Lest we forget

Mick Fleming on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 

When talking to my active and retired military friends in this region, I’ve asked what the troops would ask of us as they go about their deadly serious business. The answer?  “Think of us. Remember that we’re out here.”

Lest we forget, U.S. Army Captain Jesse Ozbat was the latest (as of this writing) combat fatality in Afghanistan. He was a native of Prince Georges County, Md., across the Potomac River from ACCE’s office. He died during an attack in the provincial capital of Tarin Kowt. He was 28, married, with a BS in mathematics. This was his second tour.

Once before in my holiday message, I asked you to remember a specific fallen soldier, as both an individual and a symbol. This weekend, in between parades, lawn furniture scrubbing and beer pong, I hope you’ll join me in taking just a minute to mark Captain Ozbat’s passing.

Mostly, I hope that you have a wonderful holiday weekend with the people who are closest to you.  You deserve a break, so enjoy every bit of the long weekend!  Onward.


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Chambers Lead Rankings

Ian Scott on Tuesday, May 22, 2012 at 1:45:00 pm 

Once again, chambers of commerce and their affiliates dominate the list of top performing economic development groups. This month, Site Selection magazine released their Top 10 ED Groups of 2011 and 6 out of 10 (including the top 3) are members of ACCE member chambers.  Congratulations to:

  • Baton Rouge Area Chamber
  • Dallas Regional Chamber
  • Greater Houston Partnership
  • Nashville Area Chamber
  • Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
  • Select Greater Philadelphia

Rankings are based on jobs and capital investment generated by corporate facility projects on a per capita basis, as well as creativity in strategy, depth and breadth of project activity, and the ability to generate breakthrough deals.

I don’t typically pay much attention to top ten lists. Many rely on weak (if not faulty) methodology, and are little more than gimmicks to lure readers and advertisers (read where ACCE’s Mick Fleming stands on ranked lists).  However, I pay attention to this one because it sends an important signal about the power of private sector led economic development.

Tags: Economic Development, EDC Division, rankings, site selection

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Growing Together

Ian Scott on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 11:35:00 am 

Road Reports – Part 4

I’ve been burning up the airports and highways over the past month visiting multiple ACCE member chambers across several states. I never fail to take away valuable tidbits and lessons from every visit. The fourth installment of this series is from Northwest Arkansas.

Growing Together 

Over the past few decades, few regions have experience more growth and prosperity than Northwest Arkansas.  Wal-Mart’s expansion and vast supplier network has kept the region booming for years. But business leaders are now thinking about the next economic and employment engines, and they’re thinking regionally.

A strategic plan developed with Market Street Services is guiding the region’s next phase of growth. Infrastructure development (specifically roads) is a huge focus. Job centers are scattered across the region so the main artery, I-540, can get congested in either direction at any time. But quality of life and place-making issues like arts, cultural, bike trails and sports venues, are a big focus too. With the opening last year of the world class Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, they’ve quickly leapfrogged many competitor regions on the arts and culture front.

With continued strength of big corporate players, anchor institutions like the University of Arkansas, a growing airport, serious philanthropic dollars, and a new entrepreneurial focus, keep an eye on Northwest Arkansas.

Tags: Economic Development, Placemaking, regional cooperation, regionalism, road reports

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ACCE Establishes Partner Relationship with Kyle Sexton

Brad Holt on Monday, May 21, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 

ACCE announced today a preferred provider relationship with Kyle Sexton, a noted marketing, communications and business strategist in the chamber of commerce world.

Formerly Director of Business Development at the chamber of commerce in Salem, Ore., Sexton is an author and educator on membership development, marketing and technology. His innovations include the Salem Chamber's online networking site Face2Face, which has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, and his Chamber SalesEngine membership sales module. He has taught at the Western Association of Chamber Executives Academy, the Institute of Organizational Management, the World Chambers Congress and numerous ACCE events since 2004. Mr. Sexton also served as a vice chairman of the ACCE Board of Directors and chair of the Membership Development Division.

ACCE’s members will be the primary beneficiaries of this unique relationship with a trusted consultant and teacher. As ACCE’s preferred provider, Sexton will offer the association’s members his expertise on revenue generation, social media, recruitment, value articulation, motivation and retention strategies.

“We know that Kyle will be helping ACCE itself, even as he helps our members,” said ACCE President Mick Fleming. “His wisdom and experience, as well as his unique platforms like ChamberPeople, will be employed to build ACCE’s own resources.”

“I’m really proud of my history with ACCE,” said Sexton. “I’m blessed to work with organizations that matter to their communities. This endeavor will allow ACCE and me to help more chambers and EDC’s with answers to their questions about the future.

“To say that I’ve loved my work and colleagues at the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce for the last 11 years would be an understatement,” Sexton added. “This opportunity will allow me to remain in the city I care so much about, while extending the assets of ACCE—a  remarkable organization—and its members.”

The agreement between the two parties will allow ACCE to promote direct consulting and facilitating services for its individual member chambers, as well as for groups of members (executive associations) in North America.

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Road Reports - Bridging the Region

Ian Scott on Friday, May 18, 2012 at 9:35:00 am 

Road Reports – Part 3

I’ve been burning up the airports and highways over the past month visiting multiple ACCE member chambers across several states. I never fail to take away valuable tidbits and lessons from every visit. The third installment of this series is from Cincinnati.

Bridging the Region

Infrastructure is occupying the minds of corporate leaders in Cincinnati, specifically bridge building. I was in town in early May for a joint meeting of the boards of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the Northern Kentucky Chamber. That meeting, in a recently opened restaurant and brewery adjacent to the Red’s Stadium, kicked off an education and outreach campaign to rebuild an expanded interstate bridge over the Ohio River connecting Northern Kentucky and downtown Cincinnati.

Kentucky Lt. Governor Jerry Abramson was an apt featured speaker for the joint board meeting. As Mayor of Louisville, he worked closely with Greater Louisville, Inc., One Southern Indiana and other in the business community on a two bridge project over the same river with a similar price tag. His words to the crowd last week: “It can’t and it won’t be built unless everybody’s pulling in the same direction.”

Coordination and cooperation will be crucial as this bi-state region works on a compressed timeframe to put together a financing plan to cover this $2.5 billion project that will fly in both Columbus and Frankfort.  The full spectrum of options is on the table from public bonds to tolling. There is a strong likelihood that at least some of the final funding equation includes public-private partnership. Check out their coalition website:

Regionalism in action in greater Cincinnati.

Read more at - Bridge Can't Wait.

Tags: bridge, cincinnati, Economic Development, infrastructure transportation, road reports;

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Road Reports - College Town, Boom Town

Ian Scott on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 10:45:00 am 

Road Reports – Part 2

I’ve been burning up the airports and highways over the past month visiting multiple ACCE member chambers across several states. I never fail to take away valuable tidbits and lessons from every visit. The second installment of this series is from Conway, AR.

College Town, Boom Town

One state university and two significant liberal arts colleges are contributing tremendously to growth in Conway, Arkansas. The University of Central Arkansas graduates more health professionals every year than the state medical school and in total roughly 4,400 students graduate with bachelors and higher degrees from institutions in Conway each year. Many of those graduates are staying in town, lured by new jobs at recently located firms like Hewlett Packard. The population has more than tripled in less than 30 years and the constant infusion of recent graduates perpetuates a young, energetic, even hip feel. The chamber staff go business causal every day with an emphasis on casual.

Growth and development were evident across town as the Conway Chamber’s Brad Lacy, CCE took me on a tour after breakfast on a Wednesday earlier this month. The city has launched a street-by-street sidewalk and beautification effort.  Downtown is full of vibrant retail and restaurants and there is a large new mixed use retail-housing development going up near one of the college campuses.  Yes indeed folks, there are places in the country where new home construction is still happening. 

The Conway Chamber is going strong too. The chamber, economic development, and convention and visitors bureau are managed and staffed like a single entity. A separate downtown council is also housed in the chamber’s recently renovated downtown building. In addition to their impressive economic development successes, advocacy is also a strong focus, particular on shale gas related interests. The Chamber netted impressive sums from their annual meeting and grossed more than $1 million on last weekend’s Toad Suck Daze, an annual festival that supports scholarship funds.

Conway is a model example of a smaller community focusing on and building from key assets. If you’re in Arkansas drop in on Brad and check the place out, just don’t expect to see him in a suit and tie.

Tags: college towns, cvb, downtown development, Economic Development, housing, road reports

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Reflections on Brazil

Mick Fleming on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 

The sights, tastes and sounds of Brazil will take a lifetime to process and digest. The visit to the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain. The small night club in a São Paulo neighborhood.  The ever-present caipirinha cocktails overflowing with limes. The massive equipment on the docks serving container ships cued up across the entire horizon off Ipanema Beach in Rio.  It was a lot to take in over our six days on the ground.

Two dozen chamber folks and guests accompanied me on the Brazil awareness tour.  This was the fourth such trip for members in the last nine months, the others having visited Israel, Croatia, and China (with Citslinc International). Of all the trips ACCE has sponsored for members over the years, this one featured the most business meetings -- seven in all.

During the informative meetings with venture capitalists, local chamber leaders, business owners, consultants and government developers in one of the hottest economic markets in the world, a handful of themes emerged.

First, the country is blessed with enormous resources.  They have huge oil and mineral reserves and are the second largest food exporter in the world. Our perception was that the largest opportunities have yet to be tapped or even discovered. 

Second, the country isn't in debt.  They are in an enviable position as a developing nation to not have a current or accumulated deficit.  Think of the opportunities and freedom to expand!

Third, the gap between rich and poor is huge and the rapidly growing middle class is still relatively small.  Historic lack of equity is a burden for the country and has contributed to extensive criminal activity -- both gang-related and white collar, including government corruption and banking "irregularities."  Some of the favelas (huge organized slum settlements) are under complete control of drug lords.  In an attempt to relieve the worst poverty of the group of citizens called the "E" class, the government simply provides a minimum base salary to everybody.  No housing allowances or food stamps -- just cash.

Fourth, they view the opportunities to host World Cup 2014 and the 2016 Olympics as game changers for Brazil's reputation and future investment potential, but also as an immediate boom to infrastructure (and related jobs).  There's only one small problem -- they aren't anywhere near ready for either global event.  Necessary facilities, venues and transportation infrastructure are barely even at the drawings stage. Everyone we met, however, remains supremely confident.  Baffling to visitors from a nation that can take four years just to check for endangered species on a development site!  

Fifth, business support networks and civic economic development groups (chamber-like entities) are even harder to sort out in Brazil than they are in the U.S.  There are chambers, business associations and industry groups of all kinds in every jurisdiction, with overlays of national chamber-like groups and Am-chams. 

Sixth, the health care system is a two-tiered mess.  About 75 percent of the people are relegated to the public (government supplied) provider platform, which is so overwhelmed that a seriously broken leg may take weeks to be seen or set.  Inadequate public hospital hallways are jammed with prone sick and injured patients waiting endlessly for care.  Meanwhile, there is a private healthcare system that anyone with a decent job pays out of pocket to access.  Our briefing on this reality was a reminder that when reform advocates in the U.S. say that "most major industrialized and developing nations in the world provide government health care," they are both right and wrong. 

A final note shared by all travelers on this trip, which has an impact on both doing business and touring in Brazil:  The citizens of this nation live life to the fullest.  Compared to any developing nation and most Industrial countries, the people of Brazil are happy. It shows on the streets, the beaches, the work sites, the rural bus stops and, surprisingly, even in the favelas.  Global contentment index research confirms that they're a happy bunch, but it is evident without the numbers.  I am aware that it is always unwise to judge the spirit and well-being of a nation through the eyes of a well-off tourist, or a prosperous host.  But when your government is not oppressive, food is plentiful (though becoming expensive), the weather is ideal, the society is open and accepting (racially/culturally), the future holds economic hope and the basics are available (there are more cell phones than people in Brazil), the living of life is possible.


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Road Reports - Built to Last

Ian Scott on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 2:45:00 pm 

Road Reports – Part 1
I’ve been burning up the airports and highways over the past month visiting multiple ACCE member chambers across several states. I never fail to take away valuable tidbits and lessons from every visit. The first installment of this series comes from Kansas City:

Built to Last

Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza is a case study in the sustained economic viability of well-designed, well-positioned mixed used urban development. The planned, open air, retail-dining-hotel-residential project opened in 1922 but looks and feels as vibrant as the newest high end entertainment district in the country. The 15 block district was packed with shoppers and diners when I visited on a Wednesday in April.  Many suburban strip malls are still suffering high vacancy rates, but the Plaza is evidence that with insightful planning, quality management and attention to trends, a retail space can weather many storms.

Lest you think KC is resting on its urban development laurels, during my visit I also saw the new 285,000 square foot glass-enclosed Kauffman Performing Arts Center home to resident organizations, the Kansas City Ballet, Lyric Opera, and Symphony. The Center is positioned to bridge downtown with the hotels and corporate offices in midtown at Crown Center – home of Hallmark’s world headquarters.

Downtown, the 8 block, Cordish developed Power and Light District, which opened in 2008, has become a destination for conventioneers, sports fans and locals alike.  Sandwiched between H&R Block headquarters and a new arena, the Power and Light District is great for lunch crowds but made for weekend parties.

All across town, Kansas City is building and building to last.


Tags: placemaking; mixed use, road reports, urban development

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Congress May Kill the American Community Survey

Chaaron Pearson on Monday, May 14, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 

What does this mean for business?

Under pressure to cut spending, the House voted to kill the American Community Survey (ACS), which collects data on approximately 3 million households each year. The data helps determine where federal and state funds are spent; businesses use the data for marketing and expansion decisions.

The US Chamber is advocating that the Census, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis continue to be funded because their members rely so heavily on the information generated by these agencies. Tom Beers, executive director of the National Association of Business Economists, argues that without good economic data, businesses are forced to play a guessing game with the economy.

The ACS is also finding friends at the Cato Institute, American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. Phillip Swagel, an economist at AEI, says this data is important for an accurate picture of the economy and that funding the ACS shouldn’t be a political issue.

To read more: Bloomberg Businessweek: Killing the American Community Survey Blinds Business

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We have a winner!

Tania Kohut on Friday, May 11, 2012 at 12:00:00 am 

Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another isn't the only one celebrating a win! Congrats to Karena Boesel, vice president of membership at the Boise Metro (ID) Chamber, who is the lucky winner of ACCE's Kentucky Derby Prize Package!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our contest and to the Louisville CVB for providing the prize package.

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