Frisco Chamber sees drastic cut in income while trying to help businesses

North Texas business leaders have said that chambers of commerce and associations are among the worst-hit by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
North Texas business leaders have said that chambers of commerce and associations are among the worst-hit by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

North Texas business leaders have said that chambers of commerce and associations are among the worst-hit by the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

The primary concern of area chambers of commerce during the coronavirus pandemic is taking care of the business community, Frisco Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Felker said. But when faced with unprecedented stress on local economies, North Texas chamber and association leaders say they are in straits just as dire as those of their business constituents.

“Our income has been cut drastically,” Felker said. “And yet we don't have any relief available to us at this point in time. We're as much on the front line as anybody who's out there trying to help our business community. To say it’s a little frustrating and disappointing would be an understatement.”

When Congress passed the CARES Act in March, it excluded 501(c)(6) organizations, such as chambers of commerce, from accessing loans and grants made available to most other small businesses, according to the American Society of Association Executives.

Chris Wallace is the president and CEO of the North Texas Commission, the regional public-private partnership between businesses, cities, education institutions and other local stakeholders. He said he is calling on North Texas' congressional representatives to include associations in the next stimulus bill.

"In recent discussions with our 15 members of Congress, we are encouraging them to include associations and chambers of commerce (501(c)(6) organizations in the next stimulus package," Wallace said in a statement. "The COVID-19 pandemic has also created financial hardships on chambers and associations, who, during this time, are busy navigating emergency aid resources for their own members."

Because chambers of commerce operate as businesses, each with their own staff, Felker said he would like to see organizations with a 501(c)(6) designation included in future stimulus bills. However, as the designation also includes lobbying organizations and unions, Felker said he believes politics may be getting in the way.

“If you're more conservative in your policy, you don't want to give any relief to unions,” Felker explained. “If you're more liberal in your policy, you don't want to give relief to lobbying organizations.”

Felker said the nation’s elected officials may not fully understand what chambers actually do.

“We advocate on behalf of business, but we're not paid lobbyists,” he said. “It’s a little frustrating to get caught up in the middle of politics with all of that going on right now.”

Since the spread of coronavirus and the associated stay-at-home orders that closed many local businesses, Felker said the chamber’s incoming revenue has declined sharply.

“For those who may not know, our revenue is basically divided between events and membership dues,” Felker said. “For these two [to] three months, I'm estimating [events revenue] will be off about 80%-90%. Our new dues revenue has gone down by 90% [and] renewal dues have gone down by probably 70%. So there's no doubt that it's having an impact.”

Those stressors are exactly why chambers and associations should be included in future rounds of aid, Wallace said.

"The commission, our chamber partners, CVB’s and other associations in our region do incredible work supporting their members and their members’ workers," Wallace said in the statement. "Membership-based associations are among the most-stressed industries during this uncertain time, and we all must support these organizations, as they are economic generators for our communities.”

As part of the process to receive its 5-star accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Frisco chamber built up six months of operating reserves. Because of that, Felker said the organization is in “good shape” but noted that not every chamber is in that position.

“I do feel very bad for all of those [chambers] that aren’t in that condition and that are going to have some closures and layoffs,” Felker said. “That's just going to further slow down the recovery in those business communities because without the chamber there, it's not going to happen as quickly.”

Gavin Pugh - William C. Wadsack


Haidilao Hot Pot has opened in Frisco. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Haidilao Hot Pot opens location in Frisco

The restaurant serves Chinese hot pot, which is a style of cooking food in a pot of boiling broth at the table.

Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Centennial is expanding its cardiovascular services. (Courtesy Baylor Scott & White Health)
Plano heart hospital bringing cardiovascular services to Frisco

Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital-Plano—ranked among the top 1% of heart hospitals in the country—is bringing its services to the Frisco hospital and providing relationships and oversight of the program

McKinney Mayor George Fuller has been re-elected for another term. (William C. Wadsack/Community Impact Newspaper)
Local election results, a trash pickup rate increase in McKinney and more top news from the Dallas-Forth Worth area

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Walk-On's is opening in McKinney in 2022. (Courtesy Walk-Ons Sports Bistreaux & Bar)
Co-owner Dak Prescott to launch eatery in McKinney; Goody Goody Liquor coming to Keller and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Children disembark the bus and head into the Boys & Girls Club for afterschool programs. (Courtesy Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County)
Driver shortage, membership decrease affects Boys & Girls Clubs driver services

“Not having a pool of drivers available also has affected the growth of our organization, as we are unable to access more areas to bring more members into the clubs,” Boys & Girls Club CEO Marianne Radley said.

BP Performance opened in April. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
BP Performance fitness center opens in Frisco

BP Performance offers boot camps, youth programs, professional athlete training, personal training, physical therapy, dry needling, chiropractic services and massage therapy.

Hot Body Yoga in Frisco is now under new ownership. (Courtesy Hot Body Yoga)
Hot Body Yoga under new ownership in Frisco

The brother and sister said their goal is to build a yoga community where everyone can feel comfortable entering the studio, regardless of their abilities.

Crumbl Cookies offers over 120 rotating cookie flavors. (Courtesy Crumbl Cookies)
Crumbl Cookies to open in Plano; McKinney trash pickup rates to rise and more DFW-area news

Read the latest business and community news form the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Frisco City Council gets first look at findings from regional transit studies

Michael Morris, director of transportation with the North Central Texas Council of Governments, gave a virtual presentation during the council’s work session on transit needs for the city as well as the possibility of passenger rail service.

rendering of project
Frisco City Council again tables rezoning proposal for $1B development called The Link

Frisco City Council members heard an update May 4 about the proposed rezoning for a 239-acre project known as The Link.

The Omni PGA Frisco Resort will open in spring 2023. (Rendering courtesy Omni Hotels & Resorts)
GALLERY: Groundbreaking kicks off construction on Omni PGA Frisco Resort

The development was delayed by about a year due to the hit the hotel industry took from the COVID-19 pandemic, but is moving forward now.