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LA to LA

Mick Fleming on Friday, August 19, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

From one LA to the other, by way of Salvador Brazil.  And the month is only half over.  Whether engaged in productive networking on the dance floor during the AWB show in Los Angeles, or introducing American style chamberology to Brazilians, or helping Louisiana execs maintain their passion for this crazy life . . . It is hard not to love this job. 

I know you do too, even when you hate it.  Yes, there are times when the call from the mayor's office stimulates your fight-or-flight hormones.  Other days, a big member makes you drop by to explain why she should be paying more than her peers in town.  Or maybe your chair scolds you for allowing your best team member is hired away on the same day your  treasurer tells you the measly perqs you give your staff are too generous.  Perhaps you too must deal with delayed flights and airport pretzel dinners.  If you didn't love the role you play in your community/economy, none of these things would bother you a bit.

When my knees are crushed by the reclining seat in the row ahead, I just remind myself that the reward of my travel is not frequent flyer points.  The reward is having the best hard job in the world.

Onward.

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ACCE Member Leads SBA Webinar

Brad Holt on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

ACCE member Kirstie Smith, communications director of the Joplin (MO) Area Chamber of Commerce,will be a presenter in a free U.S. Small Business Administration webinar on using social media for disaster communications.  

Business and civic leaders in Joplin had a crash course in leveraging social media for disaster-related communications following the May 22 tornado that tore through Joplin and killed 160 people and damaged or destroyed 8,000 homes and 500 businesses.

Also participating in the webinar will be Mark Kinsley, creator of the Rebuild Joplin Facebook page, and social media consultant John Orlando. The webinar is free, but space is limited.

“We're helping business owners develop a plan for using social media as a way to enhance their current marketing efforts,” said Smith. “With the results
we have from using social media for disaster communications since the May 22 tornado, we can now show businesses another invaluable resource for communicating with employees and customers in the event of a disaster.” 

The free webinar, Social Media and Disaster Recovery, including a Q&A session, will be held Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2-3 p.m. Eastern time. Register here.

 

 

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10 Takeaways from ACCE 2011 in Los Angeles

Chaaron Pearson on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

Thank you to everyone who joined ACCE in Los Angeles this past week! It was a great opportunity to network, learn, celebrate and recharge your batteries with your fellow chamber peers.

In fact, one attendee put together a "Top 10 Takeaways" list of this year's convention. Check out Adrienne Olson's blog, My New Direction. Adrienne is the Communications and Community Relations Manager at the Chamber of Commerce Fargo Moorhead West Fargo, and is also the chair of the ACCE Communications Division. After reading her entry, we think she hit the nail on the head!

If you weren't able to join us in L.A., then be sure to make plans to be with us in Louisville, KY, next year for ACCE 2012!

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A Chicken Dinner is not a Differentiator: My advice to Chambers of Commerce

Rebecca Ryan, Next Generation Consulting on Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 

In this post, guest blogger Rebecca Ryan from Next Generation Consulting recaps her remarks during the Competitive Regions of the Future panel at the 2011 ACCE Convention last week in Los Angeles.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on three things: Winter, why I’m skeptical of regionalism, and the Halo effect that all Chambers need to stay relevant. I know, these things may seem completely disconnected, but stay with me...

1. Winter

Let me try to put this current economic crap sandwich into perspective. It is Winter in America. And it was predicted.

In 1997, Strauss and Howe published The Fourth Turning. They predicted that around the year 2007, America would face a large national crisis. It could be a financial meltdown, a health pandemic, or - wait for it - a Tea Party. They weren’t sure what it would be, but they knew it was coming. How did they know?

Because it’s happened before.

Turns out, America goes through four distinct seasons. Like climactic seasons, America’s seasons are knowable and predictable. Here’s how the four seasons have shaken out most recently in America:

  • Spring started after WWII. Everyone felt terrific, the economy was booming. GIs were getting college educations. Hope was in the air. Traditionalists (b. 1925-1944) were kids or young adults, and Baby Boomers (b. 1945-1960) were just being born.
  • Summer was in full swing by the “Summer of Love.” Boomers questioned inequality and the status quo. People marched. And sat-in. And radicalized. Traditionalists - who were in charge - felt a huge “generation gap” between themselves and Boomers. Boomers were entering the workforce in full swing, and Gen Xers (b. 1961-1981) were just kids.
  • In Autumn, American society started to show signs of decay: gas lines, Watergate, the Iran-Contra Scandal, the Farm Crisis, spiking divorce rates. Traditionalists were starting to retire, Boomers were taking over, Gen Xers were joining the workforce, and Millennials (b. 1982-2001) were just being born.
  • Winter blew in with the 2008 financial crisis. Winter is expected to last for about 15 years, enough time for entire institutions to be reinvented, renewed, or retired. Boomers are entering their elderhood, Gen Xers are taking over as leaders, and Millennials are entering the workforce at full tilt.

To the untrained eye, Winter looks bleak. Things look dead, or frozen. In truth, winter is a time of great potency, when things hibernate in order to go through the necessary cycle of renewal. The grass will again push through the earth, and America will again enter spring. But not for awhile.

I believe that the communities that will come through this moment and emerge as winners in the next spring will be those that solve problems inter-generationally. It is absurd to think that Boomers - who are still mostly in charge in our communities - will be able to invent all the solutions required for their kids and grandkids to lead prosperous lives. What’s more, only 3 in 5 Boomers will be alive when Spring arrives. So the ethical thing is for Boomers, Xers and Millennials to work together to co-create the future…a future that the Millennials and the iGeneration (b. 2002-??) will inherit.

Look around your community and ask, ” Who’s at the Winter-to-Spring problem-solving table?” It should represent all generations.

2. Why I’m skeptical of regionalism

As I recently wrote for Madison Magazine, “I’m all for regionalism when it honors the unique strengths and assets of all the partners. But I choke when I see regionalism used to equalize all the partners. Like children, regional partners are not all gifted in the same way. You don’t make ALL your children take piano lessons (unless you’re the tiger mom). You assess each child’s talents and put each child in the way of further training and experiences that will help all of them become their best selves.” Read the full article here.

3. The Halo Effect

During Winter, unlikely actors emerge as leaders. We saw this happen in Birmingham, where the Birmingham Community Foundation stepped up and led the initiative for a city-wide park plan. They didn’t wait for the Mayor or the Parks Department. The community needed a plan for green space, and the Foundation stepped up and led the initiative.

I believe Chambers could step up and play a similar role in their communities. Because the truth is that our local businesses know they need to step up - and they want to step up - and they are begging for Chambers to help declare a direction. Businesses I talk with are aching for their Chamber to boldly move in a direction that will help their communities create more jobs, spark some economic energy, and be inclusive of all the economic actors. That’s what leadership is.

Can Chambers get out of their own way?

I was working with a Chamber last year. We did a competitive scan of their business environment and found that there were 14 competitors in the business networking space. There were five other organizations offering “CEO Roundtables.” And the local business journal is coming after their Business Expo.

I asked, “What’s the Chambers differentiator?”

The response: “We have the largest sit down dinner of business leaders in the five county area each fall.”

A chicken dinner is not a differentiator. It may be part of your work plan, but unless you have some kind of halo over that work - a heroic purpose to play in your community - you’re irrelevant. The barriers to entry have fallen. Now your members can link in, friend, or poke any of your members; they don’t really need your Chamber to make introductions. Now more than ever, Chambers need to have a valiant purpose underscoring their work plans. Chambers need a compelling, business-first strategy to help their communities face Winter.

Here’s one idea: stop talking about being in the ‘economic development’ business and start talking about being in the prosperity business.

We are in Winter. Regionalism is not The Only Answer. And your Chamber could be a hero in your community.

Go ahead, grab that Halo

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Business Getting Involved in Education Policy Debate

Chaaron Pearson on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 at 5:13:15 pm 

Colorado’s governor, John Hickenlooper, is pushing forward with an aggressive educational policy agenda despite that school districts are being handed cuts of $400 per student.

One reason that Governor Hickenlooper can move ahead with his aggressive education agenda is because of local business buy-in. Corporations in Colorado have been increasingly interested in education policy.

Last year, Colorado passed a statewide “teacher effectiveness” law that ties pay to performance and makes it easier to fire poorly performing teachers. The Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry played a significant role in pushing it through the legislature. Loren Furman, vice president of governmental relations for the association says that business wants to help shape the structure and substance of education in ways that create a skilled workforce in the years ahead and they are content to leave education professions to negotiate proper funding levels.

The Florida Chamber has been ramping up their involvement with education policy due to response from the business community survey citing “a talented workforce” as its top policy priority ahead of taxes and regulations. This led to chamber support of bills aimed at increasing access to charter schools and online learning and also teacher pay for performance – which passed this session.

At the same time chambers and the business community have increased their education policy involvement, state chambers, such as the Florida Chamber and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce, found themselves supporting a state budget with steep cuts to education.

Read more:
Stateline.org: Business moves to center of school debate
Florida Chamber: Education and Talent Development
Pennsylvania Chamber: Education Policy
US Chamber: Education and Workforce Training Issues

Past PCH blogs on education:
States looking closely at for-profit colleges
State aid shrinks for community colleges as demand rises
Chamber supports Pre-K initiative
Private school vouchers making a comeback
Oklahoma Governor Opposes 744
Race to the Top and Common Curriculum
Race to the Top Winners Announced
Rhode Island School Cleans House
Oklahoma Education Funding
Kentucky Chambers Post-Secondary Education Affordability
Community Colleges See Swelling Ranks
Prepaid College in Texas
Pittsburg Tuition Tax Proposal
Texas Biz Partners to Address Dropouts

Tags: education

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Maryland Unions to Collect Fees from Nonmembers

Chaaron Pearson on Thursday, July 7, 2011 at 1:46:01 pm 

Maryland’s largest state employee union is set to begin collecting fees from nonmembers this month. Maryland joins the District of Columbia and at least 22 other states, including Pennsylvania and Delaware, in allowing state employee unions to collect such fees.

The theory behind the law is that the union furnishes services that impact all employees, such as negotiating health benefits and work conditions, or representing workers in disputes with managers, though fewer than half pay dues. Union officials say the extra money will allow them to improve services.

Beginning in July, Maryland public employees will see union service fees deducted from their biweekly paychecks.

The fees – which will also be collected by smaller unions – are allowed under The Fair Share Act, which the state legislature passed in 2009 largely on a party-line vote supported by Governor Martin O’Malley.

Hundreds of state workers have objected to the new fees. Smaller unions argue these new fees could force smaller unions out of existence.

Read more:
Baltimore Sun: Maryland unions: Thousands of state workers compelled to pay union fees
MarylandReporter.com: Non-union state workers must pay bargaining units in newly negotiated contracts

Tags: employer-employee relations

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A Vital Biz Relocation Program for Times of Need

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 10:27:00 pm 

A business relocation program, headed by the Cullman Area (AL) Chamber of Commerce, is proving to be key in the rebuilding efforts of local businesses hit by tornadoes that swept through in late April this year. In the days following the tornadoes, city and county industrial development boards partnered with the Chamber to get a relocation effort under way. According to the Chamber's president, Kirk Mancer, "We first had to compile a list of what was available in the area. Then we developed the form that would describe such assets as the available utilities, number of offices and parking and other information. Once we knew what businesses were looking for we could turn to the specifications for them to review." Today, more than two months after tornadoes destroyed a wide range of houses and businesses, the program has provided information for nearly 20 businesses and professional offices, and it continues to deliver its value. To learn more about the program and find out what the number one lesson learned was, click here.

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The Personal Value
of Chamber Networks

Brad Holt on Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 2:33:36 pm 

Laura Cook Kroeger has been a long-time member of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. As vice president of resource development and external affairs for Gateway Community and Technical College, she’s often experienced many benefits of membership, including, she said, “advocacy, networking with key leaders, legislative assistance and so much more.”

Laura Cook Kroeger and son, Tristan, reunited in Kentucky following his hasty departure from India.

Kroeger’s 23-year-old son, Tristan, had recently completed three months of teaching in India. “He had planned to tour the country for his final three weeks when he received an urgent notification from the embassy discouraging him from any travel,” she wrote.

A team of U.S. Navy SEALs had just killed Osama Bin Laden, and anti-American sentiment was growing in some regions of India. To make matters worse, the previous day a local Indian newspaper had published a front page feature about Tristan, including a photo of the young American living alone in a hostel.

“We had to get Tristan out of there,” Kroeger said.

“Just one mention of my situation to a group following a chamber meeting sparked extraordinary overtures of concern that spread like fire,” she wrote. One colleague immediately emailed clients who had relatives living near Tristan. Another had contacts in the military. Another had a friend who just moved there. “An airport official contacted Delta Airlines which quickly and graciously changed Tristan’s ticket, at no charge, for this emergency.”

For Kroeger, “the years of networking and chamber involvement on behalf of Gateway paid off in a gratifying, unexpected way. There is indeed value in chamber membership both professionally and, on rare occasions, personally. Thank you members of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. Your quick actions and amazing individual networks of contacts quickly brought Tristan home to a deeply grateful mother.”

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New Domain Names:
Consider Carefully

Brad Holt on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 2:05:58 pm 

In a move that may enhance internet marketing for national brands as well as cities and regions, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has approved an increase in the number of Internet domain name endings known as top-level domains (TLDs), which would be in addition to the familiar .com, .org and .net.

Under ICANN’s plan, new Internet addresses may end with almost any word in any language, offering more branding opportunities than are available with the current 22 TLDs, which include .jobs, .museum and .travel.

The cost of acquiring a new TLD is steep, and there are risks and added expenses involved in administering your own domain registry business, but chambers of commerce should stay current with this issue and be wary of competitors who might seek a marketing advantage by registering an iconic regional name.  ICANN will publish all TLD applications on its website and allow a period of time to hear objections and resolve disputes. 

In the wake of ICANN’s announcement, several internet publications questioned ICANN’s motives and the actual need for the new TLD naming plan.

  • PCWorld warned that the $185,000 application fee would be kept by ICANN whether the domain was granted or not, and that there was an annual fee of $25,000.
  • Few people have bothered to use existing alternate TLDs such as .travel, .jobs or .museum, raising the question of how much need exists for new TLDs. Most Internet users rely on search engines to locate destinations on the web.
  • Buying your own TLD means you will set up a domain name registration system. ICANN says that an applicant for a new TLD “is, in fact, applying to create and operate a registry business supporting the Internet's domain name system. This involves a number of significant responsibilities, as the operator of a new TLD is running a piece of visible Internet infrastructure.
  • All of the past work done to optimize current web pages for best rankings on search engines could be erased when you switch to a new TLD. On the other hand, some internet experts say domain names are virtually irrelevant because of the efficiency of search
    engines.

Read More:  Infoworld   PCWorld   Mashable   Evan Williams’ Blog

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All Time High Participation
in Salary Survey

Brad Holt on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 2:05:23 pm 

The most accurate and reliable compensation resource for the chamber industry is now more accurate and more reliable.

Since 2010, nearly 500 individuals have either participated in ACCE’s Salary Survey for the first time or have updated their data, reports
Lisa Sohn, ACCE’s director of research and technology. “It’s a record high,” she said, “and it makes our salary data the most thorough and comprehensive in
history.”

Participating CEO members seeking to benchmark compensation numbers may view (at no charge) survey results online using dynamically updated
data on more than 2,500 chamber employees. The salary survey covers 25 different position descriptions, and includes information on benefits. A hard
copy summary is updated every two years and is available to all members to purchase. The 2011 edition will be available later this summer.

To participate in the survey:

  • Go to the "Member Login" page and log in.
  • Then select Resources, and then Access ACCE Salary Survey.
    • To update your information in the salary survey database, click on the link that says
      "Update (or Add) Salary and Benefit Information"
    • To access the results database, click on View Salary and Benefit Information.

This pdf provides instructions on how to add or update information to the salary survey from the "coordinator" website.

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