ARS Organizational Champion Award
Organizational Champion Award
The Organizational Champion Award recognizes regions and regional alliances for overall excellence and commitment to the principles of regional stewardship: innovative economy, livable communities, social inclusion, and a collaborative style of governance. Award winners exemplify regional cooperation efforts that have increased regional capacity, achieved tangible results and shown the potential for sustainability.
Chambers for Sustainable Communities – Reading, PA
Inspired by the ARS Ford Fellow program for regional sustainability, a Third Class City Alliance was formed in 2009 with five regional chamber presidents seeking to spread the awareness of the dire financial condition of Pennsylvania’s metro centers and the impact on regional economic viability and sustainability. The chambers worked with their mayors to identify strategies to put the cities on a financially sustainable track. It was determined that a significant underlying cause of financial distress is due to state mandates – out of the cities’ control – in the areas of binding arbitration and pension. As more chambers, business and local government association stakeholders joined the initiative, the Third Class City Alliance soon morphed into Chambers for Sustainable Communities. To date, a legislative agenda has been developed to create a financially sustainable governing framework for Pennsylvania cities and communities. Legislative champions have been cultivated and the process of amending state law to institutionalize this sustainable framework is now underway, supported by a statewide coalition of business and municipal leaders. As a result, the initiative will soon morph again, becoming the Coalition for Sustainable Communities.
2012 Award Finalists
Strive2Thrive – Albany, GA
In 1999, Forbes Magazine identified Albany, Ga, as “one of the most impoverished cities in the nation.” Similar U.S. publications ranked Albany as the nation’s “fourth poorest metro in America.” The rankings, while disturbing, helped to shine a light on a very serious and real problem of disparities in achieving economic prosperity, social inclusion, access to capital, educational attainment and regional economic development that have been historically endemic to Deep South communities and systemic in areas of large African American populations. Strive2Thrive (S2T) is Albany’s vision to empower families to overcome poverty, become productive citizens and inclusive community members. Based upon the National Circles™ Initiative, the premise of S2T focuses on using every available resource to move Southwest Georgia families into self-sufficiency through peer-to-peer coaching, intentional relationship building and correlative training that aligns with the labor needs of the region. By providing access to social capital, purposeful networking, and dedicated “allies,” families receive ongoing support and direction in order to attain self-sufficiency, productivity and success. Today, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce is the only business advocacy organization in the country to adopt and utilize this unique initiative as an economic and business development program.
Buffalo Niagara Partnership – Buffalo, NY
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership’s “Proceeds” initiative links profits from the sale of unused hydropower from the New York Power Project to economic development projects within 30 miles of the plant. The Partnership organized a coalition of member volunteers, staff, paid consultants, and elected officials who worked over a decade to pass the Hydropower Proceeds Bill which enables an immediate cash infusion of $15 million and approximately $7 million annually in new economic development funding. Those funds were previously spread to projects across New York State by the New York Power Authority (NYPA), with funding decisions being made at NYPA’s headquarters in White Plains, NY - more than 400 miles from the Buffalo Niagara region. The cash resources unlocked by “Proceeds” will help expand regional business, accelerate job growth and investment, and come at a time when most economic development programs come in the form of tax abatements or incentives. “Proceeds” is a strong example of sustained regional cooperation working to leverage a local asset that can be replicated around the country.
- Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce - Climate Protection Partnership (2011)
- Visioneering Wichita, a regional visioning effort (2010)
- Cincinnati (OH) USA Regional Chamber - Agenda 360, A Regional Action Plan (2009)
- Graduate! Philadelphia (2008)
- Bemidji Leads! (2008)
- San Fernando Valley, California (2006)
- Puget Sound Region, Washington (2006)
- Pittsburgh Region, Pennsylvania (2006)
- Greater San Diego's Partnership (2005)
- Northeast Wisconsin Coalition (2005)
- Northern Kentucky's Vision 2015 (2005)
To apply for the ARS Organizational Champion Award, follow the application guidelines and submit electronically. Award submissions should be no longer than seven pages, excluding the cover sheet, and should be submitted electronically. The submission deadline for 2013 is April 30th. Contact Chaaron Pearson for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.