ACCE Partner Central Holidays Offers Cuba Visits

Marlene Oliver on Monday, April 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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New “Discover Cuba” Itinerary Offers Americans Legal Travel to Cuba via People-to-People Cultural Travel Program

Central Holidays is pleased present an exciting new “Discover Cuba” travel program that takes U.S. travelers to connect with locals in Cuba and learn about the architecture, music, art and culture of this enchanting country.  The U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control has granted a license to provide people-to-people cultural exchange travel programs to Cuba to Premier World Discovery/CE, strategic partner of Central Holidays, enabling the company to offer this trip to U.S. travelers.

The fascinating 8-day “Discover Cuba” itinerary provides a full time schedule of activities that result in meaningful exchanges through people-to-people contact, offering insightful, cross-cultural and educational experiences at every turn.  Travelers will explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Havana with the largest collection of Spanish-Colonial architecture in the Americas, the beautiful baroque-style Cathedral of Havana built in 1748, and the “Maqueta de la Habana Vieja” Museum that houses a detailed scale model of the City of Havana.  Further along, travelers visit Viñales Valley and Pinar del Rio, known for its stunning scenery, a landscape of prehistoric looking flat-top mountains or “mogotes”, tobacco plantations, caves, and rivers.  An excursion to Guanabacoa takes travelers to discover the religious diversity of this land and visit Hemingway’s Farm where the Nobel Prize winner lived with his wife for 21 years.  This itinerary features experiences that showcase the treasures of Cuba including a tour of an authentic cigar factory, tobacco farm, and rum factory as well as meals in local restaurants.  Visitors will also tour an art studio and craft market, and dance studio and interact with welcoming locals, artists and dancers.

“Adding Cuba to our destination offerings allows us to further cater to our robust family of repeat customers who wish to explore the world in the signature Central Holidays way,” said Gianni Miradoli, CEO of Central Holidays. “We are pleased to introduce this novel Cuba itinerary that brings travelers the rare opportunity to visit a fascinating country on an enriching travel program replete with cross-cultural interaction, education, and discovery.”

For additional information about the Discover Cuba travel program available through Central Holidays, please call Central Holidays at 800-935-5000 or visit them online at 

About Central Holidays:
Founded in 1972, Central Holidays offers superior travel programs, value and service to enchanting destinations across the globe including Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, plus dozens of Mediterranean and European River Cruise itineraries, worldwide ski programs, as well as people-to-people educational exchange travel to Cuba!  For more information, contact Central Holidays at 1-800-935-5000 or visit their Web site at



Marlene Oliver
(305) 491-0512,
NJC Communications

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Up Close and Personal with Mick Fleming

Brad Holt on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 11:30:00 am 
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Mick Fleming, president of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, was a featured guest on the Executive Leaders Radio Show recently. He discussed  influences that led him to his career as an advocate of chambers as community leaders, competition for the ACCE leadership job that he accepted in 2001, challenges he overcame in those early days, and much more in the 12-minute interview.

The show’s profiles of business executives primarily from the Mid-East are heard on radio stations in 20 states across the country, and are available online via iTunes, and numerous other podcast directories. Listen to the interview.

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The Emmy-Winning Memphis Chamber

Ian Scott on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:45:00 am 
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How many chambers of commerce have an Emmy in their lobby? The Greater Memphis Chamber now has three for The Soundtrack Project, a series of eight documentary shorts that capture the entrepreneurial spirit in Memphis.

The Soundtrack Project began in 2010 as a partnership between the Chamber and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra to highlight both the strength of the Memphis arts community and breadth of the local small business community.

“These multimedia movements serve as both a local point of pride and as a snapshot of Memphis’s business community for a global audience,” said John Moore, president and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber. “You really get a sense of the authentic and determined spirit of Memphis’ small business owners when you watch each video.”

Watch the videos at: 

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Prosperity Digest

Ian Scott on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 11:15:00 am 
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Headlines and opinion from around the economic and community development world...

Des Moines Goes SXSW

The Greater Des Moines Partnership was in Austin last week repping Central Iowa's start-up scene and arts/culture vibe at South by Southwest , the music, film, technology and innovation festival. 

KC's Fiber Houses

Market Street Report blog introduces readers to fiber house, the newest noun in entrepreneurship.

Not Just a four-Year College Degree

The Dayton Area Chamber and its education partners have a huge success in associate degree attainment, worker retraining, and career academy high schools. Lumina Foundation devoted an entire issue of its magazine to Dayton's work.

Market Driven Planning

Citiwire's Curtis Johnson examines how a market driven, "place-making" approach to development is paying dividends for smaller communities and big regions in Texas

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Great Story, Well Told

Brad Holt on Monday, April 8, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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Aaron Nelson, IOM, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, has been named one of the best comedic story tellers for 2012 in The Monti story telling competition in Chapel Hill, N.C. His Sept. 14 performance last year dealt with a 2009 presentation he made "on the other side of the world" to the World Chambers Federation about the Chapel Hill community. Listen now.

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Advocacy is Essential

Jay Chesshir, CCE on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at 5:00:00 pm 
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Government advocacy is essential to economic development. We all know that what happens at city hall, in the state house or in Congress has a significant impact on our ability to retain and grow jobs. And lest we forget, our elected leaders continually find ways to remind us.

The $85 billion in indiscriminate federal spending cuts known as sequestration is the most recent and broadly felt case in point. Like it or not, federal spending in vital areas like defense and research support thousands of private sector jobs in many communities. Business expansion decisions have been stymied by the extreme uncertainty in the healthcare market created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Other companies have been forced to invest abroad because our federally regulated immigration system still won't allow them to hire skilled workers who happened to be foreign-born. While reduced government spending is a reality, our ability to educate government on economic impact is crucial to getting our economy growing again.

Unfortunately our government challenges are not limited to the federal arena. Many states have slashed the incentive programs needed to close deals, and they've cut funding to the universities that produce the talent companies need to hire. Often those cuts have come while pension liability and retiree health costs remain unaddressed. Local government is not immune from bad public policy either. Some cities have effectively hung an "Unwelcome" sign by passing English-only ordinances. Others have pushed "local-only" public contract bidding preferences that completely ignore the reality of our regional economies. The list could go on and on.

We can't fight all of these battles alone, but we also can't expect that others will take care of these problems for us. As area/regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations, we must lead the charge in educating our local elected officials. If we're not the "Voice of Business," then who will be? We should partner with like-minded, pro-growth organizations to amplify our voices at the local, state and national levels.

Of course, government advocacy isn't just about fighting wrong-headed, job-killing government actions. It's equally about promoting smart public policy and supporting wise investment of public funds. Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio and a handful of other states have recently bent their steep prison spending curve by implementing smart corrections reform efforts supported by state and local chambers. Students in Dayton, Milwaukee, Spokane and scores of other cities are making serious strides in STEM education thanks in large part to productive partnerships between chambers and schools. Oklahoma City, host of the 2013 ACCE Convention, is a role model for cooperation between the public and private sectors to win overwhelming voter support for vital, job-creating infrastructure investments.

If your organization isn't sounding full-throated opposition to onerous propositions at all levels of government and leading the charge for smart policy and investment, you're not doing everything you can to support job growth in your community. Government advocacy is essential to economic development.

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Valpo Chamber’s Victory

Tania Kohut on Friday, March 22, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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Indiana’s Valpo Chamber is celebrating a big honor it received at last week’s Indiana Chamber Executives Association (ICEA) Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon. The chamber was selected as the “2013 Chamber of Commerce of the Year” by an independent panel of out-of-state judges. The award is based on the U.S. Chamber’s accreditation process for local chambers, and highlights accomplishments in the areas of leadership, governance, finance, advocacy, and membership development.

“This great honor is a testament to the staff and board leadership of the Valpo Chamber who, over time, have set the bar high for performance and effectiveness on behalf of the members,” said Chamber President Rex Richards. “Everything that we do is for the benefit of our member investors. If our members are successful, then we are successful. It’s all about service.”

The Valpo Chamber is the only Northwest Indiana Chamber to have ever received “Chamber of Commerce of the Year.” Valpo won the same award in 2005.

"The hard work and dedication of the professionals at the Chamber is apparent through the works submitted for review by the judging panel," says Shelli Williams, ICEA President. "The Valpo Chamber was up against some very well-respected competition, so to take top honors like this really says a lot."

Read more about the win here.

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2013 Life Member Award

Tania Kohut on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 7:00:00 am 
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Nominations are currently being accepted for ACCE’s Life Member Award, the chamber profession’s highest personal honor. This year’s award will be presented during ACCE’s annual convention in Oklahoma City, July 23-26. For details, visit the award’s web page.

Eligibility Requirements:

The candidate’s chamber (current employer or chamber to which a retired candidate is most closely affiliated), must be a member in good standing of ACCE.

  • CEOs
    1. All retired CEOs with 12 or more years of service, who have been out of the profession for at least one year, may be nominated for Life Member consideration, regardless of current employment status. If less than 12 years as CEO, candidate must have been out of the chamber (or related) profession for at least 18 months prior to nomination.
    2. A currently serving CEO of a chamber or chamber-like organization may be nominated for Life Membership if he/she has served 12 or more years as CEO.  Those nominated for life membership while still serving as CEO of a chamber must be approved by the selection committee two consecutive years. 
  • Non-CEOs
    1. Staff members of chambers may be eligible for Life Member nomination following full retirement from the profession after at least 20 years of service.

To Nominate Someone:

  • Submit a one-page synopsis of how the nominee exemplifies the four characteristics celebrated by the Life Member Award.
  • Attach the nominee’s most current biography or resume.
  • In addition to the evidence of excellence in regards to the criteria, the nomination must include current contact information for the person being nominated. 
  • Submit all the information to ACCE by Friday, March 29.
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Sequestration Effects

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, March 1, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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Sequestration, government speak for automatic budget cuts, takes effect today. Here’s what you need to know: 

Stateline: Automatic defense cuts will deal blow to states
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has been the face of concern among state officials as automatic cuts in the federal budget begin today. Virginia is particularly vulnerable as it is home to many defense contractors, the Pentagon and the nation’s largest naval base. 

Politico: Sequestration: So now what?
Sequestration officially starts Friday when the Office of Management and Budget issues a notice ordering agencies to make cuts of about 9 percent for most nondefense programs and about 13 percent for defense programs. 

Washington Post WonkBlog: This is what sequestration looks like
The Bipartisan Policy Center put out a chart this summer on how the sequester would work. It shows what cuts each government program could face. 

Washington Post WonkBlog: The states most and least affected by the sequester, in one chart
The Pew Center on the States has measured each state’s exposure to the sequester by calculating federal aid subject to the sequester as a percentage of the state’s total GDP.


Tags: defense cuts, sequester, sequester charts, spending cuts, what you need to know about the sequester

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ITT Campaign: Quarterly Report

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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Hot off the press - the winter edition of the "In This Together" investment campaign contributors' newsletter.  It's rewarding to see the fruits of our labors and your dollars!  The synergy linking individual investments is especially exciting.  ACCE thanks you for providing the added resources required to make your national association all that it must be to help those who make communities and regions prosper.






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