Celebrating Communications Excellence

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 


The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced winners of its Communications Excellence awards program, sponsored by Golden Openings, Inc.

In June 2018, five marketing and communications leaders from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C. gathered at #ACCEHQ to carefully review more than 150 award submissions. We thank our judges for joining us in Alexandria, Va., and lending us their eyes and expertise for this year's competition: Sybil Topel (Chattanooga Chamber); Ken Brady (Charleston Metro Chamber); Anna Stokes (The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia); Susan Farhang (United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) and Elaine Gilligan (Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce).

These entries highlight some of the freshest and most innovative marketing and communications work coming from ACCE member organizations of all types and sizes.

Each submission was organized by type — advertising and marketing, campaigns, digital and publications — and by the submitting organization’s total annual budget range: under $1 million, $1 to $3 million and above $3 million.

In addition to awards listed below, three “Best in Show” awards will be announced during the #ACCEAwards Show on Wednesday, July 18 at #ACCE18 in Des Moines, Iowa.  


Grand Awards

Advertising and Marketing

Champaign County Chamber of Commerce (lll.)
Chamber Zone         

Salt Lake Chamber
Utah Tax Modernization

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce (Mo.)
Springfield Region Digital Brochure



Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Preserving Public-Private Partnerships in the Chamber Industry – Legislative Advocacy Campaign - Strategic Plan, Written Testimony, Oral Testimony, and Fact Sheet

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (Mo.)
A Better KCI

Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ark.)
Love, Little Rock Campaign - Website and Video

Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Choose Cape Fear - Website and Video



Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce (Ind.)
Valpo Chamber Video Newsletter Highlights

Indy Chamber
The New

Round Rock Chamber (Texas)
Skilled Trades Image Campaign



Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (S.C.)
Quarterly Report Series - Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4

Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce (Colo.)
Northern Colorado Prospers Quarterly Report  

Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
2018 Membership Directory, Relocation & Island Guide


Awards of Excellence

Advertising and Marketing

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
Lincoln Beer Tour

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
YP Week

Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce (Va.)
Superhero 5K 2018 Marketing

Plano Chamber of commerce (Texas)
Plano Chamber Story – Member Testimonial Campaign

Robins Regional Chamber (Ga.)



Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal
Metro Cities Chambers for NAFTA 2.0 - Press Releases 1/18/18 and 1/22/18

Detroit Regional Chamber
Detroit Regional Chamber Campaign for Civility - 2017 Mackinac Policy Conference Summary2017 Mackinac Policy Program BookDetroiter Magazine October 20172018 Detroit Policy Conference Program Book

Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce (N.Y.)
Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce Rebrand Bash

Greater Des Moines Partnership (Iowa)
Economic Development and Talent Attraction Digital Marketing Campaign

Greater Des Moines Partnership (Iowa)
Maximizing Momentum 2022: Investor Campaign for the Greater Des Moines Partnership

Greater Oklahoma City
Safer Streets, Better OKC Campaign

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
Grand Rapids Chamber Rebranding Campaign

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (Fla.)
Minority Business Accelerator

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber (Ala.)
2017 School Tax Renewals

Jefferson Chamber of Commerce (La.)
LiveWell Jefferson Campaign

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
Eclipse Seasonal Signs

One Acadiana (La.)
One Acadiana South Louisiana Branding Initiative

Sanford Area Growth Alliance (N.C.)
Prelude to Progress

State Chamber of Oklahoma
OK2030 Campaign

Tulsa Regional Chamber (Okla.)
Tulsa Regional Chamber Economic Development Campaign



Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce (Ala.)
Eastern Shore Elf

Edmonton Chamber of Commerce (Alb.)
Digital, Blog, Brand Lessons Learned from the City of Champions Debate

Fayette Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Video: 2017 Chamber Accomplishments

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce (Md.)
Deep Creek Virtual Reality Experience

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
Grand Rapids Chamber Breakfast with Legislators Social Media Campaign

Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce (S.C) Digital Campaign

Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce (Ark.)
Small Business BingoFest

Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
New Website –

North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce
Chamber Video Testimonial Digital Campaign

Northwest Metroport Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Economic Development Video

Plano Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Plano Chamber Building Blocks Emails

Round Rock Chamber (Texas)
PRO Round Rock

Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce (Fla.)
Riverside Dash 5K & 15K Event: Influencers/Race Ambassadors Campaign

Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
EPIC Toledo Website

Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Open for Business Podcast



Chandler Chamber of Commerce (Ariz.)
How We Stand – Chandler Chamber of Commerce

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
2018 Visitors & Relocation Guide

Fayette Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Fayette Community Source Magazine

Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Annual Report

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Gwinnett Chamber Annual Report

Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce (Ark.)
The Good Life Destination Guide


Learn more about ACCE's Communications Excellence awards here.

Communications Excellence winners: 20172016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013


Tags: #ACCEAwards, Awards, Awards for Communications Excellence, Branding, Communications, Marketing

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |
Jen Pack on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

Cleveland, Ohio, and many other large cities such as Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles have Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), which are non-profit organizations formed through tax-supported/elected special improvement districts and funded through local tax assessment. In Cleveland, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance works with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, but they are separate entities.

The Downtown Cleveland Alliance supports the face of business improvement through a team of paid ambassadors in their Clean and Safe Ambassador Program. These are paid positions, with a mix of part and full-time individuals who are very friendly, well trained, serve as extra eyes and ears to police, report panhandling or other issues with off-duty police officer), and help with clean up, gardening tasks and picking up trash. Ambassadors wear bright yellow and blue uniforms and work from 7 am to midnight, 7 days a week through Block by Block Services.

When incidences occur, the Alliance serves as a convener - aka council or mini town hall - to support the businesses, city/county officials, and stakeholders. The Clean and Safe Ambassadors work on the “see something, say something” model. The Alliance serves as a conduit to support the stakeholders.

In a not-crime-related instance, a major downtown street shut down for construction and the Alliance served as a convener for the local businesses to host a big downtown block party with music, food, retail, etc. A mini-stakeholder meeting was held to plan out the party details.

BID meetings or townhall sessions are generally scheduled ad hoc, as needed, and then pushed out to stakeholders and through the Chamber notices.


The BID encourages the community to talk to each other through these meetings. The meetings are hosted by different “owners,” like officials from the city, county, nonprofit org, business owners, or property managers.


The Cleveland BID has 10 year history and is well established. The director stressed that they truly serves as a convener, conduit of info, and serves as a community organizer.


For the BID and Chamber relationship, the Chamber serves as area’s overall business attraction and retention; whereas the BID works for tax payers only in downtown Cleveland. The BID is separate from Chamber, but they have a strong relationship. The BID is a non-profit org with its own board and staff.


If your community does not have a BID, one idea is to look into this formation; and another idea is to have the chamber serve in the same function as a BID – essentially, a convener and info conduit for area stakeholders and business owners to meet, discuss, plan and come up with community-based solutions.


I’m happy to talk more or if you’d like to schedule a conversation with the Cleveland BID director, please let me know and I’ll e-introduce you. I hope this is helpful and please let us know if we met the mark or how we can further assist.

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
HERO-Information Office | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

St. Louis Regional Chamber looks full speed ahead

Ben Goldstein on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 10:00:00 am 

St. Louis, Missouri’s newest venture sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. The city is vying to become the first in the world to host a hyperloop—a proposed mode of high-speed transportation, in which passengers travel in pods that levitate magnetically in systems of airless tubes.

It’s doing it through the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, a competition in which metro regions from around the world propose prospective routes to house the first-ever hyperloop built by Virgin Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based company looking to commercialize hyperloops as a more efficient mode of transit.

At just over a half-hour, the planned route between St. Louis and Kansas City would shave roughly three-and-a-half hours off the current commute by car between the two major population centers.

“If we can link St. Louis and Kansas City into a single megaregion, we would have more than 5 million people in that workforce,” said Andrew Smith, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “That would catapult us to the 9th largest economic development region in the country.”

To promote the proposal, the chamber teamed up with the University of Missouri System, the Kansas City Tech Council, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Columbia Innovation Center and others to form the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition. The coalition’s first move was to raise $1.5 million for an engineering feasibility study, which began in February and will run through the end of the summer.

“Right now, we are one of only two regions in the country that are at that stage—the other being Colorado,” said Smith, adding that, “Virgin Hyperloop One is now calling us one of the top three routes under consideration in the world.”

When the study wraps up in August, the coalition will have the benefit of a detailed roadmap, with details on costs, route alignment, regulatory framework and environmental impact. Following that, the focus will shift to onboarding additional partners with the capabilities to build the large-scale project.

“This is mostly a private-sector-led effort, and we’ve been very up-front about the fact that we aren’t using taxpayer money to fund it,” said Smith. “This is going to be more like building an airline or railroad than a public highway. We just have to find the right partners to build, own and operate it.”

Want to see your story featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share it with Ben Goldstein.

Tags: #MetroCities, #MidwesternChambers, Economic Developmen, Hyperloop, Technology, Transportation

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Advocating for education

Ben Goldstein on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 11:13:00 am 

The EdUp campaign was launched in 2013 by the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with leaders from the business and education communities. The campaign, which began as an advocacy effort to preserve funding levels to Fall River Public Schools, has since grown into a multi-year marketing push to promote the importance of education in southeastern Massachusetts.

“At its most basic, EdUp is about changing the mindset of the community,” said Rob Mellion, president and CEO of the Bristol County Chamber. “We knew we needed to get people to value education attainment if we wanted to stand a chance at turning around our school system.”

As part of the campaign, the chamber launched an aggressive marketing drive. Some of the tactics used include billboards, editorials drafted by community members and a special “EdUp Bus,” which is used for mobile ad space.

There’s also “College Day,” an annual event in which students and their parents spend a full day engaged in activities designed to get them thinking about practical ways to attend college. In addition, the education committee zeroed in on early childhood education through “parent nights,” which help parents understand how to navigate Pre-K and kindergarten on behalf of their children.

More recently, the campaign organized a summit on social and emotional learning, a specialized training that teachers had requested. During the summit, more than 220 teachers attended a mix of 40 workshops focused on supporting students’ emotional health, social skills and academic achievement.

“We have more students getting higher grades and going to college than ever before,” explained Mellion. “We used to have a 55 percent high school dropout rate; now, we have an 80 percent graduation rate. I’m proud of the work this chamber and the business community has done.”

Mellion says EdUp has lots on the agenda for 2018, like advocating for a new, $300 million high school in Fall River, adding college-level courses to area high schools and forging new partnerships with educators and nonprofits to advance its agenda.

“We’re not done with the job of changing the mindset here in the community,” he said. “We want to bring our graduation rate higher, and we want to expand this to be more of a regional campaign, affecting the entire southeastern region.”

Want to see your story featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share it with Ben Goldstein.


Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Grand Rapids Area Chamber probes local business

Ben Goldstein on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 2:40:00 pm 

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber recently released the results of its annual government affairs survey of member businesses. The survey results show that workforce and talent issues continue to rank as top priorities for employers, with parking availability also surfacing as an issue of concern.

“We use this survey as an opportunity each year to see where our members are seeing some of their biggest obstacles and opportunities,” said Joshua Lunger, director of government affairs at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber. “It’s an opportunity for us to investigate further into issues that we might not have been spending as much time on.”

The survey revealed business sentiment remains positive, with 96 percent of employers reporting a favorable or very favorable perception of the business climate in West Michigan. The biggest challenge, according to respondents, is finding qualified candidates to hire.

“We’re growing and creating jobs, but we don’t have enough folks to fill them,” said Lunger. “80 percent of companies reporting talent shortages say the cause is due to consistent business growth and job creation, rather than hiring to fill an existing slot,” he added. “This is actually a good problem to have.”

To address the talent shortage, Lunger says the chamber is focused on promoting skilled trades in public schools and through the Skilled Trades Training Fund, a statewide grant for employers, as well as encouraging greater investment in early childhood education.

“Talent and education policy is a very long game,” said Lunger. “You have to look at the whole picture, from access to high-quality childcare all the way to what’s in the curriculums of the schools.”

Another issue that emerged for the second year in a row was access to parking, with 28 percent describing it as a significant challenge. To address these concerns, Lunger says the chamber is advocating for increased supply.

“We had a group of members that met for a few months and came up with an eight-point parking and mobility plan,” he said. “Whether it’s parking a little further out and using a high-frequency transit service or improving our downtown circular, we want employers to have a whole list of options for how their employees can get to work.”

Lunger says that, while the survey revealed a consistently positive outlook among employers, the concerns raised regarding talent shows the business community can’t afford to become complacent.

“We titled the report: ‘Businesses like what they see, but addressing talent is critical to continued growth,’ and we think that really sums it up,” he said. “We have a lot of positives, but we can’t sleep on this talent issue. We need to put it front-and-center, and I think that’s true for most places in the country right now that are growing.”

Want to be featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share your story with Ben Goldstein.

Tags: #GovernmentRelations, #GreatLakesRegion, #MetroCities, #Survey, #Talent

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Lights, chamber, action!

Ben Goldstein on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 7:54:00 am 

Since 2006, the Waco Chamber of Commerce has produced its own monthly TV show, “Chamber Connection.” The talk-show, which is broadcast on Waco City Cable Channel (WCCC), offers a platform for chamber members to speak directly to the community.

“It’s about giving our members a voice so they can tell their stories,” said Autumn Outlaw, the chamber’s director of marketing and communication and host of Chamber Connection. “The show gives them the opportunity to explain what their business is about, where they came from and why they’re a member of the chamber.”

WCCC is funded by a local tax on cable usage, which goes to public broadcast services. The station, which has a partnership with the Waco Chamber, covers the costs for nearly all aspects of the show’s production.

“The one question I try to ask everyone is, ‘Why would you encourage someone to join the chamber?’” said Outlaw. “Besides being a great message for former and prospective members, it allows people who aren’t business owners to hear how the chamber fosters collaboration and serves the community.”

Outlaw says her favorite part of the show is interviewing members and learning about the businesses they run.

“Doing Chamber Connection, I always learn so much more than I ever thought I would,” she said. “I love finding out what brought our members to Waco and why they do business here. It’s very rewarding to learn about the people we get to serve.”

“I also try to tie in our quarterly publication,” she continued. “For example, I recently pulled in one of our young professionals who was featured in the magazine, and he talked about why young people should move to Waco and the value the YP group brings to the community.”

Outlaw says the show’s reach has been growing and that the feedback she gets is mostly positive.

“We use snippets from the show on social media, and the reach has been fantastic,” she said. “I have people calling all the time asking if they can be interviewed on Chamber Connection.”

For chambers looking to start producing original video content, but unsure where to begin, Outlaw suggests starting out small.

“A cell phone video is an authentic way to capture people’s responses, which could be a good start for building a show of your own,” she said. “It’s also definitely worth reaching out to your local news stations to see if they’d partner with the chamber on some level, too.”

Want to be featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share your story with Ben Goldstein.

Tags: Communications, Entertainment, Marketing, Public Relations, Television

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Tulsa gears up for the future

Ben Goldstein on Friday, January 26, 2018 at 1:00:00 pm 

Tulsa’s Future, the multiphase, regional economic development plan for the Tulsa, Oklahoma region, was designed to infuse the area with investment dollars, create jobs in targeted industries and develop a skilled workforce to attract new businesses.

“In the early 2000s, there wasn’t a lot of money allotted to economic development, and the chamber and our partners wanted to change that,” said Brien Thorstenberg, senior vice president of economic development at the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “We developed the first iteration of Tulsa’s Future, with an original goal of adding more than 10,000 jobs with an average wage above $45,000.”

The plan thus far consists of three five-year phases. During Tulsa’s Future I, which ran from 2006–2010, the campaign helped create 15,888 jobs and added more than $482.6 million to the region’s payroll. Phase II, which ran from 2010–2015, went further, creating 28,814 jobs and adding more than $2 billion in capital investment.

The campaign is now in its third phase, which began in 2016. Tulsa’s Future III focuses on four main pillars: economic development and business attraction; workforce development and education attainment; entrepreneurs and small business; and quality of place and downtown revitalization.

“One of the things Tulsa’s Future III allowed us to do was increase our marketing budget, so we’re doing more in terms of website, digital marketing and building relationships with companies,” said Thorstenberg. “In terms of workforce development, we’re working hard to align the skills being taught in our public schools to match the needs of our companies.”

“On the innovation front, we’re working with our business incubator to target startups, and we hired a director of entrepreneurship who has a seat on the executive council of our board,” he continued. “We’ve also formed a downtown coordinating council to generate investment and improve walkability for our downtown area.”

Moving forward, Thorstenberg says the most important challenge will be maintaining the campaign’s momentum.

“Economic development is not like a light switch, where you can turn it on and off,” he explained. “Industries peak and go through swings, and sometimes new industries emerge. There are so many challenges out there, and we need to keep up the momentum so we can successfully navigate them.”

Want to see your story featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share it with Ben Goldstein.


Tags: Strategic Plan

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Never too young to start a business

Ben Goldstein on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 11:45:00 am 

The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce launched its Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) in 2015 to teach middle- and high school students how to create and operate their own business. The program, which runs for a full academic year, has graduated more than 4,000 youth, who have gone on to found social media consultancies, landscaping firms, clothing companies and more.

“We structured YEA! to get our youth excited about entrepreneurship and business, while exposing them to employers in the region,” said Megan Wright, program director at the Knoxville Chamber. “It’s also a great way for us to engage our members by having them come in and work with the students in an interactive manner.”

YEA! is a national initiative located in more than 130 cities across the country. It was brought to Knoxville, Tennessee by chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards, who attended the Saunders Scholars Competition, in which top YEA! students from across the U.S. compete for prizes and scholarships.

During the nine-month program, students meet weekly for three-hour sessions, in which they learn skills like developing business plans, marketing, finance and production. The sessions are divided into two segments; in the first half, students receive instructions from guest speakers and during the second, they work in a computer lab researching and composing their business plans.

“The students’ businesses really run the gamut depending on their interests,” explained Wright. “In this year’s class, we have an individual with a successful YouTube channel who started a consulting company for other YouTubers. We also have a few doing lawn care who started mowing neighbors’ lawns, and now they’re taking it to the next level.”

YEA! includes a “shark tank,” where student pitch their business plans to a panel of local investors, who judge them and hand out cash prizes ranging from $100–1000. It also features a trade show, during which students set up booths and sell their products to people from the community.

“The Academy is a great way to bring our members in to host field trips, mentor students and expose them to career opportunities,” said Wright. “That’s the biggest benefit for us; getting those students engaged and plugged in at an early stage, and getting them excited about the amazing opportunities in Knoxville.”

Looking ahead, Wright says the chamber plans to partner with other community organizations to expand the scope of the program.

“We’re looking at opportunities to engage with other groups with like-minded missions, whether that’s a shared field trip or pooling educational resources,” she said. “Our next step will be finding out how we can do it a little bigger and better moving forward.”

Want to see your story in the #ACCESpotlight? Share it with Ben Goldstein.

Tags: Entrepreneurs

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Renewing leadership

Ben Goldstein on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 1:20:00 pm 

Since its inception in 1980, Leadership Fayetteville has been a hallmark initiative of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. In 2011, the chamber placed the program on a temporary hiatus, during which chamber staff puzzled over ways to ensure it would remain relevant for the 21st century.

“Our goal is to help leaders understand the interconnectedness of community sectors,” said Paige Muh, director of community relations at the Fayetteville Chamber in Arkansas. “Strong education systems attract parents who value education, which leads to more responsible citizens, and ultimately, a stronger talent pipeline for industry.”

Chamber staff spent a year surveying and conversing with program alumni and community leaders to revise the program’s curriculum and raise its credibility. Those discussions led to the addition of two new subjects, diversity and civil discourse, in addition to offerings like education, economic development and health and wellness.

“We wanted to shift from a show-and-tell experience to a more interactive environment,” said Muh. “Panelists and presenters are encouraged to share information in a dynamic, conversational style, and we adopted the use of the DISC Assessment to give participants a window into themselves and their interactions with others.”

Applications are accepted from members and non-members, and are reviewed by a team of alumni. The cohorts typically include about 20–25 participants, with a leadership made up of volunteers, co-chairs and chamber staff members—a change made during the program’s hiatus.

“Our leadership team serves not just as a planning team, but also as session facilitators,” said Kim Schnoes, chair of the chamber’s board of directors. “The intent of the sessions is to provide firsthand exposure to the challenges and opportunities here in our community, through panels, tours and interactive roleplays.”

“Our class projects focus on four specific areas: social connectedness, confidence in institutions, political participation and community involvement,” she continued. “In 2018, we added a national survey component, which will allow us to set benchmarks and compare ourselves to similarly-sized communities.

 Looking ahead, the major focus for the the initiative will be planning for increased sustainability, meaning keeping alumni engagement active and setting out succession plans for program leadership, according to Muh.

“It’s important for our program’s sustainability to provide similar opportunities for others, perhaps by having an emerging leaders program, or encouraging our grads to participate in regional and state programs,” she said. “By forming a network and enabling young people to be transactional with other community members, we are confident that we’ll continue to affect positive change in our community.”

Want to learn more? Watch the complete webinar here.

Tags: Leadership Development

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Life-size sculptures bring feet to the street

Ben Goldstein on Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 11:15:00 am 

The Simsbury Chamber of Commerce is investing in a series of 23 bronze statues to be placed around town next year, as part of a push to increase tourism and foot-traffic for the small western Connecticut town during the spring and summer months.

The statues, sculpted by renowned artist Seward Johnson, depict life-like human figures performing everyday activities, like a girl eating an ice cream cone and a man reading a newspaper on a park bench.

“Our biggest reason for doing this is to bring more visitors into town, to not only see these statues, but to frequent the businesses as well,” explained Lisa Gray, executive director of the Simsbury Chamber. “We envision having these statues placed around town and close to our local businesses, so people who are walking and biking can stop in later for a dinner or a beer.”

To pay for the walkable art display, the chamber held a kickoff party and fundraiser in late November at Simsbury Bank, its largest sponsor and the first business to contribute to the drive. The chamber is offering sponsorship levels ranging from $150 to $10,000.

“We’re reaching out to our local businesses to help them see that this will bring more people into town, which equals more business for them,” said Gray. “We’re also reaching out to residents, because there are a lot of people who are interested in art or getting outside during the spring and summer months.”

The idea was inspired by the chamber’s previous executive director, Ferg Jansen, who saw some of Johnson’s works on display while visiting family in Indiana. The reaction from stakeholders and the community has been largely positive so far, said Gray.

“Everybody loves the first piece that we call our teaser piece,” she said. “It’s called ‘Special Delivery,’ and it’s a statue of a mailman we have positioned out in front of a local grocery store. We’ve gotten loads of great emails and comments about it, and it’s been shared all over social media.”

The selection of sculptures will include Johnson’s renditions of famous American works, like “V-J Day in Times Square,” the iconic photograph that captured a sailor kissing a nurse at the end of World War Two, as well as “American Gothic,” the classic painting of a solemn-faced, colonial-era couple.

All told, the statues will be on temporary display for four months, from May–September 2018.

“Our community is about 10 miles outside of Hartford, and we have some local attractions, but not a ton that will bring people from other parts of the state,” explained Gray. “This will help us sustain our businesses through the slow summertime and get more feet on the street visiting our shops and restaurants.”

Want to be featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share your story with Ben Goldstein.

Tags: Arts, Outdoors, Small Business, Tourism

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |
Accrisoft is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE Aventura World by Central Holidays West is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Benfits Trust is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE Citslinc is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE Collette is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE Grow With Google is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE New Insperity The U.S. Chamber is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE
Cognizant Constant Contact POWER 10 sponsors ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives United Networks of America is an Official Corporate Sponsor of ACCE EY sponsor ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Compass Media sponsors ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
Sponsorship and advertising opportunities Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives