Blog post by Ashley Duckman
Ashley Duckman is the Vice President of Government Affairs at the Maryland Chamber. As the VP, she leads advocacy efforts on behalf of the 4,500+ members of the Maryland Chamber before the Maryland General Assembly and on the federal level. Duckman’s responsibilities include developing, leading, and executing the legislative strategy of the organization and maintaining positive working relationships with key elected officials and members of the Administration in order to build a better understanding of and appreciation for business issues.
If anyone had told me a few months ago that I would be convening a Maryland Chamber of Commerce working group on how to help businesses recover from the effects of a global health pandemic, I would have said they were crazy. But here we are—facing a “new normal” of working from (and staying at) home, witnessing the closure of thousands of non-essential Maryland businesses, and looking forward with cautious optimism to brighter days.
As long as the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve and workers and businesses face unprecedented and adverse economic impacts, the Maryland Chamber will remain committed to providing support to members who are working to overcome the crisis and thought leadership to policymakers and stakeholders on policies needed to support economic resilience and eventual recovery in these uncertain times.
That’s where the Maryland Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Working Group comes in. Established two weeks ago, the working group consists of about 60 Chamber members—concerned business owners and employees—who want to play an important role in addressing specific economic, labor and employment issues and, ultimately, helping our business community recover. Every Thursday, the group holds a conference call, where we trade information on new developments and resources and hear directly from each other about what challenges we are facing. The overarching goal is to work together to identify state and federal policy recommendations that will lead to economic resilience, recovery and growth in the near, mid- and long-term future.
For example, some of the working group’s recommendations need to be enacted immediately, like canceling the payment of all payroll taxes paid by Maryland employers for the months of March, April and May—a recommendation also supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The group is also advocating, at the federal level, for relief options for 501(c)(6) organizations–including local, regional and state chambers of commerce–that were left out of the CARES Act, the third round of federal legislation providing emergency relief to American families and businesses. Also, at the federal level, we must streamline loan programs for small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) experiencing revenue loss as a result of COVID-19.
In addition to coming up with feasible policy recommendations like the ones just mentioned, the working group will share information and resources in real-time, identify subject-matter experts, and set up opportunities for those experts to convey information to our full membership through regular webinars and email communications. As we work together to aggregate the ongoing challenges and concerns of businesses in Maryland, we will field requests for guidance and assistance from our members, and help them as best we can.
On behalf of the Maryland Chamber, I would like to thank you for the sacrifices you are making to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Please stay safe.
Click here to view up-to-the-minute COVID-19 resources on the Maryland Chamber of Commerce’s COVID-19 resources page.