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Chamber to lay off a dozen employees, expand advocacy efforts amid coronavirus pandemic

Chamber to lay off a dozen employees, expand advocacy efforts amid coronavirus pandemic
© Greg Nash

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is preparing for layoffs amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal memo obtained by The Hill.

Twelve people will be laid off from the pro-business lobbying group, a source familiar with the matter told The Hill.

Chamber of Commerce President Suzanne Clark sent a memo to employees on Thursday, announcing cuts as well as restructuring information, including an announcement about expanded advocacy efforts. 

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“Looking forward also requires decisions about the skills and services we need less or need to streamline. Unfortunately, this means we have had some difficult conversations with a small number of our colleagues whose roles are no longer required,” she wrote.

A source familiar said, “The majority of the cuts were tied directly to running a large building and a large in-person events operation.”

Clark mentioned that the Chamber will accelerate efforts to be a leader in virtual events. The Chamber has 500 employees overall.

She also announced, in order to increase the Chamber’s influence and advocacy, Executive Vice President and Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley will oversee a new umbrella group called Strategic Advocacy, with three divisions — government affairs, policy, and political affairs and federal relations.

She added that the Chamber will make “targeted investments in new talent within the Strategic Advocacy group.”

“No matter who occupies the White House or holds the balance of power in Congress, our members will need the Chamber’s help to rebuild our economy. These will be the driving challenges confronting our nation well into next year, and beyond,” Clark wrote.

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The Chamber maintained its 95 percent membership renewal rate, she noted and commented on the financial state of the organization.

"We had conversations about controlling costs, resulting in prudent action on new hires, consultants, executive compensation, and other expenses. This quick action and the strong revenue numbers achieved by our fundraising team have kept the Chamber financially strong in a highly unstable environment," she wrote.

A source familiar said the Chamber is headed towards a “break-even budget year” even with the investments announced.

Clark also announced the Chamber is promoting Mike Morello to be the organization’s first chief digital officer. He is currently chief product officer for the Chamber’s CO platform. 

Updated at 3:48 p.m.