Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Market Street and Client Chambers Prominent at 99th Annual Convention of American Chamber of Commerce Executives

By Jim Vaughan, Senior Fellow.

It is unlikely than any of the more than 800 chamber executives in attendance at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) convention in Oklahoma City on July 23-26 left without hearing about the good work of Market Street Services and our client communities.
Market Street is a sponsor of the annual conference and an exhibitor; company principals, team members and clients presented at four sessions, and we sponsored and hosted the CCE (Certified Chamber Executives) Breakfast.
Here is a brief summary of our sessions.
Talent War 2.0—Transition Planning
Principal and Director of Operations Kathy Young and Project Manager Christa Tinsley Spaht presented charts and data on the present and future of the American workforce and asked the question, “Does your organization and its leadership reflect the changing demographics of your community?”
Anna Buckalew (Montgomery, Ala.) and Ryan Mooney (Springfield, Mo.) – both chambers are Market Street clients – presented examples of programs and initiatives designed to embrace diversity and build leadership capacity. Best-practice programs include Montgomery’s Diversity Summit and Springfield’s Young Professional Work Crews that annually tackle a project identified in the Chamber’s strategic plan.
Economic Development Metrics
CEO and Founder Mac Holladay led a session on measuring economic and community development success and suggested that it’s about more than jobs and capital investment.

Holladay said core indicators for today’s strategies include a range of quantifiable measures in four categories—demographics, talent and workforce, economic prosperity, and quality of place.

Jay Byers (Des Moines, Iowa) and Duane O’Neill (Jackson, Miss.) shared tracking tools they use to measure results toward their goals.
The Des Moines Capital Crossroads Benchmarks and Milestones report shows results at-a-glance and a video was produced to highlight key results for the first-year celebration event. And the Jackson Chamber Partnership has quantifiable benchmarks for each of the initiatives in its One Region, One Vision, One Voice plan. Market Street supported both organizations in the development of their plans.
Economic Development and Membership Collaboration
I facilitated a session designed to identify opportunities for collaboration between the two most important programs most successful chambers have (revenue and economic development) with the Springfield (Mo.) Chamber executives from those two departments.
Brent McCoy said his staff and volunteers are now selling “the big picture” instead of immediate benefits, and Ryan Mooney said the result is that members better understand and support the Chamber’s Priority Goals—Developing Our Talent; Growing Our Economy; Enhancing Our Community; and Challenging Our Perceptions. Springfield is a Market Street client.

State Level Public Private Partnerships
Mac Holladay, the only person to head three state economic development programs, reported on changes—some good, some not so good—taking place in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Wisconsin.
Arizona replaced its Department of Commerce with the new Commerce Authority in 2011 and appropriated $31.5 million for the agency in 2012; Florida’s Enterprise Florida partnership has seen private-sector financial support decline from 50% in 1992 to just 8% in 2012; the Indiana Legislature has required the Indiana Economic Development Corporation be more transparent including reporting on actual jobs created and making incentive contracts public more quickly;
Missouri economic development partnership has been successful under several governors but funding has declined since 2007; North Carolina‘s Department of Commerce is giving way to a nonprofit corporation for economic development but it will be headed by the governor and the state’s regional partnerships will lose state funding; and Wisconsin’s Economic Development Corporation, founded in 2011, is under fire for failing to track money awarded for projects and giving incentives to ineligible recipients.
Outlook for the Profession
The future for chambers of commerce and economic development organizations looks good based on the people we talked to. Our client communities are doing well and are advocates for the work we do. We have a positive outlook on the future and are beginning some exciting new work this month and over the balance of 2013.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Market Street Arrives in Oklahoma City for ACCE 2013

By Kathy Young, Director of Operations.

This week, more than 700 community leaders will gather in Oklahoma City for the annual American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) conference. From Decatur, Alabama to Rochester, Minnesota, chamber professionals from throughout the country will invest four days of their time attending workshops, master classes, and a myriad of other learning opportunities. And yes, there will be opportunities to see old friends, network, and enjoy all that OKC has to offer. I’m particularly interested in getting tips on how one comfortably wears jeans and cowboy boots when it’s in the upper 90s, since we’re encouraged to don our best Annie Oakley/Roy Rogers attire for the closing party at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

Market Street will be there too – as ACCE’s national economic development sponsor, presenters, moderators, exhibitors, and conference participants. This year Market Street workshop topics will range from metrics to membership to leadership transition planning. We fully expect that Mac Holladay will have a full house for the metrics workshop, given the interest in a recent webinar on the same topic. This week Mac will be joined by Duane O’Neill (President of the Greater Jackson Partnership) and Jay Byers (CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership) and the workshop explores what it means to measure community success and progress – and how the most successful organizations go well beyond counting jobs to gauge return on investment. I should note that we’re feeling a bit like late night talk show hosts the day after the Oscars on this one, having booked Jay Byers – whose organization will receive the Alliance for Regional Stewardship Organizational Champion Award on the eve of this workshop!

And speaking of award-winners, last year’s reigning Chamber of the Year, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce – will join us for two workshops. First, Market Street’s Senior Fellow, Jim Vaughan, will explore how membership and economic development teams work together with the help of Ryan Mooney and Brent McCoy  (Senior VP, Economic Development and VP, Membership, respectively). Ryan will then partner with Anna Buckalew, Chief of Staff for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce for “Talent 2.0: Transition Planning.” Christa Tinsley Spaht and I will be presenting and moderating this discussion, which promises to be lively, given the previous two sessions that inspired the session (“Baby Boomer Economy” in 2011 and “Talent Wars” in 2012).

Whether you will be in attendance or entrusted to keep your Chamber going back at home – or you occupy the world of community and economic development that exists in partnership with chambers of commerce – there will be an abundance of resources available via both during the conference and in the weeks to come.

Check back for highlights!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

That Time Facebook Doubled the Income of San Mateo County

By Matt DeVeau, Project Associate.

“What the hell happened in San Mateo?!!”

That’s what a colleague in the economic development world asked me last month while sharing a link to the latest quarterly jobs report over GChat. I glanced at the report and replied with an equally incredulous remark. How else can one respond when a county’s average weekly wage more than doubles in 12 months?

Our conversation was in reference to the County Employment and Wages release for the fourth quarter of 2012 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Table B within the release showed that San Mateo County, California – aka Silicon Valley – had an average weekly wage of $3,240 in the fourth quarter of 2012, $1,677 higher than the same quarter in 2011. That’s an increase of 107.3 percent. But it couldn’t be real, right? 107.3 should be the frequency of a radio station playing the hits of the 80s, 90s, and today, not a realistic percentage wage gain for a county of more than 700,000 people. We briefly wondered if the BLS had made a rare mistake – and a big one at that. But it turns out we were the ones who were mistaken. As usual, I blame Mark Zuckerberg.

OK, well maybe not Zuckerberg himself. But as Scott Thurm of the Wall Street Journal noted, “several clues” point to Facebook, Zuckerberg’s company, as the source of the increase. Facebook is based Menlo Park, a city in San Mateo County. First, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines wages as including more than just salaries but also bonuses, stock options, and so forth. And while the BLS can’t comment on specifics, Thurm interviewed a supervisory economist at the U.S. Department of Labor who noted that quarterly wage totals can fluctuate due to the payout of bonuses or the impacts of a corporate merger or acquisition.

Companies often issue stock in a company to employees as compensation, and these “restricted stock units” come with stipulations about when they can be sold. For the restricted stock units that Facebook offered prior to 2011, this date was six months after the company’s initial public offering (IPO). The highly publicized Facebook IPO took place in May 2012, and its six-month anniversary fell in November – comfortably within the fourth quarter of that year. According to securities filings, Facebook employees (Zuckerberg not among them) “cashed out” approximately 51 million stock options in the fourth quarter, which Thrum estimates could have added $1 billion to San Mateo County’s wage total. San Mateo County’s wage gain, it seems, is real, albeit temporarily.

Alas, there might not be anything too instructive for local communities here. San Mateo County’s secret formula for success is simply “being home to the company that has the largest IPO in the history of the Internet.” Not exactly a replicable feat. But there is a lesson for the economic development profession here, and that is that anomalies in government data we use the most, such as a rogue peak in wage data, probably have a good explanation that can be discovered with a bit of additional inquiry, as Thurm has demonstrated here. This is also what we do here at Market Street – sort through complicated data to present an up-to-date, accurate picture of a local economy. So if you notice an unusual datapoint in your community and just can’t make sense of it, give us a call. Or just shoot me a GChat if we’re friends.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Women Entrepreneurs Becoming a Focus

By Alex Pearlstein, Director of Projects.

Gates, Ellison, Zuckerberg, Brin, Andreessen, McNealy, Grove… The list of famous technology entrepreneurs is a long one, but also a very male one. One is hard-pressed to think of a woman who is mentioned in the same pantheon as these tech giants. You look at the enrollments of just about any engineering or computer science program in a major research university and the likelihood is that the percentage of male students will be in the upper 80s or 90s. A great example is my grad school alma mater, Georgia Tech, with its infamous “ratio” of 70 percent male students to 30 percent female (though recent classes have been increasingly balanced, with the 2011 entering cohort consisting of 38 percent women). As forlorn Tech women looking for a date are wont to say, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.” Tech has long had a Women In Engineering program to try to increase female interest and enrollment in engineering professions, but success has been difficult to come by. Numerous other institutions are also focused on attracting women into STEM programs and industries.

A new initiative in Nashville, Tennessee takes educational programs a step further by providing opportunities and guidance for women looking to become technology entrepreneurs. The program is called Evolve, which will be run out of the city’s new Entrepreneur Center and will seek to provide female entrepreneurs with resources such as access to investors and feedback on their business ideas. According to the founder of Evolve, the issue is not that women aren’t starting businesses, it’s that they aren’t always taking advantage of the support resources that are available to them.

With high-profile women such as Meg Whitman at Hewlett-Packard and Marissa Meyer at Yahoo attempting to right the ships of major technology companies gone astray, there are increasingly visible examples of female executives making headway in a male-dominated industry. Perhaps a new generation of women who have grown up with and around ubiquitous technology will equalize the STEM ratio one of these years as they start to graduate from master’s and PhD programs into the workforce and start and scale good ideas into companies. Maybe it will take a true “Billie” Gates to serve as a role model for a new generation of female entrepreneurs. Regardless, the real and projected shortages of STEM talent in today’s and tomorrow’s economy make it almost a mandate that the “odds” get worse for female Georgia Tech students now and into the future.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Old Fourth Ward Becomes New Again

By Alexia Alvey, Operations Manager.

As most of our clients and loyal blog readers know, all of us here at Market Street are passionate about making communities better, and often write about best practices and interesting initiatives from around the country. Given that I primarily work behind the scenes to make sure the things you don’t see run smoothly as opposed to being out and about in client communities, I’d like to share what I see on a daily basis and what’s closest to my heart – the fine city of Atlanta. To narrow it down, let’s discuss some of the transformative happenings in my very own neighborhood, the Old Fourth Ward

To give some background, the Old Fourth Ward houses the MLK Historic District and was one of the most prominent neighborhoods in Atlanta in the late 1800’s. Starting in 1960 and continuing into the 80’s the neighborhood drastically declined, losing population and become a center of concentrated poverty. 

Today though, there is an unbelievable amount happening in this tiny area east of Downtown. Let’s start things off with Ponce City Market. On the brink of Midtown lies a massive structure built in 1926 that used to house the Sears and Roebuck Company. When Sears left in the 80’s the city was left with 1.1 million square feet of emptiness. After some minor use through the 90’s the building just sat until Jamestown Properties scooped it up in 2011 and is now redeveloping the property that’s similar to Chelsea Market in NYC (also another one of their projects). This has to be one of the most buzzed about developments in the City of Atlanta. It’s slated to open in 2014 and already has tenants lined up to be a part of the action. Because a paragraph won’t do it justice, read more about this redevelopment in a blog that Evan Robertson wrote back in April. 

There’s also another project going on that you may have heard of called the Atlanta Beltline, which is the transformation of old railroad tracks into recreational paths for the community to use. While there has been a ton of controversy over public funds and lots of political jargon about the project, I’m still really excited about it. Mostly because one of the first sections, the Eastside Trail, is complete and right down the street from where I live but also because the benefits of the trail have been multiplying by the minute. Spurred by this 2.5-mile stretch of concrete, a new park has been developed, numerous new businesses have arrived in the area along with even more slated openings to come, and there is a sense of community and excitement that I haven’t experienced before in my seven years in Atlanta. 

One of the less-buzzed about projects happening right down the street from me is Krog Street Market. Right next door to the Beltline and down the street from Ponce City Market lies yet another massive space that was built in the late 1800’s as a stove and iron pan manufacturing facility. A portion of the space is already in use as a restaurant and the remaining portion will be used to house more restaurants, apartments, and a farmers market. 

There’s more to the renewal effort than taking old buildings and occupying them again. This part of the effort includes working on the actual residents in the area. The Old Fourth Ward houses an infamous street named Boulevard, which has unfortunately become known for crime and poverty. 

In 2012, Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall declared 2012 the “Year of Boulevard” vowing to make some changes that include crime prevention and education reform. So far the Atlanta Police Department has moved a precinct on the street and there have been numerous education efforts including summer camp scholarships, internships and entrepreneurial mentoring, along with partnerships with Operation P.E.A.C.E. I’ve seen the catchy slogan, “Yo!Boulevard” on numerous signs and flyers surrounding the area. Even though this portion of the neighborhood’s renewal isn’t as sexy as all the other development happening in the area, I think it’s the most important. To even think about transforming a community, you have to start with the residents. Let’s hope that Mr. Hall sticks to his guns and continues the effort.