FDI: A Two-Way Street

Ian Scott on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

You’d probably guess that the United States is the leading origin of Foreign Direct Investment in the world.  You may be surprised to learn that the United States is also the top destination for Foreign Direct Investment.

An article by our friend Jay Garner, CCE, CEcD, President and Founder of Garner Economics, in the March/April issue of Expansion Solutions magazine illustrates this two way flow of investment and jobs.  Garner also outlines the key reasons foreign companies decide to invest in the United States.  While cost isn’t typically the driver, these factors are:

  • Market Access – The US is the world’s number one market
  • Intellectual Property Rights – The US values IP and enforces its laws
  • Quality of Place
  • Business Climate

Click for the full article.

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A Campaign Pledge: Create a Chamber of Commerce

Tania Kohut on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

University City, Illinois, Mayor Shelley Welsch is working with residents to deliver on one of her campaign pledges: create a chamber of commerce.  According to Mayor Welsch, "People have chambers around us and we need to be competitive in that way. I think we've been a little too comfortable with whomever is here or happens to be here and we haven't done as well as we should in trying to attract more businesses to University City and help convince businesses to stay in U City." The volunteer group, which includes University City's deputy director of community development, an attorney, a school board member who once worked for a chamber, a former business owner and others, is currently meeting to lay the groundwork for the chamber.  Click here to learn more about how a future chamber is getting its start.

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Chambers offer solutions to state budget crises

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

As states across the country battle to solve their budget deficits, a couple of states are receiving advice from their chambers.  Kentucky and Ohio are two states where chambers have taken the lead to offer recommendations to their governors and state legislatures.


In February 2010, the Kentucky Chamber released a Leaky Bucket white paper regarding the Kentucky State budget.  The Kentucky Chamber is concerned that the state’s budget is leaking tax dollars and thus taking millions away from Kentucky’s schools.

The first leak that they identify is corrections.  The chamber says that skyrocketing inmate costs hurt school funding.  The second leak is Medicaid.  The chamber found Medicaid costs are currently growing at twice the rate of the state budget.  The third leak is public employee health benefits.  The chamber suggests that reasonable changes in the public employee health benefits system could save $200 million.

The Kentucky is concerned that the state is spending more money on what happens to people when they fall out of the education system, an increased chance of jail or being on Medicaid instead of working to grow the workforce and strengthen the economy by focusing tax payer dollars on the education system.

Read more: Leaky Bucket report
Also mentioned in previous blog post: Kentucky passes landmark criminal justice reform


Eight of the major metro chambers of commerce in Ohio (Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown/Warren) joined with the Ohio Chamber of Commerce to offer a series of budget recommendations, titled Redesigning Ohio, to Governor Kasich.   

Redesigning Ohio is not intended to be a proposed solution to the state’s budget deficit, but if implemented, these recommendations would save the state $1.4 billion and would help restructure Ohio’s budgeting inefficiencies so that they would not end up in another fiscal crisis in the future.

Redesigning Ohio’s recommendations target specific areas of the state government that are well suited to private sector solutions.  The areas selected for reform are: budgeting for outcomes, charter agencies, entrepreneurial management, government regulations, tax expenditures, civil service, pension benefits, health care, criminal justice and local governments.  The Ohio chambers see the current budget crisis as an opportunity to take bold actions that will result in a more sustainable future.

Read more: Redesigning Ohio – Full Proposal; Executive Summary
Also mentioned in previous blog post: Changing of the Guard - Ohio

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Guns in the workplace 2011

Chaaron Pearson on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

Guns in the workplace law refers to an NRA supported bill that would guarantee employees the right to keep firearms in their vehicle on their employers property as long as the gun is concealed and the car is locked.

Proponents say that licensed gun owners should have access to protection on the drive to and from work.  Many chambers of commerce have opposed the measure on the grounds that employer's rights as property owners should allow them to restrict anyone from carrying firearms on the premises.

Guns in the workplace laws are always a contentious issue within the business community and it seems to reappear every year.  Below are four states that are currently facing new guns in the workplace legislation.


In 2010, Indiana signed a “guns at work” bill into law prohibiting employers from banning guns from their parking lots.  Employees are now allowed to keep legally permitted firearms out of sight in their locked vehicles while they are working.

Gun rights advocates are pushing hard with new legislation during the 2011 session of the Indiana legislature.  The latest gun-related legislation in Indiana, SB 411, dubbed the “Parking Lot 2.0 bill by the NRA, would move further, not just to allow guns concealed in locked vehicles, but to allow lawsuits if employers ask job applicants or employees about gun ownership or if they require employees to disclose that they store firearms in their car.

The Indiana Chamber and their members are fighting hard against the bill.  George Raymond, vice president of human resources and labor relations at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce says that “employers are struggling to abide by a vaguely written law.  We’re opposed to the bill, just as we were to last year’s bill.”

Read more: Herald Bulletin – NRA wants Indiana lawmakers to ban employers from gun-related questions


A similar bill, SB 321, has passed the Texas senate and has a similar bill pending in the house will prohibit employers from disciplining or firing an employee for having a firearm locked in his or her vehicle on company property.  On March 16, the bill moved to the Texas house for consideration.  Business organizations, including the Texas Association of Business, have opposed this legislation warning that the bill could lead to more workplace violence.

Read more: Bloomberg Businessweek – Senate Oks letting Texans keep guns in car at work


The Tennessee Senate passed legislation that allows individuals with handgun permits to carry their weapons where they work.  The measure has now moved on to the House for a final vote.  This legislation will not impact places that currently ban weapons.

Read more: My Fox Memphis: Current Bans Override Guns at Work Bill

North Dakota

North Dakota’s House approved a bill similar to the bill being considered in Texas, allowing employees to keep guns locked in their vehicles while at work.  Andy Peterson, president of the North Dakota Chamber says “this bill infringes on the rights of business owners to deny access to their property as they deem appropriate.”  A Senate committee is now reviewing the legislation.

Read more: Grand Forks Herald – Proposed N.D. law allows guns in vehicles at work     

Previous ACCE guns in the workplace articles:

            Indiana Guns in the Workplace – 2010

            Guns in the Workplace in Alabama - 2009

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PACs and Politics in Petaluma?

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
It's been the custom at the Petaluma (CA) Chamber of Commerce to not endorse any political candidates, but things may soon change. The Chamber is surveying its members to see "to what extent the chamber should be involved in city politics and whether it should be able to form a Political Action Committee to raise money for local and regional candidates." While the results aren't in yet, some readers of the article are starting to voice their own opinions in the comments section.
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Redistricting 2011: Where to count Maryland’s prisoners

Chaaron Pearson on Monday, March 21, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

Craig Mathies Sr., the first black county commissioner of Somerset County, Maryland, knocked on only 15 doors during his campaign.  He didn’t have to mount a large campaign because a many of his constituents are inmates at the Eastern Correctional Institution Complex, Maryland’s largest state prison.  Those inmates can’t vote, which means Mr. Mathies’ district has only 1,400 voters while other districts have 3,000.

Mr. Mathies’ district numbers will soon change.  Last year Maryland passed a law that requires that, for the purposes of redistricting, prisoners must be counted at their last permanent address – not the place where they are incarcerated.  However, figuring out a permanent address for each prisoner isn’t always easy.  What if the prisoner was previously homeless?  What if they have no permanent address on record?  Delaware and New York, who have similar redistricting laws, will also have to come up with answers to these questions.

Karl Aro, executive director of the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, thinks the proposed methods of determining permanent addresses proposed by Maryland and New York are likely to be challenged constitutionally. 

To read more: Stateline – Where to count prisoners poses redistricting dilemma    

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Chicagoland Chamber Mourns Passing of Former Chair

Tania Kohut on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

Jim Tyree, chairman and CEO of Mesirow Financial Holdings, Inc. and chairman of Sun-Times Media Group LLC, passed away yesterday, March 16. A much-admired executive in the corporate arena, Tyree was also a highly respected business leader in Chicago, Ill.  He served as chairman of the board of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce from 2007 – 2010.  “Chicago has lost a great son and a great leader,” said Jerry Roper, president and CEO of the Chicagoland Chamber. “There’s no doubt that Jim Tyree, at his young age, was going to be one of the future leaders of this city and the region,” Roper continued. Read how Chicago's business leaders remember Tyree here. Also, be sure to check out this blog, Jim Tyree rubbed elbows with titans but didn't mind answering his own phone, which appeared on



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Waiting for "Superman"

Chaaron Pearson on Monday, March 14, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

Last Thursday, the US Chamber hosted a conference call with former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and Michelle Rhee, former superintendent of DC public schools, founder and CEO of StudentsFirst and was featured in the documentary, Waiting for “Superman”.  They participated on the call to urge the business community to get involved with education reform.

Waiting for “Superman” analyzes the failures of the American public school system by following several students through the education system.  The documentary finally made its way to the top of my Netflix queue a few weeks ago and I would encourage anyone who has an interest in education reform to make the effort to see this film.  Director Davis Guggenheim puts faces on education statistics and reminds us that the future of our country is determined in the classroom.

Call to Action from the US Chamber:

As discussed in the US Chamber call, the American business community has a great opportunity to make a difference and lead the charge in calling for real education reform. It's crucial that businessmen and women from across the country initiate these discussions. We encourage you to take advantage of the "Reel" Resources for Education Reform kit to initiate the interest in education reform among businesses in your community, which will also be available online soon.

The National Chamber Foundation has obtained a license on behalf of your organization that allows you to publicly screen Waiting for “Superman” provided that certain conditions are met.  In order to comply with the license agreement, your organization must meet the following requirements:  

  • You MAY NOT screen the film at commercial theatrical venues, libraries, and educational facilities.
  • Screenings in public venues are subject to a 150-person limit.
  • You MAY NOT charge fees, resell, or make copies of the Waiting for “Superman” DVD.
  • Permissible screening venues include local community or civic centers, public recreation centers, chamber facilities, office complex meeting rooms, or private residences.  Note: screenings in private residences are not subject to legal requirements.
  • Once the venue has been determined, you are required to sign and send in a detachable form, which you will receive in the “Reel” Resources for Education Reform kits, to ensure compliance with the license agreement.
  • All screenings must occur before August 31, 2011.
  • Your organization is solely responsible for complying with these requirements.  If you have questions about screening, please email Blair Fowler at
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Bowling Green (KY) Chamber Reaches Out to Japan

Tania Kohut on Monday, March 14, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

Looking for ways to be more involved in relief efforts, the Bowling Green Area (KY) Chamber of Commerce is offering its help to victims of the devastating earthquake in Japan. They are in constant contact with the Japan America Society of Kentucky - an organization that builds business and community relationships between Japan and Kentucky. Watch the news story here:
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Guest Post: Greg Roth - Kentucky passes landmark criminal justice reform

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, March 11, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

On March 3, the Kentucky legislature passed historic legislation which will dramatically reform the state's criminal justice system. Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law H.B. 463 after it moved quickly through the General Assembly, passing the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 96-1. The reforms are expected to save the state $422 million over ten years. 

For the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, staunch supporters of the bill, the passage is the culmination of a two-year effort to measure the state's budgetary woes and advocate for better policies. As detailed in remarks by CEO David Adkisson, the state chamber began studying the state budget in 2008 and found that corrections was one of the top areas ripe for reform. The state currently spends over $20,000 per inmate and had one of the fastest-growing prison populations in the nation over the past decade. According to Adkisson, the business community pays 40% of state taxes in Kentucky, making sentencing and corrections an issue of economic competitiveness.

The findings of the chamber's study were released in the 2010 Leaky Bucket Report. As a result, the chamber began engaging legislators across the state in discussions about how to make the penal code more cost-effective.

According to Lexington' s NBC affiliate:

“The bill modernizes Kentucky drug laws by reducing prison time for low-risk, non-violent drug offenders who possess small amounts of illegal drugs. It then reinvests the savings from the reduced prison costs into drug treatment opportunities for offenders who need help. The law also strengthens probation and parole laws by basing key decisions on the risk posed by offenders and improving supervision, and links offenders to appropriate community resources.”

The bill itself was the result of analysis and recommendations from a robust task force that included legislators from both parties, the Chief Justice, the secretary of the Justice Cabinet, a former prosecutor, a public advocate, and a  county official.  The task force was aided by technical assistance from the research-driven Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States.

ACCE and Pew have been working together in a handful of states to educate business leaders on the necessity of and opportunity for sentencing and corrections reform that will improve public safety, hold offenders accountable and control corrections costs. Kentucky stands as a shining example of what can be achieved when the business community lends its voice to this important issue.

-Greg Roth

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