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Joplin Says Thank You

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 7:24:00 am 
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This week marks the third anniversary of the devastating EF5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, Mo.,  May 22, 2011. The tornado, with winds exceeding 200 mph, left a 13-mile swath of damaged or destroyed homes and businesses, 161 fatalities, 1,100 injured and 9,200 displaced.

Today Joplin stands tall, and our friends from The Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce send a heartfelt thank you to all – including many ACCE members – who helped them recover and rebuild. According to Chamber President Rob O’Brian, “We have had such terrific support from so many people around the county, both in ‘work’ and ‘volunteer’ roles. To-date, we have had over 200,000 registered volunteers, giving us 1.5 million person-hours of time. The equivalent of 175 years.”  The chamber has prepared an inspirational video to show how far this remarkable community has come since that fateful evening, but more importantly, to say, “thank you.” See the video at:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWZ7aGRhWwc.  

 

 

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Chamberís Computer Gets Hacked

Tania Kohut on Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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A recent article in USA TODAY described the nightmare scenario that happened in January at the Bennington, Vt., Area Chamber of Commerce when one of its computers was overtaken by CryptoLocker, computer “ransomware” that freezes access to files via a private key known only to the hacker. When the ransomware infects a computer, any file that is directly accessible from that computer can be at risk. According to the article, "The warning — next to a ticking countdown clock — threatened to destroy all data on the computer if the chamber refused to pay a $400 ransom within 40 hours."

If your computer is infected with this malware, there's really nothing you can do, unless you decide to pay the ransom. Even then, there have been instances where the computer remained locked even after the ransom was paid. The most effective protection is to be alert. Also:

  • Analyze e-mails that are "to good to be true" or unexpected.
  • Stay away from web sites and/or e-mails that are offering free stuff. Free is never really FREE.
  • Be careful of shipment notification emails- especially if you are not expecting anything or if you haven't shipped anything.
  • Avoid sites known to be trouble, such as pornographic and gambling sites. 
  • When in doubt, don't click on ANY links. Just delete the message.

Read more about the Bennington Chamber’s incident here.

 

 

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KCCE: Leading the Charge for Professional Development

Tania Kohut on Monday, April 28, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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We are four months away from ACCE’s annual convention, and the ACCE team is in full convention planning mode for the event that has distinguished itself as the professional development and networking event of the year. Attendees from chambers across the country come to learn from leaders in their respective fields and to share ideas and best practices with their peers. 

To ensure that everyone has an opportunity to attend, ACCE has partnered with the State Executive Association Network (SEAN), a group of leaders of state chamber associations, to provide scholarships to the convention. One of the biggest cheerleaders for our SEAN scholarships and the convention is the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives (KCCE) association. Just two years ago, they awarded 12 scholarships to Kentucky chamber professionals to attend the 2012 convention in Louisville! 

With professional development at the core of KCCE’s mission, Ali Crain, executive director of KCCE, recognizes the value of participating in the SEANs scholarships from a financial standpoint. “We’ve taken advantage of the SEAN’s scholarship opportunity each year,” she says, “because it allows us to ‘buy one get one.’ We provide a scholarship for one of our members who would not have a chance to go otherwise and then I, as executive director, also get to go.  You can’t beat that!”

KCCE already has pledged its support of the 2014 convention – a momentous event as ACCE celebrates is centennial year of serving the chamber profession. It’s a decision, says Crain, that just “makes sense. This year, our board felt it was important to allocate monies for seven additional scholarships. It’s important for us and our members to meet other executives from across the U.S., share ideas and build our network while getting top industry training.”

If you are a State Executive Association interested in partnering with ACCE to award a scholarship to the ACCE Annual Convention, complete the online application for the SEAN scholarship no later than May 16.

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Preserving the Unique
History of Chambers

Brad Holt on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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Laura Linard, director of special collections for the Baker Library of the Harvard Business School, and Tim Mahoney, manuscripts librarian, examine ACCE documents and publications dating to 1914, the year the association was founded. They visited ACCE’s offices April 7 to inspect and catalog the contents of 24 boxes of convention proceedings, meeting minutes, newsletters and photos from ACCE’s past. “This is wonderful material that provides a unique view of American business,” Linard said. “We’d be pleased to add all 24 boxes to our archives.” Harvard Business School maintains its extensive library for the benefit of the scholarly community. Many of its collections involve records of innovative companies and the papers of business leaders who have played a pivotal role in the contemporary global business world. All formats of information, from paper records to audio and video digital files and websites are collected and maintained in a climate-controlled facility for archival-quality storage of manuscripts, rare books and electronic records. Fragile or damaged materials get special handling from a staff dedicated to conserving documents regardless of format.

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Bringing Value to Leadership Development Programs

Matt Tarleton, Vice President, Market Street Services on Friday, March 28, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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Guest posting by Matt Tarleton, Vice President, Market Street Services
This past Saturday I attended a “scrubs party” in a hangar at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport just outside Atlanta. Trust me; I was just as confused when my wife received the invitation. The event was a benefit for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, organized by the healthcare system’s Emerging Leaders for Children’s (ELC). While it has many objectives, ELC is an intentional effort by Children’s to engage young business and community leaders in their 30s and 40s in order to breed the next generation of volunteer leadership. According to ELC, its members “gain unique access to Children’s Trustees and executives and, through two years of service, have the opportunity to enhance skills in fundraising, program development and relationship building.”

“Leadership development” is an area of interest to many of our community clients. As Baby Boomers begin to retire in droves, businesses and communities are finding that workforce sustainability – their ability to replace impending retirees with qualified young workers – is of increasing concern. The same concerns are circulating in board rooms, city halls, and community institutions across the country. Take a look around the room at the next chamber of commerce event or board of directors meeting. Lots of gray hairs, huh? Well, this isn’t much of a surprise; chamber membership, board representation, and community leaders in general are by and large older than the average citizen. They should be; generally speaking, businesses, voters, and institutions want people with experience – experience that comes with age, naturally – to fill those leadership positions. But it’s all those Boomers that make 2014 just a little bit different (okay, A LOT different) from years and decades past. In 1990, the U.S. population aged 25-44 (32.4 percent of total population) was nearly 75 percent larger than the population aged 45-64 (18.6 percent of total population). As the Baby Boomers have aged into that older cohort, these two age groups have become nearly identical in size. As of 2012, those aged 25-44 represent 26.5 percent of total U.S. population, just slightly larger the 26.4 percent represented by those aged 45-64. What was once a very sizeable pipeline of potential “emerging” leaders (aged 25-44) is no more.
Thankfully, chambers of commerce and organizations like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta have recognized this trend and understand the importance of intentionally developing new volunteer leaders to sustain their organizations. Much of this work, naturally, is motivated by fundraising needs. But that isn’t the only reason – many are motivated by the desire to ensure that their organization and/or community have capable leaders to replace those that will be retiring in the years and decades to come.

There are countless examples of leadership development programs at chambers of commerce across the country. The overwhelming majority are nearly identical in terms of their approach: identify a class of roughly 20-30 predominantly young professionals, guide them through a series of lectures and discussion forums on issues of importance to the community, and potentially take a trip to the state capitol and/or a peer city. These programs have proven valuable for many communities and their participants, but often fall short in one critical area: connecting the program’s graduates to actual leadership opportunities.

A few places are really getting it right – Northwest Arkansas and Tulsa, Oklahoma among them. Northwest Arkansas – home to the global headquarters of Walmart, Tyson Foods, and J.B. Hunt – has a strong, relatively traditional leadership program called Leadership Benton County. It is also home to the Northwest Arkansas Emerging Leaders (NWAEL), a program coordinated by the Rogers-Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. NWAEL provides young leaders with a variety of opportunities to actually get engaged in the community through a set of “work groups” that pursue a variety of volunteer-led community improvement initiatives. In addition to the work groups, NWAEL offers a Board Service Certification Program, a day-long training program that seeks to prepare emerging leaders for services on non-profit boards and commissions. Graduates of the program are connected through events and communications to staff and board leadership at area non-profits to help place them in actual leadership opportunities.

Tulsa’s Young Professionals (TYPros) is another terrific example of intentional leadership development. What started a relatively traditional young professionals networking group has rapidly blossomed into a serious force in Tulsa’s economic development and community improvement landscape. Similar to NWAEL, TYPros has a set of “work crews” that implement volunteer-led projects impacting a variety of aspects of the community from Arts & Entertainment to Diversity to Environmental Sustainability. In partnership with Leadership Tulsa, TYPros implements a Board Internship Program, placing more than 80 members as “interns” (think “shadowing”) on non-profit boards throughout the region. The organization does so much more to help develop the next generation of community and business leaders in Tulsa by providing young people with opportunities to actually get involved and make difference by enabling them to make decisions, raise monies, and implement programs. Imagine that: they enable them to lead.

This past Saturday, I ate a lot of really good food and had a few glasses of not terrible wine – a rare combination at many catered events! I bid on a framed scrub autographed by Dr. Sanjay Gupta but despite my generous bid, I didn’t win – a fact that greatly pleased my wife, Amy, who rightfully wondered where such an item was going to be stored in our home. Had we won the auction, our bid would have contributed to the more than $200,000 that was raised by the Emerging Leaders for Children’s (ELC) to help save lives at the highly-specialized ECMO Center. Remember, this event and its proceeds were the product of an intentional leadership development effort. The non-profit healthcare system benefitted greatly from the work of ELC, and ELC’s members clearly received the benefit outlined in the program’s objectives – to help emerging leaders “enhance skills in fundraising, program development and relationship building.” I left the event wishing that I was a part of its development. Thankfully, there’s a simple form online to express interest in the ELC program.

The reality is that most leadership opportunities – in business and community – are not so easy to access. Programs like NWAEL in Northwest Arkansas and TYPros in Tulsa get it right. They make it easy. They don’t just “teach” you about leadership; they enable you to actually lead. Many “leadership development” programs fail to take this extra step or make this final connection. And it’s this final connection – a linkage to meaningful experience(s) – that adequately prepares an individual for future leadership.
Reposted with permission from Market Street Services.
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Army, Navy Differ on Need for BRAC

Mick Fleming on Friday, March 28, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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Many ACCE members operate in communities that host major military installations. The different branches of the military appear to disagree on the need for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in the near future. These two stories detail the thinking of Army and Navy brass:

Whether new base closures occur or not, it is clear from the Administration’s budget proposals that some reductions in contracts and/or personnel are likely. The Office of Economic Adjustment will be working with communities affected by defense contractor reductions. Information about OEA and its service/grant-making opportunities are available in HERO.

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End of Support for Windows XP: An SMB Checklist

Jay Paulus, Director on the Windows team at Microsoft on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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It’s been fantastic to talk with small and medium-sized business owners over the last few months who are excited about the ways that Windows 8.1 Pro can both help their business and make their employees more productive. But, with the end of support for Windows XP approaching on April 8, 2014, I’ve also talked with business owners who are still wrestling with how to make the jump from Windows XP to a modern operating system. For many small and medium-sized businesses with little to no IT budget, the process may fall on one employee or the owner themselves and upgrading 5, 25 or 250 computers can seem daunting.

As we’ve shared, after Windows XP reaches end of support, businesses still running the old operating system face increased security risks, increased costs and lack of technical support. But you may not know what computers in your business are running Windows XP and how to migrate them to a newer OS, or if you need to purchase new devices. To help ease the process, I’ve developed a handy checklist that covers the key steps small and medium-sized businesses need to take to be ready well before April 8.

Evaluate Your Hardware Needs: First, you need to check to see if you are running Windows XP. You can do this by downloading this handy upgrade assistant. If you are running Windows XP, odds are that you are using an older desktop PC or notebook. That hardware did a great job providing a powerful Windows XP experience, but technology has improved dramatically since then. Older hardware is not designed to support a modern operating system like Windows 8.1 Pro or the mobile demands of the modern workforce.

As part of your migration, research the new form factors and devices that are available for the modern workplace before upgrading your business’ hardware. Windows 8.1 devices are all about choice, and many of them, like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the Dell Venue 11 Pro, offer the power and productivity needed for a more mobile workforce with the specs and price point to meet any business need. There are also several special offers currently available from Windows and Office for businesses upgrading from Windows XP.

In addition to great mobile form factors, the choices for modern desktop computers are better than ever. New mini-desktops like the Lenovo ThinkCentre Tiny give you a full power desktop in a small package that can fit almost anywhere. If you’re looking for maximum horsepower, be sure to check out the HP Z820 workstation. It’s the one I use on my personal desktop and it delivers amazing performance in a wide range of configurations.

Prep Your Data: Once you know which devices make sense for your organization, you’ll need to think through how you are going to move your company data. It’s common to feel a bit nervous when it comes time to move years of sensitive company data across devices, but advances in cloud technology make it easier than ever to backup, store and transfer files.

As you map out your migration strategy, include a plan for how you will both backup sensitive files and securely transfer your company data across PCs. If you are unsure as to the most efficient way to do this for your organization, Microsoft has resources to help you sort through the various options.

Check Your Apps: Few things are as frustrating as picking a new device, moving over your data and sitting down to work, only to discover that a critical business application is not compatible with your new operating system. To avoid this, evaluate your applications before starting your migration. Not only should you check the applications downloaded directly onto your PCs, you should also double check any web-based applications that your business uses to ensure they will work with an updated version of your internet browser.

Deploy Windows 8.1 Pro: With your new hardware in place, your data safely transferred and your applications up and running, your business is ready to take full advantage of a modern operating system like Windows 8.1 Pro. With Windows 8.1 Pro, your business devices will be more secure and easier to manage and your employees will be more productive than ever before. For additional information on the specifics of deploying Windows 8.1, go here.

We are proud of the value that Windows XP has offered to businesses for more than a decade and we are excited to help companies reach the next level of productivity with Windows 8.1 Pro.

 

Reposted with permission from Microsoft.

 

 

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Key Economic Indicators Delivered to Your Inbox

Tania Kohut on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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Insperity, a provider of an array of human resources and business solutions to help improve business performance, offers economic infographics titled, The Economy at a Glance, that you can have delivered to your inbox.

Key economic indicators, including unemployment, GDP growth, consumer spending and existing home sales provide a comprehensive snapshot of the U.S. economy at large. The monthly infographic outlines the numbers that matter most to you, your business and your employees. Download the January 2014 Economy at a Glance [infographic]; click here to receive these stats via email each month.

Insperity is an ACCE official corporate sponsor.

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Go Ahead, Tell Your Story

Jackie Krawczak, Executive Director, Alpena Area (MI) Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, February 25, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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Guest blog entry by Jackie Krawczak, Executive Director, Alpena Area (MI) Chamber of Commerce

When the Alpena Chamber of Commerce was awarded the 2009 Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award in the State of Michigan and was a runner up for the 2010 and 2012 awards, we didn’t just congratulate ourselves at a staff meeting and then hope that others happened to hear about it. Heck no. We promoted it until we were blue in the face. We sent a press release, put it on our letterhead, our Facebook page, and our website. We talked about it. We tweeted about it. We wanted anyone and everyone to know about it.

A business owner said to me the other day that one of their competitors had posted a picture of their staff giving money to a community cause. He told me they had also given money to the same cause but hadn’t thought about taking a photo and sharing the story.

I was at an organization’s board meeting last week and the directors were discussing their frustration that many people didn’t know that they had played a key role in something big that had happened recently.

So what’s this all about? I’ve noticed a trend recently. I’m not sure how to best describe the trend, other than saying that the bottom line appears to be that we seem to be much too modest. And too much modesty can be damaging.

Saying that is a bit risky, I know. Some degree of modesty is a good thing. No one likes to spend time with “that person” who seems to brag about himself every chance he gets. But never telling your story won’t do you much good either. Because if you don’t tell your own story, who else is going to? Unless it’s a completely amazing or unusual story, chances are quite slim that someone will stumble upon it and tell everyone for you.

I know telling your own story might make some of you uncomfortable. But consider the following. The person who isn’t afraid to tell his story tends to get the job over someone who isn’t comfortable or good at telling his story. The business leaders who tell their philanthropic or customer service stories tend to create a better perception of their business and attract more new customers than the ones who don’t.

The community that tells their story and talks about how great they are tends to attract visitors, businesses, and development at a greater rate than the community that sits back and hopes someone else discovers their great opportunities.

I’m not sure why this seems to be a hot topic lately. Maybe it is because we are feeling the competitiveness that comes with a tight economy. You have to find a way to stand out and telling your story is one way to do that. You can choose whether or not you want to tell your personal story. If you are a business owner you can choose whether or not you want to tell your business story. But if you want the community to have a better chance of growth, please make it a point to tell the community’s story.

I’ll let you in on a little-known piece of information. It’s not a secret. It’s just not widely known. When we were awarded the Outstanding Chamber Award, we had to nominate ourselves for the award. Any chamber that wants to be considered must self-nominate. The nominations are what the judges use to make their decision. Nominating yourself is the only way to get that recognition. And there’s nothing wrong with it. Of course nominating yourself doesn’t guarantee recognition, but guess what we get if we don’t tell our story? Absolutely nothing. No one is going to find us and tell our story. If we want others, outside the scope of those immediately involved, to know the great things we do, we must take it into our own hands. Just like if we want people to know what a great community this is, we have to do it ourselves. So let’s talk about it. Throw some of that modesty aside and start telling your story.

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An Affinity Program Worth Studying

Tania Kohut on Friday, January 24, 2014 at 12:00:00 am 
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Always looking for what’s new in the world of chamber affinity programs, ACCE’s Chris Mead stumbled upon one that offers fantastic education savings for members of the Naperville, Ill., Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC).  

It’s the Naperville Chamber of Commerce Tuition Discount Program that is offered through Benedictine University - an independent Roman Catholic institution in Lisle, Ill. just 25 miles west of Chicago.  According to the program’s website, there are two plans available at the school’s main campus:

  •  Individual Plan: Twenty-five percent (25%) discount on traditional undergraduate and graduate tuition for NACC members and immediate family.
  • Chamber Company Plan: Chamber companies sponsoring an adult accelerated learning program of 15 or more students at their site are eligible to receive a 50% tuition discount per student.

Quite a deal with a school that is recognized as one of the best in America. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country’s fastest-growing campuses between 2001-2011 in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of private nonprofit research institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among “America’s Top Colleges” for the third consecutive year in 2013. Benedictine University’s Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain’s Chicago Business as the fifth largest in the Chicago area in 2013.

For more information on this program, click here.

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