By Garry Douglas
Issue: December 2022
A common misconception is that the thousands of organizations across the U.S. who call themselves a “Chamber of Commerce” are somehow affiliated and certainly must be chartered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with standards and requirements to be met. In reality, the term is in the public domain and every Chamber is a stand-alone creation. But to encourage standards of excellence, the U.S. Chamber long ago created a voluntary accreditation process that Chambers can choose to subject themselves to, offering an outside assessment of their performance.
The North Country Chamber was first accredited 20 years ago and has been re-accredited every five years since. Just recently, we learned we have been re-accredited at the highest 5-star level. Less than half of 1% of Chambers nationally are rated 5-stars, reflecting high effectiveness in a range of expected activities including Finances and Administration, Economic Development, Small Business, and Government Affairs, as well as the response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. North Country is now one of just three 5-star Chambers in New York State, the others being the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership and the Greater Rochester Chamber. The extensive submission of information, data, write-ups, and documentation was coordinated over the summer by Kristy Kennedy, Vice President for Marketing, Operations and Business Development.
In the 1990’s, following Base Closure, we sought to create a regional business and economic development organization that would provide the broad and deep level of services of a metro Chamber in a rural region. This latest ranking affirms that our past and present boards and team members have achieved and sustained this ambition.
“We can all be so proud that our region has a Chamber that earns this level of national recognition,” said Shannon Wilkins, chair of the Chamber Board of Directors, “and performs at such a strong level for the North Country business community. From the Chamber’s very special role in cross border commerce to all that it does for tourism, industry, small business and advocacy for our region, and certainly its leadership in so many ways through the pandemic, we know the North Country Chamber to be one of the best in the country and we thank the U.S. Chamber for recognizing its work.”
Indeed, we extend our thanks to the U.S. Chamber, to our past and present board and team members, to our regional business community and our many partner organizations for their support and collaboration.
Onward and upward!
Garry Douglas is president of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.