In November 2005, the Alliance for Regional Stewardship published a monograph called Regional Indicators: Telling Stories, Measuring Trends, Inspiring Action (available online to ARS members only.)
At that time, we had great hope for ARS to serve as a catalyst for regional indicators efforts around the country. In our region in Northeast Florida, they helped inspire the creation of a Regional Leadership Academy, using their developing John W. Gardner Regional Leadership Academy to bring people together. Part of the Northeast Florida Regional Leadership Academy work led to regional leaders calling for a regional vision and indicators to measure progress toward reaching that vision.
With that context, I just received a press release from ARS. I'm more than a little concerned about the loss of a network focused on regional action, and am not convinced that the ACCE affiliation allows the same breadth of regional interest we had seen before. I'm interested in your feedback, especially if you've worked with ARS before.
American Chamber of Commerce Executives and Alliance for Regional Stewardship Announce Affiliation Agreement
ACCE is a national non-profit association, founded in 1914, that serves individuals in Chamber of Commerce management. ARS is a national non-profit network of public and private practitioners, launched in 2000, whose mission is to build strong, globally-competitive regions for the U.S.
Under the Agreement to be signed this summer, ARS will become a signature part of ACCE's expanded focus on regional activities, research and partnerships. ACCE will assume responsibility for the management, funding, and operations of ARS. Current and new ARS programming will be offered to ACCE members, and to interested leaders in the public, private, and non-profit sectors who want to promote development in their regions.
"With this affiliation," said Mick Fleming, President of ACCE, "ACCE will expand available resources for communities and chambers related to regionalism. We will establish a separate wing of our website for ARS with regionalism-related content, links, research and resources. We will expand ARS consulting services and energize the ARS Regional Stewardship Awards program. And we will ensure strong regionalism content in our national meetings."
Fleming added: "This affiliation agreement is a win/win for regional activists and for the 1,500 Chambers of Commerce across the country. Business leaders increasingly are engaging across political and geographic boundaries to help solve the challenges confronting their communities. ARS brings experience in more than 50 regions as advisors and mentors, helping build the multi-sector coalitions that are the key to regional success.
All current ARS members will be offered membership in ACCE at no additional cost through 2007, with benefits including attendance at two national conferences, participation in web-based training and learning, and access to ACCE's extensive information network.
This new Affiliation means that the ARS National Forum, scheduled in November, 2007 in Long Beach, CA, will not be held. Instead, current ARS members and others interested in ARS Forum topics will be invited to ACCE conferences this year, where regional topics will be featured. In future years, the ARS annual conference will become a feature of ACCE annual meetings, held annually in August.
Joan Riehm, Chair of the ARS Board of Directors, noted that the ARS Board adopted an ambitious strategic plan last year to expand its services, but found it needed a strong organizational framework to make the plan a reality. "We are delighted that ACCE sees the value that ARS has built in helping deliver real, measurable results in the regions where we have worked. We're looking forward to expanding our consulting, research, and information services to reach a much broader audience than we could do on our own."
David Thornburgh, current President and CEO of ARS, will be stepping down from that position once the Affiliation Agreement is complete. "David has a great commitment to the ARS vision," said Riehm, expressing the gratitude of the ARS Board for his service. "His insights and disciplined thinking about how to realize the ARS vision have been enormously important to the Board and to the decision to pursue this strategic option."
Riehm, a consultant in Public Issues Management based in Louisville, KY, will serve as interim executive director of ARS through 2007, until ACCE hires a staff director for its expanded regional activities.
About the Alliance for Regional Stewardship
For more information on the Alliance for Regional Stewardship, visit http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=qvvpabcab.0.eubuszbab.bkbmfxbab.679&ts=S0254&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.regionalstewardship.org%2F
About the American Chamber of Commerce ExecutivesFor more information on the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, visit http://rs6.net/tn.jsp?t=qvvpabcab.0.su5d74bab.bkbmfxbab.679&ts=S0254&p=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.acce.org%2F