A Chamber's Great Idea to File for Christmas 2014

Tania Kohut on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 7:45:00 am 

Laura E. Weis, IOM, ACE, president and CEO of the Champaign County (IL) Chamber of Commerce, recently shared with ACCE an idea that has proven to be an easy, fun way to reach out to members and get them engaged during the holidays.

In her email to ACCE, Laura wrote: "Sometimes it’s the 'quick, really didn’t give it much thought' idea that gets everyone talking. What started as an innocent conversation among our staff about 'Elf on the Shelf' phenomenon turned into 'Charlie Chamber Shops Local.'”

For the 12 days of Christmas, Charlie Chamber visited local companies and the chamber posted his adventures on Facebook. On Day 1, staff spent the good part of the day stopping in at various chamber member locations and posed Charlie in their place at work. The chamber posted clues through Facebook and gave away gift cards between Dec. 12 until Christmas. According to Laura, "People loved it." 

Catch Charlie's adventures by visiting the Champaign County Chamber's Facebook page



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Nashville Chamber Releases 21st Annual Education Report Card

Jessie Azrilian on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

Today, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Education Report Card Committee released the 2013 Education Report Card for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS). The Chamber has convened a diverse group of business and community leaders to evaluate the progress of Nashville’s public school system for 21 years. Each year, the committee chooses a further area of study that is critical for student success. This year’s focus is Common Core State Standards, the state’s new academic standards that align with college and career-readiness benchmarks.

Mixed Results 

This year Tennessee was named the fastest-improving state in the country on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). While, the committee's report found declines and plateaus in areas such as English language arts scores and middle school achievement, they applauded the district on many initiatives including its Academic Performance Framework and the ambitious goals of the 2018 strategic plan. Marc Hill, Chief Policy Officer for the Nashville Chamber provides an overview of the committee's presentation and recommendations here: 


Beginning its work in August, the 24-member committee conducted more than 30 interviews, collected data and visited schools, before issuing five recommendations in the areas of school system performance and Common Core State Standards.

This year’s committee recommendations are:
•Metro Schools should take decisive action toward discontinuing their persistently lowest-performing, under-enrolled school programs under the new district Academic Performance Framework.
•Metro Schools should implement an aggressive strategy to recruit and retain high-performing bilingual teachers.
•Metro Government should allow enrolled K-12 students to ride Metropolitan Transit Authority buses at no cost to the student, making school choice a real possibility for Nashville’s students and families.
•The Tennessee General Assembly should stay the course in implementing Common Core State Standards and the corresponding PARCC assessment.
•Metro Schools should implement a strategy to communicate with parents, teachers, students and the broader public about the increased rigor and higher expectations that correspond with Common Core Standards.

To view this year’s complete report, visit:

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Education Attainment Resources You Can Use 24/7

HERO Team/Sarah Myers on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

Be sure to read ACCE's Education Attainment Division's latest blog post on "Business-Friendly Tools Chambers Can Use to Support a College & Career-Ready Agenda" (12/13/2013).  This post highlights updated resources and tools you can use for education attainment, workforce readiness, and Common Core Standards for chambers and your members. If your chamber is doing any work in Education & Workforce Development, be sure to get connected to ACCE's Education Attainment Division in our Divisions & Groups. HERO content relies on your contributions. Have a Sample document, link, or resource to share with us? Email to contribute resources or ask us a question.

Tags: common core, education, Education Attainment, HERO, Workforce Development

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Business-Friendly Tools Chambers Can Use to Support a College & Career-Ready Agenda

Jessie Azrilian on Friday, December 13, 2013 at 11:21:00 am 

As 48 states begin to implement new K-12 standards and assessments chambers are poised to bridge the education community with the needs of employers to prepare the future workforce to be competitive in a global economy.  In order to assist chambers at all levels of engagement the K-12 section of ACCE's online HERO information library features business-friendly resources related to next generation assessments and Common Core State Standards.  

College and Career Readiness
The Education and Workforce Development section of the HERO portal contains resources chambers can use to engage their communities across the whole cradle to career spectrum. The K-12 section of ACCE's online Chamberpedia features business-friendly tools, samples and FAQs catered to all levels of interest and engagement whether you are interested in simply learning more about Common Core State Standards or are actively working with business leaders, schools, higher education institutions, etc. to prepare your communities to successfully implement more rigorous standards and assessments. 

Common Core 101 & the Role of Business
Introductory resources to new standards and assessments include: a presentation for chambers and employers on Understanding Common Core Standards by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; a presentation by Tim Sheehy, President, Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce on Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards; and a Myth vs. Facts sheet prepared by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. 

Next Generation Standards and Assessments - Tools & Resources for Chambers
Additional materials found in the College and Career Readiness section serve to showcase what is being done to raise the bar for the future workforce and offers tools from experts and chamber leaders on how to get involved. The section includes: blog posts from chamber executives; a communications toolkit to reach policymakers, the media and the general public (including your employees) with a consistent business message about the need for improvements to our nation’s education system; sample common core pledge and letter from business leaders; and customizable one-page PARCC and SBAC flyers that organizations can add their logo and website to on how business leaders can work in partnership with schools and districts to shape new policies and practices.  

Our Chamberpedia pages and Samples Library are populated by your contributions, so we invite you to help us continue to grow and expand on these valuable resources. Have a case study for how your chamber is supporting next generation standards and assessments in your community? Email or Visit the EAD page to learn more information about the Education Attainment Division. Check out the Mentor Program to connect with chamber leaders with education and workforce development expertise or sign up to become a Mentor yourself!

*Note: you will need your ACCE login (jsmith) and password (EAD123) to access the links on this post and HERO resources. 


Tags: Chamberpedia, EAD, education, HERO, K-12

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Google Assists in Honoring Veterans

Tania Kohut on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

At this time of year, since 1992, the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America lays holiday wreaths on more than 100,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, which is about six miles from ACCE’s offices. It is a touching tradition and a visually stunning tribute to our fallen heroes. But this year, according to The Washington Post, Wreaths Across America, which places wreaths on graves in 900 cemeteries nationwide, faced a financial shortfall that threatened its work at Arlington Cemetery. Wreaths Across America “had about 12 percent more donations this year than last,” the Post reported, but “many corporate sponsors who previously had supported the Arlington effort decided this year to split their contributions between Arlington and other military cemeteries around the nation.”

Now, thanks to a $250,000 donation from Google (an official corporate sponsor of ACE), plus other individual donations, nearly 120,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery will be decorated with holiday wreaths the morning of Dec. 14.

If you would like to help Wreaths Across America meet its goal of placing a wreath at every one of Arlington’s 240,000 headstones next year, visit

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San Francisco Chamber Unveils New Look

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

This fall, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce unveiled a bold new look and brand identity. Thanks to the talent of San Francisco’s world-renowned designer Primo Angeli and brand agency Stapley-Hildebrand, the chamber’s new look reflects the city’s unique and innovative business community.clientuploads/blogcontent/New-SF-Chamber-of-Commerce-LOGO.jpg

“Over the past 160 years, this organization has evolved to serve San Francisco’s business community, which is the leading force of entrepreneurialism, invention and collaboration across the globe,” said San Francisco Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bob Linscheid. “Our vision is to foster and bolster these ideals, driving business and economic success. Our new look and feel celebrates the attributes that make us unique and pays tribute to the many industries that support our city’s economic prosperity.”

Developing the logo and identity involved a study of the chamber, its work, and its service to the community. In fact, the chamber’s new tagline—“Our City. Your Business.”—conveys the chamber’s two-pronged mission to serve the interests of business and San Francisco. Commenting on the logo, Angeli said “the ‘C’ is for City, Chamber and Community.” Angeli, who has led the branding for major companies such as DHL Worldwide, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola and Nestle, said: “Captured within the illustrative 'C,' we see a tapestry of people, business and landmarks, emphasizing the productive personality of the city and the rich visual landscape in which it thrives. The smaller 'C' connects individual people to a larger discourse of networking opportunities, culture and experiences.”


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Impacting Education: Where are the Resources?

Jessie Azrilian on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 11:17:00 am 

Chambers can influence a broad spectrum of issues by harnessing the collective voice of their business communities. Trends in corporate social responsibility and the burgeoning number of chambers directly involved in increasing regional education outcomes signify growing business involvement in education and workforce development.

A concerted, collaborative effort by local institutions can help identify areas where partners can work together to address pressing educational issues, better leverage resources and have a measurable impact. One way to begin this process is to use external asset mapping to stimulate thinking about potential resources to support your education and workforce development goals.

Consider these steps

  • Determine where along the cradle to career spectrum you would like to engage: Early childhood education, K-12, post-secondary, workforce development?
  • Choose a focus for your activity: Programs, policy, systems reform, messaging?
  • Consider potential funding sources: Corporate sponsors, foundations, government funding, government funding through competitive grants (e.g., Race to the Top), community-based organizations?

An ACCE Quickpoll of 236 chamber executives found that two out of three cited a lack of staff or funding as the main obstacle to becoming involved in education and workforce development. However, chambers have overcome this hurdle through leveraging the impact of their business leaders to attract strategic partners and funders. 


  • The Talbot (MD) Chamber was part of a community team that raised money to purchase a laptop computer for every student from 8th grade until graduation. This program grew into the One to One Laptop Initiative and is now funded through the local school district as a budget item.

  • The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s education and talent development initiatives include K-12 education improvement, talent recruitment and retention, and workforce systems development. Most of the funding for these initiatives comes from their Partnership 2020 economic development strategy, a five-year, 10-county strategic plan. In addition, the chamber has received funds for specific projects and initiatives from area corporations and philanthropists, local and national foundations and the region’s three Workforce Investment Boards.
  • UNITE-LA, the education and workforce development arm of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, works with member companies, corporate foundations, local community based-organizations and philanthropic foundations to foster education and workforce development systems that support Los Angeles’ youth and the development of a thriving regional economy. UNITE-LA seeks public grants to support and promote these collaborative partnerships.

  • Through their multi-partner regional business, community, and economic development collaborative, Sarasota Tomorrow Next, the Greater Sarasota (FL) Chamber of Commerce allocates funds from membership pledges for education and workforce development initiatives.

  • The Arlington (TX) Chamber of Commerce partnered with their local university, workforce investment boards and city government to establish a co-owned and operated Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development.

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding to the Kentucky Chamber Foundation to develop their communications and business outreach campaign to build a coalition of business leaders advocating for college-and-career-ready standards in Kentucky.

  • In Texas, funding for the Austin Chamber’s wide array of workforce and talent development initiatives was derived from a line item within Opportunity Austin, a five-county initiative for job creation in Central Texas fueled by $14.4 million in business investments. 

The business voice is the strongest force to address the need for a highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of our global economy, and this work is something that every chamber can lead. For more information about ACCE's Education Attainment Division email or call 703-998-3571. 

Tags: EAD, education, Workforce Development

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Chamberís Cyber Monday Offer

Tania Kohut on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

A great idea for your chamber!

Instead of just shopping on Cyber Monday, Ohio’s Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce got in on the event by offering a deal. On Monday, Dec. 2, the Internet’s version of Black Friday, the Twinsburg Chamber conducted an online membership sale. Their offer? Any first-timers joining the chamber at any membership level received 10 percent off a first year's membership. Added bonus? Those who took advantage of this membership deal received one free ad in the chamber's monthly e-newsletter.

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Pew Releases New Report on the Fiscal Health of States

Carmen Hickerson on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

“More than four years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, states’ financial conditions are improving, but most have yet to get back to where they were on some key measures of fiscal health.”  That’s the headline from a report just completed by the Pew Charitable Trust.  Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis examined data from all 50 states and its analysis determined that state governments still face additional difficulties that could set them back even as the economy picks up.

The fiscal health of state governments is important to the interests of chambers of commerce for many reasons.  As states continue to struggle to fund critical services such as health care for the needy, basic education, transportation and public safety, they are not able to invest in more long-term strategies, and there is additional pressure to find new sources of revenue.

Further, state finances matter because of their impact on the U.S. economy. State spending accounts for 4 percent of the nation’s economic output, and states provide about one-third of local governments’ budgets.

While the report finds that some measures are moving in the right direction, unavoidable pressures loom and could slow further recovery. One hurdle is the burden of unfunded pension and retiree health care costs for public workers.  Another challenge is the prospect of more federal budget cuts—coming after a period in which federal dollars made up a bigger share of overall state revenue than at any time in at least 50 years.

Pew’s Fiscal 50 identifies five core areas that contribute to states’ fiscal health: Revenue, Spending, Economy and People, Long-term Costs, and Fiscal Policy. Within this framework, Pew highlights trends, makes 50-state comparisons, and provides unique insights into significant fiscal, economic, and demographic indicators that influence state finances.

For most indicators, Fiscal 50 allows users to compare their state to others and to a national benchmark, providing insights and perhaps raising questions in state capitals about why states lead or lag behind their peers. This resource will be updated when new data are available, and additional indicators and further analysis will be added.

Click here to access the full interactive report.  For questions or more information, contact Sarah Leiseca,, 202.540.6369.




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Mick's Thanksgiving Message

Mick Fleming on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne

Reading to a grandchild provides wonderful insights. Like Winnie the Pooh’s fluff-stuffed friend, I’m surprised that my inadequate heart can hold the gratitude I feel for members, directors, allies, dedicated staff, long-suffering family and dear friends. Thank you. No, really! Thank you.

Am also grateful to George, a friend serving in Afghanistan, or maybe Iraq or Kuwait (never sure from week to week), for the personal reminder of those who won’t be with families on Thursday.

My little heart also has room for a few dreams. I pray that one of these Thanksgivings, I will express my gratitude to courageous leaders who somehow restored civil discourse and compromise to American politics. All of us may need to pitch in a bit on that one. Oh bother!


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