Information "Treasure Trove" Can Accelerate Marketing
With 31 years in the chamber business, Nancy Eisenbrandt, CCE, COO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, has learned well the value of task-specific information and the need for speed in finding it.
At a recent staff meeting, she conducted an on-line demo of ACCE’s new Information Office to her chamber’s 30 employees. “It was a huge success,” she said. “The Information Office is a treasure trove of information across all functional areas of the chamber.” She said employees didn’t know about “the wealth of information that could assist them day-to-day to make their jobs easier. There are tools to learn what other chambers are doing, best practices that can really speed products or services to market.”
Introduced in July, the Information Office is a key initiative of ACCE’s 2010-13 strategic plan. Its mission: provide reliable and accessible information on chamber trends and best practices, including an extensive library of actual chamber documents and other resources.
Eisenbrandt’s demo included surfing ACCE’s pages on networks, awards programs and conferences. For several staffers, it was a revelation. “Many of our staff had no idea of the breadth of what’s offered,” she said. Prior to the meeting, a number of employees had usernames and passwords to access the site, but not all of them. After the demo, several employees asked for access to the site.
“The value ACCE provides is exponential when it is leveraged deeply into the chamber team,” Eisenbrandt said. ”I’ve used ACCE for years, and I’m very, very impressed. This information has been beautifully organized and made accessible. ACCE is so much more than an annual conference for only a few of your team members. “
Now That's How
You Do An Interview
Here's a perfect lesson on how to handle an interview with the press. Long Beach (CA) Area Chamber President and CEO Randy Gordon was recently interviewed by a Long Beach newspaper. He immediately took control and set the tone for what ended up being an informative, yet very entertaining interview. Randy had fun with it AND was still able to get his points across. Read the interview, learn about the Long Beach Area Chamber and get to know a fellow chamber exec!
Note from the Chair - Using Anger to Push Issues
Government Relations Division Chairwoman Mary Graham, CCE, passed along the following note and link:
Someone sent me a link to this article in Harvard Business Review on chambers of commerce using anger to push forward issues. Seemed pretty relevant to all us Government Relations types. Thought I would share.
Mary Graham, CCR, IOM, CCE
Senior Vice President
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Posthumous Award for Shelia Lee
Shelia O. Lee, IOM, CCE, was honored with a posthumous award for "A Life that Made A Difference." The award was presented as part of Oklahoma City's Journal Record's 31st Woman of the Year gala. Shelia was the former president and CEO of the Lawton-Fort Sill (OK) Chamber of Commerce as well as an ACCE Executive Committee member.
The Woman of the Year program is a special tribute to Oklahoma’s female business and community leaders.
Amazon Deals with California
After years of refusing to collect sales tax from online purchases, Amazon.com has struck a deal in California. Retailers and state governments elsewhere are hoping for similar treatment.
This is a departure from Amazon.com’s previous stance on online tax collection. In response to other states “Amazon laws” requiring online tax collection, Amazon.com has taken New York to court and canceled its relationships with affiliates in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, North Carolina and Rhode Island.
California looked to be the stage for the next Amazon show-down. Amazon organized a campaign to repeal the law at the ballot box. Wal-Mart and other big retailers lined-up in opposition of Amazon, arguing that online retailers get an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar merchants by not collecting sales tax.
Surprisingly, Amazon backed down. The company struck a deal that will require online retailers to collect sales taxes in California starting in fiscal 2013.
Brick-and-mortar retailers view this as a game-changer. If Amazon will pay sales taxes in California, why not in other states? The optimism may be premature, but states would love to see additional sales tax revenue.
It’s difficult to assess where chambers stand on this issue. There are proponents on both sides, with many chambers declining to take a stance while they closely watch events unfold.
Stateline.org: Amazon deal with California may set precedent for online tax collection
St. Petersburg Times: California to the rescue on sales taxes
The Journal Gazette: The retail Goliath retreats
Policy Clearinghouse Blog: Main Street Fairness Act
Ultimate Chamber Mergers
At a meeting with the World Chambers Federation board of directors this weekend, I learned that all of the dozens of chambers in the Netherlands are being forced to merge into one. The number of chambers in France is being cut by a third. These are countries in which membership in compulsory by law. In Spain, the government recently ruled that the chambers would no longer receive the money companies had been paying for the last couple of hundred years for chamber membership. The State would keep (thank you very much) the "tax", leaving the chambers with about 40% of their revenue, provided they can keep program income flowing in.
I recall a number of folks telling me over the years that running a public-law chamber would be so easy because they wouldn't have to work on membership retention. I'm wondering, however, if perhaps a chamber operating where the government requires membership really only has one member?
Seattle Chamber Reinvents
Now for something completely different...
The Seattle Chamber threw members a curve ball at the organization’s 129th Annual Meeting earlier this month. Instead of the standard chicken dinner and political speaker, they highlighted innovation and entrepreneurship in four burgeoning industries: food, fashion, video gaming and music.
Plaid clad construction worker turned restaurateur Mark Klebeck, co-founder of Top Pot Doughnuts, was a keynote speaker. Panel discussions featured Megan Gaiser of HER Interactive, a company that produces video games for girls, Davora Lindner co-designer new urban clothing label Prairie Underground, and David Sabee, president, Seattle Music Inc. the artists who produced the academy award winning score to Brokeback Mountain. Each of these business owners discussed why they chose to launch their creative ventures in Seattle. A local interior designer put together a funky stage set. The Seattle Symphony's new Music Director, Ludovic Morlot, announced a one-of-a-kind concert celebrating Seattle’s music scene with new symphonic compositions inspired by local music legends including Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. The night also featured a performance by hot new local band Hey Marseilles.
Indie rock, video games and doughnuts, how can you go wrong?
Saratoga is Off and Running
in the Lip Dub Race
The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce this week premiered the "Saratoga Lip Dub," a single-take music video beginning at the historic Saratoga Race Course and featuring a cast of thousands on the broad sidewalks of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., lip synching and dancing to a medley of tunes by the band Train. ("Hey, Soul Sister" is one of Train's hits; ask your local teenager. The band's drummer is a native of Saratoga Springs.)
Lip dubs' popularity is well established on college campuses, and spreading. Grand Rapids, Mich., created one last May in response to being on a Newsweek list of "dying cities." It's been viewed more than 4.2 million times on YouTube. Saratoga hopes to surpass that mark.
“We told visitors to the city, who witnessed the filming of the Saratoga Lip Dub and wondered what was happening, that this is how Saratoga prepares for the weekend!” said Chamber President Todd L. Shimkus in a news release. Beyond the promotional value for prospective visitors, the Saratoga Chamber is working with area employers and the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation to use the lip dub to attract talent to growing Saratoga County. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is building in Saratoga County what it claims will be the most advanced semi-conductor manufacturing facility in the world and the "largest leading-edge semiconductor foundry" in the U.S. The project will create 1,400 new jobs.
"We’re now engaged in a global competition to attract talent to our region,” said Shimkus. “The lip dub craze is a phenomenon mostly on college campuses around the world, so the Saratoga Lip Dub is our way of reaching out to the talented young people we need for our community to sustain its incredible success.”
Putting Party Politics Aside
What would be the result if you invited some your community’s “strongest Democrats and strongest Republicans” for a discussion of our “devastated
economy and the financial crisis” facing the nation? Productive debate or frustrating acrimony?
Admitting it was “a risk,” Susanne Sartelle, CCE, organized exactly that kind of discussion in her Greenville, N.C., community. Participants at the Sept. 1 meeting were told that no “partisan mud slinging” was allowed. The committee chair quipped that nobody was allowed to throw anything, and as it turned out all participants were respectful and well behaved. The result, Sartelle wrote to the 71 members of ACCE’s Emerging Cities listserv, was that “we were pleasantly surprised at how much consensus there was on the subject.”
Sartelle, president of the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce in Greenville, N.C., and a member of the ACCE Board of Directors, then took the results of the discussion a couple steps further.
The bipartisan consensus became a letter to the 12 members of the congressional Super Committee, which is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, and to the North Carolina congressional delegation. The letter, signed by every participant of the Sept. 1 discussion, urged the Super Committee to consider four areas of consensus agreed to by the North Carolinians:
- the Simpson-Bowles Report
- Comeback America Initiative’s Fiscal Frameworks
- make sure that “Americans be made fully aware of the potential consequences our
country faces should we not achieve fiscal sustainability”
- pass election reform—term limits for members of Congress.
“I realize that we are but one community in this nation,” Sartelle wrote. “But we need to be a part of the solution to this problem at the grassroots level. That is why I am inviting you to jump on the wagon and have your own local discussions, send letters, make visits…whatever you can do.”
Congress Passes Transportation Bill
With authority for highway, transit and rail programs set to expire Sept. 30, Congress passed a short-term transportation funding extension. House and Senate leaders voted last week to temporarily extend funding for the FAA and federal highway and transit programs.
Prior to the vote, the White House released a state-by-state look at the number of jobs at risk if the funding was not renewed.
This bill also enjoyed the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "The six-month extension of federal highway and transit programs approved by Congress today ensures the continuation of thousands of job-creating infrastructure projects in every state," said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director.
The AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber hope that this short-term extension can give Congress enough time to pass a long-term funding reauthorization for both programs.
Stateline.org: Beating deadline, Congress approves transportation bill
Additional Transportation and Infrastructure Resources:
ACCE.org: Transportation and Infrastructure Chamberpedia