Building a Vibrant Community

Recently the new head of the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE), Sheree Anne, wrote a column on award winning Chamber work. In it she describes two themes I believe we are working hard on as we move forward at the Chamber of Greater Springfield. I hope this information helps you think differently about your business or organization as you seek to move forward as well.

First, leading Chambers are strategic. We all need to view our work in three dimensions:

THINK HIGH: Look at the organization holistically and constantly ask why we do what we do.  
THINK WIDE: What external factors should we consider? Political, economic, social, demographic, or other impacts of note. What is our competition doing?
THINK FAR: What does the future look like for our community, members, and chambers? 

Second, successful Chambers are solutions oriented. Sustainable Chamber value propositions come from determining the greatest challenges in communities – now and in the future – and seeking viable solutions. What are the lynchpins of these successes?

They often involve partnerships and collaborations, sometimes with uncommon bedfellows. Pairing up with unions, nonprofits, religious groups, governmental entities, and other stakeholders delivers power in numbers, and strength in diversity of voice.

Issues often veer from traditional priorities and draw connections between unconventional areas and their societal or economic impacts. For example, linking smart justice reform to a stronger talent pipeline. Or viewing holistic community health as a gateway to workforce recruitment and retention.

Creative, calculated risks are worth pursuing. Whether it is a merger or developing a new membership model, new approaches can deliver greater value to all stakeholders.

In an era of political division, smart chambers seize the opportunity to lead by being the voice of reason. When competing voices often scream to get heard, thoughtful chambers stake a position as convener – a platform for disparate voices – and serve as a consensus builder.

Cities and regions of the future will look different. Proactively focusing on inclusion, equity, and diversity means the chamber is a welcoming and useful resource now and for years to come. Chambers strategically solving community problems are not worried about their value proposition. They ARE the value proposition.
As we work together to strategize and come up with transformative solutions to our challenges and opportunities as a county, we will win together and build a VIBRANT COMMUNITY!