Growing New Business in Arlington
In an economy where everyone is just trying to hang on, the Arlington (TX) Chamber of Commerce is looking to grow new business.
New business creation is the goal of the Center for Innovation in Arlington, a chamber-owned and run three-story building that is home to the Arlington Technology Incubator, the Center for Entrepreneurship and UT Arlington's Office of Technology Commercialization. The facility includes 11 different public and private business support agencies and links start-up technology companies with venture capital.
According to Arlington Chamber President Wes Jurey:
"Nothing in North Texas can replicate the whole package we have here. Essentially the idea is that it is far more productive to build a city that will attract a market than trying to market the city. We intend to grow our own businesses."
Card Check is Top Priority for Oklahoma Chamber
Yesterday the State Chamber of Oklahoma unveiled its 2009 Legislative Agenda and Card Check topped the list. Economic development issues, including infrastructure and workforce development, also made the priority list. Dick Rush, president and CEO of The State Chamber of Oklahoma, stressed the importance of economic development goals:
â€œIn the coming year, we need to focus our resources on developing an educated, skilled workforce that is ready to meet the demands of a global economy. We need to ensure that our infrastructure is strong and working to improve the health of our businesses."
ACCE has uploaded several sample 2009 Chamber Legislative Agendas at PolicyClearinghouse.org. If you are currently drafting your organization's agenda, the language used in these examples may help speed up the process. Click HERE to link directly to the 2009 Legislative Agendas page. Youâ€™ll have to be logged-in with your ACCE username and password to access the site.
Transportation Projects on Hold
As budget deficits worsen and credit ratings drop, many states are having to delay transportation and other infrastructure projects. According to today's New York Times:
"...Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger warned Monday that the state was “on a track toward disaster” as it ceases highway, school and bridge construction because of budget and credit woes.
California, which has suspended nearly $4 billion in public works projects, is one of a half dozen states delaying or halting projects because of capsizing budgets, an inability to attract investors to the municipal bonds used to bankroll many projects and a reduction in gasoline tax revenues — which underlie a lot of transportation financing."
Click HERE to read the full article.
The current situation puts even greater emphasis on a federal economic stimulus package to get transportation projects moving again. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has compiled a helpful list of links to ready-to-go projects in various states. Does your state have a comprehensive list of ready-to-go infrastructure projects?
Governor Pitches Budget Saving Proposal to Chamber
Last Friday the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce held their annual Policy Conference in Lexington. The event offers business leaders across the state an opportunity to hear the priorities of elected officials for the upcoming year. It is also an opportunity for the Kentucky Chamber to articulate their positions on Economic Development, Education, Environment, Fiscal Policy, Health Care,and Human Resources.
Governor Steve Beshear delivered the luncheon keynote address at this year's conference and, in his remarks, asked the business community to support his proposal to close the budget deficit.
"I need your help," Beshear told the group. "We've got to deliver the message that it is the acceptable thing to do, that it is a good way for us to raise revenue that we sorely need if we are going to maintain our priorities."
Beshear has proposed offsetting the nearly $500 million budget gap by increasing the state's tax cigarette tax to $1 per pack, doubling taxes on other tobacco and cutting most government agency budgets by 4 percent.
The Kentucky Chamber is advocating for a smaller cigarette tax increase, primarily out of concern for the state's health and to dissuade youth from smoking.
To read the full article from the Lexington Herald-Leader, click HERE.
Living Wage Debate in Lawrence
An evaluation of economic development incentives in Lawrence, Kansas has churned up vigorous public debate about living wage.
Since 2003, businesses in Lawrence that receive a tax abatement, such as TIF financing, are required to pay a living wage. The living wage rate is calculated as 30% above the poverty line for a family of four. City commissioners are weighing in with their thoughts:
"Commissioner Boog Highberger said he thinks companies applying for TIFs, TDDs and other new types of public incentives should be required to pay their employees a living wage, which means salaries will be at a level to provide a family of four with income that is at least 30 percent above the poverty level.
“The rationale when we passed this is that we didn’t think it was good public policy to subsidize jobs that pay less than a living wage,” Highberger said. “I think that still makes sense for these new incentives.”
But [Commissioner] Chestnut said he wants to gather recent research to present to commissioners that call the concept into question. He said some cities have found that the living wage ordinances have cost their communities jobs and have done little to help low-income workers.
“I think some communities are finding that it is an expensive way to bring wages up,” Chestnut said."
Click HERE to read the full article.
In a policy survey conducted this fall, less than 20% of respondents ranked Living Wage as one of their chamber's top policy concerns for the coming year.
Detroit Urges President to Help Big 3
Since efforts to pass a bridge loan for automakers stalled and ultimately failed in the Senate late last week, Detroit is working hard to persuade the Bush administration to help the Big 3 stay afloat and avoid bankruptcy. The Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce is on the front lines leading the push.
"It's extremely important to the nation's economy for the Bush administration to provide the loans needed to help the American auto industry survive the current global economic downturn, drastically falling sales and a severe credit crunch," said Richard Blouse Jr., president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "Allowing any of the domestic car companies to collapse would undermine an already weak economy and affect millions of jobs in every state." Automakers are arguing that bankruptcy is not a viable option considering the number of choices available to consumers. They also warn that a failure by one of the Big 3 would forcedozens of suppliers to close and ultimately drag down the entire industry. The latest reports from the White House suggest that an auto loan may come from the $700 billion allocated for the financial rescue earlier this fall. An announcement could come as early as tomorrow. To help make their case and provide supporters a mechanism to voice their opinion, the Detroit Chamber has set up www.vote4biz.com. Website users have already sent more than 17,000 emails to Washington D.C. in support of the American auto industry.
"It's extremely important to the nation's economy for the Bush administration to provide the loans needed to help the American auto industry survive the current global economic downturn, drastically falling sales and a severe credit crunch," said Richard Blouse Jr., president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. "Allowing any of the domestic car companies to collapse would undermine an already weak economy and affect millions of jobs in every state."
Automakers are arguing that bankruptcy is not a viable option considering the number of choices available to consumers. They also warn that a failure by one of the Big 3 would forcedozens of suppliers to close and ultimately drag down the entire industry. The latest reports from the White House suggest that an auto loan may come from the $700 billion allocated for the financial rescue earlier this fall. An announcement could come as early as tomorrow.
To help make their case and provide supporters a mechanism to voice their opinion, the Detroit Chamber has set up www.vote4biz.com. Website users have already sent more than 17,000 emails to Washington D.C. in support of the American auto industry.Sarah Hubbard, vice president of Government Relations at the Detroit Chamber, has also launched the Vote4Biz Blog to share the latest information.
Member Profiles: Joe Unterreiner
Joe Unterreiner, CCE, President and CEO, Kalispell (MT) Area Chamber of Commerce
Joe is an active participant in the Government Relations Division and a member of the Division Advisory Board. He also serves on the ACCE Board of Directors. In the face of economic challenges, his chamber is ramping up their advocacy efforts for 2009. He recently took time out to answer our four questions.
ACCE: How did you get started in chamber work, and what keeps you in the industry?
Joe: I started my chamber career here in Kalispell in 1996. I was considering buying a business in the area, and some people I'd met encouraged me to think about taking the open chamber CEO position. Having worked in government affairs in the past and having been a small business owner, I thought the chamber position would be an ideal way to utilize my experience and learn the community. Twelve years later I'm in the same role because it gives me an opportunity to work with top leaders to solve our community's issues.
ACCE: What policy issues are currently occupying your time?
Joe: Local option sales tax is a hot issue in Montana and transportation impact fees are important here in Kalispell. Road and infrastructure development in general is also a big issue. Our community is on pace to grow 30% this decade, and we need the capacity to move people.
ACCE: What are the biggest challenges your chamber/community currently face?
Joe: Right now it is the slowing economy. We may have been insulated initially, but now the there is a noticeable impact on overall employment, retail sales, real estate sales and construction.
In the longer term, keeping pace with growth is still a big challenge. Kalispell is constantly atop national lists of places to relocate, vacation, or retire, which fuels our population growth and, in turn, increases demand on our infrastructure.
ACCE: Finish this sentence. Never again will I...
Joe: Never again will I get ahead of my board of directors. From experience I've learned the value of patience when trying to bring my board along with new programs.
Got a Stimulus Idea? Take a Number.
As prospects grow for a federal economic stimulus package measured in the hundreds of billions (or trillions?) of dollars, interest groups from the home builders to the libraries are lining up to plead their case. Most want to fund infrastructure, but the definition of infrastructure can be pretty broad.
What all are they pitching for? This LA Times article offers an interesting breakdown.
Rockford Charter Schools
Regional Thinking in Chattanooga
Volkswagen announced this summer that they will open a new manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, TN. Ground has already been broken, and the project is expected to bring 2,000 jobs to the area.
The new plant represents a huge economic development win for the city, it is also driving regional cooperation in the Chattanooga Tri-State area.
The Chattanooga (TN) Area Chamber of Commerce recently led business and community leaders from across the area on an intercity visit to Greenville, SC to explore lesson's learned from that city's experience with BMW. The German automaker has operated a manufacturing plant in Greenville since the early 90's.
More than 100 public officials, businesspeople, educators and other community leaders from Chattanooga and nearby counties in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama participated in the visit to Greenville. While there, the group studied four areas: K-12 Education; Higher Education & Workforce Development; Industrial Development & Physical Infrastructure; and Relocation Marketing, Community Assimilation & Quality of Life.
At a recent meeting last Friday following their return from Greenville, Hamilton County, TN Mayor Claude Ramsey affirmed the importance of regional cooperation:
"Citizens in our region don't think twice about crossing state or county lines to go to work or shop or buy a house. We all stand to benefit from economic development projects that locate anywhere within our region, and we can achieve the greatest benefit from these opportunities if we work together on issues like workforce development, transportation, and the like."
Tom Edd Wilson, president and CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber, was on hand to present a follow up report that highlighted the following regional goals:
- Think and act regionally.
- Prepare for changes in education and workforce training.
- Be transparent in hiring.
- Pay attention to minority involvement.
- Create effective communication channels.
- Bridge the cultures.
- Prepare for growth.
- Calibrate community expectations.
Click HERE to read the full article.
For more information on intercity visits go to www.acce.org/icvto download ACCE's latest publication - A Guide to Intercity Visits: Community Development through Leadership Exchange.