Army, Navy Differ on Need for BRAC

Mick Fleming on Friday, March 28, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Many ACCE members operate in communities that host major military installations. The different branches of the military appear to disagree on the need for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in the near future. These two stories detail the thinking of Army and Navy brass:

Whether new base closures occur or not, it is clear from the Administration’s budget proposals that some reductions in contracts and/or personnel are likely. The Office of Economic Adjustment will be working with communities affected by defense contractor reductions. Information about OEA and its service/grant-making opportunities are available in HERO.

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End of Support for Windows XP: An SMB Checklist

Jay Paulus, Director on the Windows team at Microsoft on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

It’s been fantastic to talk with small and medium-sized business owners over the last few months who are excited about the ways that Windows 8.1 Pro can both help their business and make their employees more productive. But, with the end of support for Windows XP approaching on April 8, 2014, I’ve also talked with business owners who are still wrestling with how to make the jump from Windows XP to a modern operating system. For many small and medium-sized businesses with little to no IT budget, the process may fall on one employee or the owner themselves and upgrading 5, 25 or 250 computers can seem daunting.

As we’ve shared, after Windows XP reaches end of support, businesses still running the old operating system face increased security risks, increased costs and lack of technical support. But you may not know what computers in your business are running Windows XP and how to migrate them to a newer OS, or if you need to purchase new devices. To help ease the process, I’ve developed a handy checklist that covers the key steps small and medium-sized businesses need to take to be ready well before April 8.

Evaluate Your Hardware Needs: First, you need to check to see if you are running Windows XP. You can do this by downloading this handy upgrade assistant. If you are running Windows XP, odds are that you are using an older desktop PC or notebook. That hardware did a great job providing a powerful Windows XP experience, but technology has improved dramatically since then. Older hardware is not designed to support a modern operating system like Windows 8.1 Pro or the mobile demands of the modern workforce.

As part of your migration, research the new form factors and devices that are available for the modern workplace before upgrading your business’ hardware. Windows 8.1 devices are all about choice, and many of them, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the Dell Venue 11 Pro, offer the power and productivity needed for a more mobile workforce with the specs and price point to meet any business need. There are also several special offers currently available from Windows and Office for businesses upgrading from Windows XP.

In addition to great mobile form factors, the choices for modern desktop computers are better than ever. New mini-desktops like the Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny give you a full power desktop in a small package that can fit almost anywhere. If you’re looking for maximum horsepower, be sure to check out the HP Z820 workstation. It’s the one I use on my personal desktop and it delivers amazing performance in a wide range of configurations.

Prep Your Data: Once you know which devices make sense for your organization, you’ll need to think through how you are going to move your company data. It’s common to feel a bit nervous when it comes time to move years of sensitive company data across devices, but advances in cloud technology make it easier than ever to backup, store and transfer files.

As you map out your migration strategy, include a plan for how you will both backup sensitive files and securely transfer your company data across PCs. If you are unsure as to the most efficient way to do this for your organization, Microsoft has resources to help you sort through the various options.

Check Your Apps: Few things are as frustrating as picking a new device, moving over your data and sitting down to work, only to discover that a critical business application is not compatible with your new operating system. To avoid this, evaluate your applications before starting your migration. Not only should you check the applications downloaded directly onto your PCs, you should also double check any web-based applications that your business uses to ensure they will work with an updated version of your internet browser.

Deploy Windows 8.1 Pro: With your new hardware in place, your data safely transferred and your applications up and running, your business is ready to take full advantage of a modern operating system like Windows 8.1 Pro. With Windows 8.1 Pro, your business devices will be more secure and easier to manage and your employees will be more productive than ever before. For additional information on the specifics of deploying Windows 8.1, go here.

We are proud of the value that Windows XP has offered to businesses for more than a decade and we are excited to help companies reach the next level of productivity with Windows 8.1 Pro.


Reposted with permission from Microsoft.



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Key Economic Indicators Delivered to Your Inbox

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Insperity, a provider of an array of human resources and business solutions to help improve business performance, offers economic infographics titled, The Economy at a Glance, that you can have delivered to your inbox.

Key economic indicators, including unemployment, GDP growth, consumer spending and existing home sales provide a comprehensive snapshot of the U.S. economy at large. The monthly infographic outlines the numbers that matter most to you, your business and your employees. Download the January 2014 Economy at a Glance [infographic]; click here to receive these stats via email each month.

Insperity is an ACCE official corporate sponsor.

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Go Ahead, Tell Your Story

Jackie Krawczak, Executive Director, Alpena Area (MI) Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 


Guest blog entry by Jackie Krawczak, Executive Director, Alpena Area (MI) Chamber of Commerce

When the Alpena Chamber of Commerce was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award in the State of Michigan and was a runner up for the 2010 and 2012 awards, we didn’t just congratulate ourselves at a staff meeting and then hope that others happened to hear about it. Heck no. We promoted it until we were blue in the face. We sent a press release, put it on our letterhead, our Facebook page, and our website. We talked about it. We tweeted about it. We wanted anyone and everyone to know about it.

A business owner said to me the other day that one of their competitors had posted a picture of their staff giving money to a community cause. He told me they had also given money to the same cause but hadn’t thought about taking a photo and sharing the story.

I was at an organization’s board meeting last week and the directors were discussing their frustration that many people didn’t know that they had played a key role in something big that had happened recently.

So what’s this all about? I’ve noticed a trend recently. I’m not sure how to best describe the trend, other than saying that the bottom line appears to be that we seem to be much too modest. And too much modesty can be damaging.

Saying that is a bit risky, I know. Some degree of modesty is a good thing. No one likes to spend time with “that person” who seems to brag about himself every chance he gets. But never telling your story won’t do you much good either. Because if you don’t tell your own story, who else is going to? Unless it’s a completely amazing or unusual story, chances are quite slim that someone will stumble upon it and tell everyone for you.

I know telling your own story might make some of you uncomfortable. But consider the following. The person who isn’t afraid to tell his story tends to get the job over someone who isn’t comfortable or good at telling his story. The business leaders who tell their philanthropic or customer service stories tend to create a better perception of their business and attract more new customers than the ones who don’t.

The community that tells their story and talks about how great they are tends to attract visitors, businesses, and development at a greater rate than the community that sits back and hopes someone else discovers their great opportunities.

I’m not sure why this seems to be a hot topic lately. Maybe it is because we are feeling the competitiveness that comes with a tight economy. You have to find a way to stand out and telling your story is one way to do that. You can choose whether or not you want to tell your personal story. If you are a business owner you can choose whether or not you want to tell your business story. But if you want the community to have a better chance of growth, please make it a point to tell the community’s story.

I’ll let you in on a little-known piece of information. It’s not a secret. It’s just not widely known. When we were awarded the Outstanding Chamber Award, we had to nominate ourselves for the award. Any chamber that wants to be considered must self-nominate. The nominations are what the judges use to make their decision. Nominating yourself is the only way to get that recognition. And there’s nothing wrong with it. Of course nominating yourself doesn’t guarantee recognition, but guess what we get if we don’t tell our story? Absolutely nothing. No one is going to find us and tell our story. If we want others, outside the scope of those immediately involved, to know the great things we do, we must take it into our own hands. Just like if we want people to know what a great community this is, we have to do it ourselves. So let’s talk about it. Throw some of that modesty aside and start telling your story.

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An Affinity Program Worth Studying

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Always looking for what’s new in the world of chamber affinity programs, ACCE’s Chris Mead stumbled upon one that offers fantastic education savings for members of the Naperville, Ill., Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC).  

It’s the Naperville Chamber of Commerce Tuition Discount Program that is offered through Benedictine University - an independent Roman Catholic institution in Lisle, Ill. just 25 miles west of Chicago.  According to the program’s website, there are two plans available at the school’s main campus:

  •  Individual Plan: Twenty-five percent (25%) discount on traditional undergraduate and graduate tuition for NACC members and immediate family.
  • Chamber Company Plan: Chamber companies sponsoring an adult accelerated learning program of 15 or more students at their site are eligible to receive a 50% tuition discount per student.

Quite a deal with a school that is recognized as one of the best in America. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2001-2011 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.

For more information on this program, click here.

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Creating Pride of Place in Saratoga

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

Saratoga has built it and now they want you to come and see it—and take home ideas for your own community! In April the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce will host a conference: “Experience Saratoga Springs – How to Create a Vibrant Downtown.” This two-day event (April 3-4) will showcase Saratoga Springs and explain how it has become one of the most vibrant downtowns in America. The event is the first of its kind for the chamber, and it’s being presented with help from the mayor, the City Center, and the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau.

According to Todd Shimkus, CCE, president of the Saratoga Springs Chamber, the keynote presentation by Sally Hogshead at last year’s ACCE convention inspired the chamber to structure this conference as an experiential learning event. “This past summer at the ACCE national leadership conference, I saw a presentation by Sally Hogshead on how organizations can be fascinating,” said Shimkus. “From that session, we transformed our plans for this conference from one where people interested in downtown development sit in an auditorium and listen to expert speakers to one that is more captivating, engaging and fun. Our three unique and separate conference experiences, and the assignment of local personal escorts, will enable attendees to really see, feel and taste (because of the Springs) the vibrancy of our downtown and to learn how the actions our community took to rebuild our downtown over many years can be replicated.”

Conference attendees – including economic developers, city planners, downtown business association leaders, chamber executives, and others – will be organized into small groups of between 12 and 20, and a personal escort will be assigned to each group. Participants will have the choice of three unique “experiences” where they will stay overnight in one of three different hotels, dine at select local restaurants, visit with retailers and meet with different local leaders depending upon the experience they select. The “Spa-Set” experience will focus on how cities can attract upscale residents, tourists and development to their downtowns. The “Saratoga Adventure Awaits” experience will explore how cities can attract young professionals to live and visit their downtowns. The “Saratoga Community” experience will delve into details of how local people can rebuild their downtowns one project at a time through public-private partnerships. Along with the experiences, the conference will include a few general assemblies with panel presentations led by local experts.

For more information about the conference or to register, visit:

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Touchdown Greater Omaha Chamber! (Thanks, Peyton Manning!)

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

With Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning barking “Omaha!” a reported 44 times during last Sunday’s (1/12) divisional playoff game against the San Diego Chargers, the Greater Omaha Chamber wasn’t going to shrug off all the resulting attention.

As the chamber's press release explains, after Manning’s “Omaha! Omaha!” shouts garnered more than 1,000 print, broadcast and Internet mentions, the Greater Omaha Chamber decided to send some love back to Peyton and Denver with a fun video: “Denver's Set. XOXO Omaha.” 

“This 30-second spot highlights our city that prides itself on moving the ball forward,” said David G. Brown, the Chamber’s president and CEO. “We think there are a lot of new football fans that will be watching the Denver Broncos this Sunday, and we hope there are a lot of new Omaha fans as well.”

The Omaha business community is also getting into the game by sending its own “shout-out” to the superstar quarterback. Omaha-based companies, including ConAgra Foods, First National Bank of Omaha, Mutual of OmahaOmaha Steaks, Union PacificCenturyLink and DJ's Dugout, have pledged to donate a combined $700 to Manning’s “Peyback Foundation” every time he says “Omaha” during this Sunday’s playoff game against the New England Patriots. Follow the latest on the effort on social media: #OmahaPeysback.

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Oslo Business for Peace Award: Submit Nominees

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 10, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the Oslo-based Business for Peace Foundation are seeking nominees for the 2014 Oslo Business for Peace Award, a global honor recognizing inspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs who combine ethical responsibility with business success. Submit a nomination for the award by Feb. 1.

The ICC, an official supporting partner of the award, together with local chambers of commerce, assists in the global nomination process for the Business for Peace Award by searching for outstanding business people who have been able to achieve business success while acting in an ethically responsible way. The 2013 Business for Peace Awards were given to six outstanding business people from Brazil, Denmark, Pakistan, Yemen, and the United States. View the complete list of last year’s winners.

The Business for Peace Awards were given for the first time in 2009 in Oslo, Norway, the home of the Nobel Peace Prize, with honorees chosen by a committee of past Nobel Prize winners.

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A Chamber's Great Idea to File for Christmas 2014

Tania Kohut on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 7:45:00 am 

Laura E. Weis, IOM, ACE, president and CEO of the Champaign County (IL) Chamber of Commerce, recently shared with ACCE an idea that has proven to be an easy, fun way to reach out to members and get them engaged during the holidays.

In her email to ACCE, Laura wrote: "Sometimes it’s the 'quick, really didn’t give it much thought' idea that gets everyone talking. What started as an innocent conversation among our staff about 'Elf on the Shelf' phenomenon turned into 'Charlie Chamber Shops Local.'”

For the 12 days of Christmas, Charlie Chamber visited local companies and the chamber posted his adventures on Facebook. On Day 1, staff spent the good part of the day stopping in at various chamber member locations and posed Charlie in their place at work. The chamber posted clues through Facebook and gave away gift cards between Dec. 12 until Christmas. According to Laura, "People loved it." 

Catch Charlie's adventures by visiting the Champaign County Chamber's Facebook page



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Google Assists in Honoring Veterans

Tania Kohut on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 

At this time of year, since 1992, the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America lays holiday wreaths on more than 100,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, which is about six miles from ACCE’s offices. It is a touching tradition and a visually stunning tribute to our fallen heroes. But this year, according to The Washington Post, Wreaths Across America, which places wreaths on graves in 900 cemeteries nationwide, faced a financial shortfall that threatened its work at Arlington Cemetery. Wreaths Across America “had about 12 percent more donations this year than last,” the Post reported, but “many corporate sponsors who previously had supported the Arlington effort decided this year to split their contributions between Arlington and other military cemeteries around the nation.”

Now, thanks to a $250,000 donation from Google (an official corporate sponsor of ACE), plus other individual donations, nearly 120,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery will be decorated with holiday wreaths the morning of Dec. 14.

If you would like to help Wreaths Across America meet its goal of placing a wreath at every one of Arlington’s 240,000 headstones next year, visit

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