Chamber Earns Lofty Four-Star Rating
The Moore County Chamber of Commerce earned a four-star rating for the first time after being reaccredited this month by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
It received perfect scores in four of nine applications sections.
"I can't say enough about how impressive it is that the Moore County Chamber improved to four stars," says Allison Steely, associate manager of political affairs and federation relations for the U.S. Chamber. "There are nearly 7,000 chambers in the U.S. and only 95 have four stars."
Steely says only six chambers moved up their ranking this year.
"It's really a testament to the leadership, organization and the programs that the Moore County Chamber offers to the community there," she says. "It shows that the Chamber is surpassing the needs of its members by continually improving."
The Moore County Chamber achieved perfect scores in governance, human resources, communications and facilities, leaving room for improvement in finance, government affairs, program development, technology and benchmarking.
Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Chamber, says the organization had already addressed some of the recommendations from the U.S. Chamber before receiving its accreditation, which happens every five years.
"So we're already ahead of the game for our next accreditation," Coughlin says. "It was something we were already doing to run our business more effectively. There's one non-negotiable: We have to be a better business today than we were yesterday."
Coughlin adds that the accreditation process evaluates the "behind-the-scenes" aspects of running a chamber in the same manner as it does the program side.
"Our members may only see the public side, but they are equally affected by what they don't see," he says.
There are only two chambers in North Carolina that have five-star status - Granville-Pitt County and Union County. In addition to Moore County, the chambers in High Point, Lake Norman and Rowan County have a four-star ranking.
"Only 254 nationwide are accredited on any level," Steely notes.
There are 165 possible points, but the U.S. Chamber does not reveal scores. However, it takes 132 points to achieve four-star status and 148 to earn five stars.
Coughlin says the Moore County Chamber began the application process last January when it formed a committee that was chaired by Stephen Later, a partner at the Robbins May & Rich law firm in Pinehurst. The group completed its work last August.
"There's not only an application, you have to supply documentation to send in with it," Coughlin says. "For example, our personnel policies and operating procedures manual is 70 pages without the forms."
Asked how large the package was, Coughlin held his thumb and forefinger about four inches apart.
"It's a tremendous amount of work," he says.
Later, a former chairman of the Chamber's board of directors, says he didn't hesitate to volunteer.
"It was a great opportunity to work with an outstanding Chamber staff in a process that is important to this Chamber and this community," he says. "The Chamber plays an important role in the business life of Moore County and the four-star accreditation is a recognition of the strengths of our Chamber."
Later credited the Chamber staff, especially Coughlin and Vice President Linda Parsons, for doing most of the "heavy lifting."
"The challenges were in recognizing, tracking and organizing all of the programs and services that the Chamber has been involved in for the past several years," Later says. "It is the efforts of the staff and the board that resulted in this four-star achievement. The accreditation process just involved its documentation."
Coughlin says accreditation forces the Chamber to work on its business daily.
"You have to spend a lot of time looking at the processes and policies that you have and continually improving them," he says. "In the past couple of years, we have measured our programs and operations against the best practices in the industry."
Now that the bar has been raised, Coughlin says the goal in 2015 will be to "maintain four stars while shooting for five."
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