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FALL 2018



INSIDE 12 | Recipe For Success: Chambers Supporting Food Entrepreneurs 14 | Urban Anchors 18 | The Mentor/Mentee Relationship

FALL 2018




04 | ACCE News

06 | Workforce Housing Katherine House

26 | Faces and Places

COLUMNS 02 | From the Chairman Nancy Keefer, CCE

28 | Investing in Preparation Pays Off Sheree Anne Kelly



12 | Recipe for Success: Chambers Supporting Food Entrepreneurs Sarah Melby, MLIS 14 | Urban Anchors Ranada Robinson and Alex Pearlstein

18 | The Mentor/Mentee Relationship Shelly Stuart, IOM and Diane Probst, CCE 22 | ACCE Launches Healthy Communities Program Will Burns

FROM THE CHAIRMAN As chamber execs, we’ve all done our share of strategic planning. Gathering input from community stakeholders, seeking feedback from our teams, engaging our boards, wrestling with a group of Type A people to find the perfect combination of words for a mission statement—sometimes it can feel like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. But the payoff comes when your leadership and key stakeholders are aligned. Your entire organization has a clearer picture of your members and their needs. The excitement within your team grows as you identify and execute your priorities and remove the obstacles that get in the way of member satisfaction. You start to see tangible results that showcase the impact your work is having on the community. Over the last year, ACCE’s board of directors has been all in as we embarked on a new strategic planning process. We have strived to provide Sheree Anne and her team with meaningful direction and support as she works to align all of us. No small task for sure. We covered a lot of ground in a short period of time, analyzing membership data, engagement rates, satisfaction survey responses and more. In the spirit of our Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking tool, we researched best practices and trends to benchmark ACCE against other national associations. Thanks to the expert facilitation of former Calgary Chamber CEO Adam Legge, we held a very productive half-day planning meeting engaging in great conversation and direction for our association. I’m proud of the work that Sheree Anne and the team did to organize the research we used throughout the process and respond to questions as they arose. I’m grateful for the commitment and engagement of every member of the board. I’m also thankful for every ACCE member who responded to our satisfaction survey earlier this year. We gained a great deal of useful insights from your responses. As we move from planning to execution, your feedback and active engagement will make a difference. We will outline the plan in greater detail in coming months, but rest assured that ACCE will focus on innovative programs and services to help you and your chamber be more effective. We are going to communicate more effectively and give each member more control over the ways to engage with our association. We are going to make our services easier to use and our resources easier to find. We are going to highlight the impact chambers are having in the communities they serve, and then give you the playbook so that you can apply the best practices to your scope of work. As Sheree Anne has expressed, we are going to be the megaphone and tell the story of the impact chambers have in building their communities. It’s been a busy year, and there is more work to be done. But this is the exciting part—it’s when all that hard work starts to pay off. —Nancy Keefer, CCE | Chairman, ACCE Board of Directors


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ACCE’s award-winning journal for and about chambers of commerce

Chairman Nancy Keefer, CCE Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce (Fla.) Chairman Elect David Brown Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce (Neb.) Immediate Past Chair Jay Chesshir, CCE Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce (Ark.) Treasurer Leonardo McClarty, CCE Howard County Chamber of Commerce (Md.) Vice Chairs Jay Byers, CCE Greater Des Moines Partnership (Iowa) Kelly Fanelli Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches (Fla.) Christy Gillenwater, CCE, IOM Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce (Tenn.) Carlos Phillips Greenville Chamber (S.C.) President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives V.P., Communications & Networks Will Burns Manager, Communications & Marketing Tania Kohut Graphic Design Blue House DC Advertising Sales Chris Mead

Chamber Executive, ISSN 0884-8114, is published quarterly by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Periodicals postage pending at Alexandria, VA 22314 and additional offices. Office of publication: 1330 Braddock Place, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Chamber Executive, 1330 Braddock Place, Suite 300, Alexandria, VA 22314. Visit us online at or call 800-394-2223 for information about editorial, advertising or subscriptions.

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ACCE NEWS ACCE Launches Events Division

Amy Shields Joins ACCE’s Community Advancement Team

ACCE welcomes Amy Shields as its new senior manager of community advancement. In this role, Amy will lead professional development and peer learning opportunities for ACCE members to help them improve education and workforce development outcomes; pursue sustainable and inclusive economic growth and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities they serve. “Amy is passionate about our mission and excited to help chambers across the country create positive change,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Her strengths in program management, stakeholder engagement and communications make her a perfect fit for this role.”

ACCE’s newly launched Events Division provides practical information and resources for chamber event planning professionals and opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and networking. Among its planned programming, the Division will offer roundtable calls, host the annual fall events conference and convene a meeting at ACCE’s Annual Convention. Members can learn more and join from the “Networks” section of ACCE’s website, then view under “Divisions.” You can also update your member profile online to receive Division communications.

Certified Chamber Executive: Call for Applicants Certified Chamber Executive is an internationally-recognized designation for senior-level chamber professionals who exhibit knowledge and leadership in their careers. If you have six years of senior-level chamber management experience and have earned 175 hours of professional development, board service or other qualifying professional activities, then consider making 2019 the year that you become a Certified Chamber Executive. Review eligibility criteria and find/submit the intent to apply form at Applications are due Monday, January 7.

#ACCE19: Call for Session Proposals Interested in inspiring chamber pros? Have a success story, great idea or proven strategy you’d like to share? Pitch your proposal, and if selected, you’ll be invited to join us in Long Beach for the ACCE Annual Convention, July 14–17. Proposals must be received no later than Thursday, January 10. To learn more about the type of sessions we seek and to submit your proposal, visit

Sales Contest: Q2 Numbers Due Second quarter sales figures (September 1– November 30) for the Circle of Champions Sales Contest are due Friday, December 7. Quarterly numbers must be submitted through the online submission form, and you must be a member of the Circle of Champions to participate in the contest. To join the Circle of Champions and learn more about recognition programs, visit

Planning to compete for Chamber of the Year? Chambers seeking to qualify for ACCE’s 2019 Chamber of the Year competition are required to complete all of the survey questions (with FY18 data) in the Chamber Profile and Operations sections of Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking (www. by Friday, March 1 to be considered for eligibility. Get started today; survey questions for FY18 are now open for participation. Access to this updated platform is included with your ACCE membership. The benchmarking metrics collected— in areas of membership, events, personnel, finances and more—aid chambers in gauging performance and organizational planning. Reports and comparisons for FY18 will be available for download in Spring 2019 through the Dynamic Chamber Benchmarking platform. To learn more about the Chamber of the Year competition, visit


Chamber Executive

Fall 2018

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Miller Ranch, an award-winning, affordable housing neighborhood in Edwards, Colorado.


Chamber Executive

Fall 2018

Photography by Ben Dodd





Last summer, representatives of two large hospitals approached the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce in South Carolina about a vital issue: the difficulty of hiring and retaining employees because of the area’s high housing costs.


ne hospital had conducted a national search for a senior executive. The top candidate needed to relocate but requested a salary 50 percent higher than the initial offer. Why? It would take that much to afford a house of similar size and quality in Charleston with a comparable commute—and he had the data to back up his request. Leaders at the chamber took notice. “It’s not a new issue for us, but it’s a renewed focus,” said Ian Scott, the chamber’s senior vice president of advocacy. The Charleston Chamber has plenty of company. University towns, resort communities and fast-growing locales are among those seeking solutions for affordable housing. As a result, chamber executives are addressing the issue by doing what they do best: convening stakeholders, educating members, launching outreach campaigns, and advocating at the town, county and state levels.

Making the Case

Data collection is an important early step in understanding the housing issue—and conveying it to others. In larger chambers, researchers or economic staff may compile data. The Charleston Chamber benefits from a unique arrangement: it shares an economic researcher with the local economic development entity. Another example is the Vail Valley Partnership, which has relied on housing reports from the county government. Neither path was an option for the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce. Big Sky, Montana, is an unincorporated census-designated place that straddles two counties but does not have its own governing body, according to Candace Carr Strauss, the chamber’s CEO. About five years ago, the chamber commissioned a local consulting firm to study the housing issue in the resort area located 90 miles from an entrance to Yellowstone National Park. The study’s cost was covered by a grant the chamber received from the Big Sky Resort Area Tax District. Published in 2014, the “Big Sky Housing Development Plan” helped quantify the demand for workforce housing and analyzed policies and programs successful in other resort communities. Surveys can be an important part of data gathering—and storytelling. In 2017, the Greater Boston Chamber’s City Awake initiative, a program to empower emerging leaders, partnered with the Boston Foundation to survey area millennials. The goal was to uncover issues of “greatest concern” to young workers.

What do people mean by “affordable housing?” Unfortunately, there is no universal definition. As a starting point, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines affordable housing as “housing for which occupants pay no more than 30 percent of income for gross housing costs, including utilities.” HUD’s web site acknowledges that “some jurisdictions may define affordable housing based on other, locally determined criteria.” Many chamber leaders prefer terms such as “workforce housing” or “middle income housing” to convey their goal of helping those unlikely to qualify for other assistance programs. Indeed, chamber executives say people often mistakenly assume they are referring to Section 8 or low-income housing when “affordable housing” is mentioned. The Urban Land Institute defines “workforce housing” as “housing that is affordable to households earning 60 to 120 percent of the area median income.” The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce uses the term “workforce housing” and currently is focused on advocating for solutions for those earning 80 percent to 120 percent of the median income. Workforce housing can connote housing for public workers (teachers, fire fighters, and others) who can’t afford to live where they work, according to a Workforce Housing Overview put together by the National Association of Realtors. But today the term is more broadly understood to cover many types of employees. Workforce housing generally implies housing that is close to people’s places of employment. In Charleston, the chamber is working to convey that affordable housing affects “young professionals in every discipline,” said Ian Scott, senior vice president of advocacy for the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. For a long time, residents associated the issue primarily with hospitality industry workers, but, he said, with “our economy firing on all cylinders” and lengthy approval processes for development in some jurisdictions, no business sector is unaffected by the area’s housing shortage and spiraling costs. Chamber Executive

Fall 2018


Nearly one-third said affordable housing was the most important issue to them; 80 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed “with the notion that Greater Boston is made up of affordable cities and neighborhoods.” The results reinforced what Bostonians have known for a long time. But, more importantly, the data helped the chamber begin to frame the challenge as a significant business issue, said Benjamin Stuart, the chamber’s research and data analyst. The Big Sky Chamber also featured excerpts from employer interviews, as well as survey results of more than 1,000 residents and in-commuters, in a 2018 report.

Education and Outreach

In the Vail Valley of Colorado, workforce housing has been a topic of discussion for years. But efforts by developers were often stymied by “a small, vocal minority” that would show up at planning and zoning meetings to shut down projects, said Erik Williams, director of community development for the Vail Valley Partnership in Edwards, Colorado. That minority was eloquent and effective, often appearing at meetings with lawyers in tow, he said. In 2017, the Partnership formed a Workforce Housing Coalition and convened four meetings. Anyone responsible for getting projects approved and occupied was invited, including architects, developers, and local officials. Meetings were widely advertised and open to anyone. Williams personally invited one of the biggest critics of development to attend. The first meeting gave leaders a better idea of “what the community knew and where people wanted us to go,” said Williams. The final meeting was a day-and-a half-long “NIMBY Jamboree” subtitled “Creating a Healthy Community through Workforce Housing.” It included breakout sessions

It’s not a new issue for us, but it’s a renewed focus.” —Ian Scott, senior vice president of advocacy, Charleston Chamber


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TIPS FOR SUCCESS Gather appropriate data.

Collecting relevant statistics can help your organization make a compelling case about the need for affordable housing. Some indicators to consider: • What percentage of households pay 30 percent or more of their income for housing? • What is the area median income required to afford an average home or rental? • How does the percentage of area median income devoted to housing costs compare to that in other cities? • How does the number of available units compare to the number of desired units?

Don’t overlook human stories.

“You need more than data,” said Chris Romer, president & CEO of Colorado’s Vail Valley Partnership. “You need people. You’d better find stories of nurses and first responders who can’t afford to live in your community and a favorite restaurant owner who plans to close at lunch because he can’t attract workers.”

Be prepared to tackle related issues.

Identify specific barriers to increasing the housing supply. Some may be related to issues mentioned above. Others may be tied to specific zoning regulations (parking space requirements, for example) or the length of time it takes for project approval.

Learn the vocabulary.

Wendy Northcross, CCE, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce in Centerville, Massachusetts, has 30 years of chamber experience under her belt. Yet when it comes to real estate development and zoning ordinances, she needed to research the nuances to become a more effective advocate of housing solutions.

Develop new allies and partnerships.

The local housing authority’s director sits on the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce board. Her presence provides the chamber with a better understanding of housing issues and the housing authority with insights from the business community, said Northcross.

Set near-term and long-term goals.

Tackling affordable housing and other big issues takes time. Pace yourself, and don’t expect instant success.

The housing issue is complex, but it’s also inextricably intertwined with other issues. “It’s like going down a rabbit hole,” said Candace Carr Strauss, CEO of the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce in Montana. Related issues vary by community but may include public transportation, water supply, wastewater systems needed for dense development and attitudes toward historic preservation. Some of those issues may need to be addressed—or at least better understood—before you can make progress on housing.

Make sure you understand what type of housing your community needs—and wants.

“There are a lot of things packed up in housing, including the attitude of a community toward growth,” said Charleston Metro Chamber senior vice president of advocacy Ian Scott.

“Chambers are so uniquely positioned to be a convener of different groups,” said Romer. “That has a significant upside in developing trust among all entities that may have historically been at odds.”

In Massachusetts, the Cape Cod Chamber encouraged a separate Young Professionals group to run a housing design contest. In Big Sky, Montana, a survey incorporated into a 2018 report polled residents and commuters about their preference to rent vs. own, desired housing amenities (energy efficiency, ability to accommodate pets) and more.

Embrace your role as convener.

Architects, developers and local officials participate in breakout sessions and tours during Vail Valley Partnership's "NIMBY Jamboree."

and tours of two local developments. More than 300 people attended the four meetings, which were financed through chamber sponsorships and ticket sales. As an outgrowth of the coalition’s work, the chamber formed the Eagle County Housing Task Force. The group focuses in part on bringing local officials to the table, initiating discussions about the role they play, and educating them about making the approval process more customerfocused, said Romer. In Charleston, the chamber and its new Housing Attainability Task Force are planning an outreach campaign in late 2018 that will incorporate earned media, social media and outreach to elected officials. The goal? “We want people to talk about housing the way they talk about traffic,” said Scott. “We are preparing the soil for policy changes.”

The Advocacy Angle

On Cape Cod, the rise of the short-term rental market has significantly impacted availability of units, especially those needed by seasonal workers, said Wendy Northcross, CCE, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce in Centerville, Massachusetts. The market was already tight given the area’s high number of vacation homes and the dearth of high-density developments. 10

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As a result, the chamber has been advocating on multiple fronts for changes that could help ease the housing shortage. The Smarter Cape Cod Partnership, of which the chamber is a key stakeholder, developed a model bylaw for accessory dwelling units (ADUs). The bylaw “should make it easier to take part of a home and turn it into a legal accessory unit to rent out,” said Northcross. It aims to eliminate a “mishmash” of laws related to ADUs. So far, three of 15 towns on the Cape have adopted the bylaw. Northcross wrote letters to the editor and testified before planning boards about the need to adopt the bylaw. The chamber also hired a part-time lobbyist to work on that and other issues. “More ADUs increase the supply without picking up a hammer, while allowing an older population to age in place,” she said. Examples of other chamber initiatives: • James Rooney, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, testified in support of the governor’s 2018 housing bill. A key

element of the bill, which did not pass, would have allowed local authorities to adopt certain zoning changes with a simple majority instead of a twothirds super-majority. Chamber policy staffers Benjamin Stuart and Jamie Sutherland held a webinar to educate chamber members and elected officials about the bill. • The Cape Cod Chamber advocated for passage of a state-wide, short-term rental tax. The levy was designed to put short-term rentals on an even playing field with hotels and potentially lead to conversion of some units to long-term rentals. At the same time, some revenue was earmarked to help Cape Codders improve their wastewater management system, which is critical for higherdensity development, said Northcross. The bill came “within inches” of being signed into law, she said. • The Vail Valley Partnership favored passage of a 2016 county ballot initiative authorizing a 3/10 sales tax (exempting groceries) to help solve the affordable housing crisis. Revenues would have been used for construction of deed-restricted housing, down payment assistance programs and more, but it did not pass. How vital is advocacy when working on affordable housing? “On a scale of one to 10, I’d say an 11,” said Vail Valley Partnership’s Romer. Katherine House is an award-winning business writer who lives in Iowa City, Iowa. She has contributed several articles to Chamber Executive, including those about disaster recovery, the Santa Train in Appalachia, tiered dues structures and a charter school in Louisiana.

Influencers in the Food Industry

Recipe for Success:

Chambers Supporting Food Entrepreneurs

Featuring Kitchen Council

By Sarah E. Melby, MLIS


oodies unite! For those who love to cook (or just eat) great food, you will love learning about Kitchen Council that launched earlier this year ( kitchencouncil/). Kitchen Council, a program of the Greater Omaha Chamber and community partners, is a startup incubator that works to lower barriers to entry for new companies in the region by supporting food entrepreneurs and providing an inexpensive venue to test cutting-edge food startup concepts. Kitchen Council aims to support, “economic development, job creation and entrepreneurial growth by providing a low-risk, low-cost option for food startups,” according to its strategic plan. 12

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Sponsored in part by the Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa West Foundation, Greater Omaha Chamber, Council Bluffs Area Chamber of Commerce and Conagra Brands, the incubator’s physical location provides approximately 2,500 square feet of commercial kitchen space. Up to 25 members can be accommodated, and gain access to convection ovens, large-scale mixers, dough proofers, along with other equipment and resources. The shared-use kitchen space is currently located in a former restaurant in Council Bluffs. The future co-location—slated for a 2019 opening—will be in the Pottawat-

tamie Arts, Culture and Entertainment (PACE) Hoff Family Arts and Culture Center, which is under construction. Benefits extend beyond kitchen space. Kitchen Council also provides members with business acumen and management assistance including business development services, practical business consulting and classes offered where entrepreneurs learn from experienced businesses. In addition to business guidance, members gain networking and mentoring support for food licensing, marketing, sales, accounting, finance, legal, health and safety, packaging and distribution. It’s a one-stop shop for food

Current members MJER Help, D’s Catering, and Pomodoro Fresh Italian leverage the benefits of membership for their unique offerings. Left: Cross-business collaboration in action as Pomodoro Fresh Italian owner Rocky Luna (left) works with D's Catering employee Alonzo Lamb (right) for a Kitchen Council event. Top: Kitchen Council's ribbon cutting in February 2018. Right: Fresh-made pasta drying in Kitchen Council's kitchen.

incubator, whether it’s food, tech or other industry-specific efforts:


 o your due diligence. Research D incubators and accelerators across the country. Kitchen Council looked at the Union Kitchen model in Washington, D.C. but also benchmarked against other models, like tech, for ideas and lessons learned.


 ring existing, major food players B to the table—make it a strong community effort to allow for two-way feedback and ensure the community comes together around the concept.

industry entrepreneurs to start and grow successful businesses. Holly Benson Muller, managing director at Kitchen Council, has been instrumental in setting up and overseeing the early stages of this work. Benson Muller shares the same passion as her members—recognizing and elevating the thriving food culture and growing farmers market scene in the Omaha region. She is a matchmaker who connects the right entrepreneurs with the right support, and she relishes being a part of success stories around job creation and small business growth. Benson Muller shared these tips for chambers considering creating an


 alk to budding food entrepreneurs T to see what’s lacking in the region and what help a successful food incubator could offer. Gain candid feedback. For example, is the need around business assistance? Kitchen space? Legal counsel? Understand what the priority needs are in your community and seek to address them.


 onsider regular evaluation of C progress. Benson Muller works with an advisory committee for Kitchen Council where partners from supporting organizations, larger food businesses, plus other nonfood business leaders (members of the chambers) serve. Their role is visionary support as opposed to a working board. They are instrumental in helping define and craft the pathway of what this can be, far into the future.

While still a new entity, the team at Kitchen Council is formulating its future and working on a strategic and programmatic plan for the coming three years. With engagement and support from across the community, Kitchen Council is likely to cook up success for years to come. Find more information at or email Chamber Executive

Fall 2018



hat makes a downtown come alive? It’s rarely the spontaneous combustion of people and ideas. Almost always, some sort of coordination takes place for cities to flourish. Much of this pre-planning occurs around “anchor” institutions—organizations with a commitment to being where they are and to making the area attractive to potential workers. While an anchor may not be synonymous with creative inspiration, these institutions, whether they be colleges, universities, research centers, hospitals, government complexes, or even major employers, offer the stable revenue and employment bases to serve as a foundation for dynamic and creative economic activity. Few anchors are solitary. Where there’s a downtown hospital, you’re likely to find nearby major companies and other significant employers. These organizations nearly always capitalize on both public and private funding to improve their infrastructure and spread the word about their presence and impact within the city. Many times anchorbased developments evolve into “districts,” including medical districts, innovation districts and similar themed neighborhoods.


AN OPPORTUNITY If you have two or more anchors downtown without clear association, this could be an opportunity for the chamber. You could do with these anchors what you do with your members: bring them together. A group of anchors can transform a disparate assemblage of buildings into a concept that people understand—such as Broadway, Walk of Fame, or Bricktown, to cite three wellknown examples from previous decades. Normally, it takes more than just a creative name. Putting downtown assets together requires knowing what’s worked elsewhere, checking with local stakeholders and being realistic about expectations, while at the same time seeking to create a new destination. Finally, as any chamber executive will understand, there’s the question of 14

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Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati


ANCHORS By Ranada Robinson and Alex Pearlstein

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ANCHOR DISTRICT EXAMPLES Technology (Tech) Square, Atlanta, Georgia Anchor: Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Department of Economic Development When Tech Square was announced in the year 2000, the site was a windswept patch of surface parking lots across a 16-lane interstate connector from Georgia Tech’s campus in Midtown Atlanta. Tech Square opened in 2003 with numerous Georgia Tech units, including the Scheller College of Business, the Global Learning Center and the Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC). Tech Square now has the highest density of startups, corporate innovators and academic researchers in the entire southeastern United States. Uptown, Columbus, Georgia Anchors: Central Business District, Riverwalk, Columbus State University Columbus, Georgia developed historically as a mill town. Since the mid-90’s the city has been on a mission to revitalize its image, especially its downtown. Now nicknamed Uptown, numerous efforts have made its vision into reality with its thriving Central Business District that include headquarters such as TSYS, Synovus and many smaller entrepreneurial businesses. Millions of dollars have also been spent to utilize the Chattahoochee River that runs through Uptown, which has in turn attracted new development such as residences, entertainment and dining along the river. To round it out, Columbus State University has a strong presence in Uptown which includes a space science center, a fine and performing arts center and over 400 student housing units. 16

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Ice District, Edmonton, Alberta Anchor: Rogers Centre Arena Ice District is a $2.5 billion, 25-acre mixed-use sports and entertainment district in Edmonton, Alberta. When completed it will be Canada’s largest mixed-use and entertainment district. Anchored by the Rogers Place arena, the Ice District will include condos, a public plaza, sports, entertainment, 300,000 square feet of retail space and 1.3 million square feet of office space. Rogers Place opened in 2016, and the first phase of the Ice District is to be completed in 2020. Ohio Riverfront, Cincinnati, Ohio Cut off from the rest of downtown Cincinnati by Interstate 71, properties north of the Ohio River and south of the interstate languished for years. That changed when the city focused on revitalizing the area and created publicprivate entities to build anchors. These have included new stadiums for the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Significant investments erected streets over I-71 to connect the riverfront district to the downtown core. A mixed-used development called The Banks has brought more than $1 billion in new retail, residential, and commercial investment between the stadiums. The crown jewel in the district is Smale Riverfront Park, a 45-acre interactive greenspace funded by public and private money. A new 3.6-mile streetcar route, the Cincinnati Bell Connector, links the riverfront to the city’s bustling Over-the-Rhine district. smale-riverfront-park/

money. There are many potential sources, including government grants, private and non-profit philanthropy, place-based incentives such as tax increment financing, community improvement districts, in-kind commitments, and the budgets of the anchors themselves. Oftentimes a combination of funding sources is leveraged to maximize results and stakeholder buy-in for the project. Chambers can do more than just find anchors, stakeholders and funding. They can help with permitting and regulation adjustments to make the new district more attractive to anchors doing business there, incentivize additional businesses to join the district and make the area attractive to residents and/or visitors. TYPES OF ASSETS Anchor-based development strategies have three primary strengths to draw on, according to the Brookings Institution: • Economic assets, including the business activity and investments of the anchors • Physical assets, such as waterfronts and historical buildings • Networking assets, i.e., the interactions among the people who live and/or work in these areas The anchor district builder’s job is to identify these assets and weave them together into something both sustainable and exciting. THE TARGET: PEOPLE People are the ultimate target of these anchor developments. What set of buildings, places, amenities, employers, ideas and opportunities will draw more workers to the area? And what’s keeping people from coming today? Anchor developers clear the way for more workers, bringing in a range of assets to make the area more attractive, and removing, to the extent reasonable, what makes a place feel unwelcoming or inconvenient. MULTIPLE NEEDS Determining the right assets to attract talent, residents and visitors may range from vegan restaurants to bikeshares to electric car charging stations. To serve today’s workforce, an anchor district must consider many assets, with needs varying by the community and type of employment in the

area. High-tech and similar innovationbased districts benefit from a variety of places that people and ideas can collide. Such workers often benefit from “third spaces,” places that are neither work nor home, where informal interaction occurs and new ideas sprout. PLANNING MAKES PERFECT While everybody wants a lively downtown, full of energetic people who are creating tomorrow’s economy, wanting this and describing it is not the same as having it. Big dreams for a new district require clear plans, including signed agreements among the anchors and other critical parties, such as the city. Just as chambers have strategic plans, full of specific goals and deliverables, so do new urban districts that are built on the foundation of their anchors. These principles apply to cities of all sizes as revealed by the previous examples. Identify your downtown assets and make a plan to make the most of them. Then—lift anchor!

Ice District, Edmonton, Alberta

Ranada Robinson is the research manager at Market Street Services, an ACCE Official Corporate Sponsor. She has worked in a diverse array of client communities. Alex Pearlstein has been at Market Street since 2003 and currently serves as vice president of projects.

KEY RESOURCES  nchor District Council A B  rookings Institution innovation-districts/

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THE MENTOR This article is written by two chamber executives from the Texas coast who have shared many years together in the same office, but now get to share on a different level. The mentee has been at the helm of the Portland Chamber of Commerce (Texas) for a little more than one year. Prior to serving in Portland, she worked at the Rockport-Fulton Chamber (Texas) for 13 years. The mentor has led the RockportFulton Chamber for almost three decades. The two communities are 25 miles apart.


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This article is written by two chamber executives from the Texas coast who have shared many years together in the same office but now get to share on a different level. The mentee has been at the helm of the Portland Chamber of Commerce (Texas) for a little more than one year. Prior to serving in Portland, she worked at the Rockport-Fulton Chamber (Texas) for 13 years. The mentor has led the Rockport-Fulton Chamber for almost three decades. The two communities are 25 miles apart.

To help us through our crazy world of chamber and association management, the road is much easier with a mentor. It will be, by far, one of the best decisions you ever make.


By Shelly Stuart, IOM President & CEO Portland Chamber of Commerce

Walking into my new chamber of commerce wasn’t scary at all because I knew I was prepared. I was ready to take on this new role. After all, I had been preparing for this opportunity my entire career, and I had learned from one of the best in the business.

to learning from someone who has tried it all, knows what will work and what may not be the best idea. After all, a mentor is someone who has more experience, a greater skill set, and is willing to share his or her knowledge. Respect the relationship.

Here are a few tips if you are seeking to identify a mentor:

Prepare to be pushed. A mentor isn’t just someone who will give you career advice or help you see things in a different light. Yes, these are important parts of the mentor’s role, but he or she must also hold you accountable. It’s a give-and-take relationship. Expect your mentor to push you far beyond what you believed you could achieve. The right mentor will believe in you—even if, at times, you don’t believe in yourself. Be open to the challenge!

Choose your mentor carefully. After attending our state’s Chamber Basics Conference back in the early 2000s, attendees were encouraged to find someone in the industry to help us tackle tough situations. This would be my “phone call away” person and my “I need advice” person. As I started thinking about who could serve as my mentor in this great big world of chambers, it occurred to me I was very lucky. I was already working for someone who would make the perfect mentor for me. I asked my president and CEO if she would be my mentor. She immediately agreed, and that began our many years of working, agreeing, disagreeing, developing and growing together. Establish rapport and set expectations. Your mentor needs to be someone who has already paved the road ahead of you, can answer almost any question that might arise and is always just a phone call away. In a mentor-mentee relationship, it is equally important to be open

Why wait, act now. If you are new to the chamber world, I can tell you from personal experience that it is definitely worth your time to seek a mentor who has been in the industry for a long time. A mentor who has experienced a lot of situations—similar in nature to what you will face—is an invaluable opportunity from which to learn and build your confidence. To help us through our crazy world of chamber and association management, the road is much easier with a mentor. It will be, by far, one of the best decisions you ever make.


By Diane Probst, CCE President & CEO Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce

Looking back through my years in the chamber world, so many situations, encounters and learning experiences come to mind. Not all are difficult, but some stand out as teachable moments. Those difficult situations are the ones that cultivate great principled leaders who are able to withstand the test of time. Those leaders generally have a calling to share their findings. The following are four key points of a principled leader fulfilling his or her role as a mentor: Guide the answer. More often than not, your mentee knows the answer to the difficult problem or situation. They just need to verbalize it and obtain affirmation from a mentor. For example, in the first month Shelly was at her new job, her board chairman went off script at a luncheon attended by more than 200 people and offended an influential person. She was faced with a decision that seemed very difficult at the time, but when she verbalized what she thought needed to happen, it became clear to her the direction she needed to go. It’s refreshing! Let’s be honest . . . the day-to-day issues in the chamber profession can wear you down. There is nothing more encouraging than when you are on the other end of the phone call with your mentee. It helps ease those difficult situations and it affirms actions taken. Some days, it’s a pure and simple refreshing

Chamber Executive

Fall 2018


boost. Those trying times we all experience seem smaller and smaller when we verbalize and affirm the mentee’s answers. It’s refreshing to witness this interchange and see the mentee grow. This experience re-charges a mentor. Professional development is a must. Encourage your mentee to find a career track for professional development in his or her area or path. The mentee should incorporate a strong budget line item in his or her chamber or association for trips

to state and national conferences. Enrolling in the U.S. Chamber Institute for Organization Management, and its class advisor program, is an extremely important move as well. Your mentee needs to understand the return on this investment will be two or three-fold. As a mentor, if you attend a conference, carve out a little time to be with your mentee. It is a very rewarding time to spend together. Share a dream. Someday, my mentee and I will co-author a book together

called “Chamber Leadership Programs.” We have already created the content outline. We have assigned each other chapters, and we will soon put it all together. My dream is to share a book signing experience with her and watch her glow in the accomplishment. Being a mentor is rewarding. It is a vital component in every chamber exec’s career. It is a necessity for success and total professional fulfillment, much like the wealthy individual who feels “whole” only after sharing his or her wealth.

Shelly Stuart is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management program. She was the vice president of operations at the Rockport-Fulton Chamber of Commerce for 15 years and is known for her work in elevating the Leadership Aransas County Program, the Youth Leadership and Alumni Program to new levels. She is a two-time class advisor at the Arizona State University Campus. Stuart can be reached at Diane Probst is a certified chamber executive and is a graduate of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Organization Management program. In 2008 she served as board chair of the Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives. She is currently a board member of the Texas Travel Industry Association. Probst has held numerous other chamber positions and roles in the state. She is the author of “Chamberology: The Art of Running a Chamber of Commerce.” Her second book, “When the Storm Comes,” is co-authored with her daughter. It is about the lessons learned in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, a powerful Category 4 storm that devastated the communities she serves. Probst can be reached at

THREE LITTLE LETTERS. ONE BIG DISTINCTION. CCE is the highly recognized certification for high-achieving chamber professionals. Learn more about becoming a Certified Chamber Executive at

Applications for the 2019 Class are due January 7. Leonardo McClarty, CCE President/CEO, Howard County Chamber Became a Certified Chamber Executive in 2016


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Fall 2018


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ACCE Launches

Healthy Communities Program


By Will Burns

CCE launched a new program to help 10 chambers of commerce lead community health initiatives and demonstrate the leadership role chambers in smaller communities can play to strengthen quality of life and support equitable prosperity. The year-long program will consist of three meetings, along with additional support between sessions. Participants will learn from community health experts and peers in the cohort, as well as discover available data tools. Each chamber has teamed with a community partner to participate alongside them throughout the program. Community partners include hospitals and health systems, local governments, local community health coalitions, and a high school. Participating communities were selected because the chambers had an established and promising health and wellness agenda, developed meaningful collaboration with at least one dedicated community partner, and represented a community with fewer than 250,000 residents. Teams are focused on obesity prevention, opioid addiction and community health issues.

The first two sessions will include a design thinking lab, which will provide community teams with new planning tools, techniques and templates to help improve their community health initiatives. The program is designed to help chambers use data more effectively, tell more compelling stories and build stronger partnerships. ACCE will share the best practices from this program to help other chambers seeking to improve health outcomes in their communities.

Kickoff Meeting Recap

The program launched in October with a meeting at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) headquarters in Princeton, New Jersey. The meeting featured interactive exercises to introduce participants to key design thinking principles and tools for developing short- and long-term action plans. Activities centered on gaining a greater understanding of the relationship between community health, equity and economic prosperity. Teams explored the health challenges community members face from a more

empathetic perspective to identify new ways to approach their initiatives. Kitty Jerome, action center team director for County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, joined the group to provide an overview of the resources available at, including community data and a library of best practice programs and policies that communities have used to improve health outcomes. RWJF team members also presented in key areas of interest, showcasing foundation-supported work across the country, including: • Best practices for multi-sector partnerships that provide leadership to create positive change • Place-based strategies promoting healthier and more equitable public spaces • Current efforts to address the opioid epidemic and how chambers of commerce and the business community can engage • Childhood obesity prevention efforts, including initiatives to raise awareness about healthy food choices and promote physical activity ACCE members can access presentation slides and other resources shared with the cohort by visiting

Resources for Your Chamber

Good health is good for business. Healthy communities achieve improved education outcomes, attract more talented workers and are more productive and competitive. As a result, a growing number of chambers of commerce are championing health and wellness initiatives in the communities they serve. If your chamber is new to this area of focus, ACCE has identified three approaches that chambers are using to incorporate health and wellness strategies into their economic and workforce development efforts. Ready to Learn: Workforce development starts with effective early childhood care and education. Children who are healthy and ready to learn by the time they reach kindergarten achieve better education outcomes. Chambers across the country are advocating for stronger early childhood education programs and educating employers on how to support


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Fall 2018

Participating Communities Billings, Montana • Chamber: Billings Chamber of Commerce • Community Partner: Healthy by Design Cape May, New Jersey • Chamber: Cape May County Chamber • Community Partner: Cape Regional Health System Fond du Lac, Wisconsin • Chamber: Envision Greater Fond du Lac • Community Partner: Agnesian Healthcare Lodi, California • Chamber: Lodi Chamber of Commerce • Community Partner: Adventist Health, Lodi Memorial

healthy childhood development and share resources with their employees. Workplace Wellness: Workplace wellness programs help attract talent, build staff morale, reduce health care costs and boost productivity. Chambers are launching community wellness challenges and helping employers implement programs and policies employees to ACCEtoadencourage half page 75x5in renewals.pdf adopt healthier lifestyles.

Longview, Texas • Chamber: Longview Chamber of Commerce • Community Partner: CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Medical Center–Longview

Otsego County, New York • Chamber: Otsego County Chamber of Commerce • Community Partner: Bassett Health Care Network

Miramar/Pembroke Pines, Florida • Chamber: Miramar Pembroke Pines Regional Chamber of Commerce • Community Partner: Florida Department of Health–Broward County

Queen Creek, Arizona • Chamber: Queen Creek Chamber of Commerce • Community Partner: Queen Creek High School

Noblesville, Indiana • Chamber: Noblesville Chamber of Commerce • Community Partner: Partnership for a Healthy Hamilton County

Santa Rosa, California • Chamber: Santa Rosa Metro Chamber • Community Partner: City of Santa Rosa

Healthy Community Culture: By promoting a healthy community culture, chambers of commerce can ensure economic vitality and equitable prosperity. Chamber programs help to make their communities a better place for all residents to live, work and play by recognizing and addressing the social, economic and environmental factors that 21 9/19/18 6:12 PM impact health.


Springfield Chambe...













Learn more about each approach online at ACCE has developed simple frameworks and a business case for each approach. You will also find best practices from chambers across the country. These resources can help guide your efforts. If you have any questions, contact ACCE’s Community Advancement Coordinator Emily Counts at (703) 998-3521 or




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The Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce (Texas) named BILL ALLEN president and CEO. He most recently led the Midland Business Alliance (Mich). BECKY BARTOSZEK was named presi-

dent and CEO of the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce (Wis.). The Howell Area Chamber of Commerce (Mich.) named JANELLE BEST president and CEO. She succeeds PAT CONVERY who retired after serving the chamber for 28 years. Best was previously executive director of the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce. The Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce named JULIE COONS as its CEO and president. Coons was most recently chief operating officer at the Council of Better Business Bureaus. was named president and CEO of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce (Va.). Cromwell was previously president and CEO of the Frederick County Chamber ELIZABETH CROMWELL


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of Commerce (Md.). RICK WELDON, who served as vice president of chamber operations at the Frederick County Chamber, succeeds Elizabeth Cromwell. was named president of the Troy Area Chamber of Commerce (Ohio) and CEO of the Troy Development Council. Most recently, Graves was president and CEO of the Dickson County Chamber of Commerce (Tenn.). JOSEPH A. GRAVES

was named CEO of the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership (Pa.). He most recently served as president and CEO of the Missoula Economic Partnership (Mont.). JAMES W. GRUNKE

DENISE JORDAN was named executive

director of the Greater Deerfield Beach Chamber of Commerce (Fla.).

The Mesquite Chamber of Commerce (Nev.) named CAROL KOLSON president and CEO. Kolson previously served as president and CEO of the Southwest King County Chamber of Commerce (Wash.).

DOT MILLER, CAE, was named executive

director of the Colorado Chamber of Commerce Executives. The Bristol County Chamber of Commerce, Inc. (Mass.) named MICHAEL F. O’SULLIVAN president and CEO. O’Sullivan is a former president of the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce (N.Y.). The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce (Ind.) named ERIN PREDMORE as its new CEO. The East St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce (La.) named DON SHEA as its new CEO. With a 30-year career in economic development, Shea was most recently director of business services at the Louisiana Workforce Commission serving St. Tammany, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. WHITNEY WAARA was named executive

director of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce (Mich.). Ada Area Chamber of Commerce (Okla.) named SHANA WOOD as president and CEO.

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A NOTE FROM SHEREE ANNE Strategic Planning: Investing in Preparation Pays Off We’re winding down from a thorough— and exciting—strategic planning process at ACCE. I’m amazed at what we’ve accomplished in just over one year. Planning for an organization and community as robust as ACCE’s requires thoughtful research, inclusive insight and guidance from near and far.

Can we help you with your strategic plan? Check out our planning resources online at If there are other ways ACCE or I can be helpful, please let me know.





ACCE staff undertook a comprehensive information gathering and situational assessment process to identify challenges and opportunities. We evaluated existing procedures, programs and resources, as well as closely examined and considered our community’s current and future needs. We leveraged many sources to create this forward-looking plan: • My coast-to-coast (and international) chamber listening tour • IT audit • Benchmarking study and revenue trends analysis, comparing our operations, structure and budgets with other associations • Member and non-member surveys • Conversations with groups that have never engaged with ACCE • Board planning retreat • Staff planning retreat These findings were then paired with the latest research on topics, such as engaging the next generation, new power paradigms and of course, the Horizon Initiative. From all of this insight, there were two components I found most helpful. Deep Conversations with Insiders I love data points and leverage them often. But surveys never give you the honesty and candor of a face-to-face meeting. The listening tour exposed me to diverse chambers with unique stories and varied needs. By looking at those stories in aggregate, we found more


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Fall 2018

similarities than differences. ACCE’s new plan aims to be of service in areas of greatest impact to the most chambers. Our board convened in the spring to dive into our value proposition and determine where we want to go. Our volunteer leadership’s candor and wisdom are invaluable. Having a knowledgeable and experienced facilitator (which we had in former chamber executive Adam Legge) kept us strategic and allowed all ideas to be vetted and heard. But the most fruitful time was spent with the ACCE staff. A full-day, off-site retreat unveiled creative sparks, process efficiencies and new ways to serve you. Equally important, we also discussed what we could stop doing, whether onerous procedures or sacred cows. Opening the Door to Those You’ve Yet to Serve Reaching out to chambers and other organizations that have never worked with ACCE opened my eyes to new opportunities. My conversations with affinity chamber leaders were particularly relevant to changing the way I view diversity, equity and inclusion in our own planning efforts. While we haven’t solved all of our challenges, or gained engagement from all non-members, key steps have been taken. We’ve started important conversations and are seeking creative partnerships and plans that we didn’t consider before. Taking the time to assess our work from many angles informed us tremendously. Our amazing chamber community, hard-working and committed staff and untapped allies have all played a role in building this plan. I’m excited to unveil it shortly. And, I especially look forward to working with all of you as we implement changes to drive our association and the chamber industry forward.

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Profile for ChamberExecutives

Chamber Executive  

Read the fall 2018 issue of Chamber Executive magazine, published by ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. This issue inc...

Chamber Executive  

Read the fall 2018 issue of Chamber Executive magazine, published by ACCE, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. This issue inc...