Advocacy is Essential

Jay Chesshir, CCE on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 5:00:00 pm 

Government advocacy is essential to economic development. We all know that what happens at city hall, in the state house or in Congress has a significant impact on our ability to retain and grow jobs. And lest we forget, our elected leaders continually find ways to remind us.

The $85 billion in indiscriminate federal spending cuts known as sequestration is the most recent and broadly felt case in point. Like it or not, federal spending in vital areas like defense and research support thousands of private sector jobs in many communities. Business expansion decisions have been stymied by the extreme uncertainty in the healthcare market created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Other companies have been forced to invest abroad because our federally regulated immigration system still won't allow them to hire skilled workers who happened to be foreign-born. While reduced government spending is a reality, our ability to educate government on economic impact is crucial to getting our economy growing again.

Unfortunately our government challenges are not limited to the federal arena. Many states have slashed the incentive programs needed to close deals, and they've cut funding to the universities that produce the talent companies need to hire. Often those cuts have come while pension liability and retiree health costs remain unaddressed. Local government is not immune from bad public policy either. Some cities have effectively hung an "Unwelcome" sign by passing English-only ordinances. Others have pushed "local-only" public contract bidding preferences that completely ignore the reality of our regional economies. The list could go on and on.

We can't fight all of these battles alone, but we also can't expect that others will take care of these problems for us. As area/regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, we must lead the charge in educating our local elected officials. If we're not the "Voice of Business," then who will be? We should partner with like-minded, pro-growth organizations to amplify our voices at the local, state and national levels.

Of course, government advocacy isn't just about fighting wrong-headed, job-killing government actions. It's equally about promoting smart public policy and supporting wise investment of public funds. Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and a handful of other states have recently bent their steep prison spending curve by implementing smart corrections reform efforts supported by state and local chambers. Students in Dayton, Milwaukee, Spokane and scores of other cities are making serious strides in STEM education thanks in large part to productive partnerships between chambers and schools. Oklahoma City, host of the 2013 ACCE Convention, is a role model for cooperation between the public and private sectors to win overwhelming voter support for vital, job-creating infrastructure investments.

If your organization isn't sounding full-throated opposition to onerous propositions at all levels of government and leading the charge for smart policy and investment, you're not doing everything you can to support job growth in your community. Government advocacy is essential to economic development.

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Valpo Chamber’s Victory

Tania Kohut on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

Indiana’s Valpo Chamber is celebrating a big honor it received at last week’s Indiana Chamber Executives Association (ICEA) Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon. The chamber was selected as the “2013 Chamber of Commerce of the Year” by an independent panel of out-of-state judges. The award is based on the U.S. Chamber’s accreditation process for local chambers, and highlights accomplishments in the areas of leadership, governance, finance, advocacy, and membership development.

“This great honor is a testament to the staff and board leadership of the Valpo Chamber who, over time, have set the bar high for performance and effectiveness on behalf of the members,” said Chamber President Rex Richards. “Everything that we do is for the benefit of our member investors. If our members are successful, then we are successful. It’s all about service.”

The Valpo Chamber is the only Northwest Indiana Chamber to have ever received “Chamber of Commerce of the Year.” Valpo won the same award in 2005.

"The hard work and dedication of the professionals at the Chamber is apparent through the works submitted for review by the judging panel," says Shelli Williams, ICEA President. "The Valpo Chamber was up against some very well-respected competition, so to take top honors like this really says a lot."

Read more about the win here.

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2013 Life Member Award

Tania Kohut on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 7:00:00 am 

Nominations are currently being accepted for ACCE’s Life Member Award, the chamber profession’s highest personal honor. This year’s award will be presented during ACCE’s annual convention in Oklahoma City, July 23-26. For details, visit the award’s web page.

Eligibility Requirements:

The candidate’s chamber (current employer or chamber to which a retired candidate is most closely affiliated), must be a member in good standing of ACCE.

  • CEOs
    1. All retired CEOs with 12 or more years of service, who have been out of the profession for at least one year, may be nominated for Life Member consideration, regardless of current employment status. If less than 12 years as CEO, candidate must have been out of the chamber (or related) profession for at least 18 months prior to nomination.
    2. A currently serving CEO of a chamber or chamber-like organization may be nominated for Life Membership if he/she has served 12 or more years as CEO.  Those nominated for life membership while still serving as CEO of a chamber must be approved by the selection committee two consecutive years. 
  • Non-CEOs
    1. Staff members of chambers may be eligible for Life Member nomination following full retirement from the profession after at least 20 years of service.

To Nominate Someone:

  • Submit a one-page synopsis of how the nominee exemplifies the four characteristics celebrated by the Life Member Award.
  • Attach the nominee’s most current biography or resume.
  • In addition to the evidence of excellence in regards to the criteria, the nomination must include current contact information for the person being nominated. 
  • Submit all the information to ACCE by Friday, March 29.
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Sequestration Effects

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

Sequestration, government speak for automatic budget cuts, takes effect today. Here’s what you need to know: 

Stateline: Automatic defense cuts will deal blow to states
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has been the face of concern among state officials as automatic cuts in the federal budget begin today. Virginia is particularly vulnerable as it is home to many defense contractors, the Pentagon and the nation’s largest naval base. 

Politico: Sequestration: So now what?
Sequestration officially starts Friday when the Office of Management and Budget issues a notice ordering agencies to make cuts of about 9 percent for most nondefense programs and about 13 percent for defense programs. 

Washington Post WonkBlog: This is what sequestration looks like
The Bipartisan Policy Center put out a chart this summer on how the sequester would work. It shows what cuts each government program could face. 

Washington Post WonkBlog: The states most and least affected by the sequester, in one chart
The Pew Center on the States has measured each state’s exposure to the sequester by calculating federal aid subject to the sequester as a percentage of the state’s total GDP.


Tags: spending cuts, what you need to know about the sequester, defense cuts, sequester, sequester charts

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