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State and Local Chambers Ask Gov. Polis for COVID-19 Assistance and Support

The Colorado Chamber today joined with the Association of Colorado Chambers of Commerce, Colorado Society of Association Executives, and local chambers across the state to urge Gov. Polis for support of our local chambers across the state.

As 501 (c)(6) organizations, local chambers of commerce have been excluded from federal COVID-19 relief, which has devastated many of the organizations that offer important services to their local communities. Read the full letter below.

Re:    Funding for 501(c)(6) Organizations: Chambers of Commerce, Downtown Associations, Trade Associations and Visitors Bureaus

Dear Governor Polis:

Since the COVID-19 virus first took root in our communities – ravaging public health and our state economy – 501(c)(6) organizations have worked at the front lines in support our businesses, their workforce, and addressing broader community needs. We now plead for your help.

Whether it’s your local chamber of commerce, downtown association, trade associations or visitors’ bureaus, their staff, board leadership and volunteers have been working overtime to help stave-off economic disaster and meet local business needs. It’s challenging work. The initial focus was providing information to our local businesses on the evolving public health orders and their implications for business operations. 501(c)(6) organizations also worked to respond to business needs, through direct financial support, technical assistance and marketing. That doesn’t even begin to tell the story of personalized support that served as a lifeline for struggling business leaders and their staff teams

While performing these functions, 501(c)(6) organizations have struggled under the shroud of their own operations struggles. For those that rely on financing that is tied to accommodations fees or district sales taxes, the revenue drop has been precipitous, mimicking the steep decline in tourism spending, restaurant traffic, and retail sales. With respect to chambers of commerce, businesses that are operating at just a fraction of their capacity or, worse, have closed, are the foundation of their income. Lost membership dues, events revenue and sponsorship funding have been devastating the bottom line for most chambers of commerce.

The consequence for 501(c)(6) organizations is diminished staffing and program support for our businesses, just when they need it most. These circumstances are compounded but the complete dearth of federal and state funding assistance for 501(c)(6) organizations. We operate as non-profit businesses, yet we aren’t entitled to the relief that has been so critical as an income bridge for so many of our for-profit and non-profit colleagues. This is neither a just result or a smart investment exclusion. 501(c)(6) organizations are best equipped to help bring our businesses back online and to drive a path toward economic recovery. We can’t do it, though, in our financially hobbled position.

To assist 501(c)(6) organizations as they weather the COVID-19 crisis and to help us best partner with your administration in statewide economic recovery efforts, we urge you to please identify state funding to meet our infrastructure needs. We also ask you to join with us in a similar appeal for Congress to include funding eligibility for 501(c)(6) organizations in any future federal relief plan. We seek your support and partnership in each of these appeals, much as we look forward to partnering in the effort to beat back the COVID-19 virus and to reignite our economy.

Thank you for your attention to this request for support from our coalition of 501(c)(6) organizations and for all you and your administration is doing to navigate the challenges that COVID-19 has created for our state.

Respectfully Submitted by
Association of Colorado Chambers of Commerce and Colorado Society of Association Executives
The following individual chambers of commerce in Colorado wanted to sign this letter as well:
Colorado Chamber of Commerce
Arvada Chamber of Commerce
Basalt Chamber of Commerce
Berthoud Chamber of Commerce
Broomfield Chamber of Commerce
Carbon Valley Chamber of Commerce
Carbondale Chamber of Commerce
Castle Pines Chamber of Commerce
Colorado Springs Black Chamber of Commerce
Colorado Springs Hispanic Business Council – The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Creede/Mineral County Chamber of Commerce
Delta Area Chamber of Commerce
Dove Creek Chamber of Commerce
Durango Chamber of Commerce
Estes Chamber of Commerce
Evans Area Chamber of Commerce
Evergreen Chamber of Commerce
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association
Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce
Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce
Gunnison Chamber of Commerce
I-70 Chamber of Commerce
Lafayette Chamber of Commerce
Logan County Chamber of Commerce
Loveland Chamber of Commerce
Northwest Douglas County Chamber & EDC
Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce
Southern Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce
Superior Chamber of Commerce
Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development Corp. and Visitor’s Center
Trinidad & Las Animas Co. Chamber of Commerce
Vail Valley Partnership
West Metro Chamber of Commerce
Greater Woodland Park Chamber of Commerce
Yuma Chamber of Commerce