A Map That Was Worth 1,000 Words
Chambers of commerce affect history in strange ways.
Harry Gold watched nervously as FBI agents ransacked his Philadelphia apartment. They had been tipped off by a spy for the Soviets, British citizen Klaus Fuchs, that someone had been a courier between Fuchs and others in an atomic spy ring. Fuchs couldn’t name the person, but the FBI managed to infer from Fuchs and other evidence that the individual might be Gold.
It was May 22, 1950. The Soviets had detonated an atomic bomb nine months earlier, which President Truman had announced to the nation. The resulting hysteria, fanned by Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, was gripping the country. The idea that one of the most murderous regimes in history, Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, now had a weapon of mass destruction, was too much to bear. Yes, without spies the Soviets sooner or later would have devised their own bomb, but for them to have it years ahead of schedule represented an obvious danger for America and her allies. (Indeed, as some pointed out later in the year, the Soviets’ having the atomic bomb may have been what emboldened Kim Il Sung of North Korea to invade South Korea in June 1950, setting off a war that would cost 35,000 U.S. lives.)
Who had leaked our secrets to Moscow? Harry Gold, an unassuming, pudgy chemist, considered kind and likeable by those who knew him, was not a likely suspect. Moreover, when the federal agents asked him if he had been to the Manhattan Project laboratories in Los Alamos, N. M., he said no, he hadn’t even been west of the Mississippi.
The G-men, Scotty Miller and Richard Brennan, continued their search. Miller reached behind a bookcase and found a brochure. It included a detailed map of Santa Fe, N.M. It was published by the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce.
“I thought you said you’d never been out West,” Miller said to Gold. Taken aback, Gold opened his mouth, sat down and said, “I am the man to whom Fuchs gave the information.”[i]
The evidence against Gold was not conclusive. He might have escaped arrest if he had kept his mouth shut.[ii] But somehow that map, and perhaps his own feelings of guilt or his desire to be helpful, undermined his instinct for self-preservation. He opened up to the agents. Two days later, Fuchs, shown a photo of Gold, confirmed that he was the man Fuchs had worked with. Gold would go on to help the FBI on dozens of investigations, many of which he suggested. The atomic spy ring case was about to be blown wide open.
Gold fingered David Greenglass, a former Army officer assigned to Los Alamos in 1944 and 1945. Greenglass, in turn, implicated his brother-in-law, Julius Rosenberg, and eventually Rosenberg’s wife (and David Greenglass’s sister) Ethel, too. Greenglass had bargained to save his wife from prosecution.[iii]
The results were soon delivered by the courts. Gold received a 30-year sentence and served 14 years of it; Greenglass got a 15-year sentence and served 9 ½ years of it; and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted at Sing Sing Prison on June 19, 1953.
Thus did a simple chamber of commerce map play a role in the greatest spy drama in American history. In events of not only national, but sometimes of world importance, chambers of commerce stubbornly, often in unexpected and even unintended ways, kept at their business. In the atomic age, when communities could be blown off the face of the earth, towns’ and cities’ chambers of commerce still would remain, one way or another, on the map.
[i] Robert J. Lamphere and Tom Schactman, The FBI-KGB War: A Special Agent’s Story (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1995; previous edition, 1986), 151. Lamphere was the agent dealing with Klaus Fuchs in London while his colleagues were handling Gold in Philadelphia.
[ii] Gold’s biographer has written that the spy from Philadelphia could have escaped arrest if he had not confessed. See: Allen Hornblum, “Convicted Spy Harry Gold was Philadelphia’s Benedict Arnold,” Web posting on Philly.com, November 3, 2010. Hornblum’s biography was: The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010 ).
[iii] Among the many sources describing the spy ring and its unraveling is this version from the FBI: “The Atom Spy Case,” from “Famous Cases and Criminals,” Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/the-atom-spy-case
Helping Health Care Workers Move Up the Career Ladder
Chambers Mobilizing Towards a "Big Goal"
Metro South Chamber of Commerce received a 2014-15 Lumina Education Attainment Award for leading Careers in Health, a program targeting entry and advanced level healthcare employees who seek career advancement but require higher education, certification or licensure. To help meet the needs of the region’s top industry, the program works in partnership with several healthcare employers and four institutions of higher education, offering courses to more than 205 incumbent healthcare workers pursuing career growth opportunities.
The Metro South Chamber serves one of Massachusetts’ fastest growing regions, consisting of eighteen communities south of Boston. The 101-year old chamber, located in the city of Brockton, has been a longtime champion of workforce development. As part of the Goal 2025 Blog Series, EAD staff interviewed Metro South's leaders who provided insights into the chamber’s history strengthening the local talent pipeline.
- Christopher Cooney, President & CEO
- Alison Van Dam, Vice President of Marketing, Communication & Business Development
- Christine Karavites, Senior Consultant
Q: What led your chamber to focus on education attainment and workforce development?
Metro South: This is the Metro South Chamber’s 101st anniversary, and it has a long history of engaging in education and workforce development issues. Several community development initiatives originated within the chamber and grew into their own community support entities. The Brockton Area Multi-Services Agency and Brockton 21st Century Corporation both started as chamber committees, convening stakeholders and developing workforce development strategies.
Q: You were awarded ACCE’s Lumina Education Attainment award to support your chamber’s Careers in Health program, which helps incumbent healthcare workers pursue degrees, certificates and licenses. Can you tell me about the program’s origins and the chamber’s specific role in its implementation?
Metro South: Healthcare is the region’s largest industry sector and economic driver. The Chamber had previously seen success with smaller workforce/occupational grants we’d received from state agencies ($15-35k). Two years ago the state announced that business associations were eligible for $250k Workforce Training Fund consortium grants which go to companies training employees in job-related skills through a program designed by the company. Our's was the first chamber in the state to receive this type of grant which enabled us to allocate funds to several businesses within an industry sector for employee-training activities. The healthcare sector was the obvious choice.
Chamber staff coordinates the entire program, which targets entry and advanced level health care employees who seek career and workplace advancement but require higher education, certification, or licensure. The Chamber contracts with area colleges to develop curriculum and conduct the training. As part of the program, the Chamber's grant funds pay for the cost of employees' tuition and training with a matching contribution from employers to cover employees’ salaries while they receive training. The Chamber reaches out to healthcare employers from area hospitals and nursing homes to garner buy-in and articulate the need and value of the program as far as reducing turnover costs and increasing the supply of skilled workers to meet their industry’s need.
Q: This is just one program in your Chamber’s education/workforce portfolio, and it’s obvious that significant resources were invested - What were the resources, and how do you justify the investment from an organizational standpoint?
Metro South: The state allows the grantee to retain 10% overhead, but that doesn’t begin to cover the significant staff time and funding required to run the program. This program is only a small portion of our education and workforce development portfolio, with everything done through existing staff capacity (six full-time employees and 2 part-time employees).
However, the Chamber views this as a win-win-win.
The Chamber wins from a goal/mission-achievement standpoint. Workforce development, increasing educational levels, and serving the local healthcare industry are part of the Chamber’s economic development strategy to foster job creation and retention.
The colleges and businesses that participate in the program are chamber members. The colleges increase enrollment and receive funds from tuition fees. Employers benefit from more proficient employees and lower turnover rates.
Healthcare employees, the majority of whom are single mothers, receive training and degrees/credentials such as a Bachelors in Science Nursing or a Nursing Assistant Certification (CNA), helping them move up the career ladder and earn higher wages.
Q: Chambers are often challenged to sustain their education/workforce development work. Can you elaborate on how you've maintained and grown the the work started by the workforce training fund grant?
Metro South: Most of the hospitals and training facilities that have partnered with us are eligible to apply for their own state workforce training grants to continue the work. Now that employers have seen the benefits of participating in the program, we plan to expand the initiative by: 1) working with partnering companies to help them apply for their own workforce training funds; and 2) providing group training for healthcare employers on how to engage students in health careers and career ladder opportunities. Other ways we plan to sustain the initiative beyond the current budget include: 1) developing program implementation guides for employers as an alternative to the chamber providing one-on-one training, which can be very expensive; and 2) purchasing software to use in the chamber's business assistance center, which is a resource for employees and employers to use printers, computers, and software free of charge as well as take part in industry-specific training workshops.
Q: How do you measuring/benchmark success?
Metro South: For the Careers in Health Initiative, we collect employee-level data through surveys and ongoing and frequent dialogue with both participants and employers. The data collected tracks movement up the career ladder including wage increases, as well as employer data such as job creation and retention. A large component of the Workforce Training Consortium fund grant was tracking the return on investment for participating businesses.
All of our education/workforce development initiatives are grounded in research conducted with employers and the broader community, and they are the result of a cumulative effort over years of listening to community needs and supporting the regional healthcare industry.
Q: What advice would you give chambers interested in engaging in education attainment/workforce development?
Develop a strategy and test it with educational and employer partners. Then convene relevant stakeholders from education and business to refine the strategy and establish a plan of action.
ACCE has embraced Lumina Foundation’s Goal 2025, a national effort to increase the percentage of Americans with high-quality degrees and credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025. Working in partnership with Lumina, ACCE’s Education Attainment Division launched a competitive awards program, providing chambers of commerce a $40,000 award to advance defined regional education attainment goals. In 2014, seven chambers of commerce received awards for setting ambitious workforce development agendas and showing momentum in achieving their community-specific goals.
The 2015-16 Lumina Education Attainment Awards application will launch April 27.
Fiscal Year 2014 Operations Survey Reports and Comparisons Now Available for Immediate Download
FY 2014 reports and comparisons are now available!
- If you participated in the FY 2014 Operations Survey in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking (DCB), thank you, your customized reports are awaiting you. If you didn't participate, you can still do so, and your FREE customized reports will be available as soon as your data is in.
- The traditional Chamber Operations Survey Report publication (showing 5 year trends by total revenue categories) is available in the ACCE Bookstore ($199 for members or $250 for non-members; Free for Horizon Investors and those with the All ACCEss Pass).
- The Membership Statistics report (showing 5 year trends by revenue categories) is available for FREE for all ACCE members. It is also available in DCB in the Operations Survey section, under “Reports and Charts”, customized to your chamber!
More on the DCB Survey Platform:
Login to Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking with your ACCE username and password (Don’t know it? Recall it here.) DCB is available 24/7, year round and chambers can participate by entering data in FY’s 2012, 2013, or 2014 and receive FREE comparisons and reports, instantly. Participate in 3 easy steps: Chamber Profile, Operations Survey, Salary Survey (open to CEOs or their delegates). Download the Quick Start Guide (pdf) for step-by-step instructions on using the platform or use the Data Collection Worksheet to help organize your chamber's answers to each of the survey section questions. Visit the Support page inside the platform for more definitions.
Learn how to download the FY 2014 reports and comparison in DCB at our Lunch and Learn Webinar on 4/15 (12:30-1 pm Eastern) or attend a future DCB webinar. For questions or support requests, email HERO@acce.org.
Chambers Mobilizing Towards Goal 2025
By 2020, the US Economy is predicted to have 55 million available jobs, and 65% of those jobs will require some form of post-secondary education. The fastest growing industries in STEM will require significant levels of education after high school. Evidence from employers surveyed across the country shows an alarming gap between the availability of jobs and workers with the skills to fill them. If current trends continue, these skills gaps are predicted to grow into massive labor shortages.
As the aggregate voice of local business needs, chambers of commerce are partnering with higher education institutions and community stakeholders, in order to equip the future workforce with the skills needed for college and career success.
Embracing Lumina Foundation's national effort to increase the percentage of Americans with degrees and high-quality credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025, ACCE launched a competitive awards program providing member-chambers a one-time $40,000 award to advance existing post-secondary education initiatives.
While approaches among awardees vary from championing career-themed high schools to launching training programs for healthcare workers, these chambers all demonstrate a history of sustained engagement in moving the needle on regional education outcomes. Through interviews, reports, and peer-to-peer sharing, leadership from the seven winning chambers have provided insights into what it takes to ensure students have the skills needed for success and employers have the talented workforce they demand.
The Goal 2025 blog series will feature one winning chamber each week in order to highlight successes, challenges, and opportunities identified throughout this awards program that can help other chambers build scalable and replicable programs and policies.
Follow the series each week to learn how chamber-led initiatives like Pathways to Prosperity and Talent4Tomorrow are connecting the current and future workforce to high-demand, high-wage skills and careers.
- Visit the EAD Higher Education Chamberpedia page for links to chamber-led post-secondary initiatives, resources for partnership building and business-focused research and reports.
The 2015-16 awards application will launch April 27.
Help HERO Help You!
Three minutes of your time is all we need! We’d really love to get our members’ opinions of the HERO services. Please click here to answer four simple questions about HERO, and let us know of anything we could add or improve upon to serve you better. Thank you!
Reports and Comparisons for Fiscal Year 2014 available in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking
Get your Chamber's Fiscal Year 2014 data in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking and get free instant comparisons and reports for the Operations Survey, Membership Statistics and Salary Survey reports. Participate in 3 easy steps. Read more about access on our Research Overview page.
1. Log in to Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking with your ACCE username and password. Log in anytime you need to - the system is open 24/7, all year round! It is FREE for ACCE members.
2. Complete the Chamber Profile (required) section first. Then complete the Operations Survey and Salary Survey sections. Note: The Salary Survey section is open to CEO's or their delegates. CEOs may email permission for staff access to HERO@acce.org.
3. Once you have completed 50% or more of each survey, use the Compare Chambers tool and the Reports and Charts service, available in each survey section.
In each survey section, Compare Chambers is used to view on-screen comparisons of your chamber's responses and percentile to each survey questions. In addition to on-screen viewing, you can download the individual metrics to PowerPoint slides, PDF files, or use the Save As option to save each individual survey module by PDF or Spreadsheet. Compare Chambers also works with Year-Over-Year comparisons to view your chamber's performance from 2014-2013 or from 2013-2012. You can input your chamber's data for any fiscal year currently available (2012, 2013, 2014).
Reports and Charts, in each survey section, is used to download the full reports and calculations of the Operations Survey, Membership Statistics and Salary Survey reports, including the new CEO Compensation Overview, CEO & HR Statistics, Senior and Mid-Level Staff, Sales Staff, and Support Staff salary reports. Download these reports and view your chamber's percentile compared to the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles of participating chambers.
Tips: Use the powerful filters to compare your chamber to a specific subset of chambers, allowing for apples-to-apples comparisons in revenue, membership size, region, population, staff size and more. Create your own Peer Cluster filter and select 5 or more chambers by name to compare your chamber to. All data is represented in aggregate and data remains anonymous. Use Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking comparisons and reports anytime you need them - making it a truly dynamic system. Need to see your retention stats for tomorrow's board meeting? Bingo! Need to see how your Sales Staff compensation levels and commissions compare to chambers in your region? Check. Need to compare your chamber's revenue or expense to others with similar membership sizes? We've got it all in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking.
Support and Questions: Go to Support in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking or visit our Working with DCB page. Download the the Quick Start Guide (pdf) for step-by-step instructions on using the platform or use the Data Collection Worksheet to help organize your chamber's answers to each of the survey section questions. Attend one of our upcoming webinars. Email HERO@acce.org for individual assistance.
Coolest Chamber in the Country?
Without a doubt, my favorite museum in D.C. is the National Portrait Gallery. I love the presidential portraits and the folk art exhibit, and the atrium is awesome when it’s stifling hot or freezing cold outside. But what I love most are the rotating exhibits.
Last year they hosted American Cool, a portrait collection of the 100 Americans who define “cool.” Muhammad Ali? Check. Marlon Brando? Check. Madonna? Elvis? Prince? Check, check, check.
But, surprise of surprises, not one chamber exec! I couldn’t even find a chamber board member. No chamber folks on the Alt-100 list (runners up group) either. How was this oversight possible?
Okay, so maybe chamber execs would be out of place among the top 100 (top 1,000?) coolest Americans of all time. But I know plenty of chambers working hard to shake off the stodgy image and channel their inner cool. The most successful right now could be the IndyChamber. Why?
They have their own house band.
The nine-member R&B ensemble called Chamber Music (clever) features five members of the chamber staff and three chamber staff relatives. Chamber CEO Michael Huber holds it down on keyboards. And Chamber Music is not a one-time, staff party gimmick. This group has gigs! They recently rocked the annual fundraiser for the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute.
Should your chamber be in the running for coolest chamber in country? Leave a comment and tell me why.
Gauging the Skills Gap: Is Your Community Workforce Career-Ready?
Results from the ACCE Education Attainment Division's recent QuickPoll are now available! More than 100 chamber professionals responded to questions about their business community’s perception of candidates, the importance of several core skills, and their chamber’s initiatives. Take a look below, and click here for the complete QuickPoll results.
- Nearly two-thirds of respondents believe that jobs aren’t filled because of a technical skills gap:
- Half find that a lack of non-technical skills (e.g., communication skills and teamwork) is also a huge challenge:
- Of the core skills we asked about, critical thinking and problem-solving is the most highly valued by poll participants:
For more on ACCE's Surveys and Data, including QuickPolls, view our Research Overview page.
Making the case: “Don’t support the chamber . . . unless”
Last month, Mike Elswick, publisher at the Terrell Tribune in Texas, didn’t mince words when he made the case for joining his town’s local chamber . . . or not. His opinion piece, published with the provocative headline, “Don't support your chamber of commerce .... unless,” makes numerous arguments for why businesses in Terrell, Texas, should join their local chamber. His points can be applied to any chamber’s membership recruitment efforts, but the way he presents his case makes this op-ed a must-read.
Charlotte Chamber: All in for transportation funding
As part of their Grow America tour, Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary (and former Charlotte Mayor) Anthony Foxx met with local business and civic leaders in Charlotte this week. Their tour serves to promote the President's proposal to rebuild or replace America's crumbling infrastructure.
The Charlotte Chamber of Commerce was in attendance and is in support of congressional action on infrastructure funding. (Click here to hear reactions from chamber leaders invited to attend.) According to Bob Morgan, president of the chamber, the Charlotte region currently has two million residents, and is expected to reach four million within the next 20-30 years. As the fourth fastest growing state in the nation, funding infrastructure to support that growth is a major concern. Although the Charlotte region has great plans for economic growth and infrastructure improvement, their ability to execute those plans relies heavily on federal action.
The president's proposal, which includes $478 billion in transportation infrastructure investment over six years, serves to solve the transportation funding problem. The Highway Trust Fund is expected to once again run out of money in May 2015 if congress does not act. There is still much debate over the best way to pay for increased transportation funding, but one thing is clear: something needs to be done, and soon.
Although transportation funding is a priority in Charlotte, it is also vital to all cities, regions and states across the country. A nationwide coalition of Chambers has banded together in support of congressional action on this issue. To find out more information about the coalition, their letter to congress, and how you can join the Charlotte Chamber in support of this issue, visit acce.org/transportation.