Thursday, August 13, 2015

ACCE in Montreal

By Kathy Young, Principal, COO

This week, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) is gathered in Montreal, Quebec for the 101st annual meeting of the organization. For four days, ACCE members from around the U.S., Canada, and with guests from other countries, will discuss the most pressing trends and issues facing chambers and communities today. As the national economic development sponsor, our team is here to participate and present alongside our clients during the workshops and special sessions.

Now two days in to the conference, we’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with clients, meet chamber professionals new to their communities, and share our perspective about the value of holistic community and economic development strategies. Yesterday, our CEO, J. Mac Holladay was joined by Michael Huber (President and CEO, Indy Chamber) and John Seymour (President and CEO, Decatur-Morgan County Chamber) to discuss how important quality of place continues to be, every day, and during times of crisis. Decatur has steadily transformed over the past few years, working within a consensus One Vision. One Voice. Strategy. The Indy Chamber turned a difficult situation into a positive spotlight this past year with their #IndyWelcomesAll campaign.

Having the beautiful city of Montreal as the backdrop for a quality of place conversation provided great context for the discussion. Predominantly French-speaking and centered by a downtown that blends a thriving arts district, the narrow lanes of Old Montreal, and contemporary architecture, the friendly city wears its host status well. Nationally, Canada has the highest per-capita rate of immigration in the world, and Montreal’s culture reflects this diversity and welcoming spirit.

The many intriguing sessions provide insight into workforce issues, young professional programming, and regional branding, among many others. Our Vice President, Matt Tarleton, alongside Dr. Garrett Harper (V.P., Research, The Research Center, Nashville Area Chamber), and Christy Bertolo (Member Resource Specialist, Columbus Chamber of Commerce), will explore methods of increasing revenue and developing new partnership using research and data analysis. David Brown, President of Greater Omaha Chamber (awarded ACCE Chamber of the Year last night) was one of several speakers that shared lessons about creating a regional collaborative brand (if you haven’t seen the award-winning We Don’t Coast campaign, check it out).

Suffice it to say, there are dozens and dozens of great learning opportunities packed into these four days, and the social gatherings provide the reminder that the chamber of commerce world is a close-knit community of people who respect and value each other and the peer-to-peer opportunities that this conference and organization provide. I’m always impressed by the mentoring and encouragement that trumps the competitive environment that you would naturally expect to find at such a gathering.