Regional Innovation Award


The Regional Innovation Award recognizes organizations and alliances that are committed to building strong and vibrant communities through groundbreaking collaboration and program development. These organizations are pioneers within their region, focusing their efforts on the four principles of regional stewardship: an innovative economy, livable communities, social inclusion, and a collaborative style of governance.  

This year, the Regional Innovation Award committee is specifically encouraging applications from regional initiatives that are promoting an innovation economy by building a better equipped workforce preparing the region to excel in a globally competitive economy through education attainment and workforce development.


 Visit the Regional Innovation Award Overview & Instructions page to apply. Contact for more information. 


2014 Regional Innovation Award Finalists:
(One winner in each category announced at the ACCE Annual Convention in Cincinnati)

Category 1 Finalists – Education and Workforce Initiatives: 

  • WINNER: Austin Chamber of Commerce On behalf of the 3,000 members of the Greater Austin Chamber, the Education Council and staff focus on meeting the talent needs of primary employers.  For the last nine years, the Chamber has worked closely with leadership from 15 school districts who educate 93% of the local public school students to set stretch targets in direct college enrollment, college/career readiness and high school graduation.  The Chamber helps fund, coordinate and support efforts to achieve an 84% college application rate, 57% FAFSA submission rate, 61% college/career readiness rate, 62% direct college enrollment rate and track graduate labor market and post-secondary outcomes for four years.  The Chamber also partners with Austin Community College to support its effort to meet 90% of relevant local talent needs in IT and health care.
  • Learn to Earn Dayton Learn to Earn Dayton is a collective impact initiative that focuses on enhancing the level of intellectual capital in the Dayton region. Working with the Dayton Chamber of Commerce and other regional partners, Learn to Earn Dayton is developing a set of strategies that can be leveraged to ensure that all young people exit the educational system with market value credentials that enable them to secure a living wage job. The effort clearly aligns educational attainment with regional economic vitality.
  • Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce The Middle Tennessee Regional Workforce Alliance is a public private partnership of business, the public workforce system and postsecondary education working together to improve the skills of workers in strategic industry sectors vital to the region's economic prosperity. The Chamber championed and staffed the idea that by working collaboratively to engage business we could build an enterprise solution to address skills gaps.  Three business led Skills Panels in advanced manufacturing, healthcare and Information technology were formed with a shared goal to meet the certifications and degrees needed in these key sectors.  Launched by the Governor in July 2013, the Skills Panels have established short-term goals and are entering their second year.  Significant systemic change is occurring in the Tennessee Board of Regents system as a result of the collaboration.
  • The Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce Michigan SmartCoast Initiative West Coast Chamber members are in the midst of a global race for talent.  The community is home to global companies in advanced manufacturing, food processing, office furniture and advanced energy storage. Currently, the Ottawa County unemployment rate is at 6.4%, while the State of Michigan is at 8.3% and the nation is at 7%.   At the same time, member firms are outpacing both the Midwest and the nation in sales growth.  As a result, as member companies grow, they are being forced to reach deeper into a shrinking labor pool which is less skilled. In response, the West Coast Chamber is working to support their member companies with the tools they need to grow and to attract and retain the best and the brightest talent.

Category 2 Finalists– Economic and Business Development Initiatives: 

  • WINNER: The Dallas Entrepreneur Center The Dallas Entrepreneur Center was created in June of 2013 to help startups in North Texas to start, build, and grow their businesses through mentoring, education, training, networking, space, and access to capital. To date, the DEC has engaged over 100 startups, leveraged nearly 1,000 mentor hours, launch nearly 20 educational courses, and recruiting a half dozen national entrepreneurial organizations to the North Texas region. The DEC supports entrepreneurs through its incubator program, by matching mentors based on skills and experience, helping students at local universities startup, building a community within the ecosystem, and promoting the region nationally as a hub of entrepreneurial activity.
  • The Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership The Greater Omaha Economic Development Partnership created an innovative two-state, regional approach to increase jobs and investment in eastern Nebraska and southwest Iowa by providing a full range of economic development services. Working across state lines, the Partnership collaboration consists of the Greater Omaha Chamber, Advance Southwest Iowa Corporation, Cass County Nebraska Economic Development Council, the Greater Fremont Development Council, Sarpy County Economic Development Corporation and Washington County’s Gateway Development Corporation. Co-located within the Greater Omaha Chamber, the six Partnership organizations work closely with each other, local governments, and additional public and private entities to drive growth of the region’s strong, diverse economy by focusing on entrepreneurship, small business assistance, business retention and expansion, and talent attraction and recruitment. 


Past Winners:


The application process is currently closed. Contact for more information on the 2015 Regional Innovation Award. 

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