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  • Maximize the Effectiveness of Strategic Planning and Meetings

    by Stephanie Coleman | Jun 27, 2014
    Guest post by Janet McDonald, vice president, c3/consulting

    Today, two things take up an enormous amount of time in business – meetings and strategic planning. Wouldn’t it be great if you were able to wave a magic wand and transform both into things that drive your business forward and increase your competitive advantage?

    On the strategic planning front, we are all feeling the effects of rapid technological advancement and change. We used to conduct strategic planning with five- to 10-year horizons. Today, we are forced to think in a 12- to 18-month horizon. As a result, strategic thinking needs to be better than ever. If you’re going through strategic planning in order to check a box, don’t waste your time – instead, focus your energy on operational effectiveness. However, if you want to get the most out of your strategic planning sessions, understanding the critical questions and taking the time to debate them before setting strategy is essential. The Chamber’s professional development workshop, Strategy Boot Camp: From Vision to Execution, will equip you with tools and techniques that will help translate strategic planning into a competitive advantage.

    Did you know the average American spends four hours a day in meetings, ...
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    Category: General
  • Entrepreneurs Rate Nashville among Friendliest Cities for Small Business

    by Stephanie Coleman | Jun 24, 2014
    Nashville is one of the top 10 cities in the country for small business, according to a new study released by, in partnership with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. 

    The results were published after a two-month survey of more than 12,000 entrepreneurs nationwide. The survey asked questions about the friendliness of states and cities towards small business, such as: "In general, how would you rate your state's support of small business owners?" and the Kauffman Foundation evaluated states and cities against one another along more than a dozen metrics. Tennessee also received an "A" rating in the survey.

    Though Nashville's business climate regularly receives national rankings, this study is particularly impressive because its results were derived directly from business owners themselves. Nashville's higher-than-average percentage of entrepreneurial businesses is due, in part, to factors such as our low tax rates, ease of hiring, overall business regulations and economic strength. Click here for an interactive map showing Tennessee’s small business friendliness.



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  • 2014 NEXT Awards Applications Now Open

    by Stephanie Coleman | Jun 15, 2014
    NEXT-AwardsNashville is a hotbed for innovators, entrepreneurs and creatives. At the 2014 NEXT Awards, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and the Nashville Entrepreneur Center will recognize what's NEXT in the entrepreneurial landscape of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

    Applications are now open to all individuals and companies who exemplify the innovative spirit that drives our local economy and continues to grow our key industries.

    Companies in the startup, growth and market mover stages will be awarded across five industry categories: digital media/entertainment; health care; social enterprise/sustainability; technology; and products/services. We will also celebrate Nashville’s standout entrepreneurs and young entrepreneurs.

    Applications open Monday, June 16, and the deadline to apply is Friday, August 15. Visit to learn more about the awards and submit your application.
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  • June Workshops Focus on Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving & Negotiation Skills

    by Stephanie Coleman | May 09, 2014
    Guest post by Janet McDonald, vice president, c3/consulting

    In a recent study by IBM, 60 percent of CEOs listed creativity as the most important leadership quality for the next five years, ranking above qualities such as integrity and global thinking. The pace of change, the emergence of rapid disruption and the increasingly complex challenges that face organizations today require an ability to think critically and creatively.

    We all have a go-to thinking profile and approach problem solving very differently. Understanding your particular approach will enable you to pinpoint the tools you need to learn at to improve your ability for breakthrough thinking. The workshop Breakthrough Thinking: Avoid Thinking Biases will help you uncover your thinking profile, embrace its benefits and understand the need and benefit of collaborating with others who think in different ways to increase the odds of breakthrough solutions.

    Another critical skill that I use on a daily basis, at home and work, is mutual gains negotiation, a collaborative approach to reaching consensus. In fact, it comes in handy in almost every area of my life. I’m sure you will agree that all stakeholders do not have the same interests, perceptions and values that others do. Effectiveness requires ...
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    Category: General
    Tags: Spark Series
  • Workshop Series Brings New Professional Development Opportunities to Chamber Members

    by Stephanie Coleman | May 02, 2014
    Do you often find yourself working tirelessly to check off your to-do list by day’s end? This cycle seems to be a common phenomenon in the workplace. The problem with this approach toward accomplishing goals is that, after a period of time, it’s easy to lose track of the long-term vision of where we are going.

    That’s why it’s so important to create the space and time to think differently, plan strategically, and face our challenges with creative solutions. We can improve our outcomes by learning how to negotiate and build consensus. We can enhance our businesses and our teams by providing new ways to deal with complex problems.

    To help your business build these skills, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce is kicking off a new series of professional development workshops in partnership with c3/consulting. These full- and half-day workshops will help your organization increase productivity, improve collaboration, enhance leadership skills and learn techniques for strategic planning. Ideal for teams or individuals, the workshops will cover four key areas for business success:

    Breakthrough Thinking: Avoid Thinking Biases (half-day)
    This workshop includes an assessment tool that will raise your awareness of the biases you may have for or against various ...
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    Category: General
  • Leadership Lessons from Malcolm Gladwell

    by Stephanie Coleman | Feb 25, 2014
    On Feb. 21, nearly 900 Nashvillians had the opportunity to hear from Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author and staff writer for The New Yorker. Speaking at Belmont University’s Leadership Breakfast presented by Belmont’s Executive Learning Network and Parnassus Books, and supported by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Gladwell took the role of storyteller – primarily to explain his ideas around the theory of legitimacy – a theme in his most recent book, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants.

    The underlying lesson of Gladwell’s narrative was to explain human behavior – a skill he’s become known for in his previous books, including Blink, which explains how some choices made by gut instinct are the most successful; The Tipping Point, which describes why certain ideas, trends or social behaviors reach a "tipping point" and end up spreading like wildfire; and Outliers, which examines what differentiates the highest achievers.

    In his speech, Gladwell wove together tales of underdogs turned radicals, including that of Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, a New York socialite and multi-millionaire who became a leader in the women’s suffrage movement that won women the right to vote in 1920.

    Through his stories, Gladwell ...
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    Category: General
  • Don't Miss the Chance to Connect with Legislators about Issues That Impact Your Business

    by Stephanie Coleman | Mar 29, 2013
    As the Tennessee General Assembly works toward the end of this year’s session, several key issues that impact business will be up for final votes. We’ve included updates below and encourage our members to use Middle Tennessee Business Voice to make your voice count by connecting with your state representatives.
    • Impact-to-commerce analysis on new legislation: In many cases, legislation proposed has some potential impact on the private sector, and while bills are studied for their impact to the state, no consideration is given to their impact on commerce or jobs. SB 116/HB 220 directs the Fiscal Review Committee to include an “impact-to-commerce statement” in its fiscal note for bills and resolutions referred to certain committees. This bill unanimously passed the House State Government committee on March 12 and will be in House Finance Subcommittee on April 3. Click here to take action.
    • Workers’ compensation reform: Gov. Haslam has proposed workers’ compensation reform (SB 200/HB 194) that moves disputes out of the courts, lowers the cost for business and speeds up the resolution of these claims. This bill will be on the Senate floor on April 1 and in the House Finance Committee on April 2. Click here to ...
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    Category: Legislative Issues
  • Chamber Releases 2013 State Legislative Agenda

    by Stephanie Coleman | Feb 06, 2013
    One of the Nashville Area Chamber’s primary roles is to ensure that your business needs are a top consideration when policy decisions are made. Today, we released our 2013 state legislative agenda, which includes policy priorities in the following areas:
    • An environment where business can prosper;
    • Talent development of the region’s workforce;
    • Quality of life that attracts and retains residents and workers; and
    • Regional efforts to ensure economic prosperity.
    Among the issues included on our state legislative agenda this year are:
    • Support for the federally funded expansion of TennCare/Medicaid,
    • Moving workers’ compensation out of the courts,
    • Business impact statements for proposed legislation,
    • Comprehensive federal immigration reform,
    • Ensuring voucher students take the same state tests as public school students, and
    • Protection of property owners’ right to prohibit guns on their property.
    Click here to view a policy brief about Medicaid expansion and its impact on business.

    In K-12 education, we support:
    • Greater accessibility to ACT results,
    • The creation of a statewide charter authorizer solely in the case of successful appeals, and
    • Automatic closure of the lowest-performing charter schools, a 2012 Education Report Card recommendation.
    Click here to view the full legislative agenda.

    To help guide our 2013 agenda, we distributed a ...
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    Category: Policy
  • Chamber’s Report Card Committee Anxious for Dramatic Gains

    by Stephanie Coleman | Dec 18, 2012
    Yesterday, the Chamber’s Education Report Card Committee presented its annual evaluation of Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to a standing-room-only crowd at the Adventure Science Center. Along with school system performance, the committee analyzed charter schools due to the timeliness and urgency around addressing how charter schools will be integrated into the district’s overall strategy.

    After an in-depth examination of the 2011-2012 school year, the committee believes the district is moving in the right direction, having made incremental gains across multiple measures; however, the pace of improvement is of great concern.

    Less than half of Metro students met the state’s proficiency benchmarks in math and reading, and the percentage of students scoring a 21 or higher on the ACT – a measure of college- and career-readiness – has improved by only one point per year for the past three years, up to 29 percent in 2012.

    The committee is anxious for dramatic gains and believes it will take bold action to accelerate progress and increase accountability in Metro Schools.

    The committee presented five recommendations that they believe will help the district meet these goals:

         1. The school board should develop a dashboard to review progress on key performance measurements at ...
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    Category: Education
  • Help Us Spread the Word: When You Expect More, Students Achieve More

    by Stephanie Coleman | Dec 12, 2012
    Improving public education is the Chamber’s No. 1 priority because of the many ways school quality impacts our community’s overall prosperity. That’s why we’re part of the Expect More, Achieve More coalition, a statewide alliance of business, community and education organizations working to build local awareness around Tennessee’s new Common Core State Standards. Along with 46 other states, Tennessee is taking the important step to implement these internationally competitive standards and better prepare students for the future. The new standards include an increased focus on skills necessary for college and career, including critical thinking, problem-solving and teamwork.

    As was the case when Tennessee raised its academic standards in 2010, the move to more rigorous standards requires widespread community outreach. The coalition has developed a new video to raise awareness and support for higher academic standards, and we’re hoping it will reach 10,000 views by the end of this week. You can help us meet this goal by watching the video today and sharing it with your friends, family and colleagues.

    Raising the bar and expecting more is hard work, particularly for students and teachers. To support students and teachers, we must all come together for a common cause: When we ...
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    Category: Education