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Seattle Chamber Reinvents
Annual Meeting

Ian Scott on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 3:30:00 pm 
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Now for something completely different...

The Seattle Chamber threw members a curve ball at the organization’s 129th Annual Meeting earlier this month.  Instead of the standard chicken dinner and political speaker, they highlighted innovation and entrepreneurship in four burgeoning industries: food, fashion, video gaming and music.

Plaid clad construction worker turned restaurateur Mark Klebeck, co-founder of Top Pot Doughnuts, was a keynote speaker.  Panel discussions featured Megan Gaiser of HER Interactive, a company that produces video games for girls, Davora Lindner co-designer new urban clothing label Prairie Underground, and David Sabee, president, Seattle Music Inc. the artists who produced the academy award winning score to Brokeback Mountain.  Each of these business owners discussed why they chose to launch their creative ventures in Seattle.  A local interior designer put together a funky stage set. The Seattle Symphony's new Music Director, Ludovic Morlot, announced a one-of-a-kind concert celebrating Seattle’s music scene with new symphonic compositions inspired by local music legends including Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. The night also featured a performance by hot new local band Hey Marseilles.

Indie rock, video games and doughnuts, how can you go wrong? 

Click here to see pictures from the event.

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Saratoga is Off and Running
in the Lip Dub Race

Brad Holt on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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The Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce this week premiered the "Saratoga Lip Dub," a single-take music video beginning at the historic Saratoga Race Course and featuring a cast of thousands on the broad sidewalks of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., lip synching and dancing to a medley of tunes by the band Train. ("Hey, Soul Sister" is one of Train's hits; ask your local teenager. The band's drummer is a native of Saratoga Springs.)

Lip dubs' popularity is well established on college campuses, and spreading. Grand Rapids, Mich., created one last May in response to being on a Newsweek list of "dying cities." It's been viewed more than 4.2 million times on YouTube. Saratoga hopes to surpass that mark.

“We told visitors to the city, who witnessed the filming of the Saratoga Lip Dub and wondered what was happening, that this is how Saratoga prepares for the weekend!” said Chamber President Todd L. Shimkus in a news release. Beyond the promotional value for prospective visitors, the Saratoga Chamber is working with area employers and the Saratoga Economic Development Corporation to use the lip dub to attract talent to growing Saratoga County. GLOBALFOUNDRIES is building in Saratoga County what it claims will be the most advanced semi-conductor manufacturing facility in the world and the "largest leading-edge semiconductor foundry" in the U.S. The project will create 1,400 new jobs.

"We’re now engaged in a global competition to attract talent to our region,” said Shimkus. “The lip dub craze is a phenomenon mostly on college campuses around the world, so the Saratoga Lip Dub is our way of reaching out to the talented young people we need for our community to sustain its incredible success.” 

 

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Putting Party Politics Aside

Brad Holt on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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What would be the result if you invited some your community’s “strongest Democrats and strongest Republicans” for a discussion of our “devastated
economy and the financial crisis” facing the nation? Productive debate or frustrating acrimony?

Admitting it was “a risk,” Susanne Sartelle, CCE, organized exactly that kind of discussion in her Greenville, N.C., community. Participants at the Sept. 1 meeting were told that no “partisan mud slinging” was allowed. The committee chair quipped that nobody was allowed to throw anything, and as it turned out all participants were respectful and well behaved. The result, Sartelle wrote to the 71 members of ACCE’s Emerging Cities listserv, was that “we were pleasantly surprised at how much consensus there was on the subject.” 

Sartelle, president of the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce in Greenville, N.C., and a member of the ACCE Board of Directors, then took the results of the discussion a couple steps further. 

The bipartisan consensus became a letter to the 12 members of the congressional Super Committee, which is charged with finding $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, and to the North Carolina congressional delegation. The letter, signed by every participant of the Sept. 1 discussion, urged the Super Committee to consider four areas of consensus agreed to by the North Carolinians:

“I realize that we are but one community in this nation,” Sartelle wrote. “But we need to be a part of the solution to this problem at the grassroots level. That is why I am inviting you to jump on the wagon and have your own local discussions, send letters, make visits…whatever you can do.” 

The consensus letter to the Super Committee and the invitation letter to discussion participants are available from ACCE’s Information Office.

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Congress Passes Transportation Bill

Chaaron Pearson on Friday, September 16, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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With authority for highway, transit and rail programs set to expire Sept. 30, Congress passed a short-term transportation funding extension. House and Senate leaders voted last week to temporarily extend funding for the FAA and federal highway and transit programs.

Prior to the vote, the White House released a state-by-state look at the number of jobs at risk if the funding was not renewed.

This bill also enjoyed the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. "The six-month extension of federal highway and transit programs approved by Congress today ensures the continuation of thousands of job-creating infrastructure projects in every state," said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director.

The AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber hope that this short-term extension can give Congress enough time to pass a long-term funding reauthorization for both programs.

Read more:
Stateline.org: Beating deadline, Congress approves transportation bill

Additional Transportation and Infrastructure Resources:
ACCE.org: Transportation and Infrastructure Chamberpedia

Tags: infrastructure transportation

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The Early Childhood Imperative

Ian Scott on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 12:00:00 pm 
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Last month I became a true believer in the importance of early childhood initiatives for America's economic future. I saw the light in Boston, sometime between dinner Thursday and lunch Friday at the National Business Leader Summit on Early Childhood Investment. This two-day meeting of more than 200 corporate, foundation and non-profit executives was organized by the Partnership for America's Economic Success - a project of the Pew Center on the States.

Maybe it happened during the opening keynote when Harvard's Jack Shonkoff illustrated the science of childhood brain development or during the lunch panel when Boeing's senior V.P. for human resources spoke candidly about America's long-term need for creative, adaptable workers. Perhaps it happened in the afternoon workshop when Tim Bartik from the Upjohn Institute highlighted the economic returns for every dollar invested in young children. Regardless, I left Boston a believer.

What struck me most was learning just how much each of us is set up for success or struggle, productivity or incarceration, by the events of our first four years of life. It made me feel quite small. On my way home Friday, I called my mother from the airport and thanked her for reading to me every day from birth until I could comprehend the words on my own.

In addition to a fresh dose of humility, I left Boston with the passion that Kim Sheeler at the Richmond Chamber and Billy Canary at the Business Council of Alabama already have for this issue. Newly minted CCE Jim Page from the Decatur-Morgan County (AL) Chamber, who was also in Boston, informed me that early childhood education is their number one issue.

Chambers of commerce have a long history working on education. The issues are always complex and often emotionally charged. Progress is slow and setbacks are many. But education continues to top chamber agendas because businesses need talent. Our economy runs on smart, adaptable, well-educated people. The innovative, talented people America needs are shaped long before they enter first grade.

Many state and local chambers are already champions for more effective policies to help children develop into successful adults. Others are poised to join. To provide chamber leaders with the best information about the economic and workforce benefits of early childhood programs, ACCE has entered into collaboration with the Partnership for America's Economic Success, a project of the Pew Center on the States.

Tags: early childhood education, education

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Energy Optimism

Ian Scott on Thursday, September 15, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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Yesterday evening I joined the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber and the State Chamber of Oklahoma on Capitol Hill for their annual legislative receptions. Both groups brought great crowds of business and chamber leaders to DC. After the “great to see ya, how ya been’s,” many conversations with people from both delegations quickly turned to energy.

No surprise that energy is a big topic for these groups; Pittsburgh has long had close ties to the coal industry and there is an oil derrick on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol. But the conversations weren’t really about coal and oil. They were about nuclear, natural gas, renewables and all the attached economic and job opportunities with each. Despite all the reasons for pessimism about the economy, the folks from Pittsburgh and Oklahoma were decidedly optimistic and a lot of their optimism centered on energy.

Energy = economy is not a new formula, but it has taken center stage lately, including in the President’s Jobs Bill speech.  Here are some recent energy/economy headlines you should read:

From Reuters: US shale oil output set to soar - DOE panel report

From the Washington Post: Charlotte looks beyond financial sector in effort to become ‘energy capital’

From the Detroit Free Press: Natural gas touted as energy of future by ConocoPhillips chief

From ForbesIs Thorium the Biggest Energy Breakthrough Since Fire?

But the energy news has been bullish on all fronts. This week's bankruptcy announcement from solar-cell manufacturer Solyndra, to whom the Obama administration provided a $535 million loan, has left the administration with egg on its face.

From CBS News:  Solyndra failure draws attention to other firms

From the Washington Post: Obama green-tech program that backed Solyndra struggles to create jobs

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Jobs Act: What’s in it for the States?

Chaaron Pearson on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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President Obama announced he would send his American Jobs Act to Congress later today and urged them to pass it “immediately.” In a televised address last Thursday (Sept. 8), the president introduced his job-creation plan and called on the states to partner with him to lower the national unemployment rate.

The White House blog has broken down the American Jobs Act by state, so you can see what impact it will have in your community: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/09/09/state-state-look-american-jobs-act?utm_source=wh.gov&utm_medium=shorturl&utm_campaign=shorturl

House Speaker John Boehner said that Congress will send the bill directly to the Congressional Budget Office to be scored and then lawmakers will begin their review.

Read more:
Stateline.org – Obama pitches American Jobs Act: What’s in it for the states?
LATimes.com – Obama presses Congress on jobs plan

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Happy Hour x 3

Brad Holt on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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Aaron Nelson, president and CEO of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, worked a three-hour shift tending bar at the Town Hall Grill in Chapel Hill, N.C. recently as part of the chambers' outreach program to local businesses. In the next two months, Nelson will work for 10 chamber members to better learn what members need and how the chamber can support them. Full story.

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Real Economic Stimulus

Brad Holt on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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What would real economic stimulus look like? Author and governance authority Eleanor Bloxham recommends an "enterprise development and market competitiveness project ... designed to raise incomes and employment…. Focusing on the role of small and medium-sized enterprises ..." And, she has a plan to fund it. Full story from CNNMoney.

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Tulsa looks to change its form of city government

Chaaron Pearson on Wednesday, September 7, 2011 at 12:00:00 am 
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On the Nov. 8 election ballot, Tulsa voters will have the opportunity to vote on four amendments to the city charter that would change Tulsa’s city government. One of the amendments is proposed by the City Council and the other three are proposed by a local nonprofit group, Save Our Tulsa.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce government affairs team and its board of directors have studied these proposals since December, and the chamber, as well as the League of Women Voters, has been outspoken in its opposition to the council’s proposal to replace the government with a council-city manager structure and the Save Our Tulsa’s proposal to add at-large councilors and make the mayor chairman of the council.

The Chamber is still considering its stance on the remaining two proposals.

Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal says that “the chamber’s outspoken stance is meant to prevent the issue from becoming another reason for Tulsa to be overlooked. Government upheaval in any form staves off a city’s ability to attract business and grow jobs.”

Tulsa Chamber Board Chairman Gerry Clancy says that “the chamber supports good governance and a collaborative spirit of representation. Good governance is vital to communities’ economic prosperity, safety and quality of life.” He also said that the chamber has monitored local issues in trying to best represent the needs of business and industry.

Read more:
Tulsa World: Chamber: Opposition to government change is for the best
Tulsa World: Chamber, League oppose change to Tulsa city government

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