June 6, 2020

From the CEO – Chamber Chat

The big news for June is that we have keys to Hancock Commons and are beginning our move back downtown. We have a plan to move locations safely, which includes a continuation of our lease through June 30th, 2020.

Our next question to address: when are we reopening our office?

Governor Brown has been very clear that any office or professional service that can continue to work remotely should do so. We are still under the “Stay Home Save Lives” order, even as businesses are reopening in different phases. To follow great examples, both A-dec and PGE are keeping their offices closed until January 2021. To expose our staff and community unnecessarily is not a risk we’re willing to take. Governor Brown has also communicated that leisure travel is not supported before Phase 3, which will likely not come before a vaccine or “herd immunity” have been established. If we’re supporting economic recovery and public safety, we would not encourage “visitors” or tourists.

Our staff has worked safely and efficiently since March 16th. Patty holds office hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while Josh holds office hours Monday, Thursdays, and Fridays. When I need to be in the office, I’m choosing weeknights and weekends, to avoid cross-over. The door is always locked and patrons are asked to call our office for service. The McMinnville Area Chamber has announced that they are “reopening” on June 8th, but, to clarify, their staff is staggered and limited to one staff member per day, their doors are locked, and their Visitor Center remains closed, just like our office. We can still produce packets of brochures for individuals for external pick up. We can still interact with and solve problems with our community and business members.

Our Ambassadors are nearly finished calling every single chamber member for a well-check and explanation of virtual services. Our attendance at virtual events is at the same ratio as our neighboring chambers, which is about 50% of our in-person attendance.

We continue to closely track economic recovery, phased reopening, and the issues and advocacy opportunities for our local businesses. Our CEO, Shannon Buckmaster, continues to participate in several weekly calls with the US Chamber, OSCC, SBA, SBDC, Senators Merkley and Wyden, Congresswoman Bonamici, Yamhill County Commissioners, City of Newberg leadership, and several other regional, state and federal partners. All three of our staff members are often engaged in condensing massive amounts of information and distributing relevant information to our community.

There is still no relief funding available to 501c6 organizations, including chambers and DMOs, but we’re optimistic that the upcoming federal Heroes Act will include an adjustment. The Act may pass in the Senate and clear Executive approval as soon as this week.

Linda Sandberg and the Leadership Chehalem Valley Steering Committee have done exceptionally well in creating meaningful experiences to close the year, planning for a virtual start to next year, and preparing for a thoughtful virtual celebration of our graduating cohort on Tuesday, June 16th. We’re especially grateful for Kelly Haglund and The Kelly Group for sponsoring head shots for our graduates and participating as our keynote speaker.

Our annual business plan for the Visitor’s Center will be presented to The City of Newberg on Monday, June 15th, 2020, during the business session of City Council.