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Keefer to be named board chair

Ben Wills on Monday, July 9, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

Nancy Keefer, CCE, president and CEO of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, will be named chair of ACCE’s board of directors during the organization’s annual meeting July 18.

“Nancy has been a long-time leader within our association and across the entire chamber industry,” said outgoing ACCE board chair Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber. “She is the perfect leader to guide ACCE over the next year as it implements a new strategic plan to strengthen the industry and showcase the positive impact chambers have in communities across the country.”

ACCE is a professional development organization serving the women and men who lead local, regional and statewide chambers of commerce and similar private sector-led economic development organizations around the world. The Alexandria, Va.-based association represents nearly 10,000 professionals who work for and with more than 1,300 chambers of commerce.

ACCE board chairs serve one-year terms, and Keefer’s term will span July 2018 through July 2019. In this role, she will oversee activities of a 70-member board of directors that provides leadership and strategic direction to the association’s 30-person staff.

“I’m honored to chair an organization that focuses on providing chamber professionals with the tools, tactics and research necessary to help businesses grow and communities prosper,” Keefer said. “ACCE has meant a great deal to me throughout my career, and the work we are undertaking now will empower chamber leaders to create meaningful change in the communities they serve.”

A recognized leader in the profession, Keefer is a 30-year chamber veteran, having worked in leadership roles at the Chemung County Chamber, Bonita Springs Area Chamber, Chester County Chamber and Daytona Regional Chamber. Keefer received her Certified Chamber Executive designation from ACCE in 2006. She has served on the ACCE board of directors for 10 years, and she currently serves on the U.S. Chamber’s Committee of 100. She is immediate past chair of the Florida Association of Chamber Professionals, and she previously chaired the Pennsylvania Association of Chamber Professionals.

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Saluting membership stars

Tania Kohut on Thursday, June 14, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Membership Achievement Awards! These chambers of commerce (listed alphabetically) are in the top 10 for their total revenue range in one or more of these categories: member retention of accounts, member retention of dollars, or new member retention of accounts. These statistics were compiled from ACCE’s Fiscal Year 2017 Operations Survey via Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking (DCB). DCB is open year-round for survey participation, but for the Membership Achievement Awards, chambers who submitted FY 2017 data through March 23, 2018 were eligible for the awards.

Dollars listed based on the chamber’s annual revenue

Up to $450,000

Member Retention

Anson County Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Cortland County Chamber of Commerce (N.Y.)
Dorchester Chamber of Commerce (Md.)
Fitchburg Chamber Visitor and Business Bureau (Wis.)
Gardner Edgerton Chamber (Kan.)
Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce (La.)
Rowan County Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce (Ont.)
Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce (Wis.)
Venango Area Chamber of Commerce (Pa.)

Dues Retention

Cadillac Area Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
El Dorado Chamber of Commerce (Ark.)
Gardner Edgerton Chamber (Kan.)
Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce (Mont.)
Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce (La.)
Muskego Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (Wis.)
Orrville Area Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
Plymouth Chamber of Commerce (Wis.)
Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce (Wis.)
Wells County Chamber of Commerce (Ind.)


New Member Retention

Charles County Chamber of Commerce (Md.)
Fitchburg Chamber Visitor and Business Bureau (Wis.)
Greater Smithfield-Selma Area Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Marion Area Chamber of Commerce (Ill.)
Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce (Ky.)
Muskego Chamber of Commerce and Tourism (Wis.)
Richmond County Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Shawano Country Chamber of Commerce (Wis.)
Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce (Wis.)


$450,001 to $900,000

Member Retention

Dixon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street, Inc. (Ill.)
Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Iowa)
Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Wis.)
Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce (Mont.)
Putnam County Chamber of Commerce (Fla.)
Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Westmoreland Chamber Of Commerce (Pa.)
Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)

Dues Retention

Dixon Chamber of Commerce and Main Street, Inc. (Ill.)
Findlay-Hancock County Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce (Pa.)
Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Wis.)
Putnam County Chamber of Commerce (Fla.)
Shoals Chamber of Commerce (Ala.)
Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
Wayne County Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
West Des Moines Chamber (Iowa)
Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)


New Member Retention

Burlington County Regional Chamber of Commerce (N.J.)
Granbury Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce (Ariz.)
Greater Muscatine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (Iowa)
Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce (Iowa)
Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Wis.)
Pocatello Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce (Idaho)
TwinWest Chamber of Commerce (Minn.)
Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce
West Des Moines Chamber (Iowa)

 

$900,001 to $2,000,000

Member Retention

Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (Colo.)
Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce (Wyo.)
Greater Shreveport Chamber of Commerce (La.)
Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
Ludington and Scottville Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce (N.J.)
Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce (Wis.)
Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce (S.D.)
Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce  (S.K.)
Vail Valley Partnership (Colo.)


Dues Retention

Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership (Pa.)
Greater Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
Ludington and Scottville Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance (Va.)
Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce (N.J.)
Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership (Fla.)
Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce (Wis.)
Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Vail Valley Partnership (Colo.)

New Member Retention

Columbia Chamber of Commerce (Mo.)
Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership (Pa.)
Frederick County Chamber of Commerce (Md.)
Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association (Colo.)
Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce (Kan.)
Halifax Chamber of Commerce (N.S.)
Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Ludington and Scottville Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
Meadowlands Regional Chamber of Commerce (N.J.)
Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce

 

$2,000,001 to $5,000,000

Member Retention

Community Development Foundation (Miss.) 
Greater Green Bay Chamber (Wis.)
Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Kalispell Chamber of Commerce (Mont.)
Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce (Kan.)
North Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce & CVB (S.C.)
Ohio Chamber of Commerce
St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce (Mo.)
St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce (Fla.)
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)

Dues Retention

Buffalo Niagara Partnership (N.Y.)
Community Development Foundation (Miss.) 
Greater Green Bay Chamber (Wis.)
Greater Louisville Inc. (Ky.)
Knoxville Chamber (Tenn.)
Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce (Kan.)
Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry 
Ohio Chamber of Commerce
St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce (Mo.)
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)

New Member Retention

Alliance Southwest Louisiana
Buffalo Niagara Partnership (N.Y.)
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Wis.)
Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Greater Louisville Inc. (Ky.)
Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce 
Louisiana Association of Business & Industry
Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce (Kan.)
Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)

 

Above $5,000,000

Member Retention

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce (Idaho) 
Greater Cleveland Partnership (Ohio)
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce (Okla.)
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce (Ala.)
Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce (Ill.)
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (Wash.)
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce (S.D.)
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia (Pa.)

Dues Retention

Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce (Idaho)  
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (S.C.)
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (Ohio)
Greater Cleveland Partnership (Ohio)
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce (Okla.)
Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce (Ala.)
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce (S.D.)
Tulsa Regional Chamber (Okla.)

New Member Retention

Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Association of Washington Business
Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce (Idaho)  
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (S.C.)
Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber (Ohio)
Greater Cleveland Partnership (Ohio)
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce (Wash.)
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce (S.D.)
Tulsa Regional Chamber (Okla.)

 

Tags: Membership, Membership Achievement Award, #ACCEAwards, Awards

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Congratulations, Chamber of the Year finalists!

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced finalists for the 2018 Chamber of the Year competition, sponsored by MemberClicks.

Finalists for 2018 Chamber of the Year are (sorted by category):

Category One:

Des Moines Downtown Chamber 
Des Moines, Iowa

Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce 
Valparaiso, Indiana

 

Category Two:

Conway Area Chamber of Commerce
Conway, Arkansas

Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce 
St. Charles, Missouri

Round Rock Chamber
Round Rock, Texas

 

Category Three:

Greater Green Bay Chamber 
Green Bay, Wisconsin

Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce 
Humble, Texas

Plano Chamber of Commerce 
Plano, Texas

 

Category Four:

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce 
North Charleston, South Carolina

Greater Louisville Inc. 
Louisville, Kentucky

Tulsa Regional Chamber 
Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

State/Province Category:

Chamber of Commerce Hawaii

Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce

 

In the final phase of the competition, a judging committee conducts in-person interviews with leaders representing each finalist chamber. One winner from each category will be named at the 2018 ACCE Annual Convention in Des Moines, Iowa.

Learn more about Chamber of the Year here.

Tags: Awards, Round Rock Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of the Year, Tulsa Regional Chamber, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Des Moines Downtown Chamber, Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce, Greater Louisville Inc., Greater St. Charles County Chamber of Commerce, Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, #ACCE18, Lake Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, #ACCEAwards, Plano Chamber of Commerce

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Celebrating Communications Excellence

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 12:00:00 am 

 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced winners of its Communications Excellence awards program, sponsored by Golden Openings, Inc.

In June 2018, five marketing and communications leaders from Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C. gathered at #ACCEHQ to carefully review more than 150 award submissions. We thank our judges for joining us in Alexandria, Va., and lending us their eyes and expertise for this year's competition: Sybil Topel (Chattanooga Chamber); Ken Brady (Charleston Metro Chamber); Anna Stokes (The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia); Susan Farhang (United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) and Elaine Gilligan (Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce).

These entries highlight some of the freshest and most innovative marketing and communications work coming from ACCE member organizations of all types and sizes.

Each submission was organized by type — advertising and marketing, campaigns, digital and publications — and by the submitting organization’s total annual budget range: under $1 million, $1 to $3 million and above $3 million.

In addition to awards listed below, three “Best in Show” awards will be announced during the #ACCEAwards Show on Wednesday, July 18 at #ACCE18 in Des Moines, Iowa.  

 

Grand Awards

Advertising and Marketing

Champaign County Chamber of Commerce (lll.)
Chamber Zone         

Salt Lake Chamber
Utah Tax Modernization

Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce (Mo.)
Springfield Region Digital Brochure

 

Campaigns

Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Preserving Public-Private Partnerships in the Chamber Industry – Legislative Advocacy Campaign

Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce (Mo.)
A Better KCI

Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ark.)
Love, Little Rock Campaign

Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Choose Cape Fear

 

Digital

Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce (Ind.)
Valpo Chamber Video Newsletter Highlights

Indy Chamber
The New IndyChamber.com

Round Rock Chamber (Texas)
Skilled Trades Image Campaign

 

Publications

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce (S.C.)
Quarterly Report Series

Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce (Colo.)
Northern Colorado Prospers Quarterly Report  

Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
2018 Membership Directory, Relocation & Island Guide

 

Awards of Excellence

Advertising and Marketing

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
Lincoln Beer Tour

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
YP Week

Loudoun County Chamber of Commerce (Va.)
Superhero 5K 2018 Marketing

Plano Chamber of commerce (Texas)
Plano Chamber Story – Member Testimonial Campaign

Robins Regional Chamber (Ga.)
SOAR

 

Campaigns

Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montréal
Metro Cities Chambers for NAFTA 2.0

Detroit Regional Chamber
Detroit Regional Chamber Campaign for Civility

Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce (N.Y.)
Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce Rebrand Bash

Greater Des Moines Partnership (Iowa)
Economic Development and Talent Attraction Digital Marketing Campaign

Greater Des Moines Partnership (Iowa)
Maximizing Momentum 2022: Investor Campaign for the Greater Des Moines Partnership

Greater Oklahoma City
Safer Streets, Better OKC Campaign

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
Grand Rapids Chamber Rebranding Campaign

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (Fla.)
Minority Business Accelerator

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber (Ala.)
2017 School Tax Renewals

Jefferson Chamber of Commerce (La.)
LiveWell Jefferson Campaign

Lincoln Chamber of Commerce (Neb.)
Eclipse Seasonal Signs

One Acadiana (La.)
One Acadiana South Louisiana Branding Initiative

Sanford Area Growth Alliance (N.C.)
Prelude to Progress

State Chamber of Oklahoma
OK2030 Campaign

Tulsa Regional Chamber (Okla.)
Tulsa Regional Chamber Economic Development Campaign

 

Digital

Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce (Ala.)
Eastern Shore Elf

Edmonton Chamber of Commerce (Alb.)
Digital, Blog, Brand Lessons Learned from the City of Champions Debate

Fayette Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Video: 2017 Chamber Accomplishments

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce (Md.)
Deep Creek Virtual Reality Experience

Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce (Mich.)
Grand Rapids Chamber Breakfast with Legislators Social Media Campaign

Greater Aiken Chamber of Commerce (S.C)
AikenHasIt.com Digital Campaign

Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce (Ark.)
Small Business BingoFest

Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
New Website – www.IrvingChamber.com

North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce
Chamber Video Testimonial Digital Campaign

Northwest Metroport Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Economic Development Video

Plano Chamber of Commerce (Texas)
Plano Chamber Building Blocks Emails

Round Rock Chamber (Texas)
PRO Round Rock

Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce (Fla.)
Riverside Dash 5K & 15K Event: Influencers/Race Ambassadors Campaign

Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ohio)
EPIC Toledo Website

Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
Open for Business Podcast

 

Publications

Chandler Chamber of Commerce (Ariz.)
How We Stand – Chandler Chamber of Commerce

Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
2018 Visitors & Relocation Guide

Fayette Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Fayette Community Source Magazine

Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Annual Report

Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce (Ga.)
Gwinnett Chamber Annual Report

Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce (Ark.)
The Good Life Destination Guide

 

Learn more about ACCE's Communications Excellence awards here.

Communications Excellence winners: 20172016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013

 

Tags: Awards for Communications Excellence, Branding, Communications, Marketing, #ACCEAwards, Awards

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St. Louis Regional Chamber looks full speed ahead

Ben Goldstein on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at 10:00:00 am 

St. Louis, Missouri’s newest venture sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. The city is vying to become the first in the world to host a hyperloop—a proposed mode of high-speed transportation, in which passengers travel in pods that levitate magnetically in systems of airless tubes.

It’s doing it through the Hyperloop One Global Challenge, a competition in which metro regions from around the world propose prospective routes to house the first-ever hyperloop built by Virgin Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based company looking to commercialize hyperloops as a more efficient mode of transit.

At just over a half-hour, the planned route between St. Louis and Kansas City would shave roughly three-and-a-half hours off the current commute by car between the two major population centers.

“If we can link St. Louis and Kansas City into a single megaregion, we would have more than 5 million people in that workforce,” said Andrew Smith, vice president for entrepreneurship and innovation at the St. Louis Regional Chamber. “That would catapult us to the 9th largest economic development region in the country.”

To promote the proposal, the chamber teamed up with the University of Missouri System, the Kansas City Tech Council, the Missouri Department of Transportation, the Columbia Innovation Center and others to form the Missouri Hyperloop Coalition. The coalition’s first move was to raise $1.5 million for an engineering feasibility study, which began in February and will run through the end of the summer.

“Right now, we are one of only two regions in the country that are at that stage—the other being Colorado,” said Smith, adding that, “Virgin Hyperloop One is now calling us one of the top three routes under consideration in the world.”

When the study wraps up in August, the coalition will have the benefit of a detailed roadmap, with details on costs, route alignment, regulatory framework and environmental impact. Following that, the focus will shift to onboarding additional partners with the capabilities to build the large-scale project.

“This is mostly a private-sector-led effort, and we’ve been very up-front about the fact that we aren’t using taxpayer money to fund it,” said Smith. “This is going to be more like building an airline or railroad than a public highway. We just have to find the right partners to build, own and operate it.”

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Tags: Economic Developmen, Hyperloop, Technology, Transportation, #MetroCities, #MidwesternChambers

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Advocating for education

Ben Goldstein on Friday, February 2, 2018 at 11:13:00 am 

The EdUp campaign was launched in 2013 by the Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with leaders from the business and education communities. The campaign, which began as an advocacy effort to preserve funding levels to Fall River Public Schools, has since grown into a multi-year marketing push to promote the importance of education in southeastern Massachusetts.

“At its most basic, EdUp is about changing the mindset of the community,” said Rob Mellion, president and CEO of the Bristol County Chamber. “We knew we needed to get people to value education attainment if we wanted to stand a chance at turning around our school system.”

As part of the campaign, the chamber launched an aggressive marketing drive. Some of the tactics used include billboards, editorials drafted by community members and a special “EdUp Bus,” which is used for mobile ad space.

There’s also “College Day,” an annual event in which students and their parents spend a full day engaged in activities designed to get them thinking about practical ways to attend college. In addition, the education committee zeroed in on early childhood education through “parent nights,” which help parents understand how to navigate Pre-K and kindergarten on behalf of their children.

More recently, the campaign organized a summit on social and emotional learning, a specialized training that teachers had requested. During the summit, more than 220 teachers attended a mix of 40 workshops focused on supporting students’ emotional health, social skills and academic achievement.

“We have more students getting higher grades and going to college than ever before,” explained Mellion. “We used to have a 55 percent high school dropout rate; now, we have an 80 percent graduation rate. I’m proud of the work this chamber and the business community has done.”

Mellion says EdUp has lots on the agenda for 2018, like advocating for a new, $300 million high school in Fall River, adding college-level courses to area high schools and forging new partnerships with educators and nonprofits to advance its agenda.

“We’re not done with the job of changing the mindset here in the community,” he said. “We want to bring our graduation rate higher, and we want to expand this to be more of a regional campaign, affecting the entire southeastern region.”

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Grand Rapids Area Chamber probes local business

Ben Goldstein on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 2:40:00 pm 

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber recently released the results of its annual government affairs survey of member businesses. The survey results show that workforce and talent issues continue to rank as top priorities for employers, with parking availability also surfacing as an issue of concern.

“We use this survey as an opportunity each year to see where our members are seeing some of their biggest obstacles and opportunities,” said Joshua Lunger, director of government affairs at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber. “It’s an opportunity for us to investigate further into issues that we might not have been spending as much time on.”

The survey revealed business sentiment remains positive, with 96 percent of employers reporting a favorable or very favorable perception of the business climate in West Michigan. The biggest challenge, according to respondents, is finding qualified candidates to hire.

“We’re growing and creating jobs, but we don’t have enough folks to fill them,” said Lunger. “80 percent of companies reporting talent shortages say the cause is due to consistent business growth and job creation, rather than hiring to fill an existing slot,” he added. “This is actually a good problem to have.”

To address the talent shortage, Lunger says the chamber is focused on promoting skilled trades in public schools and through the Skilled Trades Training Fund, a statewide grant for employers, as well as encouraging greater investment in early childhood education.

“Talent and education policy is a very long game,” said Lunger. “You have to look at the whole picture, from access to high-quality childcare all the way to what’s in the curriculums of the schools.”

Another issue that emerged for the second year in a row was access to parking, with 28 percent describing it as a significant challenge. To address these concerns, Lunger says the chamber is advocating for increased supply.

“We had a group of members that met for a few months and came up with an eight-point parking and mobility plan,” he said. “Whether it’s parking a little further out and using a high-frequency transit service or improving our downtown circular, we want employers to have a whole list of options for how their employees can get to work.”

Lunger says that, while the survey revealed a consistently positive outlook among employers, the concerns raised regarding talent shows the business community can’t afford to become complacent.

“We titled the report: ‘Businesses like what they see, but addressing talent is critical to continued growth,’ and we think that really sums it up,” he said. “We have a lot of positives, but we can’t sleep on this talent issue. We need to put it front-and-center, and I think that’s true for most places in the country right now that are growing.”

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Tags: #MetroCities, #Survey, #Talent, #GovernmentRelations, #GreatLakesRegion

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Lights, chamber, action!

Ben Goldstein on Monday, January 29, 2018 at 7:54:00 am 

Since 2006, the Waco Chamber of Commerce has produced its own monthly TV show, “Chamber Connection.” The talk-show, which is broadcast on Waco City Cable Channel (WCCC), offers a platform for chamber members to speak directly to the community.

“It’s about giving our members a voice so they can tell their stories,” said Autumn Outlaw, the chamber’s director of marketing and communication and host of Chamber Connection. “The show gives them the opportunity to explain what their business is about, where they came from and why they’re a member of the chamber.”

WCCC is funded by a local tax on cable usage, which goes to public broadcast services. The station, which has a partnership with the Waco Chamber, covers the costs for nearly all aspects of the show’s production.

“The one question I try to ask everyone is, ‘Why would you encourage someone to join the chamber?’” said Outlaw. “Besides being a great message for former and prospective members, it allows people who aren’t business owners to hear how the chamber fosters collaboration and serves the community.”

Outlaw says her favorite part of the show is interviewing members and learning about the businesses they run.

“Doing Chamber Connection, I always learn so much more than I ever thought I would,” she said. “I love finding out what brought our members to Waco and why they do business here. It’s very rewarding to learn about the people we get to serve.”

“I also try to tie in our quarterly publication,” she continued. “For example, I recently pulled in one of our young professionals who was featured in the magazine, and he talked about why young people should move to Waco and the value the YP group brings to the community.”

Outlaw says the show’s reach has been growing and that the feedback she gets is mostly positive.

“We use snippets from the show on social media, and the reach has been fantastic,” she said. “I have people calling all the time asking if they can be interviewed on Chamber Connection.”

For chambers looking to start producing original video content, but unsure where to begin, Outlaw suggests starting out small.

“A cell phone video is an authentic way to capture people’s responses, which could be a good start for building a show of your own,” she said. “It’s also definitely worth reaching out to your local news stations to see if they’d partner with the chamber on some level, too.”

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Tags: Marketing, Public Relations, Television, Communications, Entertainment

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Tulsa gears up for the future

Ben Goldstein on Friday, January 26, 2018 at 1:00:00 pm 

Tulsa’s Future, the multiphase, regional economic development plan for the Tulsa, Oklahoma region, was designed to infuse the area with investment dollars, create jobs in targeted industries and develop a skilled workforce to attract new businesses.

“In the early 2000s, there wasn’t a lot of money allotted to economic development, and the chamber and our partners wanted to change that,” said Brien Thorstenberg, senior vice president of economic development at the Tulsa Regional Chamber. “We developed the first iteration of Tulsa’s Future, with an original goal of adding more than 10,000 jobs with an average wage above $45,000.”

The plan thus far consists of three five-year phases. During Tulsa’s Future I, which ran from 2006–2010, the campaign helped create 15,888 jobs and added more than $482.6 million to the region’s payroll. Phase II, which ran from 2010–2015, went further, creating 28,814 jobs and adding more than $2 billion in capital investment.

The campaign is now in its third phase, which began in 2016. Tulsa’s Future III focuses on four main pillars: economic development and business attraction; workforce development and education attainment; entrepreneurs and small business; and quality of place and downtown revitalization.

“One of the things Tulsa’s Future III allowed us to do was increase our marketing budget, so we’re doing more in terms of website, digital marketing and building relationships with companies,” said Thorstenberg. “In terms of workforce development, we’re working hard to align the skills being taught in our public schools to match the needs of our companies.”

“On the innovation front, we’re working with our business incubator to target startups, and we hired a director of entrepreneurship who has a seat on the executive council of our board,” he continued. “We’ve also formed a downtown coordinating council to generate investment and improve walkability for our downtown area.”

Moving forward, Thorstenberg says the most important challenge will be maintaining the campaign’s momentum.

“Economic development is not like a light switch, where you can turn it on and off,” he explained. “Industries peak and go through swings, and sometimes new industries emerge. There are so many challenges out there, and we need to keep up the momentum so we can successfully navigate them.”

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Tags: Strategic Plan

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Never too young to start a business

Ben Goldstein on Thursday, January 18, 2018 at 11:45:00 am 

The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce launched its Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) in 2015 to teach middle- and high school students how to create and operate their own business. The program, which runs for a full academic year, has graduated more than 4,000 youth, who have gone on to found social media consultancies, landscaping firms, clothing companies and more.

“We structured YEA! to get our youth excited about entrepreneurship and business, while exposing them to employers in the region,” said Megan Wright, program director at the Knoxville Chamber. “It’s also a great way for us to engage our members by having them come in and work with the students in an interactive manner.”

YEA! is a national initiative located in more than 130 cities across the country. It was brought to Knoxville, Tennessee by chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards, who attended the Saunders Scholars Competition, in which top YEA! students from across the U.S. compete for prizes and scholarships.

During the nine-month program, students meet weekly for three-hour sessions, in which they learn skills like developing business plans, marketing, finance and production. The sessions are divided into two segments; in the first half, students receive instructions from guest speakers and during the second, they work in a computer lab researching and composing their business plans.

“The students’ businesses really run the gamut depending on their interests,” explained Wright. “In this year’s class, we have an individual with a successful YouTube channel who started a consulting company for other YouTubers. We also have a few doing lawn care who started mowing neighbors’ lawns, and now they’re taking it to the next level.”

YEA! includes a “shark tank,” where student pitch their business plans to a panel of local investors, who judge them and hand out cash prizes ranging from $100–1000. It also features a trade show, during which students set up booths and sell their products to people from the community.

“The Academy is a great way to bring our members in to host field trips, mentor students and expose them to career opportunities,” said Wright. “That’s the biggest benefit for us; getting those students engaged and plugged in at an early stage, and getting them excited about the amazing opportunities in Knoxville.”

Looking ahead, Wright says the chamber plans to partner with other community organizations to expand the scope of the program.

“We’re looking at opportunities to engage with other groups with like-minded missions, whether that’s a shared field trip or pooling educational resources,” she said. “Our next step will be finding out how we can do it a little bigger and better moving forward.”

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