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Obesity is a Business Issue

Michelle Vegliante, Jessie Azrilian on Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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More than two-thirds of US adults are obese or overweight, with 14 states touting an obesity rate above 30 percent. Now, Consider how a population of unhealthy adults impacts businesses - increased health care premiums, decreased employee productivity, and increased absenteeism. If current trends continue, the obesity rate is predicted to rise above 50% in the next 15 years.  A majority overweight or obese future workforce is harmful to U.S. competitiveness and holds potentially debilitating long-term economic impacts.

Children often learn habits from their parents, and research indicates that unhealthy kids become unhealthy adults. Employer measures to promote a culture of health in the workplace and greater community through corporate wellness programs and childhood obesity prevention initiatives can help ensure both the current and future workforce is healthy and prepared to succeed in a competitive economy.

A new report by the American Heart Association indicates Americans overestimate their own health: while 74% of the 2,000 surveyed employees reported being in good or very good health, in reality 42% of these employees had been diagnosed with a chronic condition such as high blood pressure. While this is a troubling snapshot of employee health, the findings also reflect important opportunities for business leaders to improve health outcomes in the workplace. Notably, the study highlighted the influence senior leadership has in driving employees to engage in workplace health programs.

Workplace and Community Wellness:
A recent Quickpoll of ACCE’s membership asked chamber leadership to describe their community’s and member’s concern related to the impact of employee health and childhood obesity on both the current and future workforce. From the 90 chamber executives surveyed, 93% rated their members as being either very concerned or slightly concerned about the impact of employee health on their businesses and 85% of chambers said their communities are concerned about preventing childhood obesity.

The graph below reflects chamber members’ concern about employee/family wellness as it affects the current workforce:

 

Chambers of commerce support both workforce and community wellness in several capacities- from convening members and serving as a health and wellness resource for businesses- to scaling their impact through community-wide initiatives. The ACCE Quickpoll revealed that 65% of surveyed chambers promote corporate wellness programs now or plan to do so in the future. Examples of how chambers engage include: hosting events such as roundtables and conferences to promote corporate wellness plans to members; joining or forming community-wide partnerships to address wellness issues; leading regional initiatives through chamber wellness committees, councils or sub-committees; and including corporate wellness in chambers’ economic strategic plans.  Both the Meadowlands (NJ) and Charlotte (NC) Chambers are prime examples of how Chambers are promoting these initiatives:

  • The Meadowlands (NJ) Chamber of Commerce’s Health & Wellness Committee focuses on supports that directly impact their members, producing an Annual Health & Wellness Guide with vital information to help members navigate healthcare insurance, health programs, safety compliance and wellness.
  • The Charlotte (NC) Chamber of Commerce seeks to impact the broader community through their health initiatives. The Healthy Charlotte Council, which is comprised of the chamber’s members, has a goal to help Charlotte achieve a top 10 ranking in the American Fitness Index within the next five years. The Council has set very specific goals for Charlotte, including: identifying key indicators of the fitness index and tracking status, establishing connectivity with pertinent organizations to drive community collaboration, and increasing the national reputation of Charlotte as a healthcare hub.


Childhood Health and Obesity Prevention:
In addition to corporate wellness initiatives, 65% of surveyed chambers from the Quickpoll also currently promote childhood wellness programs or plan to do so in the future. Examples of specific activities chambers noted include: supporting childhood obesity prevention in a chamber’s legislative agenda; working with local governments to implement child care ordinances; and providing topical surveys, reports and communication briefs to members.

Chamber Involvement in Supporting Childhood Wellness:

One example of Chamber involvement in this arena is the The Traverse City (MI) Chamber of Commerce. The Traverse City Chamber  is leading the way in supporting childhood wellness and connecting economic success to early childhood health and education through the Traverse Bay Great Start Collaborative. Great Start is Michigan’s early childhood initiative and prioritizes “health” as one of its five main focus areas. Their farm to preschool initiative encourages early healthy eating habits by connecting local farms to home-based and center-based child care facilities to incorporate locally-grown fruits and vegetables into preschool meals and create age-and-culturally appropriate curriculum for students and parents to learn both deliver fruits and vegetables as well as teach children where their food comes from.

 

Interested in learning more? Visit the new “Workforce Wellness” webpage to learn how chambers are helping create healthier communities through initiatives to support childhood obesity prevention, corporate wellness, and access to healthcare.

 

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Forbes Etiquette Guide: How To Work A Room

HERO Team / Sarah Myers on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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As summer marches on, events requiring great networking skills seem to culminate. With chamber's summertime programs and events, as well as professional networking through events like ACCE's Annual Convention, not a day goes by without some kind of networking opportunity.

Even if you're a star networker, or perhaps want to learn to be a better one, we can all pick up some great yet simple tips from this fun, quirky, retro-style video with key points on how to effectively network. (If anything, the amusing graphics and music will make you smile and tap your foot, at least!) Watch the Forbes Etiquette Guide: How To Work A Room (2.23 min) and start applying these points to your own networking style. This was originally posted on ACCE's LinkedIn general discussion group in the thread on How to Work a Room- Get the Most out of Real-Life Networking.

More networking ideas are listed on ACCE's Chamberpedia pages for Networking Events and Networking Icebreakers, available in our Events and Programs main section.

Questions, thoughts, comments? We enjoy hearing from you! Email us at HERO@acce.org.

Tags: Convention, Events, icebreakers, networking

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Results Available From New QuickPoll on Obesity Prevention/Corporate Wellness

HERO Team / Sarah Myers on Monday, July 14, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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ACCE's Education Attainment Division and HERO have released the latest QuickPoll results on Obesity Prevention/Corporate Wellness. 90 participants answered more than 7 questions on how chambers are involved in health initiatives. Here is a brief recap of several of the questions and responses.

1. Does your chamber promote corporate wellness programs now or plan to promote it in the future? 65% said yes. See the results to find out how chambers are involved in these programs.

 

2. Does your chamber promote childhood wellness now or plan to promote it in the future? 65.5% said no. See the results to find out how chambers are involved in these wellness initiatives.

 

3. How would you rate your community's attitude towards preventing childhood obesity? 71.1% said "slightly concerned" and 14.4 percent said "very concerned". See the results to find out what chamber's members say about the potential impact of childhood obesity on the future workforce. 

 

To see all the results, view ACCE's QuickPoll page on Obesity Prevention/Corporate Wellness. Find out more about how chambers are getting involved in wellness initiatives and read feedback from chambers on ways they are working with both corporate and childhood wellness.

For questions or more information on this QuickPoll or on the Education Attainment Division, please contact Jessie Azrilian, Director of Education Partnerships.

For more on ACCE's Surveys and Data, including QuickPolls, view our Research Overview page.

Tags: Corporate Wellness, Obesity Prevention, QuickPoll

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Bicentennial Insanity

Mick Fleming on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 11:31:00 pm 
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It was in the summer of 1976.  I was a young teacher in a prep school in New York and was four days into a 30-day school tour of the United States--14 high school kids in two Ford passenger vans. Another teacher and I had organized the 8,000-mile road trip as a Bicentennial experience for our relatively well to do students. One traveler’s father was a famous New York banker who arranged to get us onstage during the 4th of July show at the Grand Ole Opry. I didn’t like Merle Haggard or Minnie Pearl and most of the kids considered it cruel torture (“we could have been at Opryland!”), but none of us will ever forget that afternoon sitting in church pews in clear view of the huge audience, slightly behind the performers. Well, one kid may forget it because he fell asleep during an especially long Roy Clark ballad. I’m pretty sure it was about a horse and a woman, or maybe a pickup. A hundred other adventures ensued over the following weeks: rain the first 12 days in a row, red ant attack in Iran, Texas, sleeping on the red rock formations under the stars in Moab, sending the kids off to explore the French Quarter on their own, Hollywood, Sedona, 50 yard line in Nebraska stadium, White River Junction, an everything store that sold guns, baby furniture, alcohol, prescription drugs and authentic tacos in the attached café. A month and many adventures later, we got home safely from this crazy trip. As my fellow chaperone put it: “It was great! Nobody was hurt, sick or pregnant.” P.S. 5 years later, the banker mentioned above helped get me my first job in chamber work.

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“Let the Pros Do It."

Mick Fleming on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 11:30:00 pm 
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My best 4th of July holidays were as an adult, not as a kid. When our kids were young, my attorney brother bought a 20-acre gentleman's farm.  Driving 400 miles home for Independence Day included a mass sleepover for 20 or so folks in his great country house on Snake Run Road in East Otto, N.Y. (no kidding). Each year, after a day spent splashing in the muddy pond, and hiding in the corn field, a do-it-yourself fireworks show was the holiday climax, followed by a big campfire. It was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting . . . most of the time.

One year, the brother-in-law assigned to purchase contraband explosives (in New York state) was ripped off at the pop-up fireworks stand in Virginia. Those were some OLD roman candles! At least half were duds, which were disposed of in the boxes they had come in. Later in the evening, as the last song faded by the dying fire, my always-efficient sister cleaned up the yard, throwing papers and other trash into the barely glowing embers, which was the way we dealt with farm garbage in prehistoric times.

A few minutes later, our tranquil evening resembled a scene from Apocalypse Now. Violent explosions erupted in and above the fire, sending tracers and flames between the screaming, crawling family members. I spotted my two kids in perfect boot camp position on bellies and elbows. Nana had flung her walker and shuffled away from the duds coming to life with remarkable agility for 92. My eldest nephew shouted without a trace of irony: “Mom, I’ve been hit!”

Of course I can tell the story now with such relish because we all escaped without permanent scarring. Psychological damage to young’uns appears to have been temporary, though I still wonder about one niece. And the lesson (I always need a lesson) for chamber folks from this story from the Fleming family annals?  Let the pros do it.

The work you do requires skill and wisdom. You can’t trust just any volunteer to spend the money carefully, handle the project properly, put on a good show and wrap things up without a hitch. You’re the pro. At least supervise to avoid explosive situations for those around your campfire.

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ACCE's 2013-14 Operations Survey Report Now Available

HERO Team / Sarah Myers on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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ACCE's Annual Operation Survey report for 2013-14 is now available. With the most recent data collected in the spring of 2014, the 10th Annual ACCE Chamber Operations Survey Report provides the most comprehensive benchmarking data for the chamber industry. The PDF report features 28 charts and graphs, and is built on data sets collected for 2008-2013. Current statistics (for program year 2013) have been calculated from 248 chambers and cover the following areas: organizational structure and function, governance, staffing, membership, and finances.

For participants in the survey cycle (which ran in Feb-Mar 2014), you may now download the report and spreadsheet of responses at no charge here, through My Account. Login, then select "Operations Survey & Online Results" and choose "Review Results 2013-14 Operations Survey." You can download the PDF report and Excel spreadsheet of results.

If you did not participate in the survey cycle, you may purchase a copy of the 10th Annual ACCE Chamber Operations Survey Report through the ACCE Store.

Free to all members, we have the ACCE Annual Membership Statistics report, available for download here.

Please note, the HERO team will not be creating custom operations survey PowerPoint presentations this summer... However, stay tuned for some exciting news about a new survey platform to launch later this summer, which will allow all survey participants to access reports and custom benchmarking options. The product is currently in development stages and watch for our updates and announcements through the summer. For the very latest news, please visit the ACCE booth during our Annual Convention, August 12-15, and experience a live demonstration and tour of the new system.

Find more information on ACCE's Surveys and Data offerings, including the Chamber Operations Survey, Salary (Compensation and Benefits) Survey, QuickPolls, and Other Research with whitepapers, the Schapiro Report, and other studies.

If you have any questions or need additional information to access the Annual ACCE Chamber Operations Survey Report, please contact HERO@acce.org.


Tags: HERO, Operations Survey

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Grant resources for your chamber

HERO Team / Sarah Myers on Monday, May 26, 2014 at 7:00:00 am 
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Chambers, like all businesses, investigate ways to bring in funding. Grants are one funding stream to look at. Our Chamberpedia page on Grants and Contracts addresses starting points for grant research. Federal grant and contract money can be another viable source of chamber income. However, seeking and securing these funds can be time consuming and expensive. The acquisitions process is typically heavy in administration. Once an agreement is reached, a chamber must be diligent in avoiding conflicts of interest with the government agency. However, many believe that the benefits outweigh the risks. Grants and contracts can provide funds that greatly accelerate community development in areas such as tourism, infrastructure, business and other special projects. Where to start learning about grants? Read ACCE's whitepaper on Chamber Revenue Models. See specifically the section on grants in these chapters: Convention and Visitors Bureaus chapter and Economic Development Funding chapter.

 

Dive in to grant resources and databases:

  • Foundation Center - Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide.
  • Grants.gov - Grants.gov is the centralized place to find and apply for federal grants.
  • GrantStation - GrantStation.com, Inc. is a for-profit service that offers nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and government agencies the opportunity to identify potential funding sources for their programs or projects as well as resources to mentor these organizations through the grantseeking process.
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Free Grant Database - This free resource requires sign-up to search for educational and non-profit organization grant opportunities. The database is continuously updated.
  • Small Business Administration Loans & Grants - Resources and directories on finding grants

 

Facing a disaster? See these specific grants for disaster assistance

 

Have a few minutes? Read articles from the Chamber Executive archvies with great grant ideas:

 

Has your chamber had success with grants? Tell us about it! Comment here or tell us more about the resources you used. Email HERO@acce.org.

 

Tags: Grant research, Grants, HERO

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Joplin Says Thank You

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 7:24:00 am 
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This week marks the third anniversary of the devastating EF5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, Mo.,  May 22, 2011. The tornado, with winds exceeding 200 mph, left a 13-mile swath of damaged or destroyed homes and businesses, 161 fatalities, 1,100 injured and 9,200 displaced.

Today Joplin stands tall, and our friends from The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce send a heartfelt thank you to all – including many ACCE members – who helped them recover and rebuild. According to Chamber President Rob O’Brian, “We have had such terrific support from so many people around the county, both in ‘work’ and ‘volunteer’ roles. To-date, we have had over 200,000 registered volunteers, giving us 1.5 million person-hours of time. The equivalent of 175 years.”  The chamber has prepared an inspirational video to show how far this remarkable community has come since that fateful evening, but more importantly, to say, “thank you.” See the video at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWZ7aGRhWwc.  

 

 

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Chamber’s Computer Gets Hacked

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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A recent article in USA TODAY described the nightmare scenario that happened in January at the Bennington, Vt., Area Chamber of Commerce when one of its computers was overtaken by CryptoLocker, computer “ransomware” that freezes access to files via a private key known only to the hacker. When the ransomware infects a computer, any file that is directly accessible from that computer can be at risk. According to the article, "The warning — next to a ticking countdown clock — threatened to destroy all data on the computer if the chamber refused to pay a $400 ransom within 40 hours."

If your computer is infected with this malware, there's really nothing you can do, unless you decide to pay the ransom. Even then, there have been instances where the computer remained locked even after the ransom was paid. The most effective protection is to be alert. Also:

  • Analyze e-mails that are "to good to be true" or unexpected.
  • Stay away from web sites and/or e-mails that are offering free stuff. Free is never really FREE.
  • Be careful of shipment notification emails- especially if you are not expecting anything or if you haven't shipped anything.
  • Avoid sites known to be trouble, such as pornographic and gambling sites. 
  • When in doubt, don't click on ANY links. Just delete the message.

Read more about the Bennington Chamber’s incident here.

 

 

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A policy is a plan

HERO Team / Sarah Myers on Monday, May 19, 2014 at 7:00:00 am 
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A policy is a plan. Any size of chamber with staffing small to large, needs personnel policies. Chambers often have practices of reviewing personnel policies and handbooks on an annual or every other year basis. Many chambers have a personnel planning committee to help with the task of reviewing policies and other personnel related matters. ACCE's Chamberpedia page on Personnel Policies lists examples of Employee Manuals & Handbooks, Workplace Violence and Safety Policies, Financial Policies, IT-related Policies, Social Media Policies, Remote/Teleworking Policies & Info, and more.

The HERO team often receives questions about social media policies and how to handle the personal use of social media while on the job. Here are several examples of chambers that address social media.

Handbooks provide the guidelines your staff needs to ensure your office runs smoothly and with high standards. Here are several examples of handbooks from chambers.

 

Does your chamber have a personnel policy, employee handbook, or other type of policy to share? We want to hear from you. Email us at HERO@acce.org.

Tags: HERO, Human Resources, Personnel Policies

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