Chamber Merger: Boost in Numbers, Opportunities

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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The Greater Lehigh Valley (PA) Chamber of Commerce (GLVCC) just got a membership boost. Last week, the Carbon Chamber & Economic Development Corp. (CCEDC) officially partnered with the GLVCC, solidifying the GLVCC’s position as the largest chamber in Pennsylvania.

While both organizations will still operate independently, the partnership provides networking opportunities and new resources for the CCEDC. For the GLVCC, the union offers a new membership base in Carbon County, increasing its roster to nearly 6,000 member organizations.  Tony Ianelli, president and CEO of the GLVCC, commented on the mutual benefit of the partnership in an article on “Carbon saw the Lehigh Valley as a critical market for the business community, and the Lehigh Valley saw Carbon the same way,” Iannelli said. “We’re hoping to increase business-to-business relations and have an impact on public policy, getting attention in Harrisburg like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.”

The GLVCC has been growing its presence in the region, partnering with more than 20 chamber and civic organizations. Learn more about the partnership and what it means for both organizations here.



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The Case for Business Investment in Early Childhood Education

Jessie Azrilian on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 6:26:00 pm 
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New study finds that virtually no one believes less should be done to support Early Childhood Education (ECE)

Okay, that's probably not that surprising. What might surprise you in First Five Years Fund's recently-released report is the widespread public, cross-sector, and bi-partisan support for investment in zero-to-five education. Specifically, the 800 voters surveyed for their report believe overwhelmingly that: 1) Early Education should be regarded as a national priority- second only to increasing economic prosperity and decreasing the tax burden; 2)Early child education and care must be more affordable; and 3) Congress needs to act NOW to increase access to excellent and affordable early education and childcare services.

On the heels of the survey's release a group of Chamber CEOs and business leaders gathered at the US Chamber last Wednesday to advocate on behalf of business investment in early child preparedness programs. Speaking at the gathering, Brian Maher, the retired chairman and CEO fo Maher Terminals and former chairman of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce was quoted in a Washington Post article saying: "If somebody had said to me about a decade ago...that I would one day be down here in Washington speaking on behalf of early chidlhood education, I would have thought they were on drugs." 

On drugs he was not. An evolving body of research and data showcases early education's astounding return on investment, and Maher joins a growing contingency of business and public sector leaders that have seen the connection between investment in a child's formative years as a direct investment in our future economy.  

For a synthesis of the wide array of early childhood initiatives chambers and business organizations are engaging in across the country, refer to the recently-released study by America's Promise Alliance and project ReadyNation, with support from ACCE: Championing Success: Business Organizations for Early Childhood Investments.
The report shows that at least one state chamber of commerce, large city chamber, or state business roundtable in 44 states has publicly supported early childhood policy initiatives. 

Numbers Don't Lie: Take a look to determine the potential impact of your investment. 



Tags: EAD, early childhood education, Education

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GED® Test Evolves to Better Prepare Adults for Success in the Workforce

Brian Smith, GED Testing Service on Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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As more and more communities struggle to fill available jobs with a skilled and educated local workforce business and higher education have realized the need to join forces in tackling the talent and skills gap issue. Read what GED Testing Service is doing to help students and adults meet current and future workforce demands.  

In response to feedback from employers and colleges across the country, the GED® test is making a dramatic change in 2014, aligning with college and career readiness standards and focusing on the skills adults need to be successful in the workforce.

Over the past five years, report after report have come out and highlighted that adult learners need more than just a high school diploma to succeed in today’s economy and to earn a family-sustaining wage. There are not enough low-skill jobs for low-skill workers and adults are recognizing that the jobs that are available are middle-skill jobs – jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a Bachelor’s degree.

We have also seen that too many high school students are not graduating with the right skills needed to be successful in the next step in life – going to college or enrolling in a job training or certificate program. Groups like state and local Chambers of Commerce have been outspoken in their support of raising standards for high school graduates, which is important to ensure employers have access to adults with the right skills to be successful in today’s economy.

As the primary high school equivalency test provider for adult learners, GED Testing Service also heard that message loud and clear from employers and colleges across the country. After reviewing our program and looking at the changing economic landscape, we joined the effort to raise standards and improve the resources available to adults so that they can be successful after earning a high school equivalency credential.

New Benefits of the 2014 GED Test for Employers

Below are some of the significant features of the new GED® Test that will be released in 2014 that are most valued by employers:

·         2014 GED® test aligned with Common Core and college and career readiness standards – GED Testing Service worked closely with employers, colleges, workforce professionals and researchers to ensure that the 2014 GED test is aligned with college and career readiness standards and measures the problem solving and critical thinking skills most valued by employers and colleges. We have also demonstrated that our new test is strongly aligned with the college and career readiness standards outlined by the US Department of Education’s Office of Vocational and Adult Education. 

·         Provides college and career readiness target goals – While we will continue to measure high school equivalency, the 2014 GED® test will also measure where a test-taker’s performance level is in relation to college and career readiness in each of the four subject areas.

·         Detailed score report – The 2014 GED® test will provide a wealth of information in the new detailed score report, which will outline the skills an individual has demonstrated and provide feedback on areas that need to be improved to demonstrate either high school equivalency or college and career readiness. This new feedback will better help employers, colleges, adult education instructors, and individual test-takers better understand the skills and competencies of a test-taker.

·         Computer-based Testing – The 2014 GED® test will only be offered on computer, allowing adult learners to demonstrate basic technology skills and take advantage of some significant benefits like same-day score reports, online scheduling and a more flexible testing experience.

·         GED Portal – The 2014 GED® test will also have an online portal that will help adults navigate the path of preparing for the GED® test, taking the test and connecting with jobs, college or certificate programs in their local community.

·         GED Analytics – The 2014 GED testing system will provide states with a sophisticated analytics system that will allow states the ability to evaluate and report on the success of their adult education programs.

Some States Might Drop the GED® Test to Avoid College and Career Readiness Standards

While all of the new changes to the GED® test likely align with the education initiatives of your Chamber, some states are looking to replace the GED® test to avoid moving to college and career readiness standards. Given the leadership that Chambers have taken on this issue and the respect they garner from the states, we are hoping to partner with individual chambers to ensure that adult learners have access to a high school equivalency test aligned with college and career readiness standards.

GED Testing Service is excited to exhibit at ACCE’s 2013 Convention in Oklahoma City. Please stop by our booth to learn more about the changes and how you can help make sure your state is moving in the right direction.

Visit for more information about the 2014 GED test.











Tags: higher education, talented workforce, Workforce Development

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Need Professional Networking Help?

Tania Kohut on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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With the largest networking event for chamber professionals—the ACCE Convention—coming soon, this recent article from Bloomberg Business Week is a must-read. It shows how one woman made it her job to be your networking buddy, or your “professional wingman.” If you consider yourself a so-so networker or simply hate the process (you’re not alone), you can hire her for $250. She’ll accompany you to a networking event, and do the work that so many find difficult or just plain awful. The article offers important networking tips.  Read it here.



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The Coming Jobs War

Tania Kohut on Monday, June 24, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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The email below from Janet Steele, ACE, IOM, president of the Albany Area (OR) Chamber of Commerce, alerted ACCE about her chamber's effort to raise awareness of the impact of creating jobs and job opportunities.

I thought I'd brag a little about our Chamber. This past Monday [June 10], seven Board members and I delivered the book The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, to every Oregon House and Senate member, plus the Governor's office. The initial reaction was very positive and we learned today that the Governor is going to read the book.

This is a book I first heard about at the WACE conference this past February. Upon finishing it I asked my Exec Board to read it, they thought so much of it that in turn they asked every Board member to read it for our strategic planning retreat in April. They spent much of the retreat discussing the relevance of the book and how our mission/vision/programs could be directed more in line with pro-job strategies. I started giving out the book to other community leaders - the president of our community college had his key leadership staff read it, our key manufacturers have read it and shared it with staff. I gave it to our City Council and County Commissioners and the list keeps growing. We know  the book doesn't have all the answers, nor should it, each chamber/community needs to decide what their vision and mission should be. But,  this book continues the conversation we've been having with our members and community around jobs. "Business is a 4 Letter word - Jobs", and "Without Business there is No Community". They are more than tag lines they are a message that needs to go out to everyone.

I know I'm preaching to the choir but - someday we hope everyone will understand how important Jobs are to our communities and how we need to work together to bring jobs back to Albany, Oregon, and the USA.

Read more about the effort here:

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Chambers... Still on Top

Ian Scott on Friday, June 14, 2013 at 6:00:00 pm 
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It’s like deja vu. Late last spring I wrote a blog post praising chambers of commerce and their affiliates for dominating the list of top performing economic development groups. A year goes by and I’m writing practically the same blog post.

When Site Selection magazine released their Top Economic Development Groups of 2012 as the featured cover story for the May 2013 issue, chambers once again dominated.  Congratulations to:

  • Austin Chamber of Commerce
  • Baton Rouge Area Chamber
  • Economic Futures Group at the Spartanburg Area Chamber
  • Metro Atlanta Chamber
  • Mobile Chamber of Commerce
  • Pittsburgh Regional Alliance
  • Siouxland Initiative at the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce 
  • Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance

That’s right folks, 8 out of the top 10 economic development groups in the country are chambers of commerce or are affiliate entities housed at chambers.  The dominance continues in the second 10 where half are chambers of commerce or similar private sector lead regional entities.

  • Cincinnati USA Partnership
  • Dallas Regional Chamber
  • Greater New Orleans Inc.
  • Indy Partnership
  • Nashville Area Chamber

What’s the basis for all this recognition you ask? Well it’s pretty rigorous. Here’s how Site Selection describes the ranking process:

“As in past years, the top performers were evaluated on a variety of criteria, with four objective measurements counting the most: jobs, capital investment, jobs per capita, and investment per capita. In addition, Site Selection looked at creativity of economic development strategy; depth and breadth of project activity; ability to generate breakthrough deals; and the ability to properly document the contributions of the economic development organization to actual project results.”

Objective criteria, creative innovation, breakthrough deals and documented leadership… if you want to model the best in economic development, you have to look at chambers.

Tags: business attraction, Economic Development, EDC Division, rankings

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Is your chamber social media friendly?

Tania Kohut on Friday, May 31, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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The staff at recently published its ranking of the top 100 most social media friendly chambers of commerce. In compiling the list, this social education community searched the most popular social media sites and recorded the number of followers, likes, pins, etc. for around 550 chambers of commerce that met their minimum requirements for consideration. Did your chamber make the list? View the rankings (and the requirements for consideration) here.

Bonus! If your chamber is included in the top 100, you are invited to post a badge promoting your achievement on your website or your social media accounts.



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Convention Scholarship Recipients Announced

Tania Kohut on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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ACCE is pleased to announce this year's recipients of convention scholarships in the names of Mike Hauser and Shelia Lee -- leaders of the chamber movement and ACCE.   Many thanks to those who donated to these scholarship funds! We look forward to seeing you in Oklahoma City, July 23-26, for ACCE Convention 2013.

Mike Hauser Scholarship:

  • Shannon Viera - Brunswick County (NC) Chamber of Commerce 
  • Mandy Senn  -Chattanooga Area (TN) Chamber of Commerce

Shelia Lee Scholarship:

  • Christine Sortino - Greece (NY) Chamber of Commerce
  • Amy Mattison - Jacksonville (AR) Chamber of Commerce
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Employment Growth Snapshot

Ian Scott on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 2:15:00 pm 
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Garner Economics this week released a report digging in to the jobs picture for 372 regional economies in the United States.  As you’d expect, the finding are a mixed bag.

First, the good news: employment figures are up in 80% of U.S. metro regions in Q1 2013 compared with Q1 2012. The majority of regions are adding jobs year over year and that’s an unequivocally good thing.

Compare current employment averages with pre-recession figures and the picture is less rosy. Employment is still below Q1 2008 levels in roughly 70% of U.S. regions. Many are within 2-3 percentage points of pre-recession employment levels, only a handful are still 10-15% down.

Of the 102 regions that have exceeded pre-recession job levels and continue to grow, most of the strongest performers share a significant energy sector presence. Midland and Odessa, Texas lead the pack with 21.8% and 20.3% job growth since Q1 2008 respectively.

Click to read the full study.

Tags: economic development; job growth; growth; economy; Garner Economics

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Breaking Records in Charlotte

Ian Scott on Friday, May 24, 2013 at 11:25:00 am 
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The Charlotte Chamber is celebrating a new high watermark for their annual Total Resource Campaign - $5,114,261.  More than $5.1 million in 12 weeks.  That’s more than $425k a week…more than $85k a business day. 

“These funds provide more than half the Charlotte Chamber’s annual operating expenses,” said Bob Morgan, president of the Charlotte Chamber.  “They will be deployed toward our mission to grow the economy, to serve as a voice for business and to engage our members in providing innovate products, programs and services.”  

Pretty impressive work by Bob and his team.  Of course they had help.  26 corporate teams, involving 130 volunteers, connected with more than 1600 companies to sell memberships and raise revenue on the Chamber’s behalf.  And when you consider some of the corporate teams leading the way - Bank of America, Bissell, Duke Energy, Wells Fargo, – it’s no surprise they set an all-time record.

Tags: funding; TRC; total resource campaign; volunteers

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