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Omaha Magazine

David Brown

Dec 15, 2015 10:17AM ● By Michael Watkins

David Brown and the Greater Omaha Chamber are batting .1000 this year in the awards department and couldn’t be more excited.

And maybe a little superstitious.

“We’re one-for-one,” says Brown, the organization’s president and CEO. “Maybe it’s time to retire,” he adds with a laugh.

In reality, however, retirement is the farthest thing from his mind after the Omaha Chamber was chosen as the 2015 Chamber of the Year by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE). Brown accepted the award—as well as the 2015 Chairman’s Award—last summer at the ACCE’s Annual Convention in Montreal.

Judging for the award considered organizational excellence, member services and connections, and programs/initiatives.

Among other elements, the chamber’s application highlighted its “We Don’t Coast” branding initiative, its Greater Omaha talent and workforce initiative, and the array of growth-focused services it offers, including its THRIVE business assistance program and

This marks the first time the Omaha Chamber has taken the steps to apply for the prestigious award—and according to Brown, who celebrated 12 years as the president and CEO this year, this recognition is a reflection of the membership and business community as well as the dedication of chamber staff.

“We’ve never applied for the award before,” Brown adds, “but we knew we had done some amazing things this year and decided to apply.” Brown was the executive director of the chamber in Greenville, S.C., before coming to Omaha. “Awards like this not only give the chamber and its membership national credibility, but they also give the city more credibility. It’s another positive step toward continuing to brand the city and change national perceptions.”

The ACCE Chamber of the Year honor is the nation’s only award recognizing the dual role chambers have in leading businesses and communities. Those honored with this designation have demonstrated organizational strength and made an impact on such vital community priorities as education, transportation, business development, and quality of life.

This year’s competition drew 33 entries from chambers throughout the U.S. To ensure the fairest competition, applicants are grouped into five categories based on annual revenue, membership, area population, and several other factors.

In accepting the award, Brown was quick to acknowledge the collaborative role that the business members play in allowing the chamber to focus on the big picture of growth, business engagement for the membership, and community.

“This award recognizes chambers that can move forward and do impressive things in the community because they don’t have to spend time putting out fires or struggling to assist members,” Brown says. “Because of this, we were able to focus on the ‘We Don’t Coast’ branding initiative, business retention and development, and successful overall execution.”

Brown’s individual Chairman’s Award is given annually to an individual or group that has made a significant contribution to the betterment of the chamber profession.

In his presentation, ACCE’s immediate past chairman Tom Baldrige detailed Brown’s commitment to the association, highlighting his role as chairman of ACCE’s Horizon Initiative Task Force. That group created the architecture of the Chambers 2025 Report, which outlines eight influences that will impact all chambers in the next decade.

“Without David’s help, wisdom, and encouragement in interpreting information and exchanging ideas, the report and the launch of the multi-year 2025 project would never have happened,” Baldrige said at the awards event.

In Brown’s view, he couldn’t have focused his time and energy toward the Horizon Initiative without the ongoing support and stability of the Omaha Chamber membership and dedicated staff alongside him.

“My name may be associated with these awards, but these are honors and recognition that everyone involved with the Omaha Chamber should be proud of because we accomplished them together,” he says. “These are both team awards shared by everyone.”

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