Not All Bad in California - Time Cover

Ian Scott on Monday, November 16, 2009 at 10:18:10 am 

I don't want to be accused of California bashing by friends on the West Coast after my last blog post about the Pew Center study on state budgets.  (They called California out as the example of fiscal crisis, not me!) So I direct you to the Time cover story from Nov 2 - Why California is Still America's Future.  Here's a hint, economic innovation.

1101091102_400 Here's one quick excerpt from the article:

It's (California's) the greenest and most diverse state, the most globalized in general and most Asia-oriented in particular at a time when the world is heading in all those directions. It's also an unparalleled engine of innovation, the mecca of high tech, biotech and now clean tech.

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Not Just California - Budget Woes

Ian Scott on Monday, November 16, 2009 at 9:47:33 am 

Last week the Pew Center on the States released a new report detailing the financial peril that many states are in.  It uses California as the benchmark for dire budgetary woes and ranks the other 49 states on a scale of most like to least like the Golden State.  State rankings were based on six factors using data from July 31, 2009.  The six factors are:

  1. Foreclosure rates
  2. Joblessness
  3. Lost State Revenue
  4. Relative Size of Budget Gap
  5. Obstacles to Balanced Budget
  6. Money Management Practices

After California, the states with the worst budgetary prospects were each of California's neighbors (Nevada, Oregon, Arizona), Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island.  Together those ten states account for 1/3 of the US population and economy, so their dire circumstances impact everyone.

This thorough study is a great resource for anyone concerned with state spending, deficits, taxes, services and economic health.  So basically everyone. 

Visit the Pew Center on the Statesfor more information and to see where your State ranked on the "like California" scale.  I highly recommend downloading and reading the Executive Summary.

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Worrying Trend?

Ian Scott on Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 6:01:00 pm 

Another group is trying divide and conquer tactics to influence US Chamber positions.  This time the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) is targeting healthcare by asking 36 companies to publicly declare whether the US Chamber speaks for them on the issue. 

Does this signal a worrying trend that could soon face state and local chambers that take strong positions of all kinds supporting employers? Your comments are appreciated.

Click for the article from the Wall Street JournalsMarketWatch.

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Transportation Secretary LaHood Briefs ACCE Board

Ian Scott on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 5:40:48 pm 

Sec. LaHood from frontSecretary of Transportation Ray LaHood spoke at the ACCE Board of Directors Meeting last Friday.  He provided a overview of progress on stimulus funded projects (focused on discretionary TIGER grants) and talked about other recent DOT programs like the Cash for Clunkers program and the future focus on high speed passenger rail.

The Secretary also stressed the linkage between transportation and economic development, and touched on potential areas of cooperation between DOT and HUD or Commerce to make sure transportation spending really impacts economic development.

Overall, it was a great session.  You can read more on Sec. LaHood's official DOT blog: Welcome to the Fast Lane.

Sec. LaHood w - Adkisson, Dalby, Reagan, Scott

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Spokane Prop 4 Defeated!

Ian Scott on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 9:53:10 am 

Last Tuesday Spokane voters rejected Proposition 4, the Community Bill of Rights.  This is the set of nine city charter amendments we've featured on this blog several times over the past month or two.  It would have expanded citizens rights to affordable housing, healthcare, a clean environment and locally based economy without any provision to pay for those rights.

Greater Spokane Incorporated lead a coalition to oppose Proposition 4 because of the potentially devastating impact it might have on local businesses.  Greater Spokane Inc's President and CEO (and former ACCE Chairman) Rich Hadley said:

“The initiative process in Washington State creates situations, such as the one related to the Community Bill of Rights, where a small group of people can, through creative wordsmithing, propose a potentially devastating piece of legislation. ... It was imperative that we, as a representative of business, be a leader in this fight due to the potential impact to business that this initiative presented."

Hadley and the business community had much to fear from Proposition 4.  Even in defeat, this kind of issue casts a long shadow that directly impacts economic development.

"If we had known that the 'Community Bill of Rights' was going on the ballot, we would not have chosen Spokane to locate our business," said  Jeanette Fairless, President of Spectrum Home Services.  "Several years ago Portland voters passed a bill that was similar to Prop 4.  It was apparent early on that this new law helped a few and hurt many, even though it was designed to protect the average citizen.  It was voted out by the majority the very next year."

Spokane Prop 4's defeat is cause for celebration among those of us who favor rational, fiscally responsible government, but there is still cause for concern.  Envision Spokane, the organizers of Proposition 4, might try again.  And Spokane doesn't exist in a vacuum.  We have seen other policy issues like this become contagious quickly and it seems highly probable that this set of proposals will take root somewhere else very soon.

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Ballot Measures on Tuesday

Ian Scott on Monday, November 2, 2009 at 11:06:42 am 

This Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I'll be watching election results.  I'm interested in the VA and NJ Governor races and that Upstate NY congressional district that has gotten so much attention.  I also know that many of your communities have important races for mayoral and city council seats.  But I'll really be paying attention to are a number of state and local ballot initiatives.

Over the past month, this blog has referenced the TABOR proposals in Maine and Washington State.  We've also devoted several posts to the Community Bill of Rights struggle in Spokane.  But those are only a few of the issues facing voters. 

In this off year November election, voters in six states (Maine, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Washington) will decide on 26 statewide ballot measures ranging from municipal bonds to gay rights.  That doesn't include all the local ballot measures and city charter amendments. 

Some issues are relatively minor - New York will decide whether or not to allow prisoners to perform volunteer work.  Other issues have been debated and re-debated for years - Ohio voters will decide whether to allow gaming in state for the fifth time in 20 years.

For more info on the specific statewide measures check out:  National Conference of State Legislatures - 2009 Ballot Measure Overview or go Ballotpedia.

I've got several questions about ballot initiatives: Is direct democracy good or are our elected representatives shirking their responsibility?  Is running a ballot initiative campaign a great citizen motivator or a divisive money pit?

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Leading DC Fly-Ins - Conference Call

Ian Scott on Monday, October 26, 2009 at 4:51:39 pm 

Peer-to-Peer Connections 
Leading DC Fly-Ins
November 3, 2009, 4:00 pm Eastern

If you are planning a chamber delegation trip to Washington D.C., or thinking about revamping your visit, join us to pose questions, discuss best practices and share lessons learned.  Audience participation is expected. 

Guest Moderators:

  • Jay Byers, Senior Vice President, Government Relations & Public Policy, Greater Des Moines (IA) Partnership
  • Christy Caldwell, Vice President, Government Relations, Greater Topeka (KS) Chamber
  • Matthew Mahood, President and CEO, Sacramento (CA) Metro Chamber
  • Ginny Russell, Vice President, Community and Governmental Affairs, Mobile (AL) Area Chamber

Our guest moderators were featured in the Fall 2009 Chamber Executive article “Chamber Executives Get Down to Business In the Nation's Capital”

How to Join:

  • No registration required
  • No fee! All you pay is your long distance cost
  • Limited availability (first-come, first-served)

Email Ian Scott for Dial-In instructions.

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ACCE Issues "Chamber Basics" Primer

Ian Scott on Monday, October 26, 2009 at 1:20:14 pm 

Considering that in the U.S. alone there are more than 3,000 independent organizations bearing the name “chamber of commerce,” its no surprise that the chamber brand is not immune from confusion.

To help chamber executives better communicate to media, elected officials and their own members, ACCE has produced Chambers of Commerce: The Basics.  This primer answers the basic questions about what chambers of commerce are and what they do.  It also explains how they are structured and funded and describes how they interact and cooperate.

Use this tool to educate a new employee, build a deeper relationship with media outlets, or orient a board member.

Click to access Chambers of Commerce: The Basics.

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Introspection From Expedition

Mick Fleming on Sunday, October 25, 2009 at 11:47:13 pm 

Most of the time, my high speed travel doesn't allow for extended periods of introspection and the places and people I visit on the job focus my thoughts outward.  My trip to China with a couple of dozen members earlier this month had the opposite affect.  For some reason, the masses of humanity and the sheer magnitude of the entire Chinese experience fostered thoughts about my own place in the world.  At one point in the trip, I told fellow traveler Kelvin Hullett of Bismarck that I felt the way I do when I look into the sky on a clear night.  The scale of the population, building, skylines, commerce, wealth, poverty, history, ambition, problems and change in China made me feel small, the way that gazing at the endless stars across the universe can do.

On one night of the trip, I was lucky enough to meet up with my nephew who lives in Beijing.  As we walked through the city crowds in a city twice the size of New York, young Sam reminded me that his adopted home is only half the size of China's biggest city.  For about the hundredth time that day, I said "Wow."

Interestingly, on the less touristy portions of the trip, I also felt very connected to the individual people of China -- all of whom are floating along in space on this same rock.  They are worrying about their kids and their economic future just like the rest of us.  They are proud of their country, but skeptical about some of the directions their leaders want to lead.  They aren't blessed with the opportunity to look at the stars very often through the smog, but when they do, I believe they're filled with wonder and feelings of insignificance just like I am.   I looked at my life, my job, my problems and my relationships differently after traveling to China.   And, I'm more convinced than ever that we're all in this together.

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Gov. Barbour Calls Special Session

Ian Scott on Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 2:50:51 pm 

Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is calling legislators back to Jackson for a special session he hopes will last only one day.  The reason - to consider an incentives package for a company that plans to site a $300 million manufacturing plant in the state. 

Details are sparse at this stage, but AP reports that the project is not an automotive plant, and that the deal was signed during the Governor's recent 13 day business trip in Asia.

How many elected leaders will go to that length to create jobs?

Click to read more.

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