There are more than 6,500 chambers of commerce across the United States. 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 the COVID-19 crisis.
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, including the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber.
The Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce has created a dedicated page on its website, and E-News for updates and related news. The website is www.capecodcanalchamber.org.
The page includes a list of local restaurants offering take-out, curbside pick-up or delivery; general resources such as reliable news outlets focusing on coronavirus updates, and business resources including surveys and small business assistance applications, such as the SBA disaster loans and Paycheck Protection Programs that include a list of participating lending institutions.
To date more than over one million small businesses have been approved for the Paycheck Protection Program in the recent CARES Act. This highly beneficial loan can be forgiven if the organization meets certain criteria.
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.
Chamber members across the United States are imploring the administration and congressional leaders to include chambers and other nonprofit 501(c)(6) organizations in the next COVID-19 aid package so they/we are eligible for federal stimulus dollars.