Citing projected revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tulsa Regional Chamber said it was forced to lay off 15 employees, about one-fifth of its workforce.
"We’re very sad," said Mike Neal, the Chamber's president. "We hated to have to do this, but the Chamber is over 120 years old and we had to stay in business. We have to run our organization as a business."
Neal said he hopes the Chamber can rehire the laid-off employees in the future, adding that some had been employed there for "20 or 30 years."
The Chamber's website describes the organization as focused on "growing jobs, talent and opportunity in northeast Oklahoma," and says it counts more than 2,000 businesses as dues-paying members.
"Many of our businesses are not in business right now, or are functioning at a very slow, reduced pace," Neal said. "There's a significant slowdown in cash flow."
Still, Neal said there's cause for optimism for the economies of Tulsa and northeast Oklahoma.
"Our economy had been doing exceptionally well" before the coronavirus outbreak, said Neal. "We've had great momentum. I don't think we'll flip a switch and see the economy rebound overnight. But I think we're going to come back and come back strong."
Neal touted recent, pre-virus expansion announcements by Whirlpool and American Airlines in the Tulsa area as examples of that economic momentum.
"We're not going to miss a beat," said Neal.