Chamber events shift in response to health concerns
As the Greater Oklahoma City region begins the road to economic recovery, the Chamber continues to evaluate how to best implement its programs in a world still impacted by COVID-19. Since the phased implementation of recovery does not allow large gatherings until Phase 3, the Chamber is not planning to host in-person events through at least September 2020.
“The Chamber must balance its mission to provide information and education resources with our responsibility to protect the health of our community,” said Chamber Chair Percy Kirk, senior vice president and region manager for the central region of Cox Communications. “We feel that the best way to balance those two needs is to shift many of our upcoming events to a virtual format.”
In April, the Chamber launched its Enlighten Webinar series, shifting what was a monthly in-person lunch event to a webinar series. In May, the events will be held every Friday at noon. This free event features quick presentations on topics that can strengthen your business during this challenging time, including how to build your professional network using LinkedIn, how to navigate changes to tax filing rules in the face of the pandemic and more. The event will return to its monthly schedule in June.
The monthly Chamber Forum will also resume virtually on June 17. For $15, members of the community can get timely updates on the topics that matter to our region’s future. June’s online Chamber Forum will feature a discussion on the stages of growth on economic development projects.
Other networking events that are will resume virtually include Rise & Shine, scheduled for June 25, and the Chamber’s monthly Member Orientation, which will recommence in June. The Chamber has also decided to move many of its signature events to an online platform. Both State of Health, scheduled for July 13, and State of the Schools, set for Aug. 12, will be held online.
Another significant event moving to a virtual format is Elevate, the Chamber’s professional development conference scheduled for Sept. 10. The virtual Elevate experience will still include dynamic keynote presentations and breakout sessions, all from the comfort of your own home. An updated price structure and keynote speaker will be announced in the coming weeks via email and on okcelevate.com.
Some event cancellations are necessary
The Chamber also decided to cancel or postpone a few events scheduled to take place between now and September.
“The last thing we want to happen is for a Chamber event to become a vector for the spread of COVID-19, and several of our events are unable to be replicated in a virtual format,” said Jenny Love Meyer, Chamber vice chair of marketing and communications and chief culture officer at Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores. “We made the decision to cancel these events with the utmost respect for the safety of our community.”
The Chamber’s DC Visit, which was rescheduled from late April to July, is now canceled for 2020, with a return in 2021.
“Managing out-of-town travel to other major cities creates too many variables that make it difficult to justify planning this trip in 2020,” Meyer said.
Because many companies are canceling or reducing their internship programs for the summer, the Chamber decided to cancel its InternOKC programming for the year. To help provide professional development for interns throughout the region, the virtual Elevate experience will adapt its programming to include breakout sessions applicable to college students or recent graduates.
The Metro 50 Awards program is also canceled for 2020. The Chamber and the Metro 50 committee made this decision anticipating that many companies would be focused on other business operations and may not be able to apply for an awards program in light of the current economic conditions, combined with the inability to host such a large gathering.
Two other networking events have been canceled. The Chamber’s Sunset Reception, a free networking event that highlights Chamber member businesses, will be canceled through at least September. The Chamber is also canceling its fall golf tournament.
For Chamber members who have already purchased tickets or sponsorships for any event impacted by this transition, a staff member will contact you to discuss how the changes might shift your investment in the work of the Chamber. Updated registration information about each virtual event will be posted on okcchamber.com/events when available.
“The Chamber takes your support of our events and programs seriously,” said Kirk. “We plan on working with each member company that sponsors our events to ensure that your investments remain valuable to your company. It is our intent that Chamber events will be as timely and valuable to our members as ever.”