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COVID 19 Updates

Weekly Roundup 10/30/2020

Will Burns on Friday, October 30, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

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.

 

Preparing for a Resurgence of COVID-19

  • The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce shared a checklist of items that corporate leaders can address to minimize disruption and protect employees, customers and other stakeholders.
  • A group of chambers in Michigan sent four recommendations to the governor and legislative leadership to inform ongoing policy decisions.
  • ACCE board member, Adam Marshall of the British Chambers of Commerce outlined five tests for governments as they consider additional shutdowns.

What steps has your chamber taken to prepare for a fall resurgence of COVID-19. Send your initiatives to Will Burns

 

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: 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.

Tags: Covid-19

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A Surge in Shopping Local Online

Will Burns on Monday, October 26, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

The COVID crisis has been tough on many Main Street businesses. And as we look toward the holiday shopping season, COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are growing at a speed not seen since July. In the midst of a pandemic, shopping local and buying online are no longer mutually exclusive.

Many resilient small business owners adjusted business practices and boosted their online presence in order to continue serving their customers. From curbside pickup and remote ordering to videoconference consultations and social media promotions, small businesses showcased their agility and consumers responded.

A recent report by Facebook and the Small Business Roundtable highlighted some of the ways small businesses are leveraging internet tools to adapt during the crisis. The survey found that:

  • 51 percent of businesses report increasing online interactions with their customers.
  • 35 percent of businesses that changed operations have expanded the use of digital payments.

It’s not just businesses that are adapting. Consumers are combining their enthusiasm for social media engagement with their desire to support favorite local businesses. Coffee shops, restaurants, craft breweries and quirky boutiques are part of what make our communities unique. Residents don’t want to see their favorite local businesses fail. In fact, the National Retail Federation reports that 49 percent of consumers “made a purchase specifically to support a local or small business.”

Countless chambers of commerce around the world encouraged this behavior through social media campaigns to promote shopping local. They pulled small businesses together and collected and shared information about operational changes like curbside pickup, adjusted hours, special promotions and more. Then they rallied consumers to support their town’s small businesses and encouraged them to share via social media platforms.

Here are just a handful of examples.

With the holiday shopping season upon us, it is more important than ever for chambers to continue to support their local businesses. Here are some partner resources that can help:

Tags: Covid-19

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Weekly Roundup 10/16/2020

Will Burns on Friday, October 16, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

#ChamberStrong COVID Initiatives 

  • The Greater Cleveland Partnership has set an aggressive 10-year plan that addresses the immediate and longer-term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic while strengthening the region through inclusive, technology-based growth.
  • The Saratoga County Chamber will launch the “Save Our Local Businesses” campaign to help restaurants and other small businesses impacted by ongoing COVID restrictions during the year-end holidays. 
  • The Owen County Chamber of Commerce & EDC and the Owen County Community Foundation announced that the Owen County Economic Recovery Bridge Grant is now open for round two. Small businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000.
  • The Asheville Area Chamber hosted a virtual career expo this week. Job seekers could participate from any device with an internet connection and upload resume’s browse information about local employers and meet with prospective employers via chat or email.
  • The Greater Boston Chamber released its Roadmap to Economic Recovery this week, a set of policy principles developed to help lawmakers restore and strengthen the economy. 
  • Based on experiences through the pandemic, ten Montgomery County Pennsylvania chambers formed the Alliance of Montgomery County Chambers of Commerce to provide a vehicle for open dialog on emerging issues and establish a forum to leverage their collective voice for business advocacy.
  • The Irving-Las Colinas Chamber and Irving Hispanic Chamber are working with the city on its Emergency Business Assistance Grant Program, which just expanded eligibility to independently owned franchises, sole proprietors and home-based business owners.
  • The Nashville Area Chamber is working with the Nashville Entrepreneur Center to launch Renew Nashville, a citywide initiative designed to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with world-class expertise and resources aimed at increasing their rate of survival.

What We're Reading

  • Based on interviews with more than 100 board directors, Korn Ferry contends that CEOs for the future will need to demonstrate inquisitiveness, agility, humility, and an insatiable appetite for learning like no generation before them.
  • LinkedIn recently explored generational differences in terms of how people are coping with the pandemic and reconnecting with the workplace.
  • Business Roundtable, representing over 200 CEOs, announced corporate actions and public policy recommendations to advance racial equity and justice and increase economic opportunity in America.
  • Axios: State officials plea for stimulus aid to save transit systems

Tags: Covid-19

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Weekly Roundup 10/9/2020

Will Burns on Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

#ChamberStrong COVID Initiatives 

  • The Philadelphia Regional Recharge and Recovery Task Force, led by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and its CEO Council for Growth, released a Phase 1 recommendations and actions report detailing the immediate actions devised to stabilize the regional economy and ensure rapid recovery when businesses reopen.
  • Four chambers in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, chambers leveraged CARES Act funding to jointly develop a new program to support businesses and help them adapt to new methods to address COVID-related challenges.
  • Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce worked with the police department to promote civility and encourage business owners and patrons to be respectful and patient with safety measures put in place to protect employees and customers.
  • Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Community College RI Divisions of Workforce Partnerships to create a series of free courses to help displaces workers and companies that have transitioned to remote work access digital skills training to help individuals skill up.
  • The Red Bluff-Tehama County Chamber of Commerce will administer grant programs to distribute $320,000 in grants to small businesses impacted by the COVID crisis and statewide stay at home orders.
  • The Lindale Chamber Area Chamber created the Launch Local Festival to support businesses impacted by COVID-19 by creating an event that celebrates local companies, food, wineries and art.
  • The Springfield Area Chamber launched its Education Resource Center for employers to gather as much information about school reopening as possible in one centralized location to answer questions from parents and employers alike.
  • Barry Wilfahrt, CCE, IOM, President & CEO of the Grand Forks East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce participated in an online Q&A with the Grand Forks Herald, discussing COVID-related issues and economic resilience in Grand Forks.
  • The Buffalo Niagara Partnership launched the It’s Our Job campaign to promote healthy behaviors, keep businesses open, encourage consumers to shop local and help stop the spread.
  • The Ponca City Chamber is holding a scavenger hunt through the month of October to increase foot traffic at local businesses and provide the community something fun to do.
  • The Salina Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched a small business grant program to assist small businesses with loss of income due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the stay at home order.
  • The Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the company Ritual to give member restaurants an opportunity to pivot more smoothly to an online ordering format customers can access through their phones.
  • With elections around the corner and voters encouraged to vote early or absentee, the South Bend Regional Chamber posted recordings of candidate interviews for many critical local races. 

What We’re Reading

  • New Public Affairs Council Poll finds the public is critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and believes the private sector has done a better job of balancing safety concerns with the need to re-open the economy. Learn more and browse other insights
  • HBR: The Uncertain Future of Corporate HQs - Richard Florida explores trends around the COVID-driven rise of remote work and what it could mean for office reentry and corporate location decisions.
  • RDG: In his latest blog post, Rob Radcliff explores how approaching philanthropic foundations for financial support is different from approaching corporations.
  • Cushman & Wakefield: A report and webinar analyzing COVID-19’s impact on the office sector. 

 

Tags: Covid-19

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The Week's #ChamberStrong COVID News

Will Burns on Friday, August 28, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

Summer is coming to a close, but chambers of commerce remain hard at work, supporting local businesses and promoting economic recovery. Here are a few recent examples we noticed this week:

  • Commerce Lexington’s access loan program has approved $2,187,230 in grants to 151 businesses, an average of almost $14,500 per business. The $2.5 million small business stimulus program could wrap next week, but some members of the Urban County Council already are talking about a round 2 at some point.
  • The Joplin Chamber launched the Ideas on Tap program to support those who have been laid off by with resources, programs, education, and places for people to work and start businesses of their own.
  • The Cape Cod Chamber is helping businesses in key industries like tourism adapt and identify opportunities in a changing economy.
  • The Terre Haute Chamber supporting businesses to help the downtown core evolve through the pandemic
  • Family Forward NC was launched to help businesses of all sizes adopt family-friendly policies to improve child and family well being. Ashville Area Chamber President & CEO Kit Cramer is on the Initiative’s advisory council.
  • The Metro Atlanta Chamber released the final report of its RESTORE Initiative that includes more than 120 recommendations to help Georgia recover quickly.

Keep sharing your examples with us. Email Will Burns at wburns@acce.org.

Tags: Covid-19

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Creative Ideas to Address Community Challenges

ACCE Staff on Friday, August 14, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

The U.S. Congress left town without an agreement on a new COVID-19 stimulus package, but chambers of commerce continue working to support economic recovery in the communities they serve. Here are a few interesting best practice examples we wanted to share this week:

Getting Capital to Small Businesses

Helping Businesses Reopen Safely

  • The Spartanburg Area Chamber launched a fast-turnaround testing partnership to provide businesses with access to timely, reliable and affordable COVID-19 testing.
  • The Odessa Chamber of Commerce teamed up with Discover Odessa and local arts partners to create the #MaskUpOdessa Poster Contest to encourage the community to wear masks. See the winners here.
  • The Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council, an organization founded by the Greater Miami Chamber and Greater Miami Progress Foundation, launched a platform where certified MBEs that supply PPE products can be connected with buyers.
  • The Newport Beach Chamber rolled out a free sign campaign to spread the word about the importance of wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines.
  • Thanks to the ongoing support of member businesses, the Greenville Chamber’s Mask Up initiative continues to provide free masks to small businesses and nonprofits who need them.

Navigating School Reopening & Child Care Challenges

Helping Businesses and the Community Navigate

  • Kalispell Chamber hosted a webinar with the superintendent of the school system.
  • The Huntsville/Madison County Chamber created a Child Care Task Force to identify creative solutions for child care as schools transition to remote learning.
  • The Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama is compiling a database of child care service providers to support working parents searching for options.
  • The Missoula Chamber is conducting a child care survey and working with the United Way and Missoula Economic Partnership to develop creative solutions to address child care needs.
  • Also, view recent webinars from ACCE and the U.S. Chamber.

 

Keep sending us the great work your chambers are doing so that we can share it in future updates. Email Will Burns at wburns@acce.org.  

Tags: Covid-19

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Chambers Continue to Wrestle with Reopening Challenges

Will Burns on Friday, July 10, 2020 at 12:00:00 am 

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:

 

What We’re Reading

 

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.

Tags: Covid-19

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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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#ChamberStrong Response to COVID-19

Will Burns on Friday, April 10, 2020 at 1:50:00 pm 

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 wburns@acce.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.

Tags: 4/10/20, Covid-19

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Economic Recovery Reading List

Will Burns on Friday, April 10, 2020 at 1:15:00 pm 

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. 

What steps is your chamber taking to plan for recovery? We’d love to learn more. Share your stories with Will Burns at wburns@acce.org.

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.

Tags: 4/10/20, Covid-19

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