Non-profits advocating, supporting small businesses have had to make tough decisions

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Canine Crews is still a happy place for dogs,but there are fewer dogs with more clients working from home and not traveling.

"My total business loss right now is over $100,000- and thats after massive reductions in staff and expenses," said Catherine Crews with the Chamber of Commerce Wicker Park-Bucktown president. "That's our struggle right now, and it's the same for chambers they are still a business in the sense they have to pay their staff pay their rent."

There are dozens of neighborhood Chambers of Commerce listed with the City of Chicago- non-profits advocating and supporting small businesses in their communities.

With their members struggling, some chambers have had to make tough decisions.

The Wicker Park Bucktown Chamberhad 400 members but has lost 50 since March- losing dues they'd expected to operate the chamber.

"Now we are just trying to hold on to who we have left and making sure we are meeting them on their level and making sure they have all the support mechanisms that are vital for their industry," said Pamela Maass, Chamber of Commerce Wicker Park-Bucktown executive director.

Maass said her chamber did not qualify for non-profit COVID-19 assistance due to their 501 c6 status.

Their biggest fundraiser, Wicker Park Festival, was canceled over the summer.

At a time when members need more help, the chamber had to reduce staff and lean on volunteer board members.

"Our board members are working really hard ...coming up with different sponsorships definitely putting in a lot of hours with some of these new fundraising ideas as we pivot to this new pandemic world," Maas said.As their members try to survive, so too are some of the organizations meant to support small businesses in our communities.
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