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.
Talking Policy in Nashville
Two weeks ago, a group of 21 metro cities government relations professionals gathered in Nashville for two days of roundtable discussion. You can read the official recap here, but here are photos from our trip to Nashville.
Policy, politics and chamber specifics dominated the discussion with a strict “what happens in Nashville stays in Nashville” code for conversation confidentiality.
“The gathering had the perfect mix of peer-to-peer discussions for those of us in the trenches every day running campaigns and crafting policies that support economic vitality, said George Allen, senior V.P., Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. “ We shared backstage secrets for victories and hard-earned lessons from disasters. I left Nashville with new political tools and engagement strategies, not to mention some country music CD’s that simply blow me away. Thanks Nashville!”
“I appreciate the opportunity to meet and share ideas and insights with my Metro Chamber colleagues in a roundtable environment,” said Rob Bradham, V.P., public strategies, Chattanooga Chamber. “Our metro areas face many of the same challenges, and exchanging ideas with my counterparts allows me and my chamber to better serve our members and investors. The interaction allows each of us to sharpen our professional abilities and therefore strengthens our profession.”
“The ACCE Government Relations conference was an absolute home-run,” said Jay Barksdale, V.P., public policy, Dallas Regional Chamber. “I’ve been a public affairs professional for many years, but am relatively new to the chamber world. Spending time with colleagues from around the U.S. who face similar challenges and experience the same rewards of this job was the best professional development in which I have participated. I can’t wait to see this talented and motivated group again!”
For a detailed write up, visit the official ACCE news story.
MO's Kansas City Chamber Takes Top Honor
The Greater Kansas City Chamber’s decision to move its offices to Union Station, its leadership on the Kansas City earnings tax election, its service to its members and advocacy on behalf of business were just a few of the reasons the chamber was named Missouri’s 2011 Chamber of the Year by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Former Chamber Chair Peter deSilva, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UMB Bank, accepted the award Tuesday night, Nov. 8, at ceremonies held at the new Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
“For years, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has relied on the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce for support of statewide initiatives at the Capitol. In addition, The Chamber plays a critical role in advancing economic development in the Kansas City region,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Missouri Chamber. “The Greater Kansas City Chamber truly is an economic powerhouse for the region.”
Each year, the Missouri Chamber selects a local Chamber of Commerce that “sets the standard in economic development, advocacy and innovation.” The Greater Kansas City Chamber was chosen from more than 200 chambers of commerce across Missouri.
“We’re obviously pleased to be honored in this way,” says Jim Heeter, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Kansas City Chamber. “As a chamber focused on civic progress, we appreciate the recognition for the work we do.”
Photo caption L to R: Dan Mehan, President and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Jim Heeter, President and CEO of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Peter deSilva, past Chamber Chair and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of UMB Bank; and John Hancock, Chair of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Consumer Chamber Member
Here's an interesting idea that was featured in the e-communication, "Idea of the Week" - a joint project with the Indiana Chamber Executives Association and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives. The idea comes from the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce in Illinois.
The strategy is simple; the chamber is asking all chamber members - Arlington Heights residents and those who work in Arlington Heights - to invest in an economic development campaign by becoming a consumer chamber member. The chamber calls it a "My Town - Arlington Heights" consumer membership. By signing up on-line for this program, members will have access to exclusive local discount coupons that will encourage them to shop and save at local businesses. A $20 a year economic partnership investment will give them access to on-line coupons from local chamber members for 12 months.
As a Chamber Member Business, they can create and post on-line coupons that will be accessible and valid only for My Town Members. This unique business to consumer marketing tool is included in their yearly member benefits.
Participants can create as many active offers as they wish and are encouraged to enhance those offers in order to drive new business through their doors.
The Origin of Veterans Day
In 1953 the Korean War had ended, with memories of World War II still fresh. In Emporia, Kansas, a young man named Al King, who had been too young to participate in World War II (although he tried to join the Navy toward the end of the war, at age 15), was dissatisfied with the holiday called “Armistice Day” on November 11. Why commemorate the service of just the veterans of World War I? Why not honor the service of all veterans?
King became obsessed with the idea of changing Armistice Day into what we now know as Veterans Day. He was a shoe store owner and well known around town. Soon the Emporia Chamber of Commerce became involved. It surveyed local merchants and found that 90 percent of them, plus the Board of Education, were willing to observe a holiday for all veterans on November 11.[i]
A bill was introduced into Congress and signed into law by President Eisenhower on May 26, 1954. Veterans Day was observed across the country that November. So the rest of the country was only a year behind Emporia.
The Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau maintains its involvement:
“We traded off [organizing the event] with the Legion for a long time,” said Harold Burenheide, quartermaster of VFW Post 1980 in Emporia. “It’s just been our two organizations. But now, the Chamber gets involved, and it’s a week-long celebration.”[ii]
Filling the Leadership Pool
What's a community to do when it faces an aging leadership base? A shortage of volunteers? Facing such a predicament, the Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce in British Columbia, Canada, is developing a pilot project—"Building Community Leadership"—that seeks to identify, train and connect community leaders to community boards and organizations.
In an article in the Mission City Record, Chamber Manager Michelle Favero explained that 10 percent of chamber members are community organizations facing a leadership deficit. The article cited the Mission and District Lions Club as one example. The Club had been part of the community for 60 years until last summer, when it was forced to fold due to a lack of volunteers. Favero identified an aging leadership base, lack of volunteers with skills, and no local affordable leadership education as barriers to finding new recruits.
As part of the project, the chamber, in partnership with the University of the Fraser Valley, seeks to host a series of workshops, featuring several high-profile speakers who will share their leadership experiences. According to the article, "they hope to make each session an affordable $20, but that price could drop with corporate sponsorship support."
Sounds like it could be a winner with buy-in from the city council, which passed a motion to consider a way of recognizing those who attend all the workshops with an official leadership designation.
Six Key Points on Regional Cooperation
What can you learn in 2 days and 2 nights at a palatial estate in the Hudson Valley with a room full of smart, experienced regionalists? I'm sure glad I'm in a position to answer.
Last week I participated in a symposium on states and regions organized by the Citistates Group. The event was generously hosted by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and supported by the Carnegie Corporation and the William Penn Foundation. Citistates founders and 2009 ARS-John Parr Award Honorees Neil Pierce, Curtis Johnson and Farley Peters pulled together this ‘meeting of the regional minds’ to address one central challenge: metropolitan regions are the geography of the economy but not the geography of government.
Along with a couple of chamber leaders, I was joined by representatives from MPOs, COGs, universities, foundations, think tanks, and several former big city mayors. To articulate the professional accomplishments and accolades of this distinguished group of veteran practitioners and thinkers would easily run two hours or more. And it did. Thirty minutes into the introductions my suspicions were confirmed; I was the low man on the totem pole in both credentials and class. I just hoped a few of the collected IQ points might rub off on me.
From Wednesday evening through midday Friday we discussed and debated. What is the best structure to organize regional stakeholders? Can state governments help, or do they need to just get out of the way? Can you expect regional cooperation without a galvanizing crisis? Does the “ism” in regionalism turn people off? Can the Cardinals really come back with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the ninth?
Scattered amid the discussion were some fantastic success stories from leaders in the field: Atlanta’s regional regulatory and infrastructure action to quickly solve an acute water crisis, Seattle’s alignment of two major ports and dozens of distinct municipalities to speak with a unified voice on international trade and investment recruitment. Don’t be surprised to see more detailed write ups of these success stories soon.
At the end of the day I left with renewed confidence in some core convictions about regional cooperation:
- Business leadership is essential to regional action. Business groups are the only entities with political leverage across the multiple jurisdictions that comprise a region.
- The outcome of regional action is far more important than the structure or governance of regional organization. As the Atlanta Chamber’s Sam Williams said, “Results and outcomes equal power and influence.”
- Someone has to provide neutral turf to get suspicious stakeholders together. Whether COG, MPO or chamber, the regional convener role is vital.
I also picked up a few concepts that, while not necessarily new, are now crystal clear and I'm likely to repeat:
- Economic competitiveness can be the great unifier for regions. The downturn has compounded our challenges but it has also provided a rallying point for individuals with different political affiliations and groups with different agendas – jobs, trade and investment.
- We’re all the same, but we’re not. There is plenty of head-nodding and “me too” expressions when someone describes the challenges facing his region, but the context is always unique. Orlando is not Cleveland is not San Diego, but they can learn a lot from each other’s experience. That’s why I think detailed success and failure stories are as important (if not more important) than models.
- Business can’t do it alone; it needs a strong public sector partner. I’m not just talking about public/private partnerships, I mean a visionary elected or appointed public sector leader willing to cross political divides and work with non-traditional allies for the common good. Almost every success story cited last week mentioned dynamic individual players from the public and private sectors. I should note here that Mick has said this to me dozens of times, but I really get it now.
Where does the learning and collected input from last week’s symposium go from here? I’ll leave that tough question in the capable hands of Neil, Curt and Farley. For me, I brought back a renewed conviction in the important role chambers must play as regional actors and the important role ACCE must play in equipping chambers with the information, connections and success stories to fulfill that role. Expect to see more…