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Membership stars take the stage

Ben Wills on Friday, June 16, 2017 at 3:55:00 pm 

Congratulations to winners of this year’s Membership Achievement Awards! These chambers of commerce (listed alphabetically) are in the top 10 (of their revenue category) for retention of members, dollars and/or new members.

Dollars listed based on the chamber’s annual revenue

Up to $450,000

Member Retention
Charles County Chamber of Commerce (La Plata, Maryland)
Cortland County Chamber of Commerce (Cortland, New York)
Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dixon, Illinois)
Effingham County Chamber of Commerce (Effingham, Illinois)
Harwich Chamber of Commerce (Harwich Port, Massachusetts)
Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ludlow, Vermont)
Orleans Chamber of Commerce (Orleans, Massachusetts)
Rowan County Chamber of Commerce (Salisbury, North Carolina)
Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce (Shawano, Wisconsin)
Wells County Chamber of Commerce (Bluffton, Indiana)

Dues Retention
Alliance Southwest Louisiana (Lake Charles, Louisiana)
Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dixon, Illinois)
Effingham County Chamber of Commerce (Effingham, Illinois)
Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce (Hartsville, South Carolina)
Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce (Murray, Kentucky)
Muskego Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism (Muskego, Wisconsin)
Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ludlow, Vermont)
Orleans Chamber of Commerce (Orleans, Massachusetts)
Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce (Shawano, Wisconsin)
Wells County Chamber of Commerce (Bluffton, Indiana)

New Member Retention
Alliance Southwest Louisiana (Lake Charles, Louisiana)
Charles County Chamber of Commerce (La Plata, Maryland)
Cortland County Chamber of Commerce (Cortland, New York)
Des Moines Downtown Chamber of Commerce (Des Moines, Iowa)
Effingham County Chamber of Commerce (Effingham, Illinois)
Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce (Hartsville, South Carolina)
Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce (Murray, Kentucky)
Okemo Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ludlow, Vermont)
Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce (Shawano, Wisconsin)
Westerville Area Chamber of Commerce (Westerville, Ohio)

$450,001 to $900,000

Member Retention
Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce (Bartlesville, Oklahoma)
Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce (Columbus, Indiana)
Greater Burlington Partnership (Burlington, Iowa)
Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce (West Chester, Pennsylvania)
Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (Wilmington, North Carolina)
Minot Area Chamber of Commerce (Minot, North Dakota)
Pocatello Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce (Pocatello, Idaho)
Rocky Mount Area Chamber of Commerce (Rocky Mount, North Carolina)
Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce (Siesta Key, Florida)
Winona Area Chamber of Commerce (Winona, Minnesota)

Dues Retention
Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce (Bartlesville, Oklahoma)
Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce (West Chester, Pennsylvania)
Greater Burlington Partnership (Burlington, Iowa)
Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (Wilmington, North Carolina)
Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce (Greenville, North Carolina)
Ludington and Scottville Chamber of Commerce (Ludington, Michigan)
Minot Area Chamber of Commerce (Minot, North Dakota)
Salinas Valley Chamber of Commerce (Salinas, California)
Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce (Siesta Key, Florida)
Winona Area Chamber of Commerce (Winona, Minnesota)

New Member Retention
Bay Area Chamber of Commerce (Bay City, Michigan)
Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce (Greer, South Carolina)
Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce (West Chester, Pennsylvania)
Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce (Pennsylvania)
Minot Area Chamber of Commerce (Minot, North Dakota)
Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce (Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina)
Paulding County Chamber of Commerce (Dallas, Georgia)
Pocatello Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce (Pocatello, Idaho)
Temple Chamber of Commerce (Temple, Texas)
Winona Area Chamber of Commerce (Winona, Minnesota)

$900,001 to $2,000,000

Member Retention
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce (Cambridge, Ontario)
Garrett County Chamber of Commerce (McHenry, Maryland)
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (Glenwood Springs, Colorado)
Greater Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)
Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce (Lima, Ohio)
Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce (Rutherford, New Jersey)
Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce (Oshkosh, Wisconsin)
Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (Regina, Saskatchewan)
Vail Valley Partnership (Avon, Colorado)
Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Wichita Falls, Texas)

Dues Retention
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce (Cambridge, Ontario)
Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Columbia, Missouri)
Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership (Erie, Pennsylvania)
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (Glenwood Springs, Colorado)
Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce (Topeka, Kansas)
Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce (Lima, Ohio)
Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce (Holland, Michigan)
Vail Valley Partnership (Avon, Colorado)
Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Wichita Falls, Texas)

New Member Retention
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce (Cambridge, Ontario)
Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Columbia, Missouri)
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (Glenwood Springs, Colorado)
Grapevine Chamber of Commerce (Grapevine, Texas)
Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce (Topeka, Kansas)
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce (Humble, Texas)
Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (Ocala, Florida)
Southwest Indiana Chamber (Evansville, Indiana)
Vail Valley Partnership (Avon, Colorado)
Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Wichita Falls, Texas)

$2,000,001 to $5,000,000

Member Retention
Arkansas State Chamber/Associated Industries of Arkansas (Little Rock, Arkansas)
Buffalo Niagara Partnership (Buffalo, New York)
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce (Centerville, Massachusetts)
Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead West Fargo (Moorhead, Minnesota)
Fox Cities Chamber (Appleton, Wisconsin)
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce (Kalispell, Montana)
North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce & CVB (North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce (Rapid City, South Dakota)
St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce (St. Joseph, Missouri)
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Toledo, Ohio)

Dues Retention
Arkansas State Chamber/Associated Industries of Arkansas (Little Rock, Arkansas)
Billings Chamber of Commerce (Billings, Montana)
Buffalo Niagara Partnership (Buffalo, New York)
Chamber of Commerce of Fargo Moorhead West Fargo (Moorhead, Minnesota)
Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce (Kalispell, Montana)
Louisiana Association of Business & Industry (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce (Rapid City, South Dakota)
St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce (St. Joseph, Missouri)
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Toledo, Ohio)

New Member Retention
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce (Dayton, Ohio)
Fox Cities Chamber (Appleton, Wisconsin)
Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce (El Paso, Texas)
Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce (Burlington, Vermont)
Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce (Rapid City, South Dakota)
St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce (St. Joseph, Missouri)
South Bend Regional Chamber (South Bend, Indiana)
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Toledo, Ohio)
York County Economic Alliance (York, Pennsylvania)

Above $5,000,000

Member Retention
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Georgia Chamber of Commerce (Atlanta, Georgia)
Greater Cleveland Partnership (Cleveland, Ohio)
Greater Louisville Inc. (Louisville, Kentucky)
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce (Omaha, Nebraska)
Hilton Head Island - Bluffton Chamber of Commerce (Hilton Head Island, South Carolina)
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce (Mobile, Alabama)
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce (Davenport, Iowa/Moline, Illinois)
Tulsa Regional Chamber (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

Dues Retention
Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (Brooklyn, New York)
Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce (Chattanooga, Tennessee)
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Georgia Chamber of Commerce (Atlanta, Georgia)
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce (Omaha, Nebraska)
JAX Chamber (Jacksonville, Florida)
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce (Mobile, Alabama)
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce (Davenport, Iowa/Moline, Illinois)
St. Louis Regional Chamber (St. Louis, Missouri)

New Member Retention
Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (Asheville, North Carolina)
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Georgia Chamber of Commerce (Atlanta, Georgia)
Greater Cleveland Partnership (Cleveland, Ohio)
Greater Louisville Inc. (Louisville, Kentucky)
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce (Omaha, Nebraska)
Hilton Head Island - Bluffton Chamber of Commerce (Hilton Head Island, South Carolina)
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce (Mobile, Alabama)
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina)
Tulsa Regional Chamber (Tulsa, Oklahoma)

 

These awards are based on information voluntarily entered in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking, in the Fiscal Year 2016 Operations Survey. Only data entered by March 31, 2017 was considered. If your chamber did not participate in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking, you were not considered for this award.

Tags: Membership, Membership Achievement Award, #ACCEAwards, Awards

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Kudos, regional innovators!

Ben Wills on Thursday, June 15, 2017 at 3:14:00 pm 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today named finalists for the 2017 Regional Innovation Award.

West Alabama Works
Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama 
West Alabama Works recruits, trains, and empowers a highly skilled workforce driven by industry needs. The mission of this initiative is to meet the workforce needs of businesses in the critical industries in the region and to helping residents, particularly low-income residents and people with barriers to employment, obtain jobs that pay family-sustaining wages. The vision of West Alabama Works is that businesses will take the lead of the regional workforce development system to respond rapidly.

CAREEROCKIT
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Omaha Chamber launched CAREEROCKIT to educate, excite and inspire members of tomorrow's workforce, help them soar to new heights, and rock future careers in Omaha County. The first-of-its kind effort, enthusiastically supported by community partners, brought their business and educational communities together to help students move along the learning pipeline, gain applicable knowledge and build excitement for local career options, all to ensure their region can meet its current and future talent needs.

Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community
Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Middle Tennessee Reconnect Community (MTRC) is a ten-county collaborative dedicated to supporting adults who aspire to earn a college degree to enter or reenter higher education (Reconnectors). The collaborative includes public and private nonprofit higher education institutions, the regions three workforce development boards, and community and employer partners. This initiative is part of the state’s strategy to help adults enter higher education to gain new skills, enter jobs that pay well, or advance in their current workplace.

Elevate, Retain and Attract + Bridge
Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce (Allegheny Conference on Community Development)
“Elevate, Retain and Attract + Bridge” (E. R. A. + B.) is a collective workforce strategy to align their education and training pipeline to meet projected workforce demand. The Allegheny Conference released an in-depth workforce report: “Inflection Point: Supply, Demand and the Future of Work in the Pittsburgh Region,” spurred by innovation and technological change across every industry, and its implications for employers, educators and workforce talent.

ACCE's Regional Innovation Award recognizes organizations and alliances that are committed to building strong and vibrant communities through groundbreaking collaboration and program development. Learn more here.

Tags: Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Regional Innovation Award, #ACCEAwards, Awards

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Celebrating Communications Excellence

Ben Wills on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 at 2:33:00 pm 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced winners of its Communications Excellence awards program.

In late May 2017, six marketing and communications leaders from Arkansas, Louisiana, Manitoba, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin gathered at #ACCEHQ to carefully review more than 100 award submissions.

These entries highlight some of the freshest and most innovative marketing and communications work coming from ACCE member organizations of all types and sizes.

Each submission was organized by type — advertising and marketing, campaigns, digital and publications — and by the submitting organization’s total annual budget range: under $1 million, $1 to $3 million and above $3 million.

In addition to awards listed below, three “Best in Show” awards will be presented at the 2017 Awards Show.

Grand Awards

Advertising and Marketing

Williamson, Inc.
Franklin, Tennessee
Williamson County Mobility Week: Graphic Elements, Host Media Guide, Emails and Social Media, Multi Media

Kalispell Chamber of Commerce
Kalispell, Montana
Winter Campaign: Press Release, Ski Vacation Contest Details, Weekend Sherpa Sponsored Content

Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga: Literally Perfect Campaign

Campaigns

Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce
West Bay, Grand Cayman
Economic Growth Matters Campaign

Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce
Tysons, Virginia
Northern Virginia Chamber Rebrand

Portland Business Alliance
Portland, Oregon
Portland Can Do Better Campaign

Digital

Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce
Greer, South Carolina
GreerMade Learn the Trade Video

Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce
Toledo, Ohio
It Matters Where You Make It Video

Tulsa Regional Chamber
Tulsa, Oklahoma
FMAC Web Site

Publications

Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce
Selma, Alabama
Selma–Dallas County Find it Local Guide

Conway Area Chamber of Commerce
Conway, Arkansas
Off Campus 2016–17 College Guide

Community Development Foundation
Tupelo, Mississippi
CDF Annual Meeting: Invitation; Program and Annual Report 2016; Video Highlights

 

Awards of Excellence

Advertising and Marketing

Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce
Beaufort, South Carolina
Beaufort Coast Is Clear

Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Atlanta, Georgia
Advocacy Infographic

Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce
Moline, Illinois/Davenport, Iowa
I'm Invested: Videos, Newspaper Ads

Tulsa Regional Chamber
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Career Awareness

Campaigns

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Boston, Massachusetts
"Rise Together" Rebrand

Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce
Galveston, Texas
Lemonade Day Galveston County Campaign

Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia 2030

Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce
Denham Springs, Louisiana
LP BACK 2 BIZ – Disaster Recovery Campaign

Lubbock Chamber of Commerce
Lubbock, Texas
Go Vote Lubbock Campaign: Flyer, Video

Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce
Naperville, Illinois
Rebranding Campaign

Orleans Chamber of Commerce
Orleans, Massachusetts
Runner Up! America's Happiest Seaside Town: Poster, Postcard, Video

Tulsa Regional Chamber
Tulsa, Oklahoma
TYPros Voter Engagement

Digital

Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Greater Pittsburgh Chamber Year in Review

Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
Boston, Massachusetts
Website Redesign

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Charleston, South Carolina
“That’s Why I’m a Member” Video Campaign

Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Greater Chattanooga Economic Partnership Website

Conway Area Chamber of Commerce
Conway, Arkansas
125th Anniversary Video

Greater Des Moines Partnership
Des Moines, Iowa
Regional Momentum Video

Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce
Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Winter Golf Promo Video

Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce
Edwardsville, Illinois
SAVOR: Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Restaurant Week

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Annual Report

Northwest Metroport Chamber of Commerce
Roanoke, Texas
Website

Plano Chamber of Commerce
Plano, Texas
Take 10: Legislative Landscape E-Newsletter

Greater Spokane Incorporated
Spokane, Washington
Business AfterSchool Video

Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce
Valparaiso, Indiana
Video Newsletter Highlights

Publications

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Charleston, South Carolina
State House Guide

Greenville Chamber
Greenville, South Carolina
Accelerate Brochure

Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce
Irving, Texas
Annual Report

Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce
Killeen, Texas
Greater Killeen Business Quarterly

Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce
Humble, Texas
Business Matters Magazine

Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce
Lansdowne, Virginia
Annual Report

Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce
Macon, Georgia
Annual Report

Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce
Nashville, Tennessee
Economic Development Regional Profile

One Acadiana
Lafayette, Louisiana
Annual Report

Orleans Chamber of Commerce
Orleans, Massachusetts
Truly Orleans: Official Travel Guide

Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce
Owensboro, Kentucky
GO Chamber Magazine

Salt Lake Chamber
Salt Lake City, Utah
Public Policy Guide

 

Learn more about ACCE's Communications Excellence awards here.

Communications Excellence winners: 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

Tags: Awards for Communications Excellence, Branding, Communications, Marketing, #ACCEAwards, Awards

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Congratulations, Chamber of the Year finalists!

Ben Wills on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 2:17:00 pm 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced finalists for the 2017 Chamber of the Year competition, proudly sponsored by Indianapolis-based WebLink International.

Finalists for 2017 Chamber of the Year are (sorted by category):

State/Province Category:

Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Atlanta, Georgia

Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce
Regina, Saskatchewan

Category Four:

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Charleston, South Carolina 

Chattanooga Area Chamber
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
Dayton, Ohio

Category Three:

Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce
Bowling Green, Kentucky

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber
Huntsville, Alabama

Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership
Ocala, Florida

Plano Chamber of Commerce
Plano, Texas

Category Two:

Kalispell Chamber of Commerce
Kalispell, Montana

North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce
Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce
Paducah, Kentucky

Category One:

Des Moines Downtown Chamber
Des Moines, Iowa

Effingham County Chamber of Commerce
Effingham, Illinois

O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce & Industries
O’Fallon, Missouri

In the final phase of the competition, a judging committee conducts in-person interviews with leaders representing each finalist chamber. One winner from each category will be named at the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Learn more about Chamber of the Year here.

Tags: Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, O'Fallon Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Chamber of the Year, Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga Area Chamber, Plano Chamber of Commerce, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Des Moines Downtown Chamber, Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Chamber, Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, #ACCEAwards, Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, Awards, North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce

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Going green in the Gateway City

Ben Goldstein on Wednesday, May 31, 2017 at 12:00:00 am 

What can chambers of commerce do to get local businesses serious about going green? For Andrew Smith, vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber, the answer is surprisingly simple: challenge them.

It all started back in 2010, when the chamber teamed up with the Missouri Botanical Garden to introduce the Green Business Challenge, a competition that encourages organizations to draw up measurable road maps toward achieving sustainability.

“The Challenge works with companies to help integrate sustainability into the kinds of day-to-day operations common to every business,” explains Smith, who oversees the program on behalf of the chamber. “Our aim is to make sustainability work in accord with each company’s unique goals and culture.”

By leveraging corporate competition and public recognition, the chamber encourages  businesses to adopt sustainable policies and implement green practices.

“The global marketplace increasingly demands sustainability measuring, goal-setting and reporting up and down supply chains,” says Smith. “As companies engage locally with the basics of this range of accountability, they build resources needed to globally compete.”

Participating firms sign up for one of four program levels, ranging from “apprentice” to “champion.” They use a points-based scorecard to track progress, which gives businesses an efficient structure to plan and schedule work on a wide range of sustainable practice options.

“Each company determines its own strategy,” says Jean Ponzi who oversees the program at the Missouri Botanical Garden. “The categorized scorecard offers a comprehensive list of best practices to reduce waste, conserve energy and water, implement green purchasing and more.”

Companies are encouraged to assemble “green teams,” or groups of employees responsible for coordinating green strategy. Green teams collaborate with Garden staff, including Ponzi, who personally visits offices, plants and business campuses to advise firms on working with scorecard items that fit the company’s culture and capabilities.

“During site visits, we check out the supply closet, the break room, their parking lot and their dumpsters on the dock to get a sense of how green is working in each company,” says Ponzi. “Our customized coaching aims to improve financial performance, while reducing environmental impacts and engaging employees.”  

Now going on eight years, the Challenge has achieved impressive results. Of the 65 organizations that took part last year, 98 percent formed a green team, 97 percent established a corporate sustainability policy and 86 percent implemented a green purchasing policy.

One standout from last year was Hunter Engineering Co., a Branson, Mo.-based manufacturer of auto service equipment. Through the Challenge, Hunter installed equipment to reduce stormwater runoff, committed to purchasing environmentally friendly print materials and made the switch to more efficient, fluorescent lighting.

“The Green Business Challenge enabled Hunter to take a close look at a number of our business practices,” says Chip Hiemienz, director of business development at Hunter Engineering Co. “While converting to more environmentally friendly products, we were also able to experience big cost savings, too.”

At the chamber, Andrew Smith is hopeful that the initiative will pay off in the long run, by enhancing the region’s reputation as a leader in sustainability.

“Our achievements are still a pretty local story, but we have world-class players on our green business team who have had real success through the Challenge,” he says, adding: “We’d like to continue to foster successes like these—and we plan to.”

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New soft skills resource page added

Molly Blankenship on Wednesday, May 24, 2017 at 12:00:00 am 

Employers are finding that the arriving workforce has a shortage of soft skills—traits like communication, problem-solving and teamwork. That said, ACCE has just launched a new resource page with tools designed to help your chamber of commerce support the competent, well-adjusted workforce that business needs to thrive.

From case studies about chamber-led soft skills campaigns to deep-diving scholarly articles about character development, we've got you covered. These resources guide chambers as they work to instill strong character and build work ethic among the next generation of leaders.

Explore the new Chamberpedia page on character and soft skills development.

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Finding a seat at the table

Ben Goldstein on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 12:00:00 am 

Candace Boothby, CCE, president and CEO at the Newnan-Coweta Chamber in Georgia, likes to think of herself as a straight-shooter. At her job interview, she asked a roomful of board members a straightforward question: “In what ways is the chamber respected, and does it have a seat at the table?”

It was a question that no one wanted to answer. After a long pause, a board member finally spoke up: “Well, we’re at the table alright, but it’s the kiddie table,” he remarked to laughter from the rest of the room.

Boothby was undeterred, and her resolve to cultivate a new voice for the chamber has paid dividends. Since she took over the helm back in 2003, the chamber has nearly doubled its membership base from 550 to more than 1,000, and grown its annual budget from $281,000 to $825,000. 

When discussing the chamber’s impressive numbers, Boothby answers matter-of-factly: “There’s no magic to this stuff,” she says. “Our chamber’s story is about understanding who we were, identifying our weaknesses and creating a culture that people want to be a part of.”

One of the first moves Boothby took as CEO was to unload some of the chamber’s events and programs, freeing up precious resources to focus on its core mission. The chamber gifted these away to other groups in the community, like the rotary club and the adult literacy program.

“Our new mission was to champion economic prosperity for our members, and these programs no longer fit the mission,” Boothby says. 

The chamber reinvented its culture by promoting innovation and learning by trial and error. Boothby set the new tone by instituting a monthly “strategy week,” producing a comprehensive staff process handbook and encouraging employees to work remotely and hold meetings outside the office, in coffee shops or their own homes.

“We used the environment of the chamber as a laboratory to try stuff, and to have the freedom to make mistakes,” says Boothby. “Giving people more liberty to create their work environment has worked wonders for us.”

One of the biggest changes Boothby oversaw was revamping the chamber’s sales culture. She assembled a new sales team and hired a member retention specialist to spend 20 hours each week visiting members and collecting data.  She also set an ambitious target to reach out to members 12 times each year, through a combination of phone calls, emails, written letters and social media.

Boothby advises her staff to keep all communications personal when reaching out to members.

“We send out handwritten thank you notes to all new and renewing members,” she says. “The key is to always add a personal touch.”

In 2006, the chamber began the accreditation process with the U.S. Chamber, not so much because it actually thought it could earn accreditation, but rather to use the process as a guide toward “closing the gaps,” says Boothby.

Boothby was in a meeting when she missed the call from the U.S. Chamber. “When I got out and listened to the message, I broke down in tears,” she recalls. “After seven years of hard work, it was the biggest reward to hear we had gotten the five-star.”

Another proud moment for Boothby was winning the ACCE’s Chamber of the Year award in 2015. She says the process of pursuing the award helped the chamber identify its weaknesses.

“I would highly encourage everybody to go through the process, because it’s a great way to learn about yourself,” she says. “It’s helps you gain self-awareness and figure out where to go next.”

Reflecting on the chamber’s turnaround, Boothby says her most important advice is “you’ve got to be willing to blow things up.” She encourages staff to ask the hard questions, like what would happen to the community if the chamber went away.

“You’ve got to have the courage to ask that question—to kill the sacred cow,” she says, adding: “the moment we get comfortable is the moment we take our eye off the ball. In this profession, we can’t afford to become complacent.”

Candace Boothby was recently featured as part of the ACCE’s  Tales of Renewal webinar.

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A chamber without members

Ben Goldstein on Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 11:37:00 am 

Since the very beginning, the chamber of commerce business model has revolved around membership. At the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce & Industry, that conventional wisdom is now being turned on its head.

Earlier this Spring, the Lancaster Chamber became the first in the nation to abandon the traditional membership dues structure—a bold move that upends more than a century of chamber orthodoxy.

The chamber hopes that by getting rid of dues, it will reduce barriers that prevent smaller or growing businesses from joining.

“Our mission is to have Lancaster County recognized as a model for prosperity,” said CEO Tom Baldrige, adding: “if we really mean it, we need to make sure that we’re offering our services to all businesses in a way that is welcoming and non-restrictive.”

Historically, the chamber has had about 2,200 members at any given time. There are more than 13,000 businesses in the chamber’s home county of Lancaster, though like other chambers, members come from other geographic areas.

“The fact that we were only dealing with those that joined and were ignoring opportunities with 11,000 other businesses led us to conclude that the traditional model was stressed,” recounted Baldrige. “We wanted to create a structure that was engaging of all businesses in the county.”

But what about the revenue? To support itself financially, the chamber devised a dual business structure consisting of two components: a “business success hub” that offers customized services on a fee-for-service basis, and a “community prosperity hub,” which seeks investments from businesses to finance the chamber’s agenda to enhance the community as a better place to live, work and do business.

“We call them investors, because they’re investing in the agenda and priorities,” said Cheryl Irwin-Bass, vice president and COO at the chamber. “It’s about being at the table and part of the discussions that influence the future of Lancaster County.”

The investors are sorted into ten different levels, consisting of three tiers with three levels each and a Chairman’s Circle tier for the largest investors. “Other chambers often ask why we didn’t just go to a tiered dues system,” shared Irwin-Bass. “This is very different, because it’s not about bundling things—it’s about unbundling. There’s not a lot of extras that come along with it.”

The chamber pitches the new model to members as they approach renewal time. “Before, if they dropped membership, it was a mark in the loss column,” recalled Irwin-Bass. “Now, we can tell them about the programs and services they may still be interested in, and steer their dollars into another business unit,” she added.

At the chamber’s annual dinner last year, acclaimed author Malcolm Gladwell used a sports analogy to describe the changes underway in the chamber profession. Gladwell compared soccer to basketball, noting that the key to improving  a soccer team is to build up the worst players, whereas the key to improving a basketball team is to make the best players even better, so they can dominate the court.

“In decades past, we were playing basketball,” said Irwin-Bass. “It was all about the biggest businesses, and we made our decisions around what was good for those companies.”

“Now, we’re playing soccer,” she continued. “The only way we can realize our mission is if every business and individual can reach their full potential. The better the individual does, the better the community will do, and that’s what we’re ultimately trying to achieve.”

The Lancaster Chamber will participate in a panel on the topic at ACCE’s annual convention, hosted this Summer in Nashville.

 

Tags: Membership

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Building the Lodi Jobs Academy

Ben Goldstein on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 at 12:00:00 am 

As Baby Boomers near retirement, employers are scrambling to find skilled workers to fill a raft of new vacancies. Among the hardest to fill are so-called “middle skills” jobs, which require more education than a high school diploma, but less than a bachelor’s degree.

At the Lodi Chamber of Commerce, CEO Pat Patrick partnered with the local school district to create the Jobs Academy, which strives to equip students with the skills and education that employers seek. The academy stems from Patrick’s experience at the ACCE Fellowship for Education Attainment, a one-year program that challenges chamber execs to dream up regional action plans that address education needs in their communities.

Patrick says the academy will lower dropout rates in Lodi and prepare students for high-paying local careers. “Our goals are to reduce dropouts between ninth and tenth grade, to increase community college attendance and to help students find work here in the community,” said Patrick.

The academy was born out of a partnership between the local school district, the chamber and its industrial business group, a group of area manufacturers. To develop the curriculum, the chamber formed a series of “skills panels,” which consist of representatives from local industries like health, manufacturing and IT.

“We are bringing business together with educators to make sure the schools are teaching what businesses need them to,” explained Patrick. “The state of California is finally waking up and putting money into the system for this type of thing, so we really hit it at just the right time.”

In addition to building a skilled workforce, the academy focuses on teaching “soft skills,” the kinds of personal attributes that employers look for in workers, like responsibility, timeliness and communication. The academy, which offers a professional certification, will serve as a filter for employers to find students who are committed to working in the community.

“The idea is that employers will meet students and say, ‘this is someone we would like to have join us when they graduate,’” said Patrick. “It acts as a filter to find serious future employees and prepares them for a job that is far beyond minimum wage.”

The academy also contains an adult school, which caters mainly to young adults ages 18-24, although there is no official age limit. The adult school holds class during night hours, while the campus is reserved for middle and high school students during the day. Many of the adult students never finished high school and are looking for middle skills jobs that don’t require a college degree.

To promote the academy, the chamber used social media and robocalls to reach out to students and parents in the community. The chamber also plans to produce a series of promotional videos that will be shown in schools and online. Students will have the opportunity to attend a business fair and tour local plants to learn about the kinds of jobs that exist in the community.

Patrick credits the ACCE Fellowship for provided him with the resources and inspiration to pursue the initiative. “The Fellowship was invaluable to me, because I was exposed to a lot of ideas that expanded my thinking,” said Patrick. “The exposure to corporations like the Lumina Foundation and the research they’ve done helped me understand how to sell our program to the manufacturers back home.”

Looking ahead, Patrick is hopeful that the Jobs Academy will expand into neighboring North Stockton, a city of 300,000 just north of Lodi. “My hope is that we’ll be able to pull students from Stockton into an expanded campus and form a partnership with the Stockton district,” said Patrick. “I would love to see this move from a small community to a regional effort.”

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Sales tales: Sales Training highlights

Sarah Melby and Ben Goldstein on Friday, April 21, 2017 at 12:00:00 am 

 

ACCE’s annual Sales Training Conference is an opportunity for chamber professionals to learn the latest membership development tips, trends and techniques from some of the best in the biz. This year’s event, hosted in St. Louis with the gracious support of the St. Louis Regional Chamber, brought together about 60 members from far and wide for a little March membership madness.

Here are a few takeaways from the gathering:

Chamber on the Go

Andrew Hoan, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, likes his staff to get out into the community for member interaction. Last August, the chamber launched its #BCC Visits initiative, during which chamber staff visited more than 500 local businesses. To get around, the chamber traveled by subway, bus, ferry and foot and used geocoding tools to target areas with the highest concentration of businesses.

“This was a way to deepen our understanding of what our members need and to put a face on the chamber,” says Hoan. “Instead of just getting emails and telephone calls, members actually see a real human being.”

One story stands out for Hoan. When the chamber visited a spin studio, its owner complained about a pothole on the street. The chamber contacted the appropriate agency and the pothole was filled soon after. The chamber would have never known about the pothole, and its member’s frustration, had it not ventured out into the community.

“People won’t open up to you through mass email or over the phone,” shares Hoan. “When you visit them and see for yourself what their issues are, you have clearly demonstrated the value-add of chamber membership.”

Content is king

The content-to-sales ratio should be 3:1, says Kyle Sexton, a marketing strategist and Sales Training Conference presenter. Instead of selling tickets and asking for money, chambers have an opportunity to produce – and lead members to – more engaging and valuable content.

“This economy rewards brands that put value in front of the transaction, not behind it,” Sexton says. “We need to add more value to the conversation and stop asking for money all the time.”

Sexton’s suggestions for chambers? Teach members about business; stop educating them about the chamber. One way for chambers to better engage members is to help them learn how to share their stories with the community.

“We can do a better job carrying on the conversations they care about,” says Sexton. "In order to do that, we need to think like an editor and act like a journalist.”

How you buy is how you sell

When it comes to selling membership, “how you buy is how you sell,” says Duane Weber, Indy Chamber’s director of membership and sponsorship sales. Take car buying, for example; some people spend months shopping around and test-drive six or seven cars, while others do a little research and make their purchase quickly. The key to selling, Weber says, is to tailor the pitch to the buyer’s preferred style of decision-making.

“Some people like to read the fine print,” says Weber. “I’m not one of those people. I’m a strategic, big-picture kind of guy. Just show me a summary.”

Weber says that when the seller’s style is mismatched with the buyer’s style, an uncomfortable experience can result. “As a big-picture buyer, it drives me crazy when a detail-oriented person sells to me. I’m thinking, ‘C’mon! You had me 10 minutes ago!”

Weber’s tip for connecting with prospects that have gone dark: try something unconventional. Give them an opportunity to say no. Send a message asking if they’re still interested; and offer to close their file if they’re not. “It’s okay to say you’re not interested!”

It’s about mission and community, not golf

Dues and sponsorship figures are essentially arbitrary sums, argues Doug Holman, a consultant with Holman Brothers, a firm that specializes in chamber membership. Chamber membership staff treat these numbers like they “came down from the mountain,” endlessly justifying how members will earn a return on their investment.

“We have to sell community,” says Holman. Too often, chambers err by selling events to prospective members, instead of their missions—which is what business leaders really care about. “They’re not paying you because they want to attend your annual dinner or your golf tournament,” continues Holman. “They’re paying you because they believe in what you do.”

Chamber pros are passionate about serving their communities, and this is what business leaders want to support. “There’s simply no way to guarantee results from attending chamber networking events,” says Holman. Instead, the goal is to help business leaders “recognize that without the work of the chamber, the community would be a very different place.”

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