Meet the newest Certified Chamber Executives

Ben Wills on Tuesday, July 25, 2017 at 1:37:00 pm 

Nine chamber of commerce leaders from six states have recently joined an elite roster of professionals who have earned the Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) designation.

Since the first CCE designation was conferred some 40 years ago, more than 500 chamber professionals have become certified. More than 250 people have an active certification today.

ACCE celebrated this year’s Certified Chamber Executives — Lucia Cape, Brad Dean. Megan Lucas, Cheryl Millsaps, Mark Owens, Jeff Rea, Barbara Thomason, Michael Ward and Joyce Waugh — in the heart of downtown Nashville at the #ACCEAwards Show on Tuesday, July 18.

“The CCE program assesses and tests the applicant's knowledge of core chamber management areas —management, planning and development, membership and communication, and operations,” says Bob Quick, CCE, president and CEO of Commerce Lexington Inc. and CCE commission chairman. “Chamber professionals who are designated CCEs have rightfully earned this outstanding recognition through hard work, countless hours of dedication to their field, and leadership of their chamber to achieve the chamber’s goals. We are proud to have this year’s class join a long tradition of professional excellence.”

See photos of our newest CCEs at the #ACCEAwards Show

Congratulations, from your friends at ACCE!

Lucia Cape, CCE
Senior Vice President, Economic Development, Industry Relations & Workforce
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce
Huntsville, Alabama

Brad Dean, CCE, IOM
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Megan Lucas, CCE, IOM, CEcD
CEO & Chief Economic Development Officer
Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance
Lynchburg, Virginia

Cheryl Millsaps, CCE, IOM, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Vice President of Finance and Administration
Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Mark Owens, CCE, IOM
Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce
Greer, South Carolina

Jeff Rea, CCE
President and CEO
South Bend Regional Chamber
South Bend, Indiana

Barbara Thomason, CCE, IOM, PCED
Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce
Houston, Texas

Michael D. Ward, CCE, IOM
Senior Vice President, Government & Public Affairs
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce
Huntsville, Alabama

Joyce W. Waugh, CCE, IOM, CEcD
President & CEO
Roanoke Regional Chamber
Roanoke, Virginia

Learn more about the Certified Chamber Executive designation and meet our CCE Commissioners.

Tags: #ACCEAwards, CCE, Certified Chamber Executive

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Congratulations, Chamber(s) of the Year!

Ben Wills on Monday, July 24, 2017 at 9:07:00 am 

Last week at the annual #ACCEAwards Show, nearly one-thousand community-builders gathered at Music City Center in downtown Nashville to celebrate winners of many special awards, including Chamber of the Year.

Sponsored by WebLink, Chamber of the Year is the most prestigious and competitive award presented by ACCE and is the only globally-recognized industry award that honors top chambers of commerce for exemplary work.

Meet the winners (photos) >

State/Province Category
Georgia Chamber

Category Four
Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce

Category Three
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Category Two
Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce

Category One
O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce & Industries

This year's competition drew entries from chambers throughout the U.S. and Canada. To ensure the fairest competition, applicants are grouped into five categories based on: annual revenue, membership, area population, and several other factors.

Learn more about Chamber of the Year here.

Tags: #ACCEAwards, Awards, Chamber of the Year

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Sheree Anne Kelly named ACCE’s next CEO

Ben Wills on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at 9:03:00 am 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives is excited to announce that Sheree Anne Kelly has been named as the organization's next president and CEO.

Sheree Anne, who currently serves as senior vice president at Washington, D.C.-based Public Affairs Council, will join the ACCE team September 5. Mick Fleming, who has served as ACCE's president and CEO since July 2001, will continue to serve the organization throughout the transition.

Sheree Anne Kelly says hello to ACCE members

"Finding a talented leader is often a daunting task when searching for the best person to lead a proven and successful association," said ACCE Board Chairman Jay Chesshir, CCE, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber. "Everyone involved in the executive search process has been extremely impressed with Sheree Anne and we look forward to working with her to build upon the amazing impact, strength, and resources we've created over the last 16 years."

Kelly was the unanimous choice of ACCE's 15-member CEO Search Committee, chaired by Roy H. Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. The committee worked with executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry.

"We went through a very methodical, disciplined process to find the right person," Williams said. "And at the end of that process, I believe the entire committee felt we perhaps exceeded our own expectations by finding Sheree Anne. Her attitude, enthusiasm, skill set, and personality should combine to take ACCE to a new level."

Kelly currently serves as PAC's chief public affairs expert and deputy for the organization, and executive director of PAC's Foundation for Public Affairs. In addition to strategic planning, operations management, and research oversight, she directs the Council's public affairs staff responsible for consulting, thought leadership and training on best practices and ethical considerations. She launched the international practice for PAC, which opened its first overseas office in Brussels in 2013. She's a frequent keynote speaker and guest lecturer, having delivered presentations across North America, Europe, and Asia. Prior to joining PAC, Kelly worked in the government affairs department of the National Association of Home Builders, and held positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in corporate relations and corporate development.

"Since my first job out of college was working for the U.S. Chamber," Kelly said, "ACCE is a real full-circle career moment. I've always had this idealism about giving back to communities and groups, and being a productive contributor to a mission-driven organization, so working with chamber leaders and ACCE's staff is a thrilling opportunity."

View the full press release

Tags: ACCE News

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Funding the Detroit Promise

Ben Goldstein on Thursday, July 6, 2017 at 12:00:00 am 
Image courtesy of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce

 The ongoing economic recovery of Detroit has produced some real success stories. Since filing for municipal bankruptcy back in 2013, Motor City has enjoyed a solid comeback, accompanied by a building boom in its downtown core.

But, as is the case in much of the country, the recovery in Detroit has been markedly uneven. Since 2007, employment for suburban residents has increased by more than 16 percent, while at the same time falling by 35 percent for the city’s urbanites, according to data from City Lab.

At the Detroit Regional Chamber, Greg Handel, vice president of education and talent programs, wants to attack this inequality by its roots—by providing low-income students at Detroit public highs schools with funding to attend community college, tuition free.

“There’s this big economic revitalization going on, and a lot of these new jobs demand a highly skilled workforce,”explained Handel. “There’s a hope that if we get more students onto a pathway for college, they’ll be able to fill these jobs that are coming back downtown.”

Handel says the program will also help reduce the the number of families leaving the city. Detroit’s population, which stood at well over a million residents for most of the 1990s, has fallen to just 676,312 residents in 2016, the last year data was available.

“This is largely about retention of residents,” said Handel. “The city has been losing residents, so there’s a hope that this will slow down or end that drain away from the city.”

In 2011, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder formed a working group with the Detroit Regional Chamber to brainstorm ways to reform the city’s education system. They settled on a last-dollar scholarship program, to be administered by the chamber and funded by the Michigan Educational Excellence Foundation, a nonprofit business foundation created to improve education outcomes for low-income Detroiters.

The new scholarship, which made community college available tuition-free for all students in the city, became known as the Detroit Promise.

“As we look to the future, the next generation of leaders is being developed here in our schools,” said Gov. Rick Snyder last Fall in a blog post. “The Detroit Promise helps to provide access to a high-quality education, so that our students are equipped with the skills necessary to continue the city’s comeback for generations to come.”

More than 2,000 students have used the funds to attend community college since the program’s inception four years ago. Starting last year, the Promise was expanded to several four-year universities in the area—although students must have at least a 3.0 GPA and a score of 1060 on the SAT to gain admission.

Of the students who attended community college through the scholarship, about 20 percent graduated, which is roughly the national average for low-income, first-generation students, said Handel. To boost success rates, the chamber hired coaches to help students navigate the college experience.

“From research, we know that some low-income, first-year students enter college with a feeling they don’t belong,” said Handel. “Coaches encourage them not to get too stressed or too down on themselves, especially after that first setback.”

Looking ahead, Handel hopes to increase the numbers of students attending community college through the Promise from 500 to 700, and to roughly double the graduation rate for participating students to 40 percent.

“As employers look to hire Detroit residents for jobs and internships, we want to encourage our students to be in that pipeline,” said Handel. “A lot of these students believe that college is a luxury they can’t afford, even if the tuition is paid for. We want to show these kids that a pathway to success exists.”

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Solving San Francisco’s gridlock puzzle

Ben Goldstein on Thursday, July 6, 2017 at 12:00:00 am 

For decades, the San Francisco Bay area has been a region of prosperity. Fueled by the wealth of Silicon Valley, the city’s population growth shows no sign of slowing down.

Now, the region’s renowned public transit systems are feeling the strain of decades of expansion, as traffic congestion makes it hard to move around and causes headaches for everyone—businesses and consumers alike.

At the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Senior Vice President for Public Policy Jim Lazarus sounds a sanguine tone about traffic in the city.

“We don’t have congestion—we call it traffic,” he chuckled. “Traffic is good, congestion is bad.”

Lazarus has a behind-the-scenes view, as a member of the city’s new taskforce on reducing traffic, led by the San Francisco Chamber, which includes staff from the mayor’s office, regional agencies and a coterie of business associations.

“We have a fairly robust rapid transit system, but it’s bursting at the seams carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers a day,” said Lazarus. “There are no reverse commutes anymore. The traffic moves in all directions, all the time.”

The working group launched in 2015, in response to concerns the city would struggle to accommodate the one million expected visitors for Super Bowl 50. After the city successfully handled the influx, the group decided to continue meeting monthly to further develop strategies toward curbing the snarling congestion enveloping San Francisco’s winding grid system.

“This kind of ad hoc process led into some major meetings to give input to the city and the NFL,” said Lazarus. “That Superbowl, transit carried record loads, business didn’t grind to a halt and we survived with the kind of security constraints that were imposed on the town.”

At the working group’s monthly meetings, the agenda deals with strategies for enforcing traffic and parking control, as well as incentivizing sustainable options like carpooling and public transit. The group also studies current trends, like the effects of ride-sharing firms Uber and Lyft, which now comprise roughly 20 percent of the city’s traffic, according to a report from the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

“There’s probably 56,000 ridesharing vehicles on the streets at any peak time in San Francisco,” said Lazarus. “It obviously adds to traffic, but it’s also replacing vehicles, so we’re trying to learn what the real net impact of all this is.”

And, in a nod to its Silicon Valley DNA, the working group is planning with an eye toward future adoption of autonomous vehicles, which Lazarus believes is looming on the horizon.

“Autonomous vehicles are going to give road capacity a big bump up, meaning there will be more vehicles in the same amount of roadway,” said Lazarus. “We don’t know what the full effects will be, but we think it will move traffic better if you take some of the human error out of the equation.”

Public transit in the region accommodates nearly one million passengers daily. The city has slated transit improvements for the next 510 years, including the electrification of the Caltrain commuter line and the addition of new several planned subway stations, that are expected to boost the system’s capacity.

“With the growth of deliveries, jobs, private vehicles and rideshare, San Francisco can’t add to the street grid,” said Lazarus. “We can only try to make it more efficient, and that’s our real goal here.”

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