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"Funky Lip Action" and the Chattanooga Chamber

Hannah Nequist on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 1:00:00 pm 
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Those of us in the industry will disagree, but to those not "in the know", Chambers can have a stodgy image. We hear of more and more events, campaigns and programs that aim to change that perception though, and this new video from the Chattanooga Chamber is up that same alley.

The chamber, along with their partners at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, has launched an off-beat new video to target high-tech individuals with a mind to starting new businesses. The video chronicles one such startup and their attempt to launch their new "kissing booth" app on the West Coast. The entrepreneur moves to Chattanooga and finds far fewer roadblocks in her path, saying the city made everything "literally perfect."

Though the colorful storytelling and off-beat tone of the video is certainly a different approach to economic development than what they've done in the past, the video helps to reach a new audience to promote both the airport and region as a place to bring new businesses.

Click here to read more. 

Tags: Video, Economic Development, Entrepreneurship, Tech

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Three Health and Wellness Strategies Your Education and Workforce Agenda May Be Missing

Analidia Blakely on Friday, February 12, 2016 at 6:00:00 am 
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What’s missing?

As education and workforce development (EDWD) organizations are wrapping up annual strategic planning processes for 2016, many are still looking back on their plans wondering what is missing. Seasoned EDWD professionals know all too well that there is no silver bullet when it comes to improving education attainment and developing a talented and competitive workforce, and that various factors affect the talent pipeline; yet, the question of what will most significantly accelerate their organization’s annual goals will hover over their minds throughout the year.

So what could be missing—even from best practice models like cradle-to-career collective impact initiatives, which build cross-sectors partnerships to improve student outcomes? Chances are that what is missing is a comprehensive and well-balanced health and wellness agenda. At ACCE, we see a growing number of chambers of commerce that are championing health and wellness initiatives in their community, understanding that efforts to improve the talent pipeline work hand in hand with improving health.

What’s the connection?

You may be wondering just how critical a health and wellness action plan is to improving education attainment and workforce outcomes, and the correlation between the two is stronger than most of us realize. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that losses in productivity due to worker illness and injury costs U.S. Employers $225.8 billion annually, equal to $1,685 per employee, enough to significantly impact a business’s bottom line. One study, conducted by the nonprofit Health Enhancement Research Organization, even suggests that best-practice workplace wellness practices are linked to better corporate performance (read more at SHRM.org). These findings help us to understand how deeply health affects our workforce.

What is also interesting is that, on the flip side, EDWD significantly impacts health outcomes. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation created an excellent Better Education = Healthier Lives infographic, which demonstrates how an individual’s health is greatly shaped by their socioeconomic factors, such as education and income. It states that “Each additional year of schooling represents an 11% increase income. High earnings increase access to healthier food and safer homes, and can even lower uncertainty and stress.”

Recognizing that you cannot advance one agenda without the other, ACCE has identified the following three opportunities for chambers of commerce to incorporate health and wellness strategies into their EDWD efforts.

  1. Ensuring Children Are Ready to Learn: Chambers of commerce are uniquely poised to work with key education stakeholders and community service providers to ensure that young children receive the quality education and wellness care they need to be healthy and ready to learn by the time they reach kindergarten. By focusing on a community’s youngest residents, a chamber can not only ensure children are set on a positive trajectory to succeed in school and career, but also instill effective wellness habits that will shape their future health—and as an added bonus, help develop a talented and productive workforce capable of competing in the 21st century global market.
  2. Promoting Workplace Wellness: With direct access to the business community, chambers of commerce can provide employers with the support and guidance needed to implement innovative and effective programs and workplace policies that encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles. The benefits of workplace wellness programs far outweigh their cost, and more and more employers are finding that, in addition to helping employees adopt healthy work-life habits, these programs produce more productive employees, help attract and retain talent, build staff morale, combat employee absenteeism, minimize staff turnover and reduce healthcare costs for employers.
  3. Building a Healthy Community Culture: Chambers of commerce already champion opportunities to raise the quality of life for their residents, knowing their members will prosper as a result. These organizations—which typically represent diverse sectors of the community, including business, non-profit, education, and health and government entities—can offer opportunities for their members to participant in events and/or councils that are focused on improving community health. Strong community health can be the tipping point towards economic vitality and equitable prosperity, fulfilling a chamber’s vision for its community.

Where to start?

For ACCE members looking to develop or expand an education and workforce development agenda that is inclusive of health and wellness, ACCE’s Education Attainment Division has pulled together excellent examples of chamber-led health and wellness initiatives and created a series of communication briefs, which are available on the division’s Workforce Wellness and Community Health Chamberpedia page. The division will be also be providing on-going technical assistance throughout the year and developing additional resources with an expanded online library of health and wellness resources to come this spring, as well as in-person support and education-and-workforce-development-related sessions at ACCE’s 2016 Annual Convention August 9-12 in Savannah, GA.

To learn more about these resources or to share how your organization is championing health and wellness, please contact Analidia Blakely, Education Attainment Division Manager, via email at [email protected]

 

Tags: Workforce Development, Workforce Wellness, Children's Health, Community Health, Education Attainment

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Chamber Foundation QuickPoll - Results Available

Holly South on Friday, January 15, 2016 at 1:30:00 pm 
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The vast majority of respondents to our recent QuickPoll on Chamber Foundations either currently manage a 501(c)3 foundation or have one in the works. The results provide details on foundation missions, funding, and staffing - as well as some good advice from your chamber peers. Some highlights:

"Establish foundation governance that shows independence from your Chamber board. Establish a clear financial firewall between the Chamber and your foundation so that the IRS will not consider your foundation to be a supporting organization for your Chamber activities. Supporting organizations under 509(a) cannot receive grant funding from private foundations. Create strong contractual documents for rental of space and allocation of costs for staff time and network resources, etc. Draft your mission very broadly before submitting form 1023 to the IRS. Think big picture in allowing enough leeway to include programs or initiatives you may want to incorporate years down the road. You do not want to have to resubmit to the IRS when you expand your focus later." 

"Talk with other chambers who have already gone through this process. Use the ACCE & WACE resource library. Ask everyone you know about nonprofits. We launched our foundation 3 years ago and at that time it was difficult to find chambers that had active or successful foundations. Do not give up, keep asking, and push forward."

"Be in it for the long haul."

Thanks to all who participated! For more information and resources related to Chamber Foundations, please see our Chamberpedia page on the topic.

(The full list of ACCE QuickPolls is available here.)

Tags: Research, Foundations, HERO, QuickPolls

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Family United… With a Lot of Help

Donn Ingemie, Chamber Member Services (ChamberMail) on Friday, January 8, 2016 at 12:00:00 am 
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As a member of ACCE and a service provider for the chamber industry for eight years, we’ve always experienced great service from our counterparts serving in the chamber industry. But recently, Central Holidays West went beyond the definition of customer service.

I’ve traveled with Central Holidays West on a few European trips, and they always deliver what they advertise and more. Last November, when a group of ACCE members traveled to Sicily, was no exception. The itinerary allowed plenty of free time to explore on our own, but there were also interesting excursions and guided tours that gave us a taste of the island. We picked and pressed olives, enjoyed a home-cooked meal in a tiny villa, and climbed Mt. Etna for the season’s first snowfall.

But the “above and beyond” moment I have to share was a highly personal experience. Both of my grandparents are from Sicily and, although we’ve never met, I still have family on the island. My dream for this trip was to meet some of my relatives for the first time. My Sicilian relatives were a couple hours’ drive away and I doubted that I could pull off a visit, particularly without disrupting the group’s experience. But I asked our amazing tour guide Lorenzo Tarzia anyway, to see if it might be possible.

Within an hour, Lorenzo met me in the hotel lobby and told me that a car would pick me up in the morning and drive me to the small, out-of-the-way village where my relatives lived. I would then be able to meet up with the rest of the group later in the day. 

“Really?” I asked.  “Yes,” he replied, “you’re all set.”

This was a "bucket list" item for me and he’d made it possible in an hour. I was blown away. This guy is amazing!

As promised, the next morning Sebastian from “Sicily with Sebastian” arrived at the hotel in a beautiful new Audi.  Lorenzo was there, like a father watching a daughter leave for prom, to make sure I was all set. Sicilian-born Sebastian speaks fluent English and knows every spot on the island and its history. Besides being a historian, he’s also an avid photographer. Throughout our two-hour excursion he’d pull over at one amazing vista after the next, making sure I didn’t miss any photo opportunities.

When we arrived at my relatives' business to meet them for the first time, Sebastian acted as an interpreter and photographer. We spent 4-5 hours touring the village and saw where my grandparents lived, went to school and church. By the time we left, Sebastian and I both felt like family. A couple of hours later I was back with Lorenzo and the group.

Central Holidays West and their local connections made this a trip of a lifetime for me. Thank you Ian, Kent and Lorenzo for making this a trip I will cherish the memories from for the rest of my life!

 

 

 

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Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber earns Economic Development Award

Hannah Nequist on Wednesday, December 9, 2015 at 3:00:00 pm 
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The Mid-America Economic Development Council, which represents economic development agencies in 10 states, has recognized the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber with an award. The Chamber's OH-PA Stateline Export Initiative, launched earlier this year along with the International Trade Assistance Center at Youngstown State University, was recognized in the Business Retention and Expansion category. The initiative is designed to bring exporting awareness, foreign direct investment and supply chain matching to a 10-county region in Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. 

You can read the full story here.

Tags: Economic Development, Partnership

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Road Work: Michigan Chambers Help with Transportation Funding

Hannah Nequist on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 4:00:00 pm 
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After a long and hard fight in the legislature and at the ballot box, Michigan finally has a long-term plan for road funding.

Transportation funding has been a top priority for several years, but the final solution wasn’t found until after voters in May struck down a measure that would have increased the state sales tax by 1% to help raise $1.2 billion for transportation. In the worst defeat for a Michigan ballot measure in 52 years, 80% of voters said no. While it was clear that this particular plan was not what voters wanted, the public and the business community were still clamoring for a solution to solve a looming transportation crisis.

According to a study released in the spring, 38% of Michigan’s major roads are in poor condition, 45% are fair, and only 17% are good. Under current funding, the Michigan Transportation Asset Management Council estimates that 53% of those major roads will be in poor condition by 2025. With the “Pure Michigan” campaign spending money to draw travelers to Michigan, and countless other industries relying on surface transportation, it was clear that funding infrastructure improvements was overdue.

Transportation has long been a major priority for the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce. A 2015 member survey found that transportation was a top concern, with 64% saying that poor road conditions had an impact on their business. So, when a balanced package was being considered in the legislature to raise the $1.2 billion with a combination of new revenue and existing state dollars, the chamber moved to support the measure.  

Grand Rapids joined five other regional chambers in support of a common sense, long-term funding solution calling for $600 million in dedicated funding from existing state revenues, and $600 million in new money. The other five chambers were The Chamber of Commerce – Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, the Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce, the Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce. 

According to Josh Lunger, director of Government Affairs in Grand Rapids, “the unified show of support was helpful in advancing the plan.” On Nov. 4, the Michigan Legislature passed the compromise package which was signed a week later by Gov. Rick Snyder. The $600 million in new revenue will come from $400 million from increasing the gas tax 7.3 cents per gallon and creating diesel parity, and $200 million from a 20% increase in registration fees.

The revenue increases take effect in January 2017. Moving forward, Lunger stressed the importance of working hand in hand with legislators to effectively plan for future budget pressures and the shift of $600 million in “existing state dollars". He urges deliberate and thoughtful consideration to determine where best to make changes so that important programs, such as Early Childhood Education and Workforce Development, are not compromised.

Tags: Infrastructure, Public Policy, Transportation

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Is your chamber’s annual meeting this much fun?

Tania Kohut on Friday, November 13, 2015 at 12:00:00 am 
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A performance by Tony Orlando, cheerleaders, prize giveaways, a bacon mascot, trapeze artists, and a chamber president singing “You Belong To Me”: this was the Greater Lehigh Valley (PA) Chamber’s recent annual meeting and awards luncheon held earlier this month. The chamber team led by President/CEO Tony Iannelli bills the event as “the most infotaining event of the year.” It always sells out with more than 1,000 members attending.

Recognized as “not your typical annual meeting,” the chamber event is definitely fun. According to an article in The Morning Call, Tony Iannelli’s “entrance was a little more subdued than last year's, when he landed on the stage in a spacesuit to the sounds of the classic David Bowie tune ‘Space Oddity.’”

Watch highlights from this year’s annual meeting: https://vimeo.com/144896476. If you think it’s pretty awesome, the chamber’s COO & EVP of Member Relations Frank Facchiano says, “Wait till you see the gala!”

 

Tags: annual meeting, awards, events

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Chamber Redux

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 at 12:00:00 am 
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At a time when some chambers are partnering with neighboring chambers or entering regional alliances, the Anchor Bay (MI) Chamber of Commerce went against the tide when it decided to break a four-year partnership with the Sterling Heights (MI) Regional Chamber of Commerce. The Oct. 2014 break up was a mutual decision between the two chambers after former president Lisa Edwards resigned. 

Now, what was old is new again for the Anchor Bay Chamber, as it returns to its original roots and relaunches itself to serve its local communities. After spending the past year rebuilding itself as an individual organization, the chamber is looking forward to 2016 being, as it told local newspaper, The Voice, "a break-out year." The chamber’s existing membership base is energized for the organization’s future, despite the tasks on its to-do list, which include creating a new board and developing a new website. It was evident at the chamber’s annual meeting last month. In an interview following the meeting, local business owner and chamber member Mark Miller said, “The meeting was awesome. It was positive, and those in attendance would like to see a very successful local chamber grow again.” Learn more about the Anchor Bay Chamber’s story and the spirit that is driving its exciting rebirth: http://www.voicenews.com/articles/2015/11/07/news/doc563a3d962c55c673809370.txt?viewmode=fullstory

 

 

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ABC’s of Running for Office

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 12:00:00 am 
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November is the month for politics and Michigan’s Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce is cultivating future elected leaders by hosting a Candidate Information Workshop.

For a nominal fee, anyone interested in seeking public office – from school board to state level positions – can get a crash course on campaign rules, marketing, fundraising, and more. In an article promoting the event, Wes Eklund, chair of the chamber’s government affairs committee, commented on how, through public office, community members can be drivers for prosperity in their own backyards: "Participation in the political arena from all citizens in the community is essential for dynamic and innovative growth and development." Read more: http://www.mlive.com/news/muskegon/index.ssf/2015/11/muskegon_lakeshore_chamber_of_7.html

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Announcing DCB Live Chat Support! Plus, FY 2015 Surveys Now Open!

HERO Team/Sarah Myers on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 12:00:00 am 
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Fiscal Year 2015 surveys in Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking (DCB) are now open for participation, including the Salary Survey and the Operations Survey.

DCB is open 24/7, and free to members – but you can now get immediate help via live chat! So please enter your FY 2015 data now – and encourage your peers to do the same! The more data in the system, the more comprehensive the reports, and the quicker we can release FY 2015 comparisons and reports.

 What you need to know:                                                    

  1. Login here.
  2. Complete three sections:  Chamber Profile, Operations Survey, Salary Survey.
  3. Don't have time to do it all at once? Use the dynamic "Save" feature in each survey section to save your work as you go!
  4. Instant reports and comparisons are still available for FYs 2012-2014! (And the surveys never close: You can enter or update your data at any time.) 
  5. Need help? Visit our Support page and access the Quick Start Guide and Data Collection Worksheet. Use our live chat support in DCB or email us ([email protected]) for assistance anytime!

For more details, visit Working with Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking.

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