Not a Drag Bringing in New Members in Tennessee
Despite the challenging U.S. economy, the Rutherford County (TN) Chamber of Commerce, with the help of Your Chamber Connection, managed to blow away the average number of new members who sign up during an organized membership drive; they even beat their own goal substantially. Their strategy was to use both volunteers and chamber staff to phone, go door to door and generally work the entire county for new members. Wait until you see what the Chamber President did to celebrate the success!
Nashville Workforce Trends
This week I presented the ACCE Chamber Trends show to two different audiences in Texas. When I get to the Economic Development side there is a big question mark beside workforce training, and it has been that way for nearly two years now. The question mark signifies the difficulty to foresee employment levels and talent needs in the middle to long term because the economy is in such a state of flux. My comments on this matter generally elicit a lot of head bobbing. I suspect, however, that an audience in Nashville, TN would have a lot more to say about this issue.
The Nashville (TN) Chamber of Commerce recently released a comprehensive regional workforce study. In addition to projecting the region’s demographic and educational attainment trends for the coming decade, it also forecasts employment demand in macro sectors.
If government was run like a business, it would take advantage of the current economic climate and invest in infrastructure. That is Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein’s argument in the cover story for the Sunday business section.
His case for immediate investment is that crumbling roads, bridges, schools, sewers and an antiquated air traffic control system are economic problems and the labor, material and capital need to fix those problems will never come cheaper.
Klein anticipated my first question (and probably yours) and addressed it thusly:
“But what about the debt, you might ask? Well, what about it? Delaying a dollar of needed infrastructure repairs is no different than racking up a dollar of debt.”
Cleveland Gives Preference to Sustainable Businesses
Last week the City of Cleveland passed a sustainable business procurement ordinance. The measure, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, provides a 4% bid discount to sustainable local companies bidding for city contracts. Area companies completing the first stage of the Green Plus™ program are eligible.
Green Plus™ is a non-profit, third party sustainable business certification program run by the Institute for Sustainable Development. It was originally designed by Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and local chambers of commerce as a way to help small businesses become more competitive through sustainable business practices. The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), part of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, offers its members a discount to participate in the Green Plus Program.
Planning for New Leadership in Tucson
Members of the Tucson (AZ) Chamber are getting an opportunity to not only influence the future of the Chamber , but also the selection of a new CEO. Long-time chamber executive, Jack Camper, has announced his resignation but plans to ensure that the transition goes smoothly and that members get a voice in how the organization moves forward. Says Camper, “The potential is extraordinary. I want the new CEO to take the chamber to the next level. After the new person is in, I don’t want to hear from anyone that they miss old Jack.” Chamber leadership will be using a variety of tools and feedback mechanisms to shape the direction of the chamber for the next several years. To read more about how they are going about it, click here: http://www.azbiz.com/articles/2010/09/24/news/doc4c9cf052eb503240920823.txt
Quotable Quotes from the IEDC Conference
ACCE has launched Creating Prosperity – a blog to discuss economic and community development trends and topics. Check out Creating Prosperity for information, links and commentary on workforce, job creation, business attraction, innovation, entrepreneurship and much more.
To kick off Creating Prosperity, here are a few quotable quotes I jotted down earlier this week at the IEDC Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio.
“People are drawn to places with good education and abundant culture.”
- Rocco Landesman, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts on why art is an economic development imperative.
“Start up businesses that begin in an incubator stay in business two years longer on average than other start ups.”
- Food for thought from David Monkman from the National Business Incubation Association
Four quotes from the workshop: What Would Google Do? Rethinking Economic Development in the Internet Age:
“If you can’t be found (on the first page of a Google search) you don’t exist.”
“Do what you do best and link to the rest.”
“In the Google age, middlemen are doomed.”
“Value is something that if you give it away, you end up having more.”
"My final remarks at every business retention meeting: 'Don't plan, struggle or celebrate alone.'"
- Good advice for any chamber from Dan Preston at the Bowling Green (KY) Area Chamber of Commerce.
Focusing on the Future in Florida
While summer is often thought of as a time for R&R, the Largo Mid-Pinellas (FL) Chamber, on the other hand, was busy with its strategic planning process. The process, which was led by an outside facilitator, included focus groups, staff and executive committee work sessions as well as a full-day session with staff and board of directors. One significant piece of feedback that Chamber leaders received prior to the full-day session was that they need to work harder to attract more active young professionals – a task familiar to many chambers across the country. To learn more about the Chamber’s strategic planning process and the other tasks the organization has identified for itself, click here: http://www.tbnweekly.com/pubs/largo_leader/content_articles/092210_lle-04.txt
Collaborating in Michigan for Regional and State Success
If you’re wondering how to launch or ramp up a regional issues summit, then you could take a lesson from the chamber folks in Western Michigan. Last week, the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with chambers in Holland (MI), Grand Haven (MI), Muskegon (MI), Kalamazoo (MI), Traverse City (MI), and Saginaw (MI), presented the West Michigan Policy Forum. The event was the second installment this program, which had its debut in 2008 as the West Michigan Regional Policy Conference. The 2010 version, like the first, intended to give attendees, representing the business, government, media and non-profit sectors, the chance to learn about and come to consensus on “policy directives” for making the state more competitive.
With the state’s budget woes it was hard to realize significant progress on the goals established two years ago. “Unfortunately, we get an ‘A’ for effort but an ‘E’ for production because nothing has been passed in Lansing that allows us to put a check mark next to anything,” said Jared Rodriguez, vice president at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber. The delays in implementing needed change did not discourage the chamber leaders of the summit. Rather, they were more energized than ever to convene again this year to refocus on achieving results for their region, with the latest edition of the forum attracting nearly 600 participants.
Learn more about the event, headlined by speakers such as Ford Motor Co. Executive Chairman Bill Ford, political satirists Mo Rocca and P.J. O’Rourke, and ACCE's own Mick Fleming by clicking here: http://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/index.ssf/2010/09/west_michigan_policy_forum_ret.html
This afternoon I’m heading to a Livable Communities Summit organized by our friends at Partners for Livable Communities. If you were at the ACCE Awards Gala in Milwaukee last month you know that Bob McNulty, CEO and Founder of Partners for Livable Communities, was the recipient of this year’s Alliance for Regional Stewardship John Parr Award for lifetime commitment to regional leadership.
“Livability” is broad term encompassing regional assets including quality of life, economic competitiveness, transportation and mobility, housing, cultural amenities and much more. Basically, it is the work local chambers do every day to make their communities attractive places to live, work and invest.
I’ll report on Livable Communities Summit tomorrow. For now, I’ll leave you with a story about the Washington DC Metro region’s efforts to improve livability and mobility through a large scale bicycle sharing program. Anything to take some cars off this region's streets and highways gets my support.
Oklahoma Governor Opposes 744
Opponents of Oklahoma State Question 744, a controversial constitutional amendment, got a big boost today when Governor Brad Henry signed on as honorary chairman of the One Oklahoma Coalition. Check out this article from The Oklahoman - Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry joins fight against State Question 744
Supported by the Oklahoma Education Association, State Question 744 would require state education expenditure to equal the average per pupil expenditure of Oklahoma's six neighboring states - Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico and Texas. It is essentially an unfunded mandate to ratchet up education spending at the expense of other budget priorities.
This is what Roy Williams, President and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber had to say about the proposed amendment:
"The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber has been active in supporting education, including more funding for years, but to tie funding to an arbitrary average, and either force funding education at the expense of other vital programs or by enacting huge tax increases is not the way forward."
The sentiment was echoed by Mike Neal, President and CEO of the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce:
"...the passage of State Question 744 would be detrimental to the health of all other areas of our state government by taking funding away from pertinent services like transportation, infrastructure and public safety. It simply moves money around and doesn't address the fundamental budget issues facing Oklahoma."
The State Chamber of Oklahoma has created a Facts about 744 page that outlines the core arguments against this measure.