Chambers Host Health Care Debates

Ian Scott on Friday, August 28, 2009 at 6:54:22 pm 

Several chambers have hosted immensely successful health care focused events over the past several weeks.  In the process they are meeting a demand for information about the highly controversial topic of health care reform, and positioning themselves as a community thought leader for many people who may have never been to a chamber of commerce event before.  Here are a few examples:

  • Greater Raleigh (NC) Chamber- Just before they hosted over 900 Chamber Execs from across the country, the Raleigh Chamber had a hugely successful Health Care Forum on July 24.  Their event featured a recap of federal legislation and a round-table discussion with representatives from the pharmaceutical, insurance, medical device and hospitals.  Click to watch video of the event.

  • Green Bay (WI) Area Chamber - Green Bay was one of the first communities to host a town hall meeting with their Congressman.  Since then, the Chamber has planned a follow-up meeting set for nest Tuesday in a large public auditorium at our performing arts center.  The chamber is co-sponsoring this free event with a local medical society and the event will featuring a panel of experts, including Chamber president and former Mayor Paul Jadin and health care professionals.  It will be moderated by a former public radio personality.

  • Lubbock (TX) Chamber - The Lubbock Chamber helda health care community round-table on Aug. 25. A week before the event they had change venue to accommodate the number of registrants for this free event.  They ended up with roughly 1,000 in attendance.   

There is huge potential in these events.  Revenue potential if you decide to charge attendees, but also opportunity to forge new partnerships and position your organization as a proactiveleader on public policy for the community that extends beyond your membership.  Consider hosting one of these events, call ACCE and ask for Ian if you'd like to discuss. 

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Chamber Receives Fed Funds for Prosperity Plan

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 11:29:06 pm 

It was announced this week that the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce recieved a $70k grant for regional planning.  This announcment comes after more than two years of work for a 5 county region.  Click to read the article from Tahoe Daily Tribune.

Is multi-county regional funding like this typical for EDA, or is this evidence of a trend toward federal recognition of regional entities?  Post a comment in response...

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PAC Resources

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at 10:53:28 pm 

Some of the most frequently asked questions we receive at the Policy Clearinghouse are about Political Action Committees or PACs.  Typical questions include "should I set up a PAC?", "do I need a PAC to get involved in issue campaigns?", "can I endorse candidates without a PAC?"

These are complex, strategic questions that must be thought out carefully.  There is a lot of advocacy work your chamber can undertake without establishing a PAC, and there are a wide range of activity levels your PAC can have. 

To help answer some of your questions and get you started, we've compiled sample PAC documents at for ACCE members to download.  Click HERE to access (you must be logged in with your ACCE username and password)

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New Bi-State Economic Development Entity in Quad Cities

Ian Scott on Monday, August 24, 2009 at 11:55:26 pm 

There is a ne  w economic   development entity, Quad Cities First, th at will serve both the Illinois and Iowa sides of the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities region.  The larger urban hubs in this region are Davenport, IA and Moline, IL.

Quad Cities First will be jointly led by the regional chambers of commerce on both sides of the river.  The new group will also spells a new level of cooperation between the region's chambers.  Here is a description of the new, private economic development entity from the Iowa Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce (formerly DavenportOne):

Quad Cities First
Quad Cities First will focus on regional sales and marketing, including marketing of the Rock Island Arsenal, in recognition of the importance of those functions for the economic growth of our region.

Quad Cities First will be governed by a seventeen (17) member Board of Directors that will include ten (10) private sector members nominated by the Chambers and seven (7) public sector members chosen by the five cities and two counties.


Rick Baker and Tara Barney, Presidents & CEOs of their respective chambers, will serve as co-CEOs of Quad Cities First and report to the Quad Cities First Board related to the specific functions within that board’s purview.


Chamber Joint Venture
The state-based Chambers will continue to provide individual programming and chamber of commerce services through their respective organizations. But, much like they do today with selected programs through the Quad City Chamber Federation, the Chambers will coordinate efforts to govern and manage regional economic activities through a Chamber Joint Venture agreement authorized by the boards of both Chambers. The Chamber Joint Venture will be accountable for the delivery of regional economic development functions outside those specifically prescribed to Quad Cities First. 

Click HERE to read more.

Also, check out this story from the Quad City Times: Q-C First model OK'd by development group

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Texas Biz Partners to Address Dropouts

Ian Scott on Monday, August 24, 2009 at 9:11:02 pm 

The Texas Association of Business (TAB) has joined forces with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Mothers Against Discriminatory Racism in Education and Society, and several local chambers of commerce to push the Texas Education Agency to more effectively measure and address the state's high school drop out rate.

This group of non-traditional partners is particularly concerned with creating a more accurate and transparent mechanism to measure drop out rates.  Current rates don't reflect a large number of English second language students who drop out.

For more information, including a list of five "opportunities for improvement within the current accountability framework," link to TAB.

On the heels of the coalition's push for better accountability comes a report from the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service which found: "The students in the class of 2012 who will drop out of school are projected to cost the state and its economy $6 billion to $10.7 billion over their lifetimes."

Click for more info on that study from the Austin American Statesman.

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Seattle Voters Overturn Bag Tax

Ian Scott on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:27:31 pm 

We've followed the emerging plastic bag ban trend on the Clearinghouse Blog for a while now.  See: Seattle to Vote on Plastic Bag Tax (April 09) and Plastic Bag Ban On Hold in Arizona (Aug 08). 

Frequent readers of Chamber Executive, ACCE's authoritative journal for and about chambers of commerce, may recall that the plastic bag ban issue was a featured example in Lisa Itamura's article Catching and Tracking Contagious Issues, the cover story for the Fall 2007 issue.

The latest chapter in the Seattle Bag Ban saga played out this week when voters rejected the 20 cent fee for plastic and paper bags passed by the city council.  The Associated Press quoted a plastic industry official as saying the vote, "represents a sound defeat for other efforts in U.S. cities to limit the use of the throwaway bags."

"If they can't do it there, they can't do anywhere," said Stephen Joseph, a San Francisco attorney with, who has challenged several plastic bag bans in California.

Check out the AP article for more about this issue:  Seattle votes down fee on plastic, paper bags

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Maryland Wants Your Budget Suggestions

Ian Scott on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:11:48 pm 

Maryland is using the internet to engage citizens in the debate over how to bridge the budget gap.

Through Governor Martin O'Malley's web portal the State of Maryland has, over the past few weeks, requested input from the general public on where to make cuts.  The feedback they've cataloged ranges from thoughtful tax policy changes to this suggestion from Ann Arundel County:

"Sell the Governor's Mansion and live in your own house!"

Additionally, the webpage offers information (including charts) on steps taken to reduce government spending, a forum to discuss proposed changes, and a comparison between Maryland and other states.

If well publicized and well managed, this kind of outlet could help win support for some of the hard budget decisions that will have to be made over the coming years.

Click HERE to link.

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Great Lakes Torn on Energy Policy

Ian Scott on Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 5:22:04 pm 

An article in this week's Economist examines how the Great Lakes region is torn over energy policy.  

On one hand, Great Lakes communities are proving that you don't have to be in the desert southwest to benefit from solar energy.  New "green" businesses that produce solar panels or wind turbines are sprouting up in cities like Toledo and Grand Rapids.

However, while this green sector is expanding, it is still only accounts for a small fraction of total employment.  Traditional manufacturing, while struggling, still creates more than 15% of the total jobs in Michigan and Indiana.

This dichotomy underscores the debate over the proposed cap-and-trade regime supported by the Obama administration.  The policy may further stimulate the growing green segment of the economy, but almost certainly at the expense of the traditional manufacturers that have long been the region's economic bedrock.

Read more in this article from The Economist

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The Cost of Prisons

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 12:04:44 am 

Budget cuts will be a reality for many states in the coming months and years.  Chambers of commerce need to press state legislators to take a long, hard look at state spending and help identify areas were cuts might be appropriate.

One major cost center that state's can not overlook in this economy is the penal system.  According to the Vera Institute of Justice, corrections come second only to Medicaid, as the fastest growing general fund expenditure in the United States.  An article in last week's Economist cited California's per inmate expenditure at $49,000 annually.

It is possible to cut costs in the penal system through operating efficiencies, recidivism reduction and release policy, and thereare best practice examples for each.  However, all can be politically difficult to achieve.

As your state examines potential budget cuts that will impact vital programs, make sure you know options - like penal system reform - that can also be put on the table for discussion.

For a more an overview of this issue, check out Neal Peirce's column from the lasted issue of Citiwire - Prison Spending Hits a Brick Wall

To get in-depth and learn best practices for reducing the cost of corrections, heck out this Vera Institute report - The Fiscal Crisis in Corrections: Rethinking Policies and Practices.  The Vera Institute of Justice is an independent, non-profit committed to addressing issues in the justice system through research and technical assistance. 

For more info look at the Pew Center on the States - Public Safety Performance Initiative.  Their 2008 Report - One in 100: Behind Bars in America - chronicles the swelling prison population and the unsustainable impact it is having on state budgets.

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Specter Will Support Cloture on Card Check

Ian Scott on Monday, August 17, 2009 at 7:20:30 pm 

Washington D.C. political newspaper The Hill reported on Friday that Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter (D) will vote with Democrats in support of a cloture vote on a modified version of Card Check. 

Cloture is a procedural motion requiring 60 votes that would override a filibuster and force a vote.  If every other Democratic Senator were to vote in favor of cloture on a version of the Employee Free Choice Act, they could force a vote.

The announcement, before a group of liberal leaning bloggers, comes amid a roller coaster year for the Senator surrounding this issue.  In March, after months of speculation and lobbying from both sides, Specter, then a Republican, said that he would not support cloture on Card Check.  Several weeks later Sen. Specter switched political parties and re-opened the door for support of an amended version of EFCA.

The Card Check debate is ongoing and still demands attention from your organization and your members.

Click for the full story - Specter would support cloture on ‘modified’ card-check

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