Wooster Area Chamber a finalist for national award

Wooster Area Chamber a finalist for national award

The Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce has been named a finalist for the 2020 Chamber of the Year award, an honor presented by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.


The Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce stays actively engaged with the community
and its members, and Justin Starlin, chamber president, said that is what separates them from the pack.

The chamber stands out on a national basis, having been named a finalist for the 2020 Chamber of the Year award, an honor presented by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, based in Alexandria, Virginia.

ACCE is an association of more than 9,000 professionals from 1,500 chambers of commerce including 93 of the top-100 U.S. metro areas, according to an ACCE press release. The Chamber of the Year award recognizes the leadership role chambers have in their communities.

Those honored with the Chamber of the Year designation have demonstrated organizational strength and made an impact on key community priorities such as education, transportation, economic prosperity and quality of life.

In congratulating the finalists, ACCE President and CEO Sheree Anne Kelly said, “These chambers are among the most impactful organizations within the industry. These chambers are community champions, providing the catalytic leadership needed to help address their region’s greatest challenges.”

“It’s quite an honor to be named a finalist,” Starlin said. “We don’t look at this award as an organization recognition, but rather a testament to the strength, vitality and uniqueness of the Wooster area.”

Starlin said the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce boasts about 700 members. Typically in cities the size of Wooster (population about 27,000), chambers have close to 450 members.

“The Wooster Chamber staff is blessed with the opportunity to work in a community with unwavering member support, a proactive citizenry and an engaged government sector,” Starlin said. “These elements help create an environment of cooperation and progress.”

Chambers interested in competing for the award first must qualify by participating in a multi-stage process. Organizations entering the Chamber of the Year competition must meet minimum thresholds in at least three of five key performance areas including net revenue and assets, membership account retention, and membership dollar retention.

Qualifying for Chamber of the Year is a rigorous process. Chambers compete based on meeting key performance criteria on the ACCE Annual Operations Survey. Qualifying chambers enter the competition with a written application addressing all aspects of organizational operation and programmatic work.

Applications are scored by peer chamber executives to determine finalists. Winners are selected from among finalists based on an interview before a panel of experienced chamber professionals.

The Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce application, submitted prior to the coronavirus pandemic, showed a “super strong economy,” Starlin said, and active involvement with members and citizens.

The chamber’s 25-member board of directors represents the super small businesses to the largest businesses in Wayne County. “If something is happening in the community,” Starlin said, “we are at the table discussing how it will either positively or negatively affect businesses.”

For example the chamber was actively involved in talking to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce about reopening Ohio businesses in a timely manner following the shelter-at-home order from the governor.

Chamber of the Year winners will be announced later this year. The awards are sponsored by the software company, MemberClicks.

This year’s competition drew numerous entries from chambers throughout the United States. To ensure the fairest competition, applicants are grouped into four categories based on annual revenue, membership, area population and other factors.

“We are humbled by the selection as a national Chamber of the Year finalist,” Starlin said, “and thank our members and community for the continued support.”

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