Google Assists in Honoring Veterans

Tania Kohut on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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At this time of year, since 1992, the nonprofit organization Wreaths Across America lays holiday wreaths on more than 100,000 headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, which is about six miles from ACCE’s offices. It is a touching tradition and a visually stunning tribute to our fallen heroes. But this year, according to The Washington Post, Wreaths Across America, which places wreaths on graves in 900 cemeteries nationwide, faced a financial shortfall that threatened its work at Arlington Cemetery. Wreaths Across America “had about 12 percent more donations this year than last,” the Post reported, but “many corporate sponsors who previously had supported the Arlington effort decided this year to split their contributions between Arlington and other military cemeteries around the nation.”

Now, thanks to a $250,000 donation from Google (an official corporate sponsor of ACE), plus other individual donations, nearly 120,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery will be decorated with holiday wreaths the morning of Dec. 14.

If you would like to help Wreaths Across America meet its goal of placing a wreath at every one of Arlington’s 240,000 headstones next year, visit

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San Francisco Chamber Unveils New Look

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, December 11, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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This fall, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce unveiled a bold new look and brand identity. Thanks to the talent of San Francisco’s world-renowned designer Primo Angeli and brand agency Stapley-Hildebrand, the chamber’s new look reflects the city’s unique and innovative business community.clientuploads/blogcontent/New-SF-Chamber-of-Commerce-LOGO.jpg

“Over the past 160 years, this organization has evolved to serve San Francisco’s business community, which is the leading force of entrepreneurialism, invention and collaboration across the globe,” said San Francisco Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Bob Linscheid. “Our vision is to foster and bolster these ideals, driving business and economic success. Our new look and feel celebrates the attributes that make us unique and pays tribute to the many industries that support our city’s economic prosperity.”

Developing the logo and identity involved a study of the chamber, its work, and its service to the community. In fact, the chamber’s new tagline—“Our City. Your Business.”—conveys the chamber’s two-pronged mission to serve the interests of business and San Francisco. Commenting on the logo, Angeli said “the ‘C’ is for City, Chamber and Community.” Angeli, who has led the branding for major companies such as DHL Worldwide, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola and Nestle, said: “Captured within the illustrative 'C,' we see a tapestry of people, business and landmarks, emphasizing the productive personality of the city and the rich visual landscape in which it thrives. The smaller 'C' connects individual people to a larger discourse of networking opportunities, culture and experiences.”


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Impacting Education: Where are the Resources?

Jessie Azrilian on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 11:17:00 am 
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Chambers can influence a broad spectrum of issues by harnessing the collective voice of their business communities. Trends in corporate social responsibility and the burgeoning number of chambers directly involved in increasing regional education outcomes signify growing business involvement in education and workforce development.

A concerted, collaborative effort by local institutions can help identify areas where partners can work together to address pressing educational issues, better leverage resources and have a measurable impact. One way to begin this process is to use external asset mapping to stimulate thinking about potential resources to support your education and workforce development goals.

Consider these steps

  • Determine where along the cradle to career spectrum you would like to engage: Early childhood education, K-12, post-secondary, workforce development?
  • Choose a focus for your activity: Programs, policy, systems reform, messaging?
  • Consider potential funding sources: Corporate sponsors, foundations, government funding, government funding through competitive grants (e.g., Race to the Top), community-based organizations?

An ACCE Quickpoll of 236 chamber executives found that two out of three cited a lack of staff or funding as the main obstacle to becoming involved in education and workforce development. However, chambers have overcome this hurdle through leveraging the impact of their business leaders to attract strategic partners and funders. 


  • The Talbot (MD) Chamber was part of a community team that raised money to purchase a laptop computer for every student from 8th grade until graduation. This program grew into the One to One Laptop Initiative and is now funded through the local school district as a budget item.

  • The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce’s education and talent development initiatives include K-12 education improvement, talent recruitment and retention, and workforce systems development. Most of the funding for these initiatives comes from their Partnership 2020 economic development strategy, a five-year, 10-county strategic plan. In addition, the chamber has received funds for specific projects and initiatives from area corporations and philanthropists, local and national foundations and the region’s three Workforce Investment Boards.
  • UNITE-LA, the education and workforce development arm of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, works with member companies, corporate foundations, local community based-organizations and philanthropic foundations to foster education and workforce development systems that support Los Angeles’ youth and the development of a thriving regional economy. UNITE-LA seeks public grants to support and promote these collaborative partnerships.

  • Through their multi-partner regional business, community, and economic development collaborative, Sarasota Tomorrow Next, the Greater Sarasota (FL) Chamber of Commerce allocates funds from membership pledges for education and workforce development initiatives.

  • The Arlington (TX) Chamber of Commerce partnered with their local university, workforce investment boards and city government to establish a co-owned and operated Center for Continuing Education and Workforce Development.

  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided funding to the Kentucky Chamber Foundation to develop their communications and business outreach campaign to build a coalition of business leaders advocating for college-and-career-ready standards in Kentucky.

  • In Texas, funding for the Austin Chamber’s wide array of workforce and talent development initiatives was derived from a line item within Opportunity Austin, a five-county initiative for job creation in Central Texas fueled by $14.4 million in business investments. 

The business voice is the strongest force to address the need for a highly skilled workforce to meet the demands of our global economy, and this work is something that every chamber can lead. For more information about ACCE's Education Attainment Division email or call 703-998-3571. 

Tags: EAD, Education, Workforce Development

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Chamber’s Cyber Monday Offer

Tania Kohut on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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A great idea for your chamber!

Instead of just shopping on Cyber Monday, Ohio’s Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce got in on the event by offering a deal. On Monday, Dec. 2, the Internet’s version of Black Friday, the Twinsburg Chamber conducted an online membership sale. Their offer? Any first-timers joining the chamber at any membership level received 10 percent off a first year's membership. Added bonus? Those who took advantage of this membership deal received one free ad in the chamber's monthly e-newsletter.

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Pew Releases New Report on the Fiscal Health of States

Carmen Hickerson on Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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“More than four years after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009, states’ financial conditions are improving, but most have yet to get back to where they were on some key measures of fiscal health.”  That’s the headline from a report just completed by the Pew Charitable Trust.  Fiscal 50: State Trends and Analysis examined data from all 50 states and its analysis determined that state governments still face additional difficulties that could set them back even as the economy picks up.

The fiscal health of state governments is important to the interests of chambers of commerce for many reasons.  As states continue to struggle to fund critical services such as health care for the needy, basic education, transportation and public safety, they are not able to invest in more long-term strategies, and there is additional pressure to find new sources of revenue.

Further, state finances matter because of their impact on the U.S. economy. State spending accounts for 4 percent of the nation’s economic output, and states provide about one-third of local governments’ budgets.

While the report finds that some measures are moving in the right direction, unavoidable pressures loom and could slow further recovery. One hurdle is the burden of unfunded pension and retiree health care costs for public workers.  Another challenge is the prospect of more federal budget cuts—coming after a period in which federal dollars made up a bigger share of overall state revenue than at any time in at least 50 years.

Pew’s Fiscal 50 identifies five core areas that contribute to states’ fiscal health: Revenue, Spending, Economy and People, Long-term Costs, and Fiscal Policy. Within this framework, Pew highlights trends, makes 50-state comparisons, and provides unique insights into significant fiscal, economic, and demographic indicators that influence state finances.

For most indicators, Fiscal 50 allows users to compare their state to others and to a national benchmark, providing insights and perhaps raising questions in state capitals about why states lead or lag behind their peers. This resource will be updated when new data are available, and additional indicators and further analysis will be added.

Click here to access the full interactive report.  For questions or more information, contact Sarah Leiseca,, 202.540.6369.




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Mick's Thanksgiving Message

Mick Fleming on Wednesday, November 27, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” A.A. Milne

Reading to a grandchild provides wonderful insights. Like Winnie the Pooh’s fluff-stuffed friend, I’m surprised that my inadequate heart can hold the gratitude I feel for members, directors, allies, dedicated staff, long-suffering family and dear friends. Thank you. No, really! Thank you.

Am also grateful to George, a friend serving in Afghanistan, or maybe Iraq or Kuwait (never sure from week to week), for the personal reminder of those who won’t be with families on Thursday.

My little heart also has room for a few dreams. I pray that one of these Thanksgivings, I will express my gratitude to courageous leaders who somehow restored civil discourse and compromise to American politics. All of us may need to pitch in a bit on that one. Oh bother!


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Chamber Forced To Drop Statewide Health Insurance Offering

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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Last week, Insurance Journal reported that the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber “will no longer provide a health insurance offering that 1,400 companies in the state have been using.”

According to the news item, the chamber said that “its group plan does not meet the requirements of the federal health overhaul law.”\

In an article in The Oklahoman, chamber President Roy Williams said that having to end the program is “very, very unsettling.”

“It was a good program, otherwise 1,400 companies wouldn’t be on it,” Williams remarked.

Read more here.

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Helping Those Impacted By Devastating Storms in Midwest

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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As our friends recover from the intense storms and deadly tornadoes that swept through the Midwest – including those among the hardest hit areas of Washington, Pekin, and East Peoria, Ill. -- ACCE asks you to consider donating to the Red Cross’ Central Illinois Disaster Relief effort.  According to the Red Cross, funds collected will support supplies, food, and community restoration for the victims of the tornadoes that hit these communities this past Sunday, Nov. 17. According to Mary Ardapple, interim president of the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, “many will be in need for a long period of time."

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Tulsa Regional Chamber Wins Oklahoma Quality Award

Tania Kohut on Thursday, November 14, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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The Tulsa Regional Chamber has received the Oklahoma Quality Award for Commitment from the Oklahoma Quality Foundation. The award is affiliated with the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Oklahoma’s Quality Award program is regarded as one of the most rigorous Baldrige programs in the country.

According to a press release issued by the chamber, the program helps businesses and not-for-profit organizations identify strengths and opportunities for improvements, and helps them consider processes that will increase efficiency, engage employees, examine strategic goals and improve customer relationships and sales. The program has three tiers: Commitment, Achievement and Excellence.

“Economic development is about creating jobs,” said Heather Griswold, executive director of the Oklahoma Quality Foundation. “Our Quality Award winners include formidable organizations from business, health care and education, and they credit the quality process with helping them become stronger and more competitive. Quality organizations create quality jobs, and these have created thousands of jobs in Oklahoma.”

This is the first year the Tulsa Regional Chamber has taken part in the Oklahoma Quality Award process. 

“As a membership-based, business-driven leadership organization, we strive for nothing less than excellence in serving our members and the Tulsa regional community," said Mike Neal, president and CEO of the chamber. "Our staff began this exciting and important journey of continuous improvement to strengthen our organization from the inside out. Our staff decided from the beginning that this was not about earning a trophy; rather, it was about improving ourselves, our organization, and therefore, our community.”


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Grant Opportunity for Transforming Communities

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
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ACCE has recently learned about a grant opportunity that supports communities like yours which are highlighting their distinctive attributes.

ArtPlace America, a collaboration of 13 leading national and regional foundations and six of the nation’s largest banks, is accepting applications for its 2014 Innovation Grants. Grants will be awarded to projects that involve arts organizations, artists and designers working with local and national partners on place-based strategies that can transform communities.

 Past recipients of the grant and types of projects supported include:

  • St. Claude Arts District and Parkette Program (New Orleans)
    St. Claude Main Street, Inc. (SCMS) and CivicCenter
    To encourage commercial and cultural revitalization along a pivotal corridor in New Orleans, St. Claude Arts District and Parkette Program will unify and support the corridor’s creative endeavors and promote its activities through innovative marketing, visual identification and community engagement programs developed in partnership with internationally-renowned artist and designer Candy Chang.
  • REVOLVE Livernois (Detroit)
    Detroit Economic Growth Association (DEGA) REVOLVE Program
    REVOLVE Livernois will match world-class designers and artists with local university students, residents and entrepreneurs to activate vacant storefronts and public spaces with pop-up artinstallations, businesses and events to transform Detroit's historic "Avenue of Fashion."
  •  CreateHereNowCT  (State of Connecticut)
    State Dept of Economic & Comm Development/CT Office of the Arts
    CreateHereNowCT is a pilot program of the State of Connecticut DECD/COA that will build a network of distinctive, artist-repurposed vacant spaces statewide in 20 participating towns and cities, for the creation and growth of businesses and sustainable placemaking initiatives by fostering cooperative partnerships among municipalities, artists, entrepreneurs and property owners.

According to ArtPlace America’s website, “the Innovation Grants program is designed to invest in creative placemaking projects that reach for new possibilities and involve a variety of partners who together are committed to increasing the vibrancy and diversity of their communities.”

Does your community have a project that may be a contender? Letters of inquiry must be submitted by Dec. 13. Get all the details and guidelines here.





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