Thursday, August 2, 2012

Live From Louisville! Notes from the ACCE Annual Meeting

By Kathy Young, Director of Operations.

This week, J. Mac Holladay and three of Market Street’s staff (myself, Ellen Cutter, and Christa Tinsley Spaht) will be spending time with chamber of commerce professionals from throughout the nation at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) annual meeting. As ACCE’s national economic development sponsor, we look forward to this opportunity to see clients and friends, and to learn from the nation’s most accomplished and passionate economic developers, including Market Street’s CEO, who has been a supporter of ACCE for 30 year. Some highlights from my first morning follow.

Economic Development and State Budgets

Market Street kicked the morning off with an enlightening presentation by our CEO, who was joined by two fellow ACCE veterans, Mark Eagan (President and CEO of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber) and Jay Chesshir (President and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber).

Mac provided a review of national trends and recent decisions being made at the state level that are bringing to light some dire future scenarios we all have ahead of us. Mark and Jay shared the realities from their states – some good, and some less so. In the coming days, we’ll be sharing more information from the presentation, but in the meantime, take note of this incredibly powerful – and brave – recent statement from Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley.

“How much less do we think would be good for our country? How much less education would be good for our children? How many fewer college degrees would make our state or our country more competitive? How much less research and development would be good for the innovation economy that we have an obligation and the responsibility, a duty and an imperative, to embrace? How many fewer hungry Maryland kids can we afford to feed? Progress is a choice: we decide whether to make the tough choices necessary to invest in our shared future and move forward together. Or we can be the first generation of Marylanders to give our children a lesser quality of life with fewer opportunities.”

Innovative Community Marketing

Cynthia Reid, VP of Marketing and Communications with the Greater Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce shared with everyone the value of research-based, competitive benchmark community driven marketing strategies. One key point reiterated by Cynthia and Roy Williams, CEO for the Chamber, was the importance of setting aside resources or least having a plan to take advantage of unexpected opportunities (e.g., first time in NBA finals).

Another point that hit home for me was Cynthia’s suggestion to not just market what you are, but to market what you aren’t. Her message went into further detail, but what really resonated with me was the applicability of this message for emerging communities that don’t have as many resources as some of their high capacity competitors. This message underlies much of what our team does in every community we work in – don’t try to be something you’re not, be authentic, and market what makes your community special.

Stay tuned for additional blogs next week, when we’ll recap more from the meeting, including what’s sure to be a great presentation tomorrow morning on “Winning the Talent War.” Market Street’s Director of Research Ellen Cutter and Project Manager Christa Tinsley Spaht will be joined by Brad Lacy, President and CEO of the Conway (AR) Area Chamber of Commerce, and Mary Bontrager, Executive Vice President of Workforce Development for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.