Menu

Spotlight

From the winner's circle: Georgia 2030

Ben Goldstein on Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at 11:45:00 am 

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce was coming up on its 100th anniversary when it decided to pursue a change of strategy. Prompted by shifting political, demographic and industrial headwinds, the new 15-year strategic plan, dubbed Georgia 2030, was meant to serve as a road map for leaders in business and government to better address new challenges before they become unmanageable.

“Coming into 2016, we were really faced with a state that’s rapidly changing, and we knew we needed to pivot as an organization,” said Kelsey Moore, director of economic development and special projects at the Georgia Chamber. “For much of the state, especially the rural counties, the outlook doesn’t look good, so we set out to empower them to change before some of these predictions become a reality.”

Chamber staff began by pulling data on demographic and economic trends, using subscription software from Chmura Economics & Analytics, as well as the U.S. Census Bureau and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. They found that, by year 2030, Georgia will have an additional 1.9 million residents, and will no longer be majority-white or Republican.

Armed with their findings, a delegation from the chamber embarked on a tour of the state’s 12 regions, which was organized into a series of sessions held at affiliate chambers and open to the public. Attendees engaged with the presenters using interactive live-polling software, which allowed them to fill out surveys in real-time on their smartphones and tablets to provide feedback about key issues in the state. 

“We were selling out and it was usually standing-room only, which honestly came as a shock to us,” said Moore. “For a lot of these communities, no one ever really asked them before what they thought about these issues. They were really appreciative that we weren’t just lecturing them—we were actually listening to their opinions.”

The Georgia Chamber drew upon the survey data and insights gained from the listening tour and synthesized it into a strategic document. The final report found that 76 percent of respondents think the state’s legal environment is too costly for business; 83 percent support advancing dialogue with diverse communities; and 60 percent support expanding Medicaid or implementing a Georgia-specific alternative. Another major finding was that 85 percent of respondents want to see the chamber more actively promote Georgia-made products and services.

“We found that our investors and stakeholders expect the business community to be involved in issues that we weren’t previously involved in, like race, diversity and poverty,” said Moore. “We’ve always been involved in education, but there’s more of an understanding now that if a child doesn’t have enough to eat, he won’t be able to concentrate in class.”

The success of the Georgia 2030 strategic initiative helped the chamber land the coveted Chamber of the Year title at the ACCE convention in Nashville in July.

“It was a wonderful, outside nod to all of the blood, sweat and tears we put in and all of the thousands of miles spent travelling around the state,” said Moore. “Getting that recognition from an international organization really reaffirms the work we’re doing and gives us a boost to keep going.”

Looking ahead, Moore says the chamber plans to use the data and feedback from the listening tour to foster a dialogue with diverse communities about issues like healthcare, education and workforce.

“We received so much great feedback from across Georgia by engaging and conversing with all of our stakeholders and giving them a voice,” said Moore. “We know that if we can show you what the future looks like and start talking about it today, then we have the opportunity to change it. That’s a really positive thing for a lot of our communities.”

Want to see your story featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share it with Ben Goldstein.

 

Tags: #ACCE17, #ACCEAwards, Chamber of the Year, Georgia Chamber, Georgia2030, Strategic Plan

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

From the winner's circle: Chattanooga 2.0

Ben Goldstein on Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 1:52:00 pm 

In 2008, as the world wrestled with the fallout from the global financial crisis, growth in Chattanooga, Tennessee barely skipped a beat. Now, the city is showing signs of growing pains, with its workforce lacking the education attainment levels needed to fill the high-paying jobs arriving every day in Hamilton County.

To correct this misalignment, the Chattanooga Chamber and its community partners introduced Chattanooga 2.0, an initiative designed to increase the portion of Hamilton County adults with a college degree or technical training certificate from 38 percent to 75 percent by 2025. The chamber estimates that 80 percent of the 15,000 new jobs expected over the next several years will require a post-secondary degree.

“There’s not only an economic imperative, but also a moral imperative,” said David Steele, vice president of policy and education at the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of what makes Chattanooga such an awesome place to live and work was not awesomeness that was being enjoyed by everyone in the community.”

The initiative has already begun reshaping education in Chattanooga. The coalition has launched a new polytechnic academy housed in a local community college, which welcomes students from each of the eight city high schools and trains them in four localized career clusters. A partnership with Volkswagen AG provides industry credentials that often lead to high-paying jobs at its local plant.

“We are distributing certificate programs that lead to other degrees and credentials earlier in the pipeline, when the kids are juniors and seniors in high school,” explained Steele. “The goal is not simply degrees and credentials, but degrees and credentials that have a value within the context of our economy.”

The chamber solicited feedback from stakeholders over an 18-month period to identify obstacles to accessing college, successful programs for replication and strategies for bridging the gaps in available opportunities. At the same time, it kept the community updated through weekly print and online newspaper columns, letters to the editor, op-eds and email newsletters.

“We had school board members host town hall meetings, and we made presentations to every level of government,” recounted Steele. “The 2.0 program schedules two to three meetings a week, so an awful lot of communication takes place in conference rooms and around board tables. It’s become a really dominant factor here in our community.”

Although 2025 still looms far off, there are signs that the initiative is on the right track. Chamber publications predict that 20 percent of the graduating class of 2018 will have been involved in an industry credential program during their junior and senior years. The chamber's communications also speak volumes, with the coalition's website earning 3,600 average monthly visits and 1,500 subscribers to its weekly newsletter.

The coalition’s success was further validated when the Chattanooga Chamber was named Chamber of the Year by ACCE in July. The award recognized the chamber for its success with Chattanooga 2.0, as well as Thrive 2055, a regional growth campaign that complemented the 2.0 movement.

“The award has been a tremendous source of pride for our entire staff and the membership,” said Steele, adding that the chamber has taken the trophy on a tour of its regional councils. “It’s something the entire community has taken ownership of, and that’s been very exciting for us.”

But, even with the chamber still reeling from its big award wins at the ACCE convention, Steele insists the best is yet to come for the chamber and the Chattanooga community.

“It’s very gratifying to have received the recognition we have, but if you were to talk to our staff, the sense you’d get is that none of us feel like we’ve peaked,” he said. “We’re very focused as individuals and teams on building on the success we saw last year, and maintaining the momentum as we continue to enhance our organizational infrastructure.”

Want to see your story featured in the #ACCESpotlight? Share it with Ben Goldstein.

Tags: #ACCE17, #ACCEAwards, Chamber of the Year, Chattanooga Area Chamber, Chattanoooga 2.0, Education Attainment

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Congratulations, Chamber(s) of the Year!

Ben Wills on Monday, July 24, 2017 at 9:07:00 am 

Last week at the annual #ACCEAwards Show, nearly one-thousand community-builders gathered at Music City Center in downtown Nashville to celebrate winners of many special awards, including Chamber of the Year.

Sponsored by WebLink, Chamber of the Year is the most prestigious and competitive award presented by ACCE and is the only globally-recognized industry award that honors top chambers of commerce for exemplary work.

Meet the winners (photos) >

State/Province Category
Georgia Chamber

Category Four
Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce

Category Three
Huntsville/Madison County Chamber

Category Two
Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce

Category One
O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce & Industries

This year's competition drew entries from chambers throughout the U.S. and Canada. To ensure the fairest competition, applicants are grouped into five categories based on: annual revenue, membership, area population, and several other factors.

Learn more about Chamber of the Year here.

Tags: #ACCEAwards, Awards, Chamber of the Year

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Congratulations, Chamber of the Year finalists!

Ben Wills on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at 2:17:00 pm 

The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives today announced finalists for the 2017 Chamber of the Year competition, proudly sponsored by Indianapolis-based WebLink International.

Finalists for 2017 Chamber of the Year are (sorted by category):

State/Province Category:

Georgia Chamber of Commerce
Atlanta, Georgia

Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce
Regina, Saskatchewan

Category Four:

Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce
Charleston, South Carolina 

Chattanooga Area Chamber
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
Dayton, Ohio

Category Three:

Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce
Bowling Green, Kentucky

Huntsville/Madison County Chamber
Huntsville, Alabama

Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership
Ocala, Florida

Plano Chamber of Commerce
Plano, Texas

Category Two:

Kalispell Chamber of Commerce
Kalispell, Montana

North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce
Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce
Paducah, Kentucky

Category One:

Des Moines Downtown Chamber
Des Moines, Iowa

Effingham County Chamber of Commerce
Effingham, Illinois

O’Fallon Chamber of Commerce & Industries
O’Fallon, Missouri

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 Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Learn more about Chamber of the Year here.

Tags: Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce, #ACCEAwards, Kalispell Chamber of Commerce, Awards, North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce, O'Fallon Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Chamber of the Year, Ocala/Marion County Chamber & Economic Partnership, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce, Chattanooga Area Chamber, Plano Chamber of Commerce, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Des Moines Downtown Chamber, Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Chamber

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 1 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |
OFFICIAL CORPORATE SPONSORS