Keeping Your Chamber Current and Credible

Chairman Glenn Morris, ACE, addresses the annual conference in Portland, OR.

Four years ago, W.A.C.E. launched the work that led to the branding and communications framework we now refer to as the 3C Chambers.

Beyond the initial declaration that chambers exist to be Conveners, Catalysts and Champions, the platform also introduced 10 words that define characteristics which differentiate successful chambers from others. You’re familiar with these words, and many of your chambers embody them in your work and communities.

I’d like to highlight two characteristics in which W.A.C.E. sets the pace.

The Chamber Is Current

I presume all of you regularly ask your members what they want or need on a regular basis. I also presume that you then try to do something about it.

Your W.A.C.E. Board does the same. Early last fall, we asked what your biggest needs were, as well as what your members were asking for help with. The number one response was the need for chambers to take leadership roles in workforce development in their communities. We heard you—and responded. As a result, we will be hosting our first workforce development boot camp in Irvine in October of this year.

W.A.C.E. has had a long history of staying current for its members, evidenced by ongoing programs like the W.A.C.E. Academy, Accredited Chamber Executive, Business Retention/Expansion and Political Action. I’m confident that our association will continue to ask, listen and respond to ensure that our members have the information, ideas and support necessary to make a difference.

The Chamber Is Credible

As chambers, we regularly urge our businesses to make investments and take steps to increase the professionalism of their operations. My challenge to you as chamber professionals is to ensure we’re credible in those calls to action by walking the walk ourselves.

If we expect our members to take advantage of the training and education programs we offer, we must do the same and ensure that we’re fully utilizing the resources of W.A.C.E. to train and develop our staff and volunteers.

If we are going to ask our members to be opinion leaders and influencers in our communities, let’s ensure we’re informed and engaged ourselves—leading by example in speaking out about policies and issues of importance to the vitality of our communities.

If we want our members to send their staff to volunteer with the chamber and other community organizations, we should lead by example and facilitate our staff’s involvement as community volunteers.

If we believe our members should collaborate to find shared solutions, we should be stepping forward to join coalitions in our communities and regions to maximize results through shared efforts.

In short, my challenge to us as chamber professionals is to be role models for how we believe businesses should behave and operate. We know our communities look to us for leadership and will respond if we are truly credible leaders.

I look forward to hearing your stories of how you’re bringing all the “Cs” to life in your community—and the differences you’re making as a result.

Glenn Morris, ACE is the president and CEO of the Santa Maria Valley (CA) Chamber and chairman of the board of W.A.C.E.