An Affinity Program Worth Studying

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Always looking for what’s new in the world of chamber affinity programs, ACCE’s Chris Mead stumbled upon one that offers fantastic education savings for members of the Naperville, Ill., Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC).  

It’s the Naperville Chamber of Commerce Tuition Discount Program that is offered through Benedictine University - an independent Roman Catholic institution in Lisle, Ill. just 25 miles west of Chicago.  According to the program’s website, there are two plans available at the school’s main campus:

  •  Individual Plan: Twenty-five percent (25%) discount on traditional undergraduate and graduate tuition for NACC members and immediate family.
  • Chamber Company Plan: Chamber companies sponsoring an adult accelerated learning program of 15 or more students at their site are eligible to receive a 50% tuition discount per student.

Quite a deal with a school that is recognized as one of the best in America. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2001-2011 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.

For more information on this program, click here.

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Creating Pride of Place in Saratoga

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Saratoga has built it and now they want you to come and see it—and take home ideas for your own community! In April the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce will host a conference: “Experience Saratoga Springs – How to Create a Vibrant Downtown.” This two-day event (April 3-4) will showcase Saratoga Springs and explain how it has become one of the most vibrant downtowns in America. The event is the first of its kind for the chamber, and it’s being presented with help from the mayor, the City Center, and the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau.

According to Todd Shimkus, CCE, president of the Saratoga Springs Chamber, the keynote presentation by Sally Hogshead at last year’s ACCE convention inspired the chamber to structure this conference as an experiential learning event. “This past summer at the ACCE national leadership conference, I saw a presentation by Sally Hogshead on how organizations can be fascinating,” said Shimkus. “From that session, we transformed our plans for this conference from one where people interested in downtown development sit in an auditorium and listen to expert speakers to one that is more captivating, engaging and fun. Our three unique and separate conference experiences, and the assignment of local personal escorts, will enable attendees to really see, feel and taste (because of the Springs) the vibrancy of our downtown and to learn how the actions our community took to rebuild our downtown over many years can be replicated.”

Conference attendees – including economic developers, city planners, downtown business association leaders, chamber executives, and others – will be organized into small groups of between 12 and 20, and a personal escort will be assigned to each group. Participants will have the choice of three unique “experiences” where they will stay overnight in one of three different hotels, dine at select local restaurants, visit with retailers and meet with different local leaders depending upon the experience they select. The “Spa-Set” experience will focus on how cities can attract upscale residents, tourists and development to their downtowns. The “Saratoga Adventure Awaits” experience will explore how cities can attract young professionals to live and visit their downtowns. The “Saratoga Community” experience will delve into details of how local people can rebuild their downtowns one project at a time through public-private partnerships. Along with the experiences, the conference will include a few general assemblies with panel presentations led by local experts.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit:

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Touchdown Greater Omaha Chamber! (Thanks, Peyton Manning!)

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

With Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning barking “Omaha!” a reported 44 times during last Sunday’s (1/12) divisional playoff game against the San Diego Chargers, the Greater Omaha Chamber wasn’t going to shrug off all the resulting attention.

As the chamber's press release explains, after Manning’s “Omaha! Omaha!” shouts garnered more than 1,000 print, broadcast and Internet mentions, the Greater Omaha Chamber decided to send some love back to Peyton and Denver with a fun video: “Denver's Set. XOXO Omaha.” 

“This 30-second spot highlights our city that prides itself on moving the ball forward,” said David G. Brown, the Chamber’s president and CEO. “We think there are a lot of new football fans that will be watching the Denver Broncos this Sunday, and we hope there are a lot of new Omaha fans as well.”

The Omaha business community is also getting into the game by sending its own “shout-out” to the superstar quarterback. Omaha-based companies, including ConAgra Foods, First National Bank of Omaha, Mutual of OmahaOmaha Steaks, Union PacificCenturyLink and DJ's Dugout, have pledged to donate a combined $700 to Manning’s “Peyback Foundation” every time he says “Omaha” during this Sunday’s playoff game against the New England Patriots. Follow the latest on the effort on social media: #OmahaPeysback.

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Benchmarking and Evaluation Tools for Your Chamber

HERO team/Audrey Imhoff on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Salary Survey

Are you looking for benchmarking information to use with your board, staff, and compensation committee?  ACCE has many great tools to help!  We just released a brand new PDF publication of our salary survey results for 2013-14.  This publication is for sale in the ACCE Store.  It includes salary information for 16 different positions and breaks down the data by total annual revenue, number of staff, number of members, and other measures.  If you are only looking for CEO salary information, we also have a CEO-only publication that contains this data.  The tables and graphs in both publications are easy-to-read and can be taken directly to your compensation committee for use in a meeting.  For more information about our salary survey, including information about how to get free, anonymous spreadsheets of data from the salary survey, go to our Salary Survey webpage.  

Evaluation Forms

Does your board want to do a self-evaluation, or do they need a form to evaluate the CEO?  We have examples of both that can be found through our Governance and Leadership Chamberpedia pages, under the Hiring and Assessing page.  See some examples here:

Operations Survey

Another valuable benchmarking tool is our annual Operations Survey.  The 2013-14 Operations Survey will be open for your participation from February 1st to March 1st, so stay tuned for more information in your email inbox and on our Operations Survey webpage.  

Please note - for ACCE's online resources, members will need to Log in with your username and password. (Forgot your password? Click here.) Have questions, need research assistance, or want to suggest a new link or contribute to our Samples? Please email us at

Tags: Compensation, HERO, Salary, Survey, Benchmarking

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Minimum Wage Debate Taking Center Stage

Carmen Hickerson on Monday, January 13, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

President Obama and Congress are talking about it.  More than 12 states are considering it and several more have already done it.  And workers around the country are rallying about it. What is ‘it’?  Raising the minimum wage. 

The White House got the ball rolling on the current discussion by including it in the State of the Union speech, with President Obama declaring that “no one who works full time should have to live in poverty.”  On Black Friday, protests were held at several Walmart stores to draw attention to the issue, and in December, fast-food workers in hundreds of U.S. cities staged a day of rallies to demand higher wages.

The current rate of $7.25 per hour was last increased in 2009.  While Washington remains gridlocked on the issue, several states, as well as some localities, saw increases approved last year go into effect on January 1.  Some were modest increases, but New Jersey voters approved a minimum wage increase of $1.00 to $8.25 and California lawmakers raised that state’s to the highest in the nation at $10. Click here for an overview of the minimum wage changes taking place in 2014.  This year, 12 states and the District of Columbia will be considering minimum wage hikes through legislation or ballot initiatives.

Proponents of the increase argue that  hiking the minimum wage is not only necessary to improve the lives of millions of workers and their families, but that it also improves the economy by increasing purchasing power and creating more stability for the middle class.  However, opponents believe that an increase disproportionately affects small businesses and that such a move would be counterproductive by decreasing opportunity for those young and lower-skilled looking to enter the workforce.  Economists cannot agree on the effects of a minimum wage increase.  Some studies report that higher minimum wages lead to higher unemployment because employers cut labor costs by offering fewer hours and fewer new jobs.  However, other reports indicate little to no negative effects.

One thing for certain is that the debate is not going away any time soon.  As Chambers of Commerce it’s an issue we can’t afford to ignore as it affects nearly every business sector in some way.  At ACCE, we’d love to know what you think?  Have you started talking about the issue internally or with your board and policy committees?  Do you have an existing policy position on minimum/living wage?  Email us with your chamber’s take on the issue at

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Oslo Business for Peace Award: Submit Nominees

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Oslo-based Business for Peace Foundation are seeking nominees for the 2014 Oslo Business for Peace Award, a global honor recognizing inspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs who combine ethical responsibility with business success. Submit a nomination for the award by Feb. 1.

The ICC, an official supporting partner of the award, together with local chambers of commerce, assists in the global nomination process for the Business for Peace Award by searching for outstanding business people who have been able to achieve business success while acting in an ethically responsible way. The 2013 Business for Peace Awards were given to six outstanding business people from Brazil, Denmark, Pakistan, Yemen, and the United States. View the complete list of last year’s winners.

The Business for Peace Awards were given for the first time in 2009 in Oslo, Norway, the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, with honorees chosen by a committee of past Nobel Prize winners.

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Resources For Working With Boards

HERO Team / Sarah Myers on Friday, January 3, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Chambers commonly have questions about working with board members. Common questions include "How do I orient my new board members?" and "How do I manage conflicts of interest on my board?" or "How can I effectively work with my new board chair?" ACCE's HERO portal contains resources to address these questions and more!

Books in the ACCE Store:

ACCE University eCourse:

  • Chamber 101: Introducing the Work of Chambers of Commerce: In this foundational 8-part eCourse twelve chamber practitioners offer a broad stroke presentation that highlights the work of chambers. This online course is designed to both work in tandem with chamber staff and board orientation programming, while offering a flexibile training tool that can be incorporated into any chamber retreat, lunch-n-learn or training activity.

Chamberpedia pages:

Chamber Executive Magazine articles:

Samples – Board Management:

Other Resources:

Outside of ACCE, other valuable resources for working with boards are avaialble through They offer publications through their Learning Center. Some of their resources are free and some have a cost.


Please note - for ACCE's online resources, members will need to Log in with your username and password. (Forgot your password? Click here.) Have questions, need research assistance, or want to suggest a new link or contribute to our Samples? Please email us at



Tags: Board Management, Chamberpedia, HERO, Samples Library, Working with Boards

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