Let’s Take Being the Voice of Business to the Next Level in the Upcoming Year

Dave Kilby

While we still regularly hear of chambers that “don’t do” advocacy or government affairs, it’s thankfully becoming the norm for chambers (at least the best ones) to accelerate their efforts in these areas and represent the interests of business with government.

To reveal some areas that might need improvement and can help take your program to the next level, please read each statement below and indicate whether you agree/disagree: strongly agree = 4; somewhat agree = 3; somewhat disagree = 2; strongly disagree = 1:

1. We know the number of jobs our members represent and use this in our lobbying efforts.

2. Our chamber’s policy priorities are clearly established and updated annually.

3. We are active in several policy issue coalitions.

4. Volunteers involved in our government affairs committee have great issue expertise.

5. Local elected officials look to the chamber to play a leadership role on key issues in our community.

6. Our chamber has its “enemies” and detractors, but that’s all part of being in the government affairs game—we’re OK with this and realize that we can’t be everyone’s friend.

7. Our chamber has established a clear vision of what we want our community to look like in the future.

8. We regularly “horizon scan” and are acutely aware of future community issues.

9. We do a good job “closing the loop” and telling our members how our elected officials voted on our priority issues.

10. We can get the word out quickly to our entire chamber membership and mobilize them to take action and contact elected officials.

11. Political candidates meet with chamber leaders before announcing their candidacy.

12. We know who the potential business-friendly candidates will be in future city and legislative elections (four years from now).

13. We know where our members live (and vote)—not just the locations of their businesses.

14. We have a detailed matrix of key volunteer leaders and elected officials they know and have close personal relationships with.

15. The chamber is regularly quoted in the press on issues impacting business in our area.

Shooting for a Perfect Score

It seems to me that if chambers of commerce are going to truly represent the interests of business with government and play an influential role on issues impacting their local economies and communities, they will want to strongly agree with the above statements and have a perfect score of 60 points (a four on all 15 statements).

Additionally, I would strongly suggest that the more of the above statements which you can strongly agree with, the better chance your chamber will be a “force to be reckoned with” and a 3C Chamber—a Catalyst for business growth, a Convener of leaders and influencers to get things done and a Champion for a thriving community.

Here’s to taking things up a notch in 2020!

Dave Kilby is president and CEO of W.A.C.E. and executive vice president of corporate affairs at the California Chamber.