as possible. For most chambers, the purpose of the outreach is to:
- Check-in and learn more about how each company is being impacted and identify ways that the chamber can help
- Identify inspirational stories to share with broader membership
- Share helpful resources and information and answer questions
- Reinforce how their support for the chamber is especially important in times like these
- Offer potential membership solutions for those experiencing financial difficulty: temporary waiver/deferral, adjust anniversary date, etc.
Navigating the Membership Renewal Cycle
There has been lots of discussion this week around membership renewals. Chambers of commerce are taking a variety of approaches, seeking to find the right balance of showcasing compassion and empathy, highlighting member value and keeping revenue flowing into the chamber.
Adjusting the messaging in your renewal communications is a critical first step. During Membership Development Division (MDD) call this week, participants outlined how they are adjusting their communications:
- We recognize that these are unprecedented times, and the chamber is here to support your business.
- Here are two or three specific things that your chamber is doing to showcase community leadership, support regional businesses and help our community get through this crisis.
- Now more than ever, your support is crucial to help us continue this work.
- If your business is experiencing issues that interfere with your ability to pay dues, we are here to help.
Chambers have taken a variety of actions, from providing relief waivers, adjusting anniversary dates, temporarily suspending dues billing and more. ACCE and members of the MDD advisory board have developed a template your chamber can use as a starting point as you adjust your renewal communications. Additional templates are available on ACCE Coronavirus Resource Guide. More membership information is available on the MDD webpage.
Dealing with Stay-at-Home/Business Closure Orders
One challenge that continues to be raised on the calls is around what businesses are defined as essential within stay-at-home and business closure orders. This can be especially tricky for regional chambers operating in areas where there are multiple county orders but no state-wide order.
If you are in a state or municipality with no stay-at-home order, monitor the situation. When discussions of an order begin, offer your county executive, mayor or governor the chamber’s support to define essential businesses. Once it is implemented, it is hard to roll things back. The Detroit Chamber’s Vice President of Government Relations shared three suggestions for stay-at-home orders
- Use the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance as the baseline for essential services. Though, one key industry CISA leaves out is construction.
- Allow for critical infrastructure to designate its own supply chain.
- Allow businesses to keep minimum basic operations to protect inventory, to wind down operations, and to facilitate working from home.
Support Small Businesses
With the lengthy, and sometimes cumbersome process around SBA loans, many chambers are working with local governments, community development financial institutions (CDFI) and other business and philanthropic partners to create and promote grant and loan programs to provide crucial bridge grants and loans during the SBA application period. Here are some examples:
- Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership worked with local governments to raise $500k to set up the Working Capital Loan Fund for small businesses.
- Asheville Area Chamber is working with a local CDFI, Mountain BizWorks on its NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan program
- The Greater Tallahassee Chamber worked with the Tallahassee-Leon county government as it launched the COVID-19 Economic Disaster Relief Grant program.
- The Eugene Area Chamber is promoting the WaFD Bank Small Business Lifeline
- Several Pennsylvania chambers are promoting the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority’s COVID-19 Working Capital Access Program.
Financial Support for Chambers
Last week, ACCE worked with the American Society of Association Executives and the U.S. Chamber to try to convince Congress to include chambers of commerce organized as 501 (c)(6)s in the various emergency stimulus programs. While (c)(6)s weren’t included in all the programs, chambers are eligible for aid through some modest avenues. View this U.S. Chamber 1-pager for more details.
It is expected that when Congress reconvenes, it will consider a fourth relief package. ACCE will continue to work with chambers across the country and other partners to raise awareness for the important role chambers of commerce play in the recover and why supporting chambers in the next relief package is vital.
More Chamber Examples
It is inspiring to see just how nimble chambers of commerce can be to support member businesses and provide catalytic leadership in the communities they serve. We will continue to share examples each week to provide inspiration for your activities. Share your examples with our team by emailing Jen Pack at email@example.com.
COVID-19 Resource Hubs
- Asheville Chamber of Commerce
- Allegheny Conference on Community Development
- Lancaster Chamber
- Forsyth County Chamber
- Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
- York County Economic Alliance
- Greater Phoenix Chamber
Supporting Displaced Workers
- Dallas Regional Chamber working with Say Yes to Dallas and other regional partners launched an initiative to connect displaced workers with companies in industries with immediate hiring needs.
- Greater Des Moines Partnership launched the DSM Employment Ready initiative to assist businesses in need of immediate temporary workers and employees who have been impacted due to circumstances related to the COVID-19
- Michigan West Coast Chamber launched a job board to help connect potential employees to employers with immediate job openings.
- Charlotte Regional Business Alliance: The alliance is sharing regular vlogs with members about different areas of operation. During a time when the economic development team isn’t traveling, SVP of Business Recruitment Steven Pearce discussed how the alliance pulled off its first virtual visit with a company considering the Charlotte region.
- Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama: In this video, Chamber President & CEO Jim Page, CCE, IOM, highlights chamber resources available for member businesses and announces a new partnership with the Community Foundation of West Alabama on a Small Business Relief Fund.
- Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Henry Florsheim posts daily video updates to Facebook using the chamber’s #fallsstrong hashtag.
Examples of Virtual Programming
- Grand Rapids Chamber
- Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia
- Gwinnett Chamber
- Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
- Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce
Surveys remain a popular tool for chambers to gain insights on how the crisis is impacting member companies. They are also a great tool for helping to frame response discussions with elected officials and nonprofits proving support programs and financial support. Here are a few examples:
Follow Up Surveys to Track How Impact Is Changing
Highlighting Survey Results