From my frequent conversations with your friends and peers since Labor Day, it has seemed that most of you have been hard at work for months to ensure 2012 success. Whether through the ‘creative writing’ of modern budgeting, or through thoughtful (ruthless!) chamber program evaluation, I think all of you are well into the New Year already.
We’ve got a lot of work to do in 2012. The economy may or may not continue to recover. The election may or may not produce dramatic policy changes. Greece and the Euro may hinder your work, or not. The weather? New energy discoveries? Rival organizations? Consumer attitudes? Helpful(?) mayors and editors? Seismic disturbances? Supreme Court decisions? Whatever comes at you or your members, you’ll deal with it. Chambers always have and always will.
I am enormously grateful that you will be there for ACCE, your members and the regions of North America in the important year to come. And, I hope you’ll call on us for help when you need ideas, connections and opportunities. Onward in 2012!
On Tuesday, Dec. 13 The Greater Des Moines Partnership helped launch the Iowa Compact focusing on uniting a diverse group of statewide partners to call for smart immigration reform. Utah, Indiana, and Maine have launched similar initiatives. Chambers in all 4 states have been key leaders in these efforts. The event has garnered significant national attention.
The Iowa Compact follows a pre-made cookie cutter format that can easily be replicated in the 46 states that have yet to create a compact.
About the Iowa Compact
How the First Caucus State is Offering a Sensible—and Popular—Solution on Immigration Reform
The Gazette (Editorial): Find middle ground on immigration
December 14, 2011
Des Moines Register: ‘Enforcement-only’ immigrant efforts could hurt Iowa economy, especially farming, say leaders
By Donnelle Eller
December 13, 2011
Salt Lake City Tribune: Iowa launches immigration compact similar to Utah’s
By David Montero
December 13, 2011
Modeled after The Utah Compact, which was signed a little more than a year ago by key business, religious and political leaders, The Iowa Compact features similar language and goals. Lori Chesser, chair of the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition, ...
Quad City Times: Iowa group release initiative for stronger immigration policy
By Michael Wiser
December 13, 2011
She also serves as a chairwoman of the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition, a group that conducts research and provides briefs on immigration issues. “A lot of the detailed discussion still has to take place … we want to corral that debate. ...
Radio Iowa: Group calls on federal lawmakers to handle immigration reform
By Dar Danielson
December 13, 2011
A bipartisan group of business, law enforcement and religious leaders have formed what they call the “Iowa Compact” in a push for immigration reform. Members of the group spoke today on a conference call about the five key principles of the compact. ...
Public News Service: Local Leaders Sign "Iowa Compact" for Immigration Reform
December 14, 2011
Des Moines Register: New bi-partisan Iowa group calling for “smart” immigration reform
By Jason Clayworth
December 12, 2011
Des Moines Register: Group: See immigration as positive for economy
By Donnelle Eller and Jason Clayworth
December 12, 2011
Best Wishes to Dick Fleming
At the end of this month, one of the most accomplished figures in the profession and our association is stepping down. When Dick Fleming came to St. Louis in 1994, the chamber had an annual budget of $3 million, no cash reserves and a meager economic development program. Now the Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA) has a $10 million annual budget, healthy reserves, a robust multi-year ED funding campaign, a seasoned professional staff and a full range of regional economic development and national marketing activities.
Here are just some of the awards, accolades and accomplishments for RCGA under Dick’s tenure:
· Twice named by Site Selection Magazine as one of the Top Ten Economic Development Organizations in North America.
· Chamber-led center city revitalization effort helped stimulate nearly $5 billion in new downtown area investment.
· “Perfectly Centered, Remarkably Connected” regional brand won the Public Relations Society of America’s top national award for non-profit branding.
· Development of the region’s transportation infrastructure including metro light rail and a new Mississippi River bridge.
· Multiple ACCE Communications Excellence Awards for St. Louis Commerce magazine and other RCGA publications
One could also mention their bi-state regional public policy coalition Forward Metro St. Louis, the new downtown sculpture garden, mixed use development around Busch Stadium, the cluster supporting Coalition for Plant and Life Sciences and it's incubator/lab space CORTEX, establishing St. Louis as a hub for China Eastern Air Cargo, and on and on...
Dick raised the bar for the St. Louis region, but also for ACCE. Few individuals have done more for the association in its 100-year history, and nobody has done more over the past decade. Dick stepped in to chair the organization in 2005 after leading the Metro Council. He also took on the lion's share of our fundraising efforts in 2002. He continued his role in resource development throughout his association involvement. He was a champion of ACCE's expansion into economic development concerns, and helped the association link up with new allies including the Climate Prosperity Project and Partners for Livable Communities. As chairman of our affiliate, the Alliance for Regional Stewardship, Dick helped establish the John Parr Award for Business-Civic Commitment to Regional Leadership.
From his time as CEO of the Metro Denver Chamber to his time as a HUD official in Washington, D.C., to his start in economic development in Atlanta, Dick has been a leader in business/community advancement. We wish him all the best in the next phase of his career. But he won’t get away just yet. We’ve asked Dick to remain in his role as chair of the Alliance for Regional Stewardship through August. If we're fortunate, he'll continue to advise us for years to come.
Shaun Lumachi Memorial
On Dec. 3 the chamber and government relations profession lost a great friend, Shaun Lumachi, who was fatally injured in a car crash in Florida.
Shaun was a frequent contributor to ACCE, most recently as a workshop speaker at the convention in Los Angeles and a webinar presenter in October. Here is a round-up of his memorable posts and articles from his history as an ACCE contributor.
A public celebration of Shaun’s life has been set for Dec. 17.
Chamber CEO Donates Kidney
Brad Dean, 43 and the father of two children, is in perfect health. Yesterday morning at Duke University Medical Center, in a set of operations called a kidney paired donation, he gave one of his kidneys to a 67-year-old former Navy nurse who has suffered from genetic kidney disease for decades. The nurse’s 39-year-old daughter, a Duke pharmacist, had offered one of her kidneys to her mother, but she was the wrong blood type. So the daughter’s kidney will go to a 42-year-old former construction worker. Details and an update from the Myrtle Beach Sun News.
What it Means When a Municipality Files Chapter 9 Bankruptcy
In the wake of Pennsylvania’s capital, Harrisburg, and Alabama’s largest county, Jefferson County, declaring bankruptcy, other communities may be looking to Chapter 9 bankruptcy to restructure debt.
Chapter 9 is the portion of the federal bankruptcy code that allows municipalities to seek court protection in the event of fiscal crisis. It is meant to ensure that basic government functions continue while policy makers restructure their debt. Only municipalities, not states, can file for Chapter 9. Municipal bankruptcies are very rare. Only about 620 municipalities have filed for bankruptcy since 1937 when Chapter 9 was added to the federal bankruptcy code. For more information on what happens after Chapter 9 is filed, how long Chapter 9 cases take and what changes a Chapter 9 filing brings to day-to-day life, visit Stateline.org’s article Municipal bankruptcy explained: What it means to file for Chapter 9.
Chambers Getting Involved
Eleven Pennsylvania chambers have joined together with other stakeholders to form Metro Chambers for Sustainable Cities. These chambers include Greater Reading, Harrisburg Regional, Lancaster, Greater Lehigh Valley, Greater Pittsburgh, Greater Wilkes-Barre, Monroeville Area, Williamsbport/Lycoming, York County, Allegheny Valley and Mon Valley Progress Council. The chambers are looking to make a difference in the future sustainability of their cities and to promote the success of their cities in Pennsylvania. The chambers decided to get involved because the business community regularly thinks regionally and long term, and chambers are skilled at advocacy on behalf of business. They believe: A Prosperous City = A Prosperous Economy = A Successful Business Climate
Largest municipal bankruptcy ever prompts muted reaction elsewhere
Harrisburg bankruptcy sets up fight with state
Alabama’s Jefferson County enters biggest muni bankruptcy as crisis victim
ACCE Life Member Selected As Trustee
ACCE Life Member and former ACCE board chair, John T. Garman, CCE, was selected by the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to serve as a Council trustee. He will serve a three-year term which began in October 2011.
Garman, honored as an ACCE Life Member in 2006, led chambers in Indiana, Kentucky, and South Carolina. In 2003, after completing a thirty-year chamber career, Garman retired, and worked for a number of years as a consultant and instructor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE), with assignments in Russia, Bosnia, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, and Jamaica.
His professional achievements include a Lifetime Member Award with the Carolina Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, South Carolina Chamber Executive of the year in 2003, state president of Commerce Executives Associations in Kentucky and Indiana; appointed board member for the Accreditation Policy Board Member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In 2004 he became active with the South Carolina Humanities Council, serving as a board member, vice-chair, and chairman. Each year, Garman represented the council at the National Humanities on the Hill program in Washington, DC. Garman has been active in Friendship Force International where he was named a National Mission Representative for the People’s Republic of China Exchange and a Commonwealth Delegate for the Governor’s Kentucky Professional Leadership Exchange to Moscow.
Garman’s past community involvements includes service with local Free Clinics, Community Centers, and Salvation Army board of directors.
Bossier Chamber Earns Bragging Rights
The Bossier Chamber of Commerce in Louisiana has been recognized as one of 20 “military-friendly” chambers in the United States by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA). To add to the recognition, the chamber's president, Lisa Johnson, will be pictured on the cover of the November/December issue of Vetrepreneur magazine, which will feature the military-friendly chambers.
NaVOBA, in cooperation with ACCE and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, surveyed chambers across the nation and evaluated them on their work with the local military and veteran community, assistance and promotion of veteran employment, veteran business start-up programs and other initiatives. This is the first year NaVOBA has highlighted military-friendly chambers; the survey will be conducted annually.
According to a release issued by the Bossier Chamber, the chamber values its relationship with Barksdale Air Force Base and its military community. The chamber is involved in several initiatives and events, including:
- Right Start Orientation
- Air Force Global Strike Spouses Orientation
- Military Spouse Career Fair
- Monthly & Quarterly Awards: The Military Relations Committee presents awards on behalf of the businesses in Bossier/Shreveport that donate to the Airmen of the Month and Airmen of the Quarter award ceremonies
- Annual Celebrate Barksdale Reception honoring the outstanding leadership at Barksdale Air Force Base.
- Members & Military Bowling Tournament
- Preferred Military Merchant Program
This Year's Top Honor Goes To...
The November issue of Site Selection magazine hit my desk last week with this cover story headline: Texas Tops the 2011 Business Climate Rankings. Kudos to Texas for earning the coveted top spot on a high profile list from a respected publication. Impressive job creation stats, sound tax climate and serious tort reform efforts; seems to me like the Lone Star State earned this one the hard way. Texas was trailed this year by 2) Georgia, 3) North Carolina and 4) Virginia.
The same four states occupy the top spots on CNBC’s 2011 Best States for Business ranking, but in a different order: 1) Virginia, 2) Texas, 3) North Carolina and 4) Georgia. Forbes hasn’t updated its Best Business State rankings this year but in 2010 Utah took the top spot followed by Virginia, North Carolina and Colorado.
Best business tax climate, according to the Tax Foundation, is South Dakota. Best legal climate for business, according to the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, is Delaware. Best educated workforce, according to CNN Money, is Massachusetts. I could go on and on.
A quick scan through ads in Site Selection (or many regional chamber websites) reveals just how much stock is placed in these kinds of rankings. Regions build their brands on them, politicians build their careers on them and business publications build their business plans on them. You better believe that when I win best husband, son, brother, and employee of the year, I'm having that magazine framed and sending a copy to everyone I know.
I think rankings are useful in determining how you benchmark your state or region against others. But you have to look at methodology for the ranking to have any meaning. The best is only the best because of the judging criteria, so if you're in the middle of the pack and want to move up you need to know what specific policies and practices to emulate. If your state is at the top, celebrate the successes that got you there but don't ignore your blind spots.
For a healthy dose of perspective about rankings and how we use them in the chamber/economic development profession, I suggest you read Mick Fleming’s article from the summer 2011 issue of Chamber Executive, "From Where I Stand: My Short List.” My favorite line from that piece:
“…the real problem with the media obsession with rankings—publishers, pollsters and pundits know that we don’t really care to hear the rest of the story. We want the digested, synthesized and, above all short, versions of news and analysis.”
Bloodless ED Takeover
The Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph County in South Bend, IN announced last month that they will now lead business attraction efforts for the county. The move, jointly announced by the chamber and Project Future, the organization that previously performed this function, came after the head of Project Future accepted a role assisting innovation commercialization effort at the University of Notre Dame. Project Future will cease to exist starting January 1, 2012.
St. Joseph County Chamber president Jeff Rea said, “We are excited about these changes and believe they are in the best interests of both organizations and this community. This clarity and focus, the clear delineation of roles and responsibilities and the leveraging of key assets and resources, better position St. Joseph County for future prosperity.” The move creates a "one stop shop" for prospects and positions the chamber as the single point of contact for all business needs. The chamber previously led retention, expansion and workforce efforts.
“We still have a little heavy lifting to do," Rea added, "but it’s a move in the right direction and we really are seeing the community start to rally around the effort.”
This is the latest example in a growing list of recent chamber-ED mergers. Check out this blog post for other recent mergers – Chamber ED Merger Talk on the Rise – and look for an extensive cover story on this topic in the winter issue of Chamber Executive magazine.