Economic and Community Development
Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber earns Economic Development Award
The Mid-America Economic Development Council, which represents economic development agencies in 10 states, has recognized the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber with an award. The Chamber's OH-PA Stateline Export Initiative, launched earlier this year along with the International Trade Assistance Center at Youngstown State University, was recognized in the Business Retention and Expansion category. The initiative is designed to bring exporting awareness, foreign direct investment and supply chain matching to a 10-county region in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
You can read the full story here.
Congratulations to these ED Rockstars
Recognized by two different industry-leading groups, Paul Rumler, Chief Economic Development Officer of the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce, and Larry Burkhardt, Executive Vice President of the Fox Cities Regional Partnership, have recently been named top performers in the industry.
Rumler, who has served the Quad Cities chamber for more than 8 years, was named to the 40 Under 40 list for the economic development profession. Individuals recognized on this prestigious list represent young leaders who have raised the bar in economic development through innovation, high standards, strong character and a track record of success.
Consultant Connect, a consulting agency designed to bridge the gap between economic developers and site consultants, has included Larry Burkhardt among its list of North America's top 50 economic developers. Nominated by colleagues, Larry is recognized for helping the Fox Cities Chamber establish an economic development organization that is growing in its reputation as a credible, professional and effecting job creation catalyst.
Congratulations to both division members on these outstanding commendations!
Addressing Poverty and Economic Disparity in Center State New York
CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity (CenterState CEO), which houses the CenterState Chamber of Commerce, recognizes the growing need for economic support in its twelve county region in New York State. Although the region’s average wages are on the rise, the U.S. Census Bureau reports tens of thousands still living in poverty in urban, suburban and rural areas alike. Backed by a commitment to driving and sustaining economic growth, CenterState CEO hopes to bring the community together to increase wealth and improve quality of life for all.
In an effort to inform their work, CenterState CEO identified a community to watch in the effort to bolster their region through economic inclusion: Cleveland, OH. In an open event in Syracuse on October 24, titled Building Equity – Lessons from Cleveland – How to Connect Growth and Opportunity, key leaders from Cleveland shared their history and progress in securing a vibrant future for their community. The event welcomed between 80-100 attendees, representing civic, business and community leadership from across the Center State region.
Natoya Walker Minor, Chief of Public Affairs with the City of Cleveland and Brian Hall, Director of Inclusion with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, each shared their perspective on what key things were happening in each of their areas before the public and private sectors came together to develop a policy around community benefit agreements.
Cleveland has gone on a journey over the last 14 years since the community first marshalled around the concept of tracking and increasing diversity on boards and among senior management, workforce and supplier networks. What began as more of an awareness effort, has gained buy-in from the business community and has blossomed to include more emphasis and programming around how to get the work done.
In a recent interview, Brian Hall noted that the commission was formed “because several business leaders were prepared to make a commitment for the region and did so publically and through their own organizations”. Hall sees this as a key recommendation for Syracuse and the CenterState region. His advice is to encourage not only the civic and community leadership to buy in, but that the core support of these efforts needs to come from the business leaders. Stating, “The question on success doesn’t ride on the process, it rides on the demand. And the demand comes from those that are doing the hiring and the purchasing”.
Cleveland’s commission began as a collaborative of 26 businesses, but now includes 120 companies, organizations and institutions – which they have committed to growing to 300 in the next five years through their new strategic plan. While there remains work to be done, the needle has certainly begun to move and Cleveland can serve as a positive example for work in Syracuse and beyond.
Urban green spaces serve as a catalyst for economic development
The Urban Land Institute (ULI) has recognized Klyde Warren Park in Dallas, Texas with this year’s Urban Open Space Award. The award, which began in 2009, highlights exceptional open urban spaces that enrich and revitalize their surrounding communities. In addition to garnering national recognition, the individual or organization responsible for creating or maintaining each year’s winning project receives $10,000. Past winners include The Parks and Waterfront at Southeast False Creek in Vanvouver, BC; Railroad Park in Birmingham, Alabama; Citygarden in St. Louis, Missouri and Campus Martius Park in Detroit, Michigan.
The Klyde Warren Park, a deck park built over the recessed Woodall Rodgers Freeway in Dallas, is a 5.2 acre urban green space that is operated by the private nonprofit Woodall Rodgers Park Foundation. The park hosts daily free activities ranging from fitness boot camps, children’s theater and live music. The built environment includes walking paths, a botanical garden, restaurant and much more.
Originally envisioned in the 1960s when the freeway was first recessed, the idea for a deck park surfaced again in 2002, started gaining financial support in 2004 and the park was completed in 2012. Now, it serves a sort of new town square, bridging Dallas’s downtown arts and culture district with adjoining mixed-use neighborhoods. By increasing pedestrian connectivity, Klyde Warren Park has begun to heal the urban fabric of the city and encourage ongoing transformation for downtown Dallas through improved quality of life.
This year’s other finalists also have strong ties to economic and neighborhood development. They include: Columbus Commons and Scioto Mile in Columbus, Ohio; Guthrie Green in Tulsa, Oklahoma, The Railyard Park and Plaza in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Washington Park in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each of these new public spaces has served as a catalyst for economic growth in the areas surrounding them. In the words of ULI’s award jury chair, M. Leanne Lachman, “Each finalist encourages communities to stay and actively participate, enlivening their neighborhoods and tightening the fabric of their cities.”
To learn more about Klyde Warren Park and this award, explore the following links:
“Dallas’s Klyde Warren Park Selected for ULI Urban Space Award”, Urban Land Magazine
Urban Land Institute’s Urban Open Space Award
Making Places Better
Since its inception, ACCE's Economic and Community Development Division has emphasized the place-making and product development side of economic growth. After all, its the piece of economic development in which every chamber of commerce has a role. Earlier this month our friend Rob Radcliff at Resource Development Group articulated this point in a blog post too good not to share.
From client communities as diverse as Miami and Rocky Mount, Rob cites a common laundry list of issues corporate leaders want to improve: "Talent, infrastructure, housing, access to capital, K-12 education, entrepreneurism, higher ed-business collaboration, physical product, government regulation and tax structure." These are big scale, systemic issues. Success is constantly measured on a scale, not with a check box. Regions don't have to be perfect on all these fronts, but they have to be improving. Rob's words: "Companies want to be places that want to be better."
Making places better. That's the clarion call for chambers of all sizes in all kinds of markets. You are responsible for economic development so identify the areas where your organization can best drive advancement and get to work!
Tags: Economic Development
Rome Chamber gets geeky
Geek Week 2014, taking place October 6-11, is a community celebration of technology and innovation in Rome, Georgia. What started three years ago as a celebration of the IT Department at the Floyd Medical Center in Rome, GA has blossomed into a week-long, community-wide event reveling in all things geeky.
The Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce's Technology SquareTable hosts an exciting lineup of events including: a trivia game on kick-off night, egg drop competition, cookout and 'cardboard challenge'. In hopes that this event positively impacts the entire community, the Chamber promotes open participation in these events as well as encouraging individuals, schools, companies and non-profits to host their own events and activities around the themes of technology, innovation, and creativity.
Geek Week is a vehicle to highlight and appreciate the impact of technology on our lives both at home and at work. The Chamber also hopes to encourage the next generation to explore STEM-related (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields of study and careers by showcasing the technology and innovation that is happening in Rome.
To find out more about Geek Week Rome, click the links below:
Geek Week Rome on Facebook
Rome News Tribune's Article, Geek Week 2014 celebrates creativity in Rome
Follow the action on Twitter
Lessons on Entrepreneurship from MIT
The highlight of last month’s Metro Council CEO roundtable in Boston for me was our trip over the Charles River to MIT. Thanks to Paul Guzzi and the Greater Boston Chamber, our group met with Lita Nelsen, Director of MIT’s Technology Licensing Office to discuss tech transfer and the university’s role in supporting a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. When I say robust, I mean robust. One recent study found 25,800 active companies founded by MIT grads employing 3.3 million people with annual worldwide sales of $2 trillion. At least a million of those jobs are in Massachusetts.
From Lita’s enlightening presentation I took away 3 key points:
- Real estate doesn’t matter that much. Dozens of successful companies were founded in grubby basements around Cambridge. And despite high commercial rent, starts ups still flourish (and mostly stay) in greater Boston. This is not to say that helping provide affordable, conducive space won’t help startup ventures… but a shiny new incubator building does not guarantee any success.
- You don't need a Czar. MIT has successfully maintained a flourishing start up environment without anyone “in charge.” The Tech Licensing Office helps with patents and investment, Sloan Management School has an entrepreneurship track, alumni group runs mentoring, the School of Engineering has shared lab space, the Deshpande Center for Tech Innovation provides grants… but there is no “czar” of entrepreneurship. There is lots of coordination, but faculty and staff have fought all attempts to centralize.
- Successful startup executives matter. Accomplished business builders, marketers and operators - are as important to a robust ecosystem as inventors, research and patents. This is the often overlooked element of MIT’s success and an area where all chambers can add value.
For more on MIT’s support for startups, check out Kauffman Foundation’s report – Entrepreneurial Impact: The Role of MIT.
Chambers... Still on Top
It’s like deja vu. Late last spring I wrote a blog post praising chambers of commerce and their affiliates for dominating the list of top performing economic development groups. A year goes by and I’m writing practically the same blog post.
- Austin Chamber of Commerce
- Baton Rouge Area Chamber
- Economic Futures Group at the Spartanburg Area Chamber
- Metro Atlanta Chamber
- Mobile Chamber of Commerce
- Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
- Siouxland Initiative at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce
- Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance
That’s right folks, 8 out of the top 10 economic development groups in the country are chambers of commerce or are affiliate entities housed at chambers. The dominance continues in the second 10 where half are chambers of commerce or similar private sector lead regional entities.
- Cincinnati USA Partnership
- Dallas Regional Chamber
- Greater New Orleans Inc.
- Indy Partnership
- Nashville Area Chamber
What’s the basis for all this recognition you ask? Well it’s pretty rigorous. Here’s how Site Selection describes the ranking process:
“As in past years, the top performers were evaluated on a variety of criteria, with four objective measurements counting the most: jobs, capital investment, jobs per capita, and investment per capita. In addition, Site Selection looked at creativity of economic development strategy; depth and breadth of project activity; ability to generate breakthrough deals; and the ability to properly document the contributions of the economic development organization to actual project results.”
Objective criteria, creative innovation, breakthrough deals and documented leadership… if you want to model the best in economic development, you have to look at chambers.
3 Hours with an Audience of 25 Million
Tonight the Miami Heat take on the Oklahoma City Thunder in game one of the NBA finals. In addition to swarms of national media, 22 international media teams are in Oklahoma City and they will be airing the game to over 200 countries around the globe. Total viewership is estimated at somewhere between 20 and 25 million. For at least 3 hours, those millions of viewers will not only see Kevin Durant and LeBron James battle in the post; thanks to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber they’ll also see a lot of OKC.
The Chamber’s newly launched website OKC News Room is a journalist’s delight. They have complied video clips, photographs, interviews, fact sheets and sound bites – pages of material and full media packages - all available online. The seven part series with Oklahoma City Mayor (and former sports broadcaster) Mick Cornett is a particular highlight.
As you watch tonight, look for images of the Oklahoma City skyline and video clips featuring new restaurants in Bricktown. They were probably supplied by your friends at the Oklahoma City Chamber.
Want to learn more about this project and other cutting edge economic development marketing? Join Oklahoma City Chamber CEO Roy Williams and VP of Marketing and Communications Cynthia Reid as they lead the Innovative Community Marketing Strategies workshop at the ACCE Convention in Louisville, Aug 1-4.
Chambers Lead Rankings
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.