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Small Businesses and Sustainability

Ian Scott on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 at 5:24:05 pm 

In a letter yesterday to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) president and long time ACCE board member Steve Millard explained why sustainability is equally important for small businesses as it is for large companies.  Here’s an excerpt:

While large businesses can invest heavily in energy efficiency and sustainability, smaller enterprises are often worried about making investments that may not pay short-term dividends. Fortunately, they stand to gain just as much, if not more, from sustainability. Small businesses pay 35 percent more for energy, and energy costs account for their second-highest non payroll cost. Investing in energy efficiency and sustainability can help cut costs, increase revenue and improve their marketability.

He goes on to applaud the city’s new sustainable business procurement ordinance, which provides a 4% bid discount to Green Plus certified sustainable local companies bidding for city contracts, and mentions the work COSE has done to help businesses meet their energy needs.

Millard closes with a bold proclamation:

“Green is not a fad. It is becoming an imperative for businesses of all types.”

Click to read the full letter.

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100 One-Night Stands

Mick Fleming on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 3:56:04 pm 

21 hours in Finger Lakes.  19 hours in Grand Rapids.  24 hours in Ojai.  18 hours in Orlando.  20 hours in Hilton Head.  Sorry I couldn't stay for the dancing!

My road trips since our convention in August have involved meetings with wonderful folks in great settings, but the proximity of ETA to ETD has begun to wear on this old road warrior.  Arriving in time for sunset over Canandaigua Lake or the Pacific  leaving the next day before lunch isn't exactly an ideal schedule.  Many thanks to the McKinney Chamber and the chambers of North Texas for forgoing one such scheduled trip, thus allowing me to be in the hospital waiting room for the birth of my first grandchild.  Lovely Lilah Catherine  is out of NICU and beginning to add a few ounces, but she's still a wee little thing.  Your prayers and good wishes for mother and child were answered.

Anyway, it's time to spend some extended quality time with ACCE volunteer leadership this week as the Board meets in Lexington for a couple of days, instead of a couple of hours.  Discussions will range from global to local -- from party politics to party planning.  It should be good.  Debrief to all members on those discussions coming soon.  Regular updates on Lilah too.

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Educate for the Economy

Ian Scott on Tuesday, October 19, 2010 at 10:39:14 am 

In a recently adopted five year strategic plan, the Dallas Regional Chamber listed education improvements as one of their five organizational priorities.  Their education goals include raising graduation rates for the Dallas Independent School district by 13%, increasing the percentage of advanced degree holders in the region by 5%, and setting detailed goals for college and career readiness among high school graduates.

Their rationale for adopting this goal: “…education is critical to developing a strong regional workforce that supports economic prosperity.”

The move has won the Chamber praise in the local media.  Here is a excerpt from an October 11th editorial in the Dallas Morning News:

In a five-year blueprint released Friday, the Dallas Regional Chamber has wisely recognized that North Texas has to step up to this challenge or risk falling behind in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The chamber's plan focuses on attracting companies in skilled growth industries, such as technology and health care. Most impressive: It makes it clear that the region can't prosper unless K-12 education improves and that the chamber is ready to take on this issue.

We applaud the chamber's sense of urgency to prod North Texas businesses to step out of their corporate silos and make educational excellence an economic development priority.

Click to learn more about the Dallas Regional Chamber’s new strategic plan.

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More on Florida Prop 4

Ian Scott on Monday, October 18, 2010 at 4:18:21 pm 

Florida’s Hometown Democracy proposal has been a reoccurring topic on this blog for several years now.  I’ve discussed this issue at chamber meetings across the country and it invariably draws a lot of head scratching and some perplexed questions.  They generally sounds like:  “How could voters possibly be asked to make every land use decision?” 

I can’t answer that question, but the issue does perfectly illustrate the absolute mandate chambers of commerce have for involvement in public policy.  If state and local chambers aren’t mobilized to fight against benignly named but economically devastating proposals like Hometown Democracy, who will?

Read what the Orlando Sentinel editorial board had to say about Prop 4 - What we think: No on Amendment 4, Hometown Democracy' costly, unwieldy and unwarranted.

For more on the measure check out - http://www.florida2010.org/

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Public Pensions in the Press

Ian Scott on Friday, October 15, 2010 at 10:03:40 am 

If you’ve been following the opinion pages at major national papers over the past week, you may have noticed that everyone suddenly seems to care about public sector pension costs.  The folks at the Pennsylvania Economy League have done a great job compiling links to resent pension headlines in a blog post yesterday:

Finally the "Popular Girl:" State pension funds

The dueling columns by David Brooks and Ezra Klein are worth reading to get a perspective on both sides of the issue.

I also suggest that you check out The Trillion Dollar Gap, a report published last February by the Pew Center on the States.

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A Chamber of Commerce . . . Now at the Perfume Counter?

Tania Kohut on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 11:49:59 am 

Is your chamber looking for ways to increase its marketing budget? Then wait till you get a whiff of what the Beverly Hills (CA) Chamber of Commerce did! This week, the Chamber, in concert with the city of Beverly Hills and marketing firm Bradford Licensing, unveiled three city-licensed perfumes that will be sold in department stores starting in January.  The goal of the $120-a-bottle scents named "Iconic," "Must Have" and "Rodeo," will be to, according to Dan Walsh, executive director of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, "promote Beverly Hills as the 'epitome of luxury and high-style living.'" The estimated $100,000 a year in royalties raised by the licensing partnership will be split by the three parties. The City and the Chamber plan to use the money to fund their respective marketing departments. Get a better sniff of this unusual but creative revenue generator by clicking any of the following news stories:

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DeMint on Earmarks

Ian Scott on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 3:23:06 pm 

There should be no mistaking America’s current appetite for federal spending and debt.  Polls suggest that we’ve had more than our fill, and candidates are crafting their message to match our mood.  But what about spending on projects close to home that we desperately need?

That is the debate South Carolinians are having with their junior Senator Jim DeMint.  DeMint has refused to support an appropriations request made by fellow South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham for $400,000 to fund an Army Corps of Engineers feasibility study on deepening the port of Charleston.  Deepening the port is necessary to accommodate massive cargo ships from Asia that will reach the East coast after the expansion of the Panama Canal is complete in 2014.  The State Ports Authority and the Charleston Metro Chamber are among the proponents of the project.

Senate appropriations subcommittee chairman Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) has thusfar denied funding request saying, “It is our general policy that if there is not unity among senators from a state about funding requests, we would not proceed to fund it.”  DeMint has accused the subcommittee of playing politics with the request, but stands firm on his pledge to oppose all earmarks.

Read more here.

What do you think?  Should earmark spending be opposed at all costs or are they merely the reality of governing?  Add your comments.

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A Capital Idea in Des Moines

Joan Cozart on Wednesday, October 13, 2010 at 2:56:31 pm 

Something is going on in Des Moines, Iowa which promises to make the capital city even more cohesive and vibrant.  The Greater Des Moines Partnership is working  with a host of civic and business leaders to craft a shared vision of their region.  For more on what they’re planning, click here:

 http://www.desmoinesmetro.com/newsroom/news/displayArticle.asp?idNewsroomArticle=1183&idNewsroomWebsiteSection=1

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Candidates Rail Against Rail

Ian Scott on Tuesday, October 12, 2010 at 11:48:11 am 

Last week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made national headlines by halting work on a commuter rail tunnel that would increase capacity between New Jersey and downtown Manhattan.  His rationale - state transportation officials project that the $8.7 billion project will run over costs by at least $2.5 billion, leaving New Jersey taxpayers on the hook.  $600 million has already been spent on the nation’s largest public transit project and the Federal Government and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey have each committed $3 billion to the project.  Click for more.

But Christie is not the only Republican politician railing against rail.

Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has launched www.notrain.com to detail his opposition to a high speed rail line connecting Madison and Milwaukee.  The proposed line is funded by $810 million in stimulus dollars.  Ohio’s John Kasich is opposed to a $400 million stimulus project to link Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati by rail.  Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott has raised questions about the $1.25 billion stimulus funded rail project to connect Orlando and Tampa.

In all cases, construction cost overruns and the ongoing cost of operation are major concerns.  There is also a sense that these rail projects are diverting badly needed funds from crumbling highway infrastructure.  Click for more.

What do you think about rail expansion plans?  Are they important projects that will reduce road congestion and spur investment?  Or are they costly boondoggles that will be underused?  Share your thoughts by leaving a comment…

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Kotkin on Smaller Metro Growth

Ian Scott on Monday, October 11, 2010 at 2:41:22 pm 

In an article for Forbes last week, noted author and thinker on urban development, geography and demographics Joel Kotkin explains why he believes America’s smaller metropolitan regions will grow more over the coming decades than our largest cities.  Examples of regions poised for growth are Raleigh/Durham, San Antonio, Salt Lake City and Calgary.

According to Kotkin, the key factors that drive growth are affordable housing, ease of doing business and short commute times.  This is food for thought as your chamber sets its regional development priorities.  While I don’t dismiss anything Kotkin says, I happen to believe that universities, walkable downtowns, and cultural amenities also play a big role in a region’s long term growth and prosperity.

Read the article and see the Forbes list of North America’s Fastest Growing Cities.

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