Grant Opportunity for Transforming Communities

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

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.





Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Economic and Community Development | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Listening to Leaders: Regional Stewards & Civic Innovators

Shelley Lauten on Friday, November 8, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

ACCE’s Regional Strategies Division is launching a new series of Leadership Profiles focused on how regional leaders across the country are “making it happen.”

clientuploads/ARS/awards/JohnParr_Lauten.jpgBy Shelley Lauten, partner with triSect, LLC, a strategy consulting firm focused on civic innovation (

Regional collaboration, as theory, makes a lot of sense. Communities come together to share resources. Partnerships are formed to leverage assets. Public agencies and private companies come together to build stronger economies and enhance their communities’ quality of life.

Why then, is “regional collaboration” so darn hard? ACCE’s Regional Strategies Division launches this quarterly series to interview regional practitioners who are breaking down barriers and creating innovative partnerships—and showing specific and measurable impact in their regions.

Who better to begin this series than the leaders of the Greater Des Moines Partnership—winners of the 2013 Organizational Champion Award for its work on behalf of “Capital Crossroads”?

clientuploads/ARS/DesMoinesLeadersA.gifI sat down with leaders of the Greater Des Moines Partnership—Jay Byers, CEO, Eugene Meyer, president and Susan Ramsey, senior vice president of communications and marketing, to get a clearer understanding not only what they’ve done, but how they’ve done it.

SL: Let’s start from the beginning. The Greater Des Moines Partnership was created by the leaders of the Greater Des Moines Chamber Federation, which had been in existence for over 100 years. Susan, you were there through the transition. Why the change?

Susan: In the late 1990s, our business leaders saw the writing on the wall. They were serving on multiple boards and supporting multiple organizations focused on very similar business and community issues. We had two separate economic development groups, one focused on the downtown core and one focused regionally; a separate chamber federation; and a separate downtown events and neighborhood improvement group. The organizations’ missions and goals were complimentary, but strategically, they were fragmented. Our investors’ time commitment alone was untenable, but they also felt they weren’t getting the best bang for the buck.

SL: So, where did you start?

Susan: The Chamber Federation chair led a core team of community leaders in reviewing other cities’ experience with similar growing pains, as well as the national trend towards regionalism. Improved efficiency was an important short-term goal, but ultimately they wanted improved economic competitiveness, with our communities coming together and collaborating for greater success.

SL: OK, but the Des Moines Chamber Federation had 125 years of tradition and institutional pride. Was that hard to overcome? How did it happen?

Susan: Very thoughtfully. While the details of the organizational merger were being finalized, a new investment initiative was launched to fund a five year economic and community development plan with clearly defined goals. The campaign raised a record (for the time) $10 million. Simultaneously, that same core team conducted an executive search for a proven regional leader. The combination of secured funding and new leadership created a win-win opportunity. At the end of 1999, three of the four groups formally dissolved to create the umbrella organization called the Greater Des Moines Partnership. The downtown group moved into the Partnership offices, but remained organizationally independent until its board approved the merger in 2003.

clientuploads/ARS/partnership-logo_largeA.gifSL: Jay, how has the Partnership grown?

Jay: Creating a thriving business environment, for organizations large and small, is crucial to the overall success of the region. We began in 1999 with just over 2,000 business members and a fairly traditional member benefit program. Today, we work regionally with 20 affiliate chambers of commerce, representing 4,700 business members who wish to grow their businesses, grow their community, and grow economic opportunity for Central Iowa. By collaborating with local chambers, communities, and other local economic development groups, we have helped drive over $3 billion of capital investment since we merged in 1999.

SL: Wow. 20 Chambers coming together. How does the affiliated chamber relationship work?

Jay: In 2007, we joined forces with our regional chambers to develop an improved membership model that created the best value for the individual business and the region as a whole. With efficiency and effectiveness driving our discussions, we identified competing programs and services between the Partnership and our local chambers. We agreed to divide and conquer with a “dual membership” model we launched in 2008.

The affiliate chambers now sell all memberships, offering those services so important at the local level: networking opportunities, community engagement, and local leadership. Those members receive regional benefits from the Partnership at no additional cost: regional economic development, workforce attraction, downtown development, small business development, international programming, public policy, long term visioning, and more. Under this model, you have all the business-to-business connections of your local chamber, as well as the collective economic impact of the regional Partnership. Our regional work is funded primarily by over 300 public and private investors who want to see Greater Des Moines grow.


SL: Gene, how did all this lead to “Capital Crossroads,” your award-winning visioning process?

Gene: Capital Crossroads capitalizes on this new regional identity and buy-in to ensure Central Iowa continues to grow and prosper for current and future generations. The vision plan was developed by a steering committee that included the Partnership, but also involved other key community organizations: Bravo Greater Des Moines, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, Des Moines Area MPO, Iowa State University, Prairie Meadows, and United Way of Central Iowa.

We very intentionally expanded the scope of the plan to a geographic region that is within a 50-mile radius of the state capitol. We evaluated input from close to 5,000 citizens on everything from infrastructure to community culture. It took a year to get from input to implementation, but the time was well spent. Today, we have over 500 community and business leaders working on short and long-term projects with significant community support and momentum.

SL: What have you accomplished?

Gene: In the first year, we were able to complete 34 initiatives from across our 11 core areas or “Capitals.” More importantly, we’ve progressed on a number of key benchmarks, including graduation rate, employment, population growth, and per capita personal income. You can read the report online at www.capitalcrossroadvision.comand you can hear Jay discuss them further during an ACCE webinar happening Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. ET.

And our efforts are paying off. Here are just a few of the community recognitions we’ve received this year:

SL: Jay, what advice do you have for others who might be interested in making regional partnerships work?

Jay: I’ve always believed in Peter Drucker’s quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” That’s what we are trying to do in Central Iowa. We’ve set measureable goals, and we’ve been very open about our process. Our business and community leaders have asked us to look at everything: structure, process and programs… and evaluate ourselves against the best in class regions around the world. By doing so, we can build on this momentum and achieve our vision of a world class region where you’ll find big city opportunity in a place where you can breathe, a region where a thriving and robust economy equals greater prosperity and vibrant, safe, diverse neighborhoods, where talented, hardworking people collaborate to build successful businesses, and where we honor our heritage of education and stewardship of our natural resources in a clean and sustainable environment.

Thanks for letting us tell our story.

For more information on the Greater Des Moines Partnership, visit You can participate with Jay Byers, CEO, during the Nov. 8 webinar.

Listening to Leaders is written by Shelley Lauten, partner with triSect, LLC, a strategy consulting firm focused on civic innovation ( If you have a “Listening to Leaders” idea or have a regional success story you’d like to share, please email Shelley at

clientuploads/ARS/ArtsFestival_2010A.gif clientuploads/ARS/dsm_bridge1_sjrA.gif





Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Economic and Community Development | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Recommendations for Business Books and Speakers

HERO Team/Sarah Myers on Sunday, November 3, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

In our Business Books and Recommended Speakers QuickPoll, we had 76 respondents who replied to the following 4 questions:

  • What are your favorite business reading topics?
  • In what format do you read your business books?
  • What three business books would you recommend?
  • Who is the best speaker you have heard in the last two years? 

QuickPoll results include:

  • 63% of respondents have read recently published business books in the past year.
  • Leadership, Management, Communication and Entrepreneurship were among the top reading topics.
  • 87% of respondents read traditional/printed books, 51% read ebooks, and 22% use audiobooks.

The fill-in portion of the poll to list the 'top 3 business books to recommend' generated over 100 titles and many of them are linked to our ACCE Store where you can purchase directly through Amazon. 

The other fill-in portion of the poll for listing 'best speaker heard in the last two years' generated over 60 names of presenters. These are results you can use to help plan your chamber's programs and events.

Does this QuickPoll include your favorite or highly preferred business book or speaker? If not, please leave a comment and tell us what titles and speakers you recommend. All feedback welcome!

Have questions? Need help? Email for assistance.


Tags: Business Books, HERO, QuickPoll, Recommended Speakers

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
HERO-Information Office | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Erksine Bowles and Fix the Debt

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, October 25, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

A huge thank you to the State Chamber Policy Center for allowing ACCE's Government Relations Division to participate on Tuesday's call with Erskine Bowles. If you were unable to join the conversation, please review the links below for more information.

From the State Policy Center:

The Policy Center would like to thank Erskine Bowles and the Fix the Debt campaign for speaking to our members on Tuesday regarding the long-term federal debt and how to get our fiscal outlook under control. In April, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson released “A Bipartisan Path Forward to Securing America's Future” (download the summary or full report). They describe their report as “not our ideal plan, it is not the perfect plan, and it is certainly not the only plan. It is an effort to show both sides that a deal is possible; a deal where neither side compromises their principles but instead relies on principled compromise. Such a deal would invigorate our economy and demonstrate to the public that Washington can solve problems, and leave a better future for our grandchildren.” For more information see the two-page summary (pdf) of what Fix the Debt is calling for from the upcoming budget conference committee and an op-ed published in the Washington Post.

The Fix the Debt campaign now has chapters in all 50 states

Tags: Erskine Bowles, fix the debt, government relations, GR Division, peer to peer, State Chamber Policy Center

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Public Policy | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Lyons, Co., Chamber Seeks Your Help

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

Last month, the community of Lyons, Co., was ravaged by flooding that washed away its roads and bridges, devastating many of this small town’s small businesses.  The Lyons Chamber of Commerce, an ACCE member, is appealing to fellow chambers for financial support. 100% of the special flood relief membership dues and donations collected will be dispersed to their small businesses as cash grants to assist them through business interruption.  All donations are tax deductible.

According to the Chamber’s website, they are seeking your support because:

  • Insurance won’t cover many of our businesses because they weren't insured for the 1000 year flood.
  • SBA disaster loans, bank programs, and all of the “typical” forms of assistance are not designed to address the needs of the small businesses that have incurred significant uninsured losses and must go for months without income.
  • To-date Lyons is still without water, sewage, gas, and, in most places, electricity. 
  • Lyons is made up of almost 100% small family owned businesses that are falling through the cracks and face significant losses due to business interruption at the same time they are facing evacuation from their homes.
  • These businesses form the backbone of Lyons’ economy. If they were to fail it would have a devastating impact on the town’s economy, jobs, schools, and residents.

Click here for more information or to donate funds.

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Strategic Planning Resources at ACCE

HERO Team/ Sarah Myers on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

Where do you go and what resources do you use for your chamber's strategic planning process? One place to turn and return to is ACCE's Strategic Planning Chamberpedia page from the HERO portal. We have put together a collection of resources on strategic planning and our page specifically address available Online Resources and Examples, working Samples of Strategic Plans from our members, Presentations from the ACCE 2013 Convention, and Articles from previous issues of ACCE's Chamber Executive magazine. Just want to get your feet wet? Check out the Strategic Planning Samples from the ACCE Samples Library.

Like all our Chamberpedia pages and in our Samples Library, we invite and welcome your contributions to help us continue to grow and expand on these valuable resources. Have a sample Strategic Plan or go-to resource you use at your chamber? Let us know by emailing or visit Ask ACCE to connect with more ACCE resources.

The HERO team can also prepare a customized Operations Survey PowerPoint presentation for your chamber. This presentation is great for planning purposes and provides a way to show your board or staff how your chamber compares to other chambers across the country. This PowerPoint presentation, customized with your chamber's logo, includes all of the charts and graphs from the 2012-2013 Operations Survey report. Your chamber's survey responses and calculated measures are plotted on each chart.  This is a visually appealing graphical representation of your chamber's membership statistics, financial indicators, and operating ratios relative to chambers across the country.  The presentation can be purchased anytime. Available now at ACCE's Bookstore.

Questions? Please email us at

Tags: Chamberpedia, Customized Operations Survey PowerPoint Presentation, HERO, Strategic Planning

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
HERO-Information Office | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

A Vote of Confidence Revealed in Seattle

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber recently revealed the results of two polls (each conducted by different research firms) that show that Seattle voters view the chamber favorably and would be more likely to vote for a candidate backed by the chamber. View survey questions and results.

While the chamber does not directly make candidate endorsements, its political affiliate, the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), has played a major role in the 2013 primary elections. As a result of CASE’s work, all of the candidates it endorsed will be appearing on the general election ballot this November. Goes to show that a good government relations program can make a difference!

According to the chamber, “Not only are these poll findings positive reinforcement of our work, but they also counteract some long-held ‘conventional wisdom’ about the influence that candidates receive from Chamber support.”

Read more about the polls here. For more information, contact the Seattle Chamber's George Allen.


Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

The Award for Best Chamber Staff Webpage

Ian Scott on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 11:45:00 am 
Comments (5)

The part of my job I love most is visiting our members (that’s you) in their offices. I love seeing your communities and the command centers where you make things happen. Before I visit, I always dig around your website. While I’m scoping your online presence, I always check out your staff webpage.

Most of you have a webpage listing all staff. Many of you include staff position descriptions and/or bios, some also include photos. But a few of you go the extra mile and inject genuine humor and personality into your staff listing page. Those chambers are in the running for Ian’s (unofficial) Best Staff Webpage Award.

The Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce has long had my favorite staff listing page. The headshots for Casey, Sheena, John, Jackie and the team are the perfect blend of fun and professional. Descriptions of their roles are clear and concise yet wonderfully playful. When you can click to learn more you get answers from everyone on staff to great questions like: “if you could possess any super power, what would it be?” and “as a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?”

I would have named the Durham Chamber undisputed winner of Ian’s (unofficial) Best Staff Webpage Award, until my recent swing through central Florida. There are a couple more that deserve consideration.

The Ocala/Marion County Chamber and Economic Partnership has given their staff listing page a kick with cool blue tone headshots, direct links to all staff’s LinkedIn and Twitter feeds, and quirky (often funny) insights about each member of the team. Communications Director Jarod Kintz authored these short quips and wasn’t afraid to push the envelope.

The St. Petersburg Area Chamber also deserves a nod for their super cool staff portraits in lieu of traditional headshots. The drawing of chamber president and CEO Chris Steinocher is probably my favorite. I guess the red eyes come from lots of late nights and early mornings.**For more on the organization and artists that supplied the staff portraits, check out

I’m not the only chamber website visitor who delights in some humor and personality. Where better to show it than on your staff listing page? After all, you chambers are run by individuals with fascinating skills, hobbies and lives. If your staff page is bland, why not take a hint from Durham, Ocala and St. Petersburg and liven it up a little!

Think your chamber’s staff page is a contender for Ian’s (unofficial) Best Staff Webpage Award? Leave a comment with a link and tell me why.

Tags: staff, website

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 5 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Several new titles in ACCE's store

HERO Team / Sarah Myers on Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

Search the ACCE Store by title, author, desciprtion, publisher, or genre and purchase titles directly through Amazon, or in some cases, through the publisher directly. You can also rate each title and give a commentary review. To purchase titles and give ratings and reviews, you will need your ACCE login credentials. To obtain your username and password, you can request it here. Please email if you need assistance.

New titles recently added include:

When the Boomers Bail: A Community Economic Survival Guide, by Mark Lautman
As the industrialized world recovers from the great recession, we face an even graver economic threat. A structural shortage of qualified workers is creating a zero-sum labor market that is forcing communities to steal talent from each other in order to survive and grow. In When the Boomers Bail, economic architect Mark Lautman details the causes of the problem, explains how it changes the game, and what you can do about it.
230 pages, Logan Square Press (February 4, 2011)

When we are the foreigners: What Chinese think about working with Americans, by John Doggett, Orlando Kelm, Haiping Tang
Of course it is a matter of your starting point, but as Americans, don’t we usually think of the other guys as the foreigners? After all, they are the ones who talk with an accent, right? When We Are the Foreigners provides readers a new perspective, seeing international business from the vantage point of the Chinese. What is it like for them to handle working with Americans? The eight case studies illustrate many of the cultural issues that bewilder Americans and Chinese when they interact with one another.
158 pages, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 22, 2011)

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It, by Michael Gerber
In this first new and totally revised edition of the 150,000-copy underground bestseller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. He walks you through the steps in the life of a business from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective, the guiding light of all businesses that succeed.
268 pages, HarperCollins; 2nd Edition edition (2001)

New Realities for Funding Economic Development Organizations, by Swati Ghosh, Dana Crater
Funding for economic development organizations (EDOs) is changing in response to various global, national and local shifts. Not only are funding mechanisms impacted, but also EDO structures and their business practices.
72 pages, IEDC

Unlocking Entrepreneurship: A Handbook for Economic Developers, by Swati Ghosh, Shari Garmise
In an increasingly competitive global marketplace, the capacity of a community's entrepreneurial firms will be the driving force behind economic recovery, job creation, greater resiliency in the face of disasters, and regional economic transformation. For economic developers charged with job and wealth creation in their communities, the significance of entrepreneurship requires them to adapt their practice to focus on access to tools, strategies, networks and institutions that support entrepreneurial firms.
150 pages, IEDC

Jobs in the Making: Economic Development Strategies to Grow Manufacturing, by Patrick McHugh
This report from IEDC, the result of a year-long research project supported by the Economic Development Research Partners program, explores the evolution of the manufacturing sector and what communities can do to foster its viability. It combines high-level discussions of important market trends with nuts-and-bolts guidance on what those trends mean for communities that are working to protect and grow manufacturing jobs.
150 pages, IEDC

Have a bookstore recommendation? Email with suggested titles.

Tags: ACCE Store, books, bookstore

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
HERO-Information Office | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |

Breaking Records in Springfield, MO

Tania Kohut on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 12:00:00 am 
Comments (0)

Last month, over the course of three days, 410 business and community leaders worked to help the 2012 Chamber of the Year award winning Springfield Area (MO) Chamber of Commerce bring in a total of 425 new members. This impressive achievement surpasses the chamber’s own record for the most investment dollars brought in by a chamber in a three-day membership event.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment, not just for our chamber, but for the community as a whole,” Chamber President Jim Anderson said. “The fact that we could do this not once, but twice, shows just how committed the business and professional community is to making a difference here in Springfield.”

Anderson attributed much of the event’s success to membership consulting company Your Chamber Connection. Jimmy Cusano and the team at Your Chamber Connection have been in the membership development industry for 24 years and have worked with more than 630 chambers across the United States and Canada.  In 2010, during ACCE’s annual convention in Milwaukee, Your Chamber Connection also assisted ACCE with its own membership event to bring in new members.

“Our chamber volunteers made this happen, not once but twice,” Brent McCoy, the chamber’s vice president of membership said.  “They, the volunteers, have worked non-stop over the last three days. You can only be the best chamber in the world if you have the best member-volunteers in the world--enough said.” 

Rate this Article  rating of 0 from 0 votes
Spotlight | 0 Comments | Add a Comment | Permalink |
official corporate