​Pappas Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Local Chambers and Other Non-Profits

May 6, 2020
Press Release

Representatives Chris Pappas (D, NH-01), Brian Fitzpatrick (R, PA-01), Gil Cisneros (D, CA-39), and Greg Steube (R, FL-17) introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure local chambers of commerce and other nonprofits who support small businesses can receive the federal assistance they need to weather this economic downturn while they continue working to help America’s Main Street businesses. 

Like the businesses they serve, many local chambers, tourism-related organizations, and other 501(c)(6) nonprofits are now experiencing their own financial challenges brought on by COVID-19. These organizations are not currently eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to get financial support. The Local Chamber, Tourism, and 501(c)(6) Protection Act would expand PPP eligibility to include 501(c)(6) organizations with 300 or fewer employees to ensure they can continue supporting our mainstreet businesses and local economies. However, the compensation of any employee at a covered organization who is a registered federal lobbyist is not eligible for PPP coverage or forgiveness.

“Our local chambers, associations, and non-profits will continue to play an instrumental role in ensuring our Main Street businesses and regional economies can weather this storm,” said Congressman Pappas. “This bipartisan legislation will expand crucial small business assistance to the groups whose mission it is to support them. It is going to take all of us doing our part to get our economy back up and running in a safe and orderly fashion. I look forward to continuing working across the aisle to introduce common sense legislation to ensure that happens.”

Local Chambers of Commerce across New Hampshire’s first district endorsed the legislation:

“Chambers of Commerce and other 501(c)(6) membership organizations, whose purpose is to support the business community, are small businesses ourselves,” said Valerie Rochon, President of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth. “In both CARES Act funding packages we have been ineligible for Paycheck Protection Program funding, causing hardship as we struggle to assist our members. We are grateful to Congressman Pappas for championing small businesses and assisting 501(c)(6) organizations in accessing the funding that will allow us to continue to provide the critical services needed for our businesses to survive and thrive as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”

“The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is a critical part of our city and region’s business community, and we’ve worked hard to support our members while dealing with many of the same challenges. Nonprofits are small businesses too and access to the Paycheck Protection Program will ensure we can help our local business community navigate and recover from this crisis,” said Mike Skelton, President of the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. “We’re grateful to Congressman Pappas for his leadership on this issue and his continued support of New Hampshire’s small business community.”

“New Hampshire’s local Chambers of Commerce are working hard to support our small businesses during this crisis, and are the best way to reach thousands of businesses directly to share information and hear concerns,” said Ashley Haseltine, President of the Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce. “Without assistance from programs like the Paycheck Protection Program, we won’t be able to provide the support our local businesses need to recover from the challenges they’re facing. We’re glad to see Congressman Pappas introduce this legislation and champion New Hampshire’s small businesses during this time.”

“Our chamber represents 751 business members that rely on a robust tourism industry in the Mt. Washington Valley. Our services include communicating information to our membership, and providing a consistent and empathetic message to our visitors for future tourism business,” said Janice Crawford, Executive Director of the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce. “We have been without support since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and qualifying for the Paycheck Protection Program is essential to our long term financial health, and ability to continue to serve our business members.”

"Like many other businesses we have had struggles, and we have had layoffs. But we are still working day in and day out with our more than 500 members to help them navigate the challenges they are facing,” said John Nyhan, President of the Hampton Area Chamber of Commerce. “In order to continue providing this critical support to our local small businesses we need financial support as well, and we're glad to see Congressman Pappas introduce this legislation that would make our organization and other Chambers of Commerce eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program."

“Congressman Pappas has demonstrated his commitment to Chambers of Commerce throughout New Hampshire with this legislation,” said Margaret Joyce, President of the Greater Dover Chamber of Commerce. “Without access to COVID disaster loans and grant funding from the federal government, Chambers of Commerce will be unable to aid the businesses they serve as the economy begins to reopen. Under Congressman Pappas's proposed legislation, Chambers will be able to begin the critical work of economic recovery in our communities.”

“Like many businesses in the Granite State we have experienced a decrease in revenue and hoped that federal funding would be available allowing us to continue supporting our members, helping them navigate this situation, providing resources and programming, and advocating on their behalf,” said Jennifer Wheeler, President of the Exeter Area Chamber of Commerce. “Chambers are essential to businesses, and will play an important role supporting them through the reopening and recovery process.  Including 501(c)(6) organizations in future funding will provide vital resources and ensure Chambers are able to continue their mission supporting businesses and keeping our communities vibrant.”

“Our local chambers of commerce, and other regional and state 501(c)6 organizations, play a vital role in our communities and have been assisting our small businesses as they navigate through the COVID-19 crisis. Unfortunately, these organizations, whose assistance will be crucial to our communities’ local economic recovery efforts in the coming months, were left out of the original CARES Act package. I am proud to continue to lead this bipartisan effort with Congressman Pappas to protect our local economies and create a path to recovery for Main Street America,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick.

This legislation has also been endorsed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Travel Association.

Last month Congressmen Pappas and Fitzpatrick (PA-01) led a group of 62 lawmakers in calling on the House leadership to make local chambers of commerce and similar organizations that assist small businesses eligible for direct federal assistance.