Wednesday’s Partnership Summit included business, chamber, civic,
and elected leaders who endeavor to make Alabama and their local communities
great places to live, own businesses, work, and raise families.
Decatur was the location for the first of four Partnership
Summit meetings planned for this year. Other Partnership Summits are scheduled this
summer in Tuscaloosa, Spanish Fort, and Prattville.
Representatives from 18 Chambers of Commerce from across
north Alabama participated in a morning Best Practices roundtable discussion
and about 21 Chambers of Commerce were represented at the Partnership Summit
Nearly a dozen state and local elected officials attended.
Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, was the keynote speaker.
Following the Partnership Summit, members of three regional ProgressPAC
Regional Advisory Committees met to discuss the 2014 election cycle and
ProgressPAC by-law changes.
The BCA and CCAA created the Partnership in 2003. It
includes more than 120 Chamber of Commerce organizations and the BCA, Alabama’s
largest and most-respected statewide business association. The CCAA exists to
strengthen the vital role of local Chambers of Commerce in economic and
community development, the CCAA said.
CCAA Chairman Ronnie Acker said Chambers of Commerce have a
major impact on economic development. “That’s what Alabama is, we’re open for
business, we are open for development,” said Acker, who is president of the
Bessemer Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Partnership speaks in “one voice” for more than 1
million working Alabamians employed by member organizations. “The whole concept
of this partnership was born from the concept that each Chamber of Commerce is
a loud voice, ground-zero for great opportunities,” BCA President and CEO
William J. Canary said.
CCAA President and CEO Jeremy Arthur said the excellent
turnout at the first Partnership Summit was a testament to the Partnership’s
commitment to create a unified business force in Alabama, the “only state to do
“The Partnership between the Business Council of Alabama and
the Chamber of Commerce Association has unified the business community for the
greatest benefit to Alabama’s job creators,” Arthur said. “That in itself is a
tremendous testament to our leadership and an accomplishment in which we should
all be very proud.”
“Chambers have been
able to make a big impact,” said John Seymour, President and CEO of the
Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.
Fred McCallum, vice chairman of the BCA and President of
AT&T Alabama, said the BCA has made progress in legal, education, and
regulatory reforms in the last two years.
“Businesses have a say in the election process,” he said.
“When we have all chambers and business speaking in one voice we are very
Orr challenged Partnership Summit attendees to create jobs.
“In my opinion the country and the state need you more than
ever because you are the backbone of commerce,” Orr said. “Chambers of Commerce
and the companies they support do one of the most important things one can do
in America; that is they provide jobs. A job is one of the most precious things
you can give another human being.”
He said the legislature’s goal is to improve education and the
workforce and to create a favorable economic environment “that we all want and
desire to bring prosperity through increased jobs and employment.”
Canary recited the tenets of success: think big, challenge
the system, adhere to the highest ethical standards, be on the record as much
as possible, be transparent, honest, fight hard for your position and offer no
apologies, work as a team, work with legislators and Congress, and represent
the business community with dignity.
He urged support for business education reforms because “our
children deserve no less.”
“With education and economic development you create success,
you create quality of life,” Canary said. “Our point of view is you cannot
survive with a 40-percent (school) dropout rate.”