The Nashville Area Chamber rolled out the red carpet last week (Nov. 3-4) as 21 metro chamber government relations professionals from 13 states met in Music City for two days of learning, sharing and camaraderie. The meeting featured roundtable discussions focused on policy, politics and chamber-specific issues. Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Nashville Chamber President and CEO Ralph Schultz kicked off the meeting with a discussion about business-city partnership on policy and economic development. Marek Gootman of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program also briefed the group on upcoming initiatives and studies focused on infrastructure investment, public-private partnerships, and regional business plans.
A highlight of the meeting was a 360 degree view of Nashville from the 27th floor of the AT&T Building, currently the tallest building in Tennessee. While there, Gary Gaston from the Nashville Civic Design Center led a bird’s eye view tour of the region’s urban development and talked about funding the pro football stadium LP Field and design of the enormous new convention center currently under construction.
“ACCE has organized this type of roundtable format, best-practice-sharing meeting for Metro Council CEOs for years, but this is the first time we’ve scheduled an event like this for senior staff.” said Ian Scott, ACCE's vice president of communications and networks. “Based on feedback so far, I’d call this a huge success. I hope this can serve as a pilot for other subgroup roundtable meetings, but Nashville certainly set the bar very high.”
“The ACCE Government Relations meeting was an absolute home-run," said Jay Barksdale, vice president of public policy at the Dallas Regional Chamber in Texas. "I have been a public affairs professional for many years but am relatively new to the chamber world. Spending time with colleagues from around the United States who face similar challenges and experience the same rewards of this job was the best professional development in which I have participated. I can’t wait to see this talented and motivated group again!”
While in town, attendees also had the opportunity to experience a bit of what earned Nashville its Music City moniker. On Thursday evening, they were treated to a private reception with Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Billy Montana. A diverse group of artists have recorded Montana's songs, including Garth Brooks, Sara Evans, Jo Dee Messina, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Martina McBride, Blake Shelton, Sister Hazel, Kenny Rogers, and Lee Ann Womack.
Attendees also enjoyed a walking tour of downtown led by Terry Clements, vice president of government and community relations from the Nashville C.V.B. The tour included the Country Music Hall of Fame, Ryman Theater, Nashville Symphony, Bridgestone Arena and shops on lower Broadway.
The attendees lead government relations and public policy efforts at metropolitan regional chambers of commerce in Washington, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Tennessee, South Carolina, Ohio, Kentucky, California, Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arkansas.