Posted April 8, 2020

In light of new pressing needs and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 situation, we recommend chambers of commerce and economic development organizations consider corresponding program and message adjustments. We believe the COVID-19 situation presents an opportunity for chambers and EDOs to bring fresh material value to their communities and elevate their status as “go to” economic development problem solvers.

Near Term: Focus on Economic Mitigation and Prepare for Recovery
  1. Go big on communications to your community. Implement the communications recommendations we provided in our previous guidance. (Click here to review.)
  2. Formally express organizational commitment. Ask your Board (and potentially, key partner organizations) to sign a one-page formal expression of unity and commitment to driving economic growth in the face of the near and long-term challenges wrought by COVID-19.
  3. Lean into your existing economic development strategic plan but adjust priorities. We recommend you / your organization review and reconsider its implementation priorities (and associated sequencing / timeline) and move to the front tactics which will help mitigate the unfolding economic damage and accelerate the economic recovery.
    • Consider including in your organization’s various messaging that it is intentionally / deliberately prioritizing COVID-19 response tactics.
    • In terms of including specific mention of COVID-19 in your organization’s strategic plan and related documents:
      • Definitely DO mention COVID-19; your community needs to know your organization is “on the job”
      • Perhaps incorporate into each of your strategic plan goals a “strategy 1” that is dedicated to COVID-19 response; chances are the details will include existing priorities your organization has elected to move to the “front of the line” – and perhaps an expansion on these details
      • Perhaps use a specific font color for all COVID-19 content
      • If desired, you could easily put all the COVID-19 content into a stand-alone COVID-19 response document
      • Consider including mention of COVID-19 at the front of your organization’s strategic plan where you address themes that run through the plan – inclusivity, cooperation, etc.
  1. Pursue funding from the US Economic Development Administration and other federal government entities.
    • Consider establishing a revolving loan or other fund to support regional businesses.
    • Convene / catalyze key partner organizations and step-up advocacy efforts to ensure your community is a federal priority.
  2. Support economic and community development partners
    • Lead or catalyze:
      • Periodic (weekly?) calls with economic development partners to share updates, best practices, and catalyze collaboration.
      • Regular email updates to this same group.
    • Backstop partner organizations. Communicate that you are on-call and ready to help.
Medium to Longer-Term: Focus on Accelerating Economic Recovery and Resiliency
  1. Continue many of the foregoing recommendations.
  2. Convene or catalyze a “blue-ribbon” task force / develop quarter-by-quarter strategy. Convene or catalyze a public-private task force that represents the community, then formulate and oversee implementation of a quarter-by-quarter strategy designed to accelerate economic recovery. The strategy should be integrated with your economic development plan.
  3. In light of possible (likely!) larger shifts to the local and regional economy, consider the following:
    • Review target industry sectors to ensure their relevancy in light of COVID-19 driven changes to consumer spending / activity patterns and other economic changes.
    • Allocate expanded staff / other resources to worker retraining and other “workforce alignment” tactics.
    • New structures (councils, task forces, etc.) that might be needed.
  4. Track businesses saved, jobs retained, and other economic development metrics that are likely to have NEW RELEVANCY as the economy recovers.
  5. Lead or support development of business continuity plans (prepare for a future pandemic or other regional / national catastrophe). Speak with other economic and community development professionals in your area and identify a role for your organization that is a value add (not duplicative) in helping businesses develop continuity / resiliency plans.


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