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Knoxville Chamber is the 2011 Chamber of the Year
By: 
Garrett Wagley
Date: 
Thursday, August 11, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA (August 4, 2011) - At an evening award ceremony held at the American Chamber of Commerce Executives annual convention in Los Angeles, the Knoxville Chamber learned it has been awarded for the most prestigious national award presented to chambers of commerce - Chamber of the Year. The award recognizes the top chambers in the nation for organizational excellence including finances, member services, communications, engagement of volunteers, and by making an impact on key community priorities.

"It is a great honor to win this prestigious award," said Mike Edwards, the Knoxville Chamber's president & CEO. "The Knoxville Chamber would not have received this recognition without the leadership and support of our board, staff, members, and community partners. It is a reflection of the tremendous assets of the Knoxville area and the passion of its business leaders."

The Knoxville Chamber established a new vision for the organization and the community in 2009. To accomplish the goal of making Knoxville, TN America's Best Business Address®, the Chamber's board of directors developed a two-part approach and a new strategic plan. As a result, the Chamber has become a vocal advocate on issues important to the business community and the economic success of the region, and is much more aggressive in the delivery of services to member businesses.

"This award validates the hard work the board of directors and the staff have done," said Edwards. "The new, measurable strategic plan sets the organization on a path to excellence. The staff has designed new products and services including Chamber Member MD and Chamber Member Rx, iKnowKnoxville.com, and has a renewed focus on public policy that are unique among all chambers of commerce."

The Knoxville Chamber submitted an extensive application that detailed its operations, products, and services and provided judges with examples of electronic and printed communications, promotional brochures, the strategic plan, and other information. Applications were reviewed and graded by judges that included representatives of past chambers of the year. The Knoxville Chamber's application received 191.5 points of a possible 200. The final part of the award selection process was an interview conducted in Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon. A panel of chamber executives asked Mike Edwards and Rhonda Rice, executive vice president of the Knoxville Chamber, questions about the organization's operations and vision. The Lincoln (NE) Chamber of Commerce was the other finalist for the award.

"The fact that the Chamber of the Year award is judged and selected by chamber professionals from across the country adds to its prestige," said Edwards. "Industry peers have an understanding of the work the Knoxville Chamber does, and an appreciation for the innovative products and services that we have developed over the past few years."

Chamber Member MD and Chamber Member Rx are an analysis tool and business prescription the Knoxville Chamber developed to help companies examine their operations and identify areas that can be strengthened. Much like a personal health risk assessment, Chamber Member MD poses a series of questions to allow businesspeople to identify a company's areas of concern. The accompanying recommendations, Chamber Member Rx, serve as a roadmap that a businessperson can use to make a company stronger. The Knoxville Chamber is the only chamber of commerce to develop tools like Chamber Member MD and Chamber Member Rx.

Innovation Valley, Inc., the region's economic development program, is another example of the Knoxville Chamber's innovative approach. While many chambers of commerce have a regional economic development focus, the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley effort is one of the few that brings together economic development agencies from across the area to work collaboratively.

ACCE annually presents the award to chambers in four categories based on annual revenues. The Knoxville Chamber is the winner in the largest category. ACCE is a national association serving individuals involved in the management of chambers of all sizes, and its mission is to support and develop chamber professionals to lead their communities.

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