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U.S. Chamber exec in Boca: “Keep the economy moving”

Boca Chamber’s March membership breakfast changed out the keynoter to take on the mounting coronavirus crisis.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce she represents is “level-headed and fact driven,” said health policy vice president Katie Mahoney, who stayed in town to speak. “Our approach is to keep the economy moving.”

Last week they held a press conference with CEOs of companies affected and trade associations, she said. They formed a new task force to address business and supply chain disruptions, among other concerns. “We hope to stem the spike. Let’s not have a tremendous infection all at once or operate under a panic,” she said.

Mahoney took questions from an audience microphone cleaned after every speaker. Questions centered on data once tests are available; working remotely and disinformation. “Why isn’t there more factual information on how to protect yourself?” said a businessman who has a sanitizing company.

Whether or not to travel came up. “I’m flying. It’s a personal choice,” she said. “It’s a tricky balance. We’re saying to make decisions you are comfortable with.”

At the March Boca Chamber breakfast were, from left, Frank Barbieri Jr., Troy McLellan, Kate Mahoney, Donna Biase and Randy Nobles

Chamber CEO and president Troy McLellan called for “a sense of calm.”

“This too shall pass and we will get through this together,” he said. “This community is extremely resilient.”

Former chamber chairman Randy Nobles, now local Habitat for Humanity CEO, emceed. Chair-elect Jackie Reeves and Bell Rock Capital managing director, spoke about the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Donna Biase, co-founder of Best Foot Forward education foundation for foster care youth, did the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance. JM Lexus and JM Family Enterprises sponsored the event.

Attendance was set for 130 at Embassy Suites. A few tables were empty, but no one called to cancel, according to the chamber. The February chamber breakfast drew 230.

By Marci Shatzman

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