Awards for Communications Excellence Winners Named

Tania Kohut on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 12:00:00 am 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced winners of its Communications Excellence awards program.

ACCE’s Awards for Communications Excellence program, generously supported by Facebook, is designed to showcase top communications and marketing work of chambers of commerce and similar organizations. Several thousand award entries have been submitted since the launch of the competition, which is now in its thirty-sixth year. These entries highlight some of the freshest and most innovative marketing and communications work coming from ACCE member organizations of all types and sizes.

“Chambers of commerce are the storytellers and megaphones for their communities,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Their innovative efforts to help drive engagement and change in the regions they serve are inspiring. Creative communications that spur action are what earned them this well-deserved recognition.”

A panel of judges — marketing and communications leaders from chambers of commerce in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia — evaluated 173 entries submitted for this year’s competition.

Entries were organized by category — based on the chamber’s annual revenue — and entry type: campaigns, digital media, event marketing and print and electronic publications. Judges presented 12 Awards of Excellence and three Best in Show awards. ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly reveals the Best in Show winners in the video below.

Award of Excellence Winners


Choose Joplin Marketing Campaign | Joplin Area Chamber Of Commerce 

To attract both talent and new industry to Joplin, Missouri, the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce (JACC) launched a #ChooseJoplin online ad campaign. Using the Choose Joplin website, related video assets, and a sophisticated inbound marketing funnel, they aimed to showcase their low cost of living, supportive community, and quality-of-life attributes to targeted, prospective businesses and individuals. The campaign reached 458,434 people, resulted in 1,132,422 video ad impressions, over 18,000 site visits, two business relocations/expansions, over 200 jobs created, and resulted in digital economy workers being recruited to their metro. 

Digital Media
Resilience@Work | The Chamber of Catawba County 

Our video, “Resilience@Work”, premiered at our Future of Catawba County Summit & Annual Shareholders & Investors Meeting. It is our celebration of the incredible leadership and resilience which has been displayed by our business community and our attempt to give our business and community leaders a glimpse of some of the stories we've witnessed during this unprecedented year.

Event Marketing
S.H.E. Week | Frederick County Chamber of Commerce 

The Frederick County Chamber of Commerce's Women in Business Committee’s mission is to empower and develop women through education, networking, mentoring and partnerships and to promote opportunities for all women throughout Frederick County. S.H.E. Week is an extension of this mission and centers around the concept of Strength, Heart and Equality (S.H.E.). S.H.E. Week occurs the last week of August and centers around Women’s Equality Day. In 2020, Women’s Equality Day also happened to be the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the “Year of the Woman” in the state of Maryland.

Print & Electronic Publications
Economic Outlook Guide | Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce 

Broome County Economic Outlook Guide directly advances the organizational mission by providing our membership with a detailed economic outlook for our area in addition to beneficial market research. This data helps our businesses make informed choices that will grow our local economy. We also conduct a Business Leaders Outlook Survey which is published in the booklet that helps other business leaders better understand how their peers feel about the current and future economic climate in our region, as well as for their industry. This is our fifth year conducting this survey and have begun to map out year over year trends from the data.



Get. Gather. Go. Campaign | Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership 

The Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership (CEP) had one very critical goal—get as many local businesses, regardless of CEP partnership, to apply for a PPP loan as possible. The CEP team spent the weekend after the President signed the CARES Act planning our efforts to inform and encourage local businesses to pursue PPP loans. On the following Monday, the CEP kicked off the Get. Gather. Go. initiative. With this initiative, the CEP sought to GET businesses informed on the program; have them GATHER the necessary information; and GO apply. After the first round of funding, we determined that 1 in 8 Marion County businesses received a PPP loan. Local businesses far outpaced the state (1 in 25) and nation (1 in 19) in the number of loans funded. 

Digital Media
Wichita Falls Chamber Website | Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce

We rebuilt our website in-house due to a need to combine our economic development and membership sites and an overall need to update the site. We included more virtual tools for economic development, an extensive job board, updated membership information as well as overall community news, programs and events. In 2020, we saw over 35,700 website visits compared to 15,000 in 2019.

Event Marketing
Citizen of the Year Celebration | Greater Manchester Chamber

The Citizen of the Year award recognizes an individual with outstanding leadership and citizenship in the community, while demonstrating exemplary vision, civic pride and commitment to the betterment of society. One of our major goals was to create as much noteworthy buzz about this event and our outstanding honoree in a virtual format as we would in a typical year. A variety of tools were used in marketing the event, that assisted with promotion, production, graphics and more.

Print & Electronic Publications
Forsyth County Chamber's Annual Report | Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce

The Forsyth County Chamber's Annual Report provides the organization's stakeholders with information on the work accomplished during 2020. Though different than the work that was planned for the year, this work (and thus the report document) aligns well with the chamber's aspirational brand, brand adoption words and mission statement. The annual report was an economical project for the chamber since the document was only produced electronically. 



Rebuild Berks Campaign | Greater Reading Chamber Alliance

The Rebuild Berks initiative, organized and overseen by the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance (GRCA), focused on Berks County’s commitment to public health and safety as well as the commitment to restoring economic health to the area. Our organization led the charge on this multimedia branding campaign where all residents of Berks County and beyond with purchasing power were encouraged to buy from local businesses. GRCA asked the Berks County community to "Keep Business Local. Watch Berks Thrive." This campaign netted nearly 29 million impressions and reached more than 590,000 unique individuals.

Digital Media
Chattanooga Open Source | Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce

The Chattanooga Open Source website was created in response to interest our community received from several tech firms. We wanted to create a resource that would speak to their specific needs. We knew that, in many cases, we were speaking to coders. So we believed the classic video game inspired design would appeal to them. Likewise, we wanted to show slices of life in Chattanooga, that were relevant to their interests. So we produced a series of short, documentary style videos, that were featured on the site.

Event Marketing
31st Annual ATHENA Awards Celebration | Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Grand Rapids Chamber Annual ATHENA Awards Celebration was held virtually for the first time in its 31-year history. With average attendance exceeding 500 guests, the chamber translated an event known for its dynamic program and networking opportunities to a virtual format.

Print & Electronic Publications
DSM Forward Playbooks | Greater Des Moines Partnership

The DSM Forward Playbooks served as a catalyst for community-wide strategizing regarding best practices, next steps and industry standards for businesses adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the end of 2020, the DSM Forward playbooks garnered 9,932 unique pageviews. There were 216 downloads of printable resources businesses could use for their operational efforts. This included things like signage reminding of health and safety guidelines, germ mitigation tips, 6' distance markers, etc. Several of these were available in both English and Spanish languages. 


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Weekly Roundup -- April 23,2021

Will Burns on Friday, April 23, 2021 at 12:00:00 am 

Data to Inform Your Strategy

As we work to put together the content for our virtual Chamber Innovation Summit on July 19-21, here are a few reports we’ve come across that could inform your strategic planning for the year ahead. 

  • Community Brands released an association trends study looking at member engagement, loyalty and priorities. It features relevant research and ideas on where membership organizations can go from here.
  • Naylor Association Solutions released its annual Communications Benchmarking Report. Questions were added to address COVID-related communications challenges.
  • ASAE has conducted snapshot surveys throughout the pandemic to understand association decision making on key challenges and opportunities. The latest report was released this week.


#Chamber Strong Initiatives

  • The Greater Gainesville Chamber launched the Inclusive Gainesville initiative, a community-wide approach to equitable economic development and inclusion with a focus on workforce development and supplier diversity.
  • Greater Fort Wayne Inc. is a founding partner of the United Front Initiative, which provides programming and roundtable discussions along with expert insights and the resources businesses need to become more culturally aware, welcoming, and inclusive of people from all backgrounds.
  • The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia launched a new collaboration that aims to undo racial inequalities that pervade the region’s economy by changing how businesses do business. One hundred of the region’s largest employers have committed to a two-year program to diversify their supply chains.
  • Greater Louisville Inc. launched a Racial Equity Pledge that challenges the region’s business community to build a more inclusive economy based on equal opportunity, advancing racial equity, and addressing the damage caused by systemic racism.
  • The Florida Chamber launched the Florida Equity of Opportunity Initiative, a comprehensive chamber-led strategy to cut childhood poverty in half, ensure all third graders are reading at grade level, and champion diversity and inclusiveness in the workplace.
  • OneSpartanburg Inc. released the Year 4 Scorecard for its OneSpartanburg Vision Plan. While the organization pivoted to tackle COVID-related community challenges, it continues to press forward on key initiatives to ensure city’s future success.
  • April is Second Chance Month, and the Kentucky Chamber’s Kentucky Comeback initiative will be highlighting the importance of offering second chances to Kentuckians who have turned their lives around after incarceration.
  • The Missoula Chamber and the Montana Department of Labor teamed up to launch a new Montana Workforce Connections website to promote work-based learning opportunities that help students “earn while they learn” and help employers strengthen the local workforce and keep talent in Missoula.
  • The Glendale Chamber teamed up with Maricopa County Community College District to create the Education Concierge Partnership. The program is designed to provide services and support to employees of chamber member companies to remove barriers working professionals face when returning to college.
  • The CEOs of the Worcester Regional Chamber and the South Shore Chamber in Massachusetts joined together for an op-ed to support the extension of the state’s film production tax credit.
  • The Santa Maria Valley Chamber launched a new program called “Get Your Business Online” to help small businesses learn the strategies and skills necessary to reach customers and grow their businesses online.
  • The Detroit Regional Chamber released a statement outlining the principles that will shape the organization’s engagement on Michigan election reform legislation.
  • The Bend Chamber supporting legislation to reduce the regulatory and cost burden child care providers and those seeking to enter the market. “Allowing childcare to be located close to where people work is essential to employees with families and helps businesses attract and retain talent,” chamber president and CEO Katy Brooks said.
  • The DC Chamber released a workplace wellness study that outlines the importance of taking safety precautions with general health, while also promoting resources for emotional, spiritual and physical health.


What We’ve Reading

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Weekly Roundup - April 9, 2021

Will Burns on Friday, April 9, 2021 at 12:00:00 am 

#ChamberStrong Initiatives 

  • The Flint & Genesee Chamber unveiled its new identity this week, the Flint & Genesee Group. The organization will market its network of services through four divisions dedicated collectively to advancing the region’s attractiveness as a great place to live, work, play and invest.
  • The Greater Boston Chamber partnered with chambers and businesses across Massachusetts to launch the Massachusetts Business Coalition on Skills, which will focus on closing the skills gap by ensuring that every business can find the talent they need to succeed and every resident to acquire the skills needed to thrive.
  • The Gwinnett Chamber and the Georgia Vietnamese American Chamber recently formalized an alliance to collaborate on projects and advance business and economic development outcomes that promote a vibrant and inclusive economy.
  • The Charlotte Regional Business Alliance launched five new “Collaboratives,” opportunities for investors to engage in the organization’s mission driven work.
  • The West Des Moines Chamber hosted its inaugural Black and Brown Business Summit to elevate the profile of minority-owned businesses and support diverse entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs.
  • The Sonoma County Housing Fund, a collaboration of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber and a local community development financial institution announces its first three loans, which will support three developments that will bring 200 affordable homes to the region.
  • The Eugene Area Chamber’s foundation, Onward Eugene, won a major grant to improve access to reliable internet service in an underserved community that was devastated by a wildfire late last year.
  • The Loudoun Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), presented by the Loudoun Chamber Foundation and Loudon Economic Development Authority, held its fifth annual investor panel where 21 local student entrepreneurs pitched their business plans to a panel of investors.
  • The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce continues to pivot by expanding support to small business and bolster services for minority-owned businesses
  • The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce presented a community scorecard to the city commission this week to help policymakers make data-driven decisions that support community priorities. 


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ACCE Names Anissa Starnes VP & Announces 3 Promotions

Will Burns on Monday, April 5, 2021 at 12:00:00 am 

ACCE named Anissa Starnes, IOM vice president of member engagement. In this role, Starnes will oversee the member knowledge center, professional development programming and membership recruitment and retention.

A 25-year veteran of the chamber industry, Starnes founded the consultancy, Swingbridge Partners, in 2016. Her work focused on executive searches, strategic planning, board development and public speaking for groups of all sizes. She began her career at the Charlotte Chamber, now known as the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. After her tenure in Charlotte, she served as president & CEO at three other chambers in the Carolinas.

“Anissa is passionate about supporting chambers and chamber professionals to make a greater impact on the communities they serve,” said Sheree Anne Kelly, ACCE’s president & CEO. “Her knowledge of the chamber industry and strengths in professional development and strategic planning make her a perfect fit for this role.”

ACCE also announced the promotion of three other staff members.

Amy Shields was named executive director of the ACCE foundation. Shields joined the ACCE team in 2018 as senior manager of community advancement. Under her guidance, ACCE has improved its professional development programming in areas of education and talent development, diversity equity and inclusion and economic and community development. In 2020, she revamped ACCE’s annual year-long talent fellowship program to focus on helping chambers ensure a more equitable economic recovery as they helped their communities through the COVID pandemic.

Susan McGuire was named senior director of professional development. McGuire has been with ACCE since 2014, serving in various roles overseeing professional development programming, the Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) program, the Membership Development Division and the association’s regional training conferences. She played a leading role in ACCE’s efforts to provide additional online training opportunities during 2020.

Emily Counts was named program associate. Counts joined ACCE in 2018, working on ACCE’s community impact programs, including the healthy communities programming. In recent months, her role has expanded to support all of ACCE’s professional development programming. She spearheaded the growth of the Events Division and supported the association’s work to provide more online training programs throughout 2020.

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