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Chamber Executives Receive High Honors

Tania Kohut on Friday, November 12, 2010 at 2:21:31 pm 

Mike Neal, CCE, president and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, was selected as the 2010 Executive of the Year by the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce Executives (OCCE) Association.  The award, presented Thursday at the OCCE annual conference in Oklahoma City, is the highest professional honor given by the association.  Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/business/article.aspx?subjectid=46&articleid=20101106_46_E1_CUTLIN456831

The New England Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (NEACCE) at its 97th Annual Meeting held recently selected Christopher Cooney, CCE, president and CEO of the Metro South Chamber of Commerce in Brockton, MA as the Chamber Executive of the Year. Cooney was selected by a committee of his peers for his outstanding commitment to the profession and the success he has fostered in the communities and people he has worked with. Read more from a press release issued by the Chamber. 

Rob O’Brian, Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce president, received the Chamber of Commerce Executives of Missouri Top Level Award on October 7th at Tan-Tara-A Resort and Conference Center at the Lake of the Ozarks. The Chamber of Commerce Executives of Missouri Top Level Award is presented to an individual who has made a strong contribution to the chamber of commerce profession and to the economy of the state to merit special recognition by CCEM. Read more from a press release issued by the Chamber. 

 

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Is Municipal Debt the Next Housing Crisis?

Ian Scott on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 4:15:32 pm 

An article today’s Wall Street Journal highlights growing concern among investors about the creditworthiness of local governments.  As examples of municipalities that are failing to make payments on debt, the article cites the relatively small communities of Menasha, WI, Buena Vista, VA and Cicero, NY.

Here’s an excerpt:

For more than a year, Menasha, Wis., hasn't paid back about $23 million in principal for short-term notes tied to a failed steam plant, even though the deal's offering documents include a statement that the city would use tax revenue to cover any debt payments, if needed.

But that statement "was no guarantee" to repay the debt, says Edward Fuhr, a lawyer for Menasha, a small industrial city that has spent an average of $80,000 a month to fight investor lawsuits in three courts over the notes, which matured in September 2009.

The tangle underscores concern in the municipal-debt world about the longstanding assumption that local governments will do whatever it takes to repay their debts—including raising taxes—because failing to do so would make it more expensive or even impossible to turn to investors for future financing.

 While the article notes that "greatest default risk is in small municipalities with overleveraged projects," this trend should be a concern for all cities.

Read more at - New Risks Emerge in Munis

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Metro Regions Jobs Report

Ian Scott on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 at 4:01:43 pm 

A report released today by our friends at Garner Economics notes a slow down in the number of US metro regions that added jobs in September.  Only one more region added jobs in September compared with August.  In September, 168 metro regions were experiencing year over year job growth while 193 were losing jobs compared with the same period last year.

The report also ranks regions based on how current employment compares to their pre-recession employment peek.  Texas has the most metro regions in the top quartile of that list while California and Florida have the most metros that in the bottom quartile.

Check out the full study - Progress Report: Job Growth in U.S. Metros

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Chamber Taking On Cyber Monday

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at 9:36:30 pm 

Cyber Monday, the online shopping holiday that takes place the Monday immediately after Black Friday, is catching the attention of the Norman (OK) Chamber of Commerce.  To help fight local merchants' lost revenue due to Cyber Monday, the Chamber's staff and its members are working to put together an effort to keep some of the dollars in Norman.  According to Chamber spokeswoman Angie Drury, “We’re asking local members to do some type of tax-free thing, like we do on the tax-free weekend, because a lot of times there is no sales tax or other taxes when you buy online.” Learn more about the Chamber's effort here:  http://normantranscript.com/headlines/x1048515438/Norman-Chamber-works-to-fight-Cyber-Monday

 

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Controversy Over Medical Marijuana at Work

Joan Cozart on Monday, November 8, 2010 at 4:57:10 pm 

The Great Falls Area (MT) Chamber of Commerce and the Montana Chamber of Commerce are taking aim in the debate about the use of medical marijuana at work.  This highly charged topic is sparking new legislation to amend the position of the city of Great Falls regarding medical marijuana at work.  Click the link below for more info.  http://www.krtv.com/news/great-falls-chamber-of-commerce-address-medical-marijuana-in-workplace/

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A Century of Service (and Style)

Joan Cozart on Monday, November 8, 2010 at 4:44:07 pm 

There were flappers and gangsters and jazz.  What better way to celebrate a chamber’s 100th anniversary?!  The Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut threw itself a party and the attendees played along.  Click on this link to see and hear the festivities.

http://www.norwichbulletin.com/news/x1951115072/Chamber-marks-100th-anniversary-in-style

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Florida Prop 4 Fails

Ian Scott on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 12:20:55 pm 
Florida Proposition 4, also know as  Hometown Democracy, failed largely due to unified opposition from the business community.  Prop 4 would have mandated voter approval to change city, town and county comprehensive land-use plans, effectively halting growth by bogging down all zoning changes.

I've written about the issue multiple times on this blog since it first appeared as a petition in 2007.  It failed to make the ballot in 2008 and was soundly rejected by Florida voters yesterday.

Read more from the Miami Herald - Florida Voters Reject Land-Use Amendment.

Check out the No On 4 campaign for more info on the measure - http://www.florida2010.org/

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Ballot Measure Results Recap

Ian Scott on Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at 12:00:55 pm 

If you’re like me then you were a little bleary-eyed this morning from staying up too late watching returns from the west coast.  And if you were up late watching election coverage, you may also be suffering from acute pundit analysis overload.  So rather than hold forth on the implications of Rubio’s win or Strickland’s loss, I’d like to share an article from our friend Pam Prah at Stateline.

In an article posted this morning - Sweeping statewide tax proposals nixed – Prah recaps significant results from the 160 statewide ballot measures that were decided yesterday. 

No discernable trend emerged among the dozens of measures with major tax and fiscal implications.  Colorado and Massachusetts rejected major tax cuts while Washington voters rejected a measure what would have implemented the state’s first income tax.  Arizona decided not to raid land conversation and early childhood education funds to close their budget gap, while Californians made it easier on their legislators to pass a budget.  Prah summed it up writing, “Voters approved measures that could both help and hurt their states' bottom lines.”

Read the full article - Sweeping statewide tax proposals nixed

For more info check out Stateline’s Guide to Major Ballot Races.

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Tough Choices After Election Day

Ian Scott on Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 10:38:22 am 

Today is Election Day and everyone has politics on the brain.  Can the GOP take the Senate?  Will Strickland hold on in Ohio?  Will Californians pass Prop 19? 

But after all the results are in and the concession speeches are given and the victory celebrations are over, elected leaders will still have to govern.  And governing through this economic slump is no picnic.

Elected leaders have lots of tough choices ahead, particularly at the state level where governments must try to bridge budget shortfalls without help from federal stimulus funds.  They will have to address issues like state employee retirement costs and the costs of our state corrections systems.  But they can’t neglect our future competitiveness with deep cuts to key infrastructure and education.

Here are three news articles from the past week that illustrate the extent of the challenge:

From Bloomberg.com - New York State Faces $315 Million Budget Deficit on Lower Tax Collections

From the Dallas Morning News - Legislature likely to cut deep to meet possible $25 billion budget gap

From the Oregonian - Hard choices: Oregon governor, Legislature face grim choices on worker pay

The business community cannot afford for local chambers to sit out the debate over state budgets.  To help you and your business members better understand the budget challenges states face and offer research-based solutions, ACCE has partnered with the Pew Center on the States to organize a free, three-part DIALogue teleseminar series called:

The Looming Crisis – Getting a Grip on State Budgets and Spending

Each session will feature both an issue expert from Pew to provide an overview of national data and trends and a business leader-advocate to share experience in a specific state.  Click for more information on this important series.

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Over the River and Through the Woods, to Your Chamber We Go

Tania Kohut on Monday, November 1, 2010 at 8:46:03 pm 

If you've done or are about to do any air travel soon, you're likely to run into an ACCE staff person at your local airport. This fall, several staff members have been zig-zagging the country, succumbing to very early wake-up calls, and logging a decent amount of miles while visiting chambers, attending meetings and events, and getting to know a lot of great chamber folks. Here's a sampling of where some have been and where others are headed . . . 

In early October, Communications Director Joan Cozart and Community Advancement Director Ian Scott traveled to Texas to meet with the North Texas Chamber Executives and conduct a board retreat for the McKinney (TX) Chamber of Commerce. As ACCE looks ahead to the 2011 convention, Toni Crouch, Vice President for Professional Development and Information, recently visited host city Los Angeles to meet with local chamber leaders and scout locations for the convention's various events. Tamara Philbin, Chief Operating Officer, traveled to Hilton Head, SC, earlier this month to attend the ACCE Benefits Trust meeting.

Senior Vice President, Chris Mead, having just returned from a trip to Turkey with ACCE's Metro Cities Council, is gearing for a busy travel month as he visits many chambers. He'll kick off November with a trip to Ontario, Canada, where, in addition to visiting several members, he will attend the Ontario Chamber Executives meeting. He'll then return to the states to attend the 100th Anniversary Party for the Chambers of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut.  From there, he'll do a three-day tour of chambers in New England, including a stop at the annual conference of the New England Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in Massachussetts. He'll close out the month with a trip to Nebraska and Texas. While in Texas, Chris will attend the Texas Association of Business meeting for chambers of commerce.

And finally, ACCE President Mick Fleming just returned to the office after attending the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce Leadership Conference where he was a breakfast keynote speaker. This was Mick's first trip to Oregon, and now that leaves North Dakota as the only state he has yet to visit! The day before arriving in Oregon, Mick spoke in Spokane, Washington, for the Washington Chamber Execs meeting, and before that, he was in Lexington, Kentucky, for an ACCE board meeting.  This week, Mick heads to Oklahoma City. Be sure to check out Mick's blog and read more about his trips by visiting: http://www.acce.org/blog/micks-blog/.

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