A sea lion walks into a chamber . . .

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

No, it’s not the opening line to a joke, but rather the start to a real story! The Imperial Beach (CA) Chamber of Commerce recently had an unexpected visitor come through its front door. Click here to read about a sea lion pup who made himself at home at the chamber’s offices.


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Life Member Honored for Volunteer Work

Tania Kohut on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

For ACCE Life Member John Garman, CCE, the chamber profession truly is a life, not a career. Despite his retirement in 2003 as a chamber exec, John continues to serve by volunteering at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro (NC) Chamber of Commerce. In April, he completed his 400th member visit. He has been volunteering with the chamber for two years, visiting one-on-one with business owners and managers to learn and report on their business needs and to improve the connections between the chamber staff and its nearly 1,400 members. In recognition of his service to the chamber and its members, John was recognized last month with the Chair's Award for Excellence, presented by the chamber’s Board of Directors Chair, Paige Zinn. 

John was born in upstate New York and earned his B.A. in history and oriental studies, and his M.B.A. in marketing and finance from Columbia University. In 2003, after completing a 30-year career as a chamber exec in communities in Indiana, Kentucky and South Carolina, he retired and served as a consultant and instructor for the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) with assignments in Russia, Bosnia, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan and Jamaica. John moved to North Carolina’s Research Triangle in 2010 with his wife, Nancy, and lives in a home built by his son. He currently serves as a trustee for the North Carolina Humanities Council.

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Looking good at 75 and 100

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

The Myrtle Beach Area (SC) Chamber of Commerce and Orlando (FL) Regional Chamber of Commerce are celebrating big milestones this month.

On Friday, April 19, 22 past presidents of the Orlando Regional Chamber and its current volunteer leadership attended a special luncheon to kickoff the 100th anniversary of Orlando, Inc. (Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce). The chamber will continue the celebration in September with a gala event. See the website the chamber prepared in honor of its big anniversary.

Then on Tuesday, April 23, about 500 miles north of Orlando, the Myrtle Beach Area (SC)Chamber honored its 75 years of service during an annual meeting and celebration with its membership at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. The event not only recognized the chamber, but also members who have served the community for 50 plus years.

Congratulations to both organizations!

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ACCE Partner Central Holidays Offers Cuba Visits

Marlene Oliver on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

New “Discover Cuba” Itinerary Offers Americans Legal Travel to Cuba via People-to-People Cultural Travel Program

Central Holidays is pleased present an exciting new “Discover Cuba” travel program that takes U.S. travelers to connect with locals in Cuba and learn about the architecture, music, art and culture of this enchanting country.  The U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control has granted a license to provide people-to-people cultural exchange travel programs to Cuba to Premier World Discovery/CE, strategic partner of Central Holidays, enabling the company to offer this trip to U.S. travelers.

The fascinating 8-day “Discover Cuba” itinerary provides a full time schedule of activities that result in meaningful exchanges through people-to-people contact, offering insightful, cross-cultural and educational experiences at every turn.  Travelers will explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Havana with the largest collection of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the Americas, the beautiful baroque-style Cathedral of Havana built in 1748, and the “Maqueta de la Habana Vieja” Museum that houses a detailed scale model of the City of Havana.  Further along, travelers visit Viñales Valley and Pinar del Rio, known for its stunning scenery, a landscape of prehistoric looking flat-top mountains or “mogotes”, tobacco plantations, caves, and rivers.  An excursion to Guanabacoa takes travelers to discover the religious diversity of this land and visit Hemingway’s Farm where the Nobel Prize winner lived with his wife for 21 years.  This itinerary features experiences that showcase the treasures of Cuba including a tour of an authentic cigar factory, tobacco farm, and rum factory as well as meals in local restaurants.  Visitors will also tour an art studio and craft market, and dance studio and interact with welcoming locals, artists and dancers.

“Adding Cuba to our destination offerings allows us to further cater to our robust family of repeat customers who wish to explore the world in the signature Central Holidays way,” said Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays. “We are pleased to introduce this novel Cuba itinerary that brings travelers the rare opportunity to visit a fascinating country on an enriching travel program replete with cross-cultural interaction, education, and discovery.”

For additional information about the Discover Cuba travel program available through Central Holidays, please call Central Holidays at 800-935-5000 or visit them online at 

About Central Holidays:
Founded in 1972, Central Holidays offers superior travel programs, value and service to enchanting destinations across the globe including Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, plus dozens of Mediterranean and European River Cruise itineraries, worldwide ski programs, as well as people-to-people educational exchange travel to Cuba!  For more information, contact Central Holidays at 1-800-935-5000 or visit their Web site at



Marlene Oliver
(305) 491-0512,
NJC Communications

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Up Close and Personal with Mick Fleming

Brad Holt on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 11:30:00 am 

Mick Fleming, president of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, was a featured guest on the Executive Leaders Radio Show recently. He discussed  influences that led him to his career as an advocate of chambers as community leaders, competition for the ACCE leadership job that he accepted in 2001, challenges he overcame in those early days, and much more in the 12-minute interview.

The show’s profiles of business executives primarily from the Mid-East are heard on radio stations in 20 states across the country, and are available online via iTunes, and numerous other podcast directories. Listen to the interview.

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The Emmy-Winning Memphis Chamber

Ian Scott on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:45:00 am 

How many chambers of commerce have an Emmy in their lobby? The Greater Memphis Chamber now has three for The Soundtrack Project, a series of eight documentary shorts that capture the entrepreneurial spirit in Memphis.

The Soundtrack Project began in 2010 as a partnership between the Chamber and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra to highlight both the strength of the Memphis arts community and breadth of the local small business community.

“These multimedia movements serve as both a local point of pride and as a snapshot of Memphis’s business community for a global audience,” said John Moore, president and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber. “You really get a sense of the authentic and determined spirit of Memphis’ small business owners when you watch each video.”

Watch the videos at: 

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Great Story, Well Told

Brad Holt on Monday, April 8, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

Aaron Nelson, IOM, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, has been named one of the best comedic story tellers for 2012 in The Monti story telling competition in Chapel Hill, N.C. His Sept. 14 performance last year dealt with a 2009 presentation he made "on the other side of the world" to the World Chambers Federation about the Chapel Hill community. Listen now.

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Valpo Chamber’s Victory

Tania Kohut on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

Indiana’s Valpo Chamber is celebrating a big honor it received at last week’s Indiana Chamber Executives Association (ICEA) Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon. The chamber was selected as the “2013 Chamber of Commerce of the Year” by an independent panel of out-of-state judges. The award is based on the U.S. Chamber’s accreditation process for local chambers, and highlights accomplishments in the areas of leadership, governance, finance, advocacy, and membership development.

“This great honor is a testament to the staff and board leadership of the Valpo Chamber who, over time, have set the bar high for performance and effectiveness on behalf of the members,” said Chamber President Rex Richards. “Everything that we do is for the benefit of our member investors. If our members are successful, then we are successful. It’s all about service.”

The Valpo Chamber is the only Northwest Indiana Chamber to have ever received “Chamber of Commerce of the Year.” Valpo won the same award in 2005.

"The hard work and dedication of the professionals at the Chamber is apparent through the works submitted for review by the judging panel," says Shelli Williams, ICEA President. "The Valpo Chamber was up against some very well-respected competition, so to take top honors like this really says a lot."

Read more about the win here.

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2013 Life Member Award

Tania Kohut on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 7:00:00 am 

Nominations are currently being accepted for ACCE’s Life Member Award, the chamber profession’s highest personal honor. This year’s award will be presented during ACCE’s annual convention in Oklahoma City, July 23-26. For details, visit the award’s web page.

Eligibility Requirements:

The candidate’s chamber (current employer or chamber to which a retired candidate is most closely affiliated), must be a member in good standing of ACCE.

  • CEOs
    1. All retired CEOs with 12 or more years of service, who have been out of the profession for at least one year, may be nominated for Life Member consideration, regardless of current employment status. If less than 12 years as CEO, candidate must have been out of the chamber (or related) profession for at least 18 months prior to nomination.
    2. A currently serving CEO of a chamber or chamber-like organization may be nominated for Life Membership if he/she has served 12 or more years as CEO.  Those nominated for life membership while still serving as CEO of a chamber must be approved by the selection committee two consecutive years. 
  • Non-CEOs
    1. Staff members of chambers may be eligible for Life Member nomination following full retirement from the profession after at least 20 years of service.

To Nominate Someone:

  • Submit a one-page synopsis of how the nominee exemplifies the four characteristics celebrated by the Life Member Award.
  • Attach the nominee’s most current biography or resume.
  • In addition to the evidence of excellence in regards to the criteria, the nomination must include current contact information for the person being nominated. 
  • Submit all the information to ACCE by Friday, March 29.
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ITT Campaign: Quarterly Report

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

Hot off the press - the winter edition of the "In This Together" investment campaign contributors' newsletter.  It's rewarding to see the fruits of our labors and your dollars!  The synergy linking individual investments is especially exciting.  ACCE thanks you for providing the added resources required to make your national association all that it must be to help those who make communities and regions prosper.






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