Standing up for local and regional Chambers of Commerce

Blog post by Christine Ross

Christine Ross, the president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, has 20 years of leadership experience in the business community. She is a visionary coalition builder guiding the Maryland Chamber’s efforts to improve competitiveness, attract and retain talent, grow jobs, engage the community and provide legislative advocacy.

 

As we continue to weather the storm of an unprecedented health crisis and economic shutdown, my thoughts and prayers are with all of those who are suffering from the virus, as well as members of the business community who are suffering financially. My hope is that, with the economic assistance being offered at the state and federal levels, all businesses can reopen their doors as soon as it is safe to do so.

We at the Maryland Chamber are pleased that President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, so that American families and businesses can stay afloat throughout the shutdown. With direct payments to American families, $367 billion in loans for small businesses, $500 billion for larger industries, and expanded unemployment benefits for our workers, it’s the largest economic rescue package in our nation’s history—and we’re thankful for all that it will do to keep our economy moving.

However, while the new law provides assistance to Section 501(c)3 organizations and certain other nonprofits, it does not assist Section 501(c)6 organizations, including local, county and regional chambers of commerce.

Our state’s chambers play a vital role in working toward the betterment of our small businesses, workforce development programs and Maryland’s economy. And even though the CARES Act omitted 501(c)6 organizations, there is still hope: Congress is considering taking up additional legislation, including a phase 4 (and perhaps even a phase 5) relief package, so it’s not too late to make sure we are accounted for.

A couple weeks ago, at the Maryland Chamber, we reached out to our U.S. senators in the Maryland congressional delegation. As a result, Senator Cardin scheduled an emergency call of chamber leaders to discuss the implications of the CARES Act. Speaking up makes a difference, whether it’s a letter-writing campaign or calling your senator or representative’s office. No act is too small.

I urge all of our members and chamber leaders in Maryland to call upon our leaders in Congress to include 501(c)6 organizations in any future legislative packages they consider. Together, we can protect the livelihoods of local, county and regional chambers of commerce in Maryland; get through this storm; and emerge even stronger than before. Please stay safe.

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