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Redirecting Traffic in Downtown Richmond

Ian Scott on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 2:50:03 pm 

The city of Richmond, VA is hoping to alleviate confusion and congestion for downtown drivers by converting one-way streets into two-way streets.  City leaders and urban planners hope the move will make Richmond, particularly the convention center area, a more walkable, drivable and commerce-friendly destination.  Here's an excerpt from a Richmond Times-Dispatch article:

Richmond is poised to take a much bigger step that promises to transform the neighborhoods around the convention center, making them easier to navigate by car and much friendlier to people on foot or bicycle. The city is about to hire a consultant to determine the most efficient way to reverse the web of one-way streets that have made downtown Richmond a puzzle for anyone trying to reach a destination that's in plain sight.

"It's so hard to get around downtown," said Charles W. Finley, president of the Historic Jackson Ward Association, which represents the neighborhood that the city hopes will blossom around the convention center.

For Richmond, the conversion of one-way streets is perhaps the most critical step in making a reality of the Downtown Master Plan, adopted almost two years ago with a vision of bringing life and commerce back to streets that had become impersonal thoroughfares.

Check out Richmond plans conversion of one-way streets downtown 

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Race to the Top and Common Curriculum

Ian Scott on Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 8:58:00 am 

Readers interested in yesterday's post about the Department of Education's Race to the Top program will probably be intrigued by an article from Stateline.org tracing the emergence of a common curriculum.  Here is an excerpt:

"...the push for common standards didn’t start with the federal government. Rather, it began in the states. In 2005, the National Governors Association led an initiative to get states to use the same measures to calculate graduation rates. That initiative evolved into a broader effort over the past year, as education officials from 48 states Alaska and Texas did not participate worked on developing a new set of academic standards for K-12 schools in conjunction with the NGA and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The same article also explains how the Race to the Top's effort to promote a standard curriculum may actually backfire.

"Those quiet state-led efforts got tied up in national politics when the administration decided to use the standards as a criterion for Race to the Top. That has made it harder for state officials to convince conservative legislators or board of education members to sign off on the Common Core standards."

Advocates of a common curriculum and standards say the effort would allow students who relocate to another state to pick up more easily.  They also argue that common standards would help colleges evaluate applicants from different states and know what to expect from freshman.

Click to read the full article: Did Race to the Top help or hurt the push for a common curriculum?

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Gearing Up for Ballot Budget Battles

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 6:00:33 pm 

This November, in addition to picking their Congressional Representatives, voters will decide on a host of important ballot measures.  That is nothing new.  Last year, an off-year election, voters in six states decided on 26 statewide ballot measures ranging from gay marriage to gambling to medical marijuana.  This year, however, many of billions of dollars will be at stake on the ballot.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 146 statewide measures have qualified for the ballot this November.  Many of those measures will have serious ramifications on state budgets and taxpayers.  For example, voters in Washington State (one of 9 states without an income tax) will decide whether to follow Oregon's lead and tax individuals who earn more than $200K per year.  The measure would generate more than $1 billion in new state revenue.

Voters in other states will have the option to slash state revenue or reduce spending.  Two separate proposals in Colorado would cut property, income and motor vehicle taxes by $3.1 billion.  In Florida, voters can save billions by rolling back the class size requirements they established in 2002.

Stateline.org has compiled a list of key measures to follow - Guide to state ballot measures for 2010

For further analysis, check out the Stateline.org article - Billions on the ballot

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Race to the Top Winners Announced

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 11:47:15 am 

Yesterday the Department of Education announced winners for phase 2 of the Race to the Top program.  Nine states, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, plus the District of Columbia will split $4.35 billion in Federal grants to enhance K-12 education.  First round winners Tennessee and Delaware split $600 million in March.  The program was funded by the economic stimulus package. In all, 46 states and DC have applied for Race to the Top funding.

To meet funding eligibility requirements, states have had to quickly implement education reform policies including: promoting charter schools, including student achievement in teacher evaluation and compensation, and adopting uniform standards for reading and math competency.  Many of the reform measures have put states at odds with their teacher's unions.

The Department of Education has requested $1.35 billion in funding for a third round of Race to the Top in next year's federal budget. 

Learn more about the Race to the Top program:

US Chamber Institute for Competitive Workforce - webpage includes a program time-line and links to applications from winners and finalists.

Department of Education - Race to the Top Fund - in-depth information about the program including rules, guidelines, FAQs, video and audio, ect.

News coverage from NPR.org

Read Opinions about Race to the Top:

Pro - A Quite Revolution, David Brooks

Con - The problem with ‘Race to the Top’ is the race, Diana Senechal

Mixed - Race to the Top: A sprint when we need a marathon, Matt Miller

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Congrats Chamber of the Year Winners!

Ian Scott on Wednesday, August 11, 2010 at 11:51:00 am 

Congratulations to the 2010 ACCE Chamber of the Year winners:

One winner was selected from between two award finalists in each of the four total revenue categories. Winners were announced at the ACCE Convention in Milwaukee on August 5th.

For more information about the award and to read the program synopsizes from the winners go to ACCE.org.

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Family Gathering

Mick Fleming on Sunday, August 8, 2010 at 11:05:58 pm 

Everyone in the chamber world understands the excitement, work, stress and fear of failure when planning for a big event.  When the climate in which such an event takes place is volatile, the apprehension is even greater.  You also understand the feelings of accomplishment when the magic works -- when the buzz and feel of the event is like a family gathering.  The largest meeting of chamber executives in the world took place in Milwaukee last week.  Nothing like this is ever perfect, but it worked.

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Big Week for ACCE

Mick Fleming on Monday, August 2, 2010 at 12:58:03 am 

Nearly 1,000 people traveling to the ACCE family gathering in Milwuakee this week.  We'll try to keep those of you attending satisfied with brats-- whatever they are!   City scene there can help; downtown all walkable and cool.  It's going to a great  event, but Ihave to contantly remind myself and my staff that more members are unable to attend the annual meeting than can in a typical year.  That's why we try so hard to ensure that the staff keeps up its contant with members across the country during pre-conference time.

If you're not taking the summer trip up to the eatern shore of Lake Michigan, holler out to me anyway this week; I'll get back to you somehow from the show.  If you are coming to Muh-Wah-Kee this week, corner me in a hotel hallway for a chat.  If you hadn't made plans either way, be spontaneous.  We'll find you a room.

Onward

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Why Chamber Members Love Green Plus - 7/27 at 1pm

Ian Scott on Monday, July 26, 2010 at 5:34:09 pm 

For small businesses, going green and sustainable has been shown to save money, motivate employees and illustrate a commitment to the community and environment.  It is also a powerful marketing and branding tool, especially in today's economy. 

Join ACCE tomorrow (July 27) at 1pm for a  Peer to Peer Connection tele-seminar to hear first-hand from two members of the Lancaster (PA) Chamber how Green Plus has changed the way they do business.  You'll also have a chance to talk with Dan Arnold, Director of Operations, from the Lancaster Chamber about launching, marketing and implementing Green Plus.   Participants can expect to:

  • Understand Green Plus' Value Proposition for small/medium businesses
  • Learn how one chamber has successfully implemented the Green Plus program and what they are getting out of it (new memberships, revenue, retention, loyalty)
  • Know where to turn for information about adopting Green Plus

No fees, no registration - Click here for call-in information

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Deer Creek to Blowing Rock

Mick Fleming on Thursday, July 22, 2010 at 12:14:54 am 

Where will you meet great people in beautiful settings?  In deep woods at the center of Ohio or among the hollers of northwestern North Carolina?  Both.

The chambers in Ohio met last week in the wonderful lodge in Deer Creek State Park near Columbus and the Carolina execs traveled to the tops of the Blue Ridge for their annual meeting.  With only a modest travel marathon, I managed to make both getherings.

Some of ACCE's best friends and mine filled the ranks of both meetings.  Jordan, V'Soske, Sartelle, Millard, Nelson, Davis . . . the regular gangs were all there, but so were the new kids. Whether chamber virgins, aspirational sophomores or seasoned pros, they all asked the same questions:  "What's happening 'out there'?"  "What's working?"  "Who's making money?  How?"

Were my answers from the podium adequate?  Doubtful.  Was I motivated by the energy, courage and intellectual curiousity of these leaders of businesses and communities?  Absolutely.

The sliver of a moon over Hickory and the clear bright sun through the hardwood branches in the Buckeye state had their own inspirational powers.

Onward.

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Rally to Oppose Drilling Ban

Ian Scott on Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 5:39:12 pm 

More than 11,000 Gulf Coast residents gathered today at the Cajundome in Lafayette, LA for a rally to oppose the moratorium on offshore exploration.  The crowd included public officials, business leaders and other citizens concerned about the economic havoc the drilling moratorium is already causing in Louisiana.

Their argument is pretty simple.  The moratorium has done more than halt new oil and gas exploration; it has brought to a standstill economic recovery in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast. The oil and gas industry is the primary economic driver in many of Louisiana's costal parishes, directly employing tens of thousands of people in high wage jobs.  With exploration on hold, there is a very real concern that companies will redeploy rigs to other parts of the world at the expense of thousands of jobs.

Also, the industry contributes billions to state revenue, and its loss could spell hardship and dramatic service cuts.

For more information on the Rally for Economic Survival go to:

http://www.rallyforeconomicsurvival.com

Chambers and other business associations across the region have voiced opposition to the drilling moratorium.  See their recent ad in Politico:

http://www.politico.com/static/PPM130_moritorium_ad_final.html

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