David Perry speaks to crowd of more than 100 at the Tuscaloosa Partnership Summit

TUSCALOOSA – Business Council of Alabama and Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama partners met Monday in Tuscaloosa for the second of four planned Partnership Summit events to discuss job creation, education, and economic development.

The Partnership Summit included about 100 business, chamber, civic, and elected leaders whose goals include making Alabama and their local communities vibrant places for living, business, working, and raising families.Decatur was the first location for the regional Partnership Summit meetings planned this year. The others are scheduled for Spanish Fort and Prattville.

Representatives from nine Chambers of Commerce participated in a morning Best Practices roundtable discussion and representatives from 16 Chambers of Commerce attended the Partnership Summit luncheon at the Bryant Conference Center. “This is a great venue to convene Chamber folks and convene business folks,” said Jeremy Arthur, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama.

The BCA and CCAA created the Partnership in 2003. It includes about 125 Chambers of Commerce organizations and the BCA, Alabama’s largest and most-respected statewide business association. The CCAA exists to strengthen the vital role that local Chambers of Commerce play in economic and community development.

“We are proud of that association we have with the BCA and Partnership,” said Ronnie Acker, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama and president of the Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce.

BCA Chairman Carl Jamison, a shareholder with JamisonMoneyFarmer PC in Tuscaloosa, commented about the 10-year working relationship with the CCAA and local Chambers of Commerce.

“They are the first line of recruiting and expanding business,” Jamison said. The Partnership speaks with one voice for the more than 1 million working Alabamians employed by member organizations.

BCA President and CEO William J. Canary updated Partnership members about the continuing support of initiatives that prepare children for schools that will produce the next generation of employees, business owners, and investors.

Canary introduced two-year college System Chancellor Mark Heinrich of Tuscaloosa and said Heinrich is “truly committed to the partnership between education and business.”

Canary promoted funding for pre-kindergarten education, of which the BCA has been a long-time advocate. “The best way to improve the education system is have a child ready to learn,” he said.

The keynote speaker, Governor Robert Bentley’s chief of staff, David Perry, said Bentley recognizes the importance of the partnership between business and Chambers of Commerce and pro-business legislation and policies. He said Bentley also strongly supports workforce development.

“Governor Bentley would not be able to do the things he has done without the business community,” Perry said. “Governor Bentley’s top priority since he took office is putting Alabama back to work and your members are the ones who do that.”

Following the Partnership Summit, members of two regional ProgressPAC Regional Advisory Committees met to discuss the 2014 election cycle.

-Dana Beyerle