ACCE's Government Relations Division e-newsletter

December 2015

In this Issue

If you have any comments about this enewsletter, or would like to recommend news items or reports for future issues, please contact Hannah Nequist at ACCE.


Metro Cities Hit the Motor City

For the past five years, ACCE has convened a small group of senior Government Relations professionals from the metro regional chambers across the country. The day and a half agenda includes presentations and tours highlighting the host city and peer sharing sessions on key policy issues, political activity, and the advocacy process.

Last month the group gathered in Detroit. Presentations from Sandy Baruah, Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO, and Dan Varner, CEO of Excellent Schools Detroit, provided a clear picture of the recent past and present challenges facing Detroit and some of the opportunities the city has moving forward. In the afternoon the group made the short trek to one of Quicken Loans’ many downtown buildings. Amidst the bright, young, and fun office space, Matt Cullen, CEO of Rock Ventures (umbrella entity for Quicken Loans Founder Dan Gilbert’s portfolio of companies and investments) chronicled how private-sector investment and public/private partnerships have been leading a downtown renaissance.

Arguably even more valuable to attendees was the time spent in roundtable discussions. While enjoying a panoramic view of the Detroit River and downtown Windsor, Ontario, the group swapped war stories on topics ranging from education funding to methods for engaging millennials, best practices on PAC fundraising, and many more subjects. Much like the peer support exchanged during the division’s monthly calls, attendees walked away with at least a few new ideas to elevate their work at home.

Here’s just a few of their thoughts on the meeting:

"Like most chamber execs, I know a great idea when I steal one. The ACCE GR meeting never fails to provide a fertile field for that intellectual larceny. Of particular value to me in Detroit were several new ideas being tried by other communities in the areas of transportation funding and education reform. Our discussion of strategies for outreach and integration of new demographic groups and new industry models into our existing chamber models was also fascinating."

Steve Baas, CCE
SVP, Governmental Affairs & Public Policy
Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce

"It was a great learning experience to hear how other chambers deal with a variety of policy topics like healthcare, workforce, transportation and minimum wage. But most importantly I connected with a number of professionals that I can reach out to for support as I navigate policy issues in the future."

Kristen Easterday
Director, Local Government Relations
Columbus Chamber


"The ACCE Metro GR round table event is my favorite professional development activity. The two days gives us the opportunity to share best practices in how we manage the work we do. It is also helpful to hear how my colleagues message the issues in their communities."

Natalie English, CCE
SVP Public Policy
Charlotte Chamber


"The highlight of the meeting is getting insight and real world best practices from my peers in the field. The time we spend together is beneficial also because we can rely on each other as resources on issues and policies based on what is happening in other communities and state houses across the country. It is neat to learn more about new cities. Two things stand out from our visit to Detroit– the unique perspective provided by Matt Cullen from Rock Ventures on the recovery efforts throughout the city and progressive thoughts on things the community in Detroit has done to rebuild; the other is the layers of education provided and how the business community addresses education/workforce needs."

Joseph Jones
Senior Vice President Government Relations and Public Policy
Greater Des Moines Partnership

"I left Detroit feeling that the city we’ve all read so much about in recent years is quickly on its way to a new pinnacle. Seeing Detroit’s recovery firsthand left me inspired for my own community."

Robert Medler, IOM
VP Government Affairs
Tucson Metro Chamber

Featured Resources

The links below provide valuable resources available on

ACCE Education Attainment Division Video   

Why are chambers uniquely qualified to tackle tough workforce challenges? This 10-minute video features chamber execs from across the country discussing their work with business and education stakeholders to transform education, fulfill workforce needs and build thriving communities.

Candidate Recruitment Programs

Candidate Recruitment Programs are chamber led efforts to identify and encourage business friendly individuals to seek elected office, generally at the local level. Check on samples and examples of such programs around the country.

Division Call Recordings

Visit the Government Relations Division page for access to all recordings of recent monthly calls. These calls are peer sharing opportunities. Some months also feature guest speakers who provide additional information regarding the call’s main topic. The October call featured special guest James Corless of Transportation for America, who shared an update on the progression of federal transportation funding in Congress.

In the News

Taxing by the mile, not the gallon

As vehicle fuel efficiency continues to rise, gas tax revenues have decreased across the country. States and localities have been finding creative ways to raise new revenue, including use-based fees. Oregon is leading the way with a trial of their OreGo program, which tracks miles driven using GPS devices and charges participants accordingly.

Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce holds workshop for would-be politicians

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber put on a non-partisan, open workshop for citizens to learn about campaign rules, marketing, fundraising, the policymaking process and information on local issues.

Lawmakers Struggle to Regulate Airbnb

Like UBER, many localities are grappling with how to regulate app-based home sharing programs like Airbnb. One major concern, especially for hotels competing for room nights, is collecting sales and lodging tax for these short-term rentals.

Upcoming Events

GR Division Monthly Roundtable Call  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

2 p.m. ET

Mark your calendars for the monthly conference call of ACCE’s Government Relations Division. Here’s what you need to participate:

Phone: (605) 562-3180

Pin: 509-142-707

Join your peers for this best practice sharing roundtable conference call! This is an open participation roundtable conference call, not a seminar. Come prepared to share your thoughts and experiences, and build your professional network!

ACCE's Official Corporate Sponsors
Accrinet AMEX Central Holidays Central Holidays
Google Insperity IVDesk Market Street
National Chamber Program / Office Depot Places Mobile

Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives

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