Join Login COVID-19 Updates

Photo by Richard Hurd


Updated: 5/12/2022, 4:08 p.m.

The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Responses are posted at

To submit or vote up questions, visit and enter the event code #ASK4BIZ or simply click here to be directed to that page. Questions can also be submitted via email at

To view businesses’ reopening plans that have been shared through our portal, click here.

To participate in the #JustAsk campaign, print this flyer (English or Spanish) and display it in your business to encourage customers to #JustAsk about policies and procedures being implemented to reduce risks to their health and safety.

To view the Chamber’s agenda for reopening the economy and accelerating our recovery, click here.

To view the second video in the Chamber’s “For You. For Us. Forward.” series, click here.

To learn more about community resources that Greater Madison businesses are offering, click here.

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UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank joined us today for Lunch(UP)date, the Chamber program (presented by Perkins Coie) where you can take a break and enjoy lunch while staying curious, connected and informed.

After four years in the Obama administration, Blank says being an academic at heart – and a familiarity with Wisconsin from her years in neighboring Minnesota – drew her to the open Chancellor position at UW–Madison in 2013. When she arrived on campus, she said she was struck by how seriously people took the Wisconsin Idea and bringing the university’s mission and principles into the world. She says she is most proud that, during her tenure, the university moved forward on all fronts, including improving educational outcomes, growing research dollars and increasing access and diversity.
In addition to facing episodic, external challenges such as the pandemic, Blank says one of her biggest challenges was working with the state, navigating two rounds of budget cuts and a lack of flexibility she says many other flagship universities do not have to contend with. As a longtime Chamber board member, she says continued state-level political advocacy is a key role the business community can play in supporting the university going forward, in addition to hiring students and maintaining a presence on campus. As for advice for her soon-to-be-named successor, she says to never lose the sense of joy that comes with being at a great job at a wonderful institution.

View the full recording of Lunch(UP)date here.

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As the pandemic took hold and left businesses needing answers, the Chamber played a critical role in relief and recovery. This month, many people received a piece in the mail detailing our work with and on behalf of the business community.

Whether it was connecting businesses with resources and information, modeling safe return practices, collaborating with economic partners to deploy business surveys that guided our advocacy or amplifying the stories of area businesses taking extraordinary steps to solve pandemic-related challenges, the Chamber’s work during the pandemic was critical. But it’s not about what we did – it is what we do.

There remain challenges ahead, and to accelerate our region’s recovery, we need your support. A greater Madison takes all of us.

Contact us at or 608-443-1944 to discuss how to maximize your engagement to leverage the collective strength and leadership of our business community.

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The Chamber recently hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as manufacturers assessed their current needs and future projections.

Meeting participants said supply chain issues are foremost on their minds right now, and that has posed challenges relating to pricing, accounting and availability of raw materials. They did note bright spots relating to increased sales, prices flattening out and a strong economic recovery overall in Greater Madison.

Attendees said, aside from employees whose jobs require them to be in person, they have implemented more of a hybrid work model. Even with more remote work opportunities, they said employees, colleagues and customers alike are excited to be able to interact face to face and feel connected again.

The Chamber has convened leaders in more than 20 industries as part of our Virtual Industry Meeting series to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.

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The Madison Common Council has voted to make permanent the City of Madison’s Streatery program, which was first announced and enacted in May 2020.

The Chamber board voted in February in support of making Streatery permanent, and the Chamber was an early and vocal supporter of this concept. During the pandemic, Streatery solved the immediate challenge of creating safe spaces for patrons to appreciate and support restaurants while also creating a long-term opportunity for residents and visitors to enjoy new dynamic outdoor experiences.

The council approved several items related to the Streatery program, including establishing the new Roadway Cafe Permit, making changes to street vending and creating a new section for sidewalk cafes, and amending the zoning ordinance to allow outdoor eating as a permitted use in additional zoning districts.

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Due to a large number of applications, the state has made additional funding available in our region through the Main Street Bounceback Grants program. 

The program enables businesses and non-profits considering moving into a vacant Wisconsin commercial space to be eligible to receive $10,000. Eligibility criteria include:

— The business is moving into a vacant commercial space or has moved into a vacant commercial space where the lease commences, or sales contract closes, on or after Jan. 1, 2021.

— The business can certify that it has not or will not vacate a commercial space in Wisconsin to become eligible to claim this grant.

The program runs through June 30, 2022, or until funds are expended, and is being administered in our region by the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP). Click here to learn more and apply.

To date, the Chamber has helped verify more than 100 businesses for this program. If you need assistance with verification, please contact Helen Stewart.

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When the pandemic first hit, one of the first things the Chamber did was simulate shutting down the economy and rebuilding it. If the economy was a large tent, childcare is one of those industries that supports the tent poles and keeps the whole structure from collapsing. 

The Chamber advocated early in support of childcare funding at all levels of government and promoted the issue as part of our Recovery Agenda. In partnership with United Way of Dane County, we also convened economists, demographers, businesses and talent to identify forces driving the current labor gap and formed an implementation group to find solutions to childcare challenges. 

In a recent Cap Times cover story, Chamber President Zach Brandon lays out child care’s crucial role in accelerating Greater Madison’s economic recovery. As Zach puts it, “This is not just an acute problem – this is a chronic problem… There is certainly the potential that this region could become an example of how you fix the market failure, and that should help us recruit and retain talent.”

Read the full story here.

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In the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling blocking it, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced it was withdrawing its emergency temporary standard (ETS) requiring that businesses with 100 or more employees mandate either vaccinations or weekly COVID tests for their employees. The withdrawal took effect Jan. 26.

However, as part of the announcement, OSHA stated that they are “not withdrawing the ETS as a proposed rule. The agency is prioritizing its resources to focus on finalizing a permanent COVID-19 Healthcare Standard.” The Court allowed another vaccine requirement, for healthcare workers at facilities that receive federal funding, to remain in place.

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The Chamber – in partnership with the DeForest Windsor Area Chamber of CommerceDestination Madison; Downtown Madison, Inc.Fitchburg Chamber Visitor + Business BureauLatino Chamber of CommerceMadison Black Chamber of CommerceMiddleton Chamber of Commerce; and Verona Area Chamber of Commerce – recently released the results of our Fall 2021 Business Survey, which yielded responses from 305 Greater Madison businesses representing a diverse, mostly small or locally owned, cross-section of industries, as well as a significant percentage of women- and minority-owned businesses.
Among the survey’s key findings are:

— The two largest barriers to local businesses are related to global challenges: 65 percent rated access to talent as a top barrier to their business, closely followed by increased operating costs at 59 percent;

— The next two largest barriers to local businesses were related to local factors: government regulations (34 percent) and lack of clarity in local government reopening plans (30 percent);

— 24 percent expanded their workforce in 2021, while an additional 30 percent wanted to expand but weren’t able to due to talent shortages;

— 65 percent experienced revenue growth in 2021, though the 24 percent that reported revenue losses were disproportionately small businesses;

— 78 percent have a workforce that is at least three-quarters fully vaccinated, which exceeds Dane County’s overall rate;

— Among for-profit businesses, opinions on the Dane County indoor mask requirement are split, with 44 percent in favor and 44 percent opposed;

— Among those that said the mask requirement has impacted their business positively or negatively, 71 percent said it has hurt their business;

— 66 percent said none of their employees are working fully remotely, up from 45 percent in Spring 2021 and nearing pre-pandemic levels; and

— 35 percent rate Dane County’s business climate as above average or excellent, up from 18 percent in Spring 2021, but down significantly from the 81 percent of Fall 2020 survey respondents who rated Dane County’s pre-pandemic business climate as above average or excellent.
For more information about the survey, click here.

For additional survey coverage, read the Wisconsin State Journal.

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In collaboration with local designers UnderBelly, the Chamber launched “Greater Madison: Making the Difference” to tell the stories of area businesses that have taken extraordinary steps to solve the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Most recently, we highlighted Pan Genome Systems, which was founded by a UW–Madison professor and has worked to tackle the rapid spread of coronavirus in Wisconsin’s mink, while also addressing human-to-animal-to-human spread that can occur.

We previously highlighted the efforts of EpicDelve, Midwest Prototyping, UW–MadisonTeel PlasticsAmerican Family InsuranceCatalentNordic and AkitaBox as part of this series. Visit our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages for more stories about businesses that are Making the Difference.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which was established by the American Rescue Plan Act to help restaurants, food stands, caterers, taverns, bakeries, breweries, wineries, distilleries and other eligible businesses stay open.

The RRF will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses by March 11, 2023.

For full program details and to apply, click here.

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With businesses playing a critical role in encouraging widespread vaccination from COVID-19, the state has released new resources to assist businesses in continuing to contribute to the vaccination campaign.

Among the resources are guidance for effectively encouraging vaccination among employees, information about how to set up a workplace vaccination clinic, and links to posters that can be downloaded or adapted for posting in workplaces.

You can find guidance to help promote vaccination among employees here, a customizable PowerPoint presentation through this page, and information on how employers can raise awareness and connect employees with vaccination options here.

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As part of the Wisconsin Ready plan, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is working to identify manufacturers to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other materials to businesses as they reopen. 

Businesses looking for PPE can search for masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and shields. Manufacturers of PPE can list themselves as a supplier by filling out a profile on the site.

Learn more here.

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The Chamber is continuing to advise all levels of government on the development of a public policy response to COVID-19.

We’re looking for immediate needs that will help employers and workers. Ideas have ranged from helping the newly unemployed with emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits; specific ways to help shuttered businesses; ways to help businesses with HR issues or health and safety concerns; or any additional challenges you are facing from COVID-19.

Ideas can be related to issues including funding, taxes, licensure, temporary loosening of some agency rules and more. Proposals will be shared with policymakers on an ongoing basis.

Fill out the form here.

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United Way of Dane County has a webpage devoted to providing information about opportunities to volunteer safely during this time of need. Opportunities include food deliveries, child care, serving meals, transporting needed supplies and much more.

Check out a list of volunteer options here.

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It is important that we continue to support local businesses to strengthen our economy and be there for our friends and neighbors. Here are just a few ways you can do so:

Tip well. Tip more if you are able to do so. Service workers make much of their living on tips, and your generosity can help make up for fewer people ordering food or buying services.

Keep those tickets. If you bought tickets for a local charitable or arts event that was later canceled, consider not asking for a refund, or tell the organization to keep the money you paid for your ticket as a donation.

Buy gift cards. Purchasing gift cards and gift certificates for yourself and others is a great way to support local businesses now while frequenting them at a later date.

Seek virtual options. You can browse and order items from local businesses, including many retailers, online as an alternative to in-person shopping.

Shop for friends, family and neighbors. When shopping, consider asking those who are vulnerable or less mobile if you can purchase anything for them.

Get delivery or takeout. Call restaurants directly or use an aggregated order and delivery service like Madison’s own EatStreet.

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We strongly encourage you to consult these helpful, regularly updated resources as you implement your business’s infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plans:

CDC: COVID-19 Main Page
CDC: Situation Summary
CDC: Resources for Businesses and Employers
CDC: General Business Frequently Asked Questions
CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
CDC: Preventing Spread in Communities
CDC: Print Resources
DHS: COVID-19 Information
PHMDC: COVID-19 Main Page
City of Madison Civil Rights: Mask FAQ

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May 12, 2022 – Chancellor Rebecca Blank
April 7, 2022 – Airport Director Kim Jones and Transportation Director Tom Lynch
March 24, 2022 – UW Professor David McDonald
February 17, 2022 – Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
January 27, 2022 – Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes
December 16, 2021 – Centro Hispano Executive Director Karen Menendez Coller
December 2, 2021 – DOA Secretary Joel Brennan
November 18, 2021 – Workforce Development Trends and Opportunities
November 11, 2021 – Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett (audio only)
October 7, 2021 – Col. Bart Van Roo
September 30, 2021 – Dr. Alex Gee
September 16, 2021 – UW Health Dr. Peter Newcomer
August 19, 2021 – Urban League President Dr. Ruben Anthony
August 12, 2021 – Matt Younkle, Alnisa Allgood and Forrest Woolworth
July 29, 2021 – DMI President Jason Ilstrup
July 22, 2021 – Airport Director Kim Jones
June 24, 2021 – One City Schools Founder and CEO Kaleem Caire
May 13, 2021 – Madison Common Council Leadership
May 5, 2021 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
April 22, 2021 – Deb Gilpin, Conor Caloia and Joel Plant
April 1, 2021 – Chancellors Rebecca Blank and Mark Mone
March 25, 2021 – Spring 2021 Business Survey
February 25, 2021 – MadREP President & CEO Jason Fields
February 11, 2021 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
January 21, 2021 – PHMDC Pandemic Operations Section Chief Doug Voegeli
January 7, 2021 – Madison College President Dr. Jack Daniels III
December 17, 2020 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
December 3, 2020 – United Way of Dane County President & CEO Renee Moe
November 19, 2020 – Destination Madison President & CEO Deb Archer and MadREP President Paul Jadin
November 12, 2020 – NAMI Dane County Executive Director Anna Moffit (presentation)
November 5, 2020 – UnityPoint Health – Meriter CEO Sue Erickson
October 8, 2020 – U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher
October 1, 2020 – 365Nation CEO Henry Sanders
September 16, 2020 – MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins
August 27, 2020 – SSM Health Wisconsin Regional President Damond Boatwright
August 20, 2020 – WISC-TV & Madison Magazine Editorial Director Neil Heinen
August 13, 2020 – Gov. Tony Evers and WI Tech Council President Tom Still
August 6, 2020 – Black Chamber President Camille Carter and Latino Chamber President Jessica Cavazos
July 23, 2020 – DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman
July 16, 2020 – Chancellor Rebecca Blank
July 9, 2020 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
June 11, 2020 – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan
May 19, 2020 – County Executive Joe Parisi and Public Health Director Janel Heinrich
May 6, 2020 – MMAC President Tim Sheehy
April 29, 2020 – WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes
April 24, 2020 – UW Health CEO Dr. Alan Kaplan
April 17, 2020 – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
April 9, 2020 – SBA Wisconsin Director Eric Ness
April 2, 2020 – Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

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