CANYS Summer Conference

Register Now!

2014 CANYS

Summer Conference

Creating Community and

Developing 21st Century Cities

June 8-10, 2014

Brooklyn, NY

Click here for more information, and to access the registration form!


CANYS Summer Conference

June 8-10, 2014

Brooklyn, NY

More information coming soon!

CANYS Winter Conference

2014 CANYS

Winter Conference

The Chamber of the Future:

Reinventing for Success

January 28-29, 2014

Hilton Albany

Albany, NY

Click here for more information, and to access the registration form!

Use Chamber Conferences to Build your Network


by Craig W. Turner – Vice President, Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Some people love conferences; some people hate them.

In truth, like the chamber of commerce, it can be said that you get out of conferences what you put into them. There is a systematic feel to conferences at times – keynote, break-outs, vendor tables, dinner reception – and there’s a value to knowing what to expect. But it’s usually the unexpected parts of the conference that come from your interactions that offer the greatest benefit.

In the past two months I’ve had the opportunity to attend both the Chamber Alliance of NYS (CANYS) annual Summer Conference in Syracuse and the American Chamber of Commerce Executives Annual Conference (ACCE) in Oklahoma City. Each of them was incredibly rewarding as they generally are – for growing your chamber and building your own career in the chamber business, there is no better resource for learning how to do so than the peer-to-peer interaction that chamber association conferences provide.

At both conferences, the future of chamber health insurance was understandably a foremost topic. Chambers across the board – in New York and across the country – are entering a very cloudy situation, and each, it seemed, is at a different point in their transitional process. Some revamping their programs, some foraging new partnerships, and some are unfortunately taking steps to get out of the insurance business. There is a big need right now for the sharing of best practices and new ideas to provide a solution to the chamber revenue holes that can/will be caused by changes to insurance. Hearing a wide array of questions at these two conferences, I encourage you to engage your peers in this discussion. This is very much a “we’re all in this together” scenario.

As part of CANYS – and especially through the conferences I’ve attended – I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with some really great people. But what’s most important is that the interactions from the conferences don’t end at the hotel and convention center. Throughout the year, it’s critical to continue the discussions and maintain the relationships. I’m pleased to have worked with Laura Lane from the Livingston County Chamber throughout the year (actually, I owe her a call!), I’ve already had a post-conference meeting with Nancy Conley from Orchard Park, and Mark Eagan (Albany) and Chuck Steiner (Schenectady) are consistently gracious in responding to my calls and e-mails for advice.

In Oklahoma City, I had one of those “unexpected” interactions, as I had the privilege of spending some time with a extraordinary gentleman who was attending the conference representing the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation. Just an incredible experience. If you think your government affairs team has challenges – spend an hour with the guy from the chamber in Moscow! I learned as much from him as he did from us.

Stay connected, and engage your peers. While introductions aren’t always practical with a cold call, the chamber conferences are a great place to start.

Always an amazing experience

by Denise Romeo, IOM – Vice President Member Services, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

As Chamber professionals we are always encouraging our members to become engaged, build relationships and establish those resources that will positively impact them and their business. In my opinion, it is imperative that we also take our own advice.

For us, CANYS is that resource that can help shape us, our Chamber, and therefore benefit our members at the end of the day. I was fortunate to not only attend the CANYS summer conference in Syracuse, but was also able to sit on the planning committee for the event.

I always tell myself that if I can take away one or two ideas, make one or two significant connections, then it was a success for me. Ultimately, those ideas/connections will assist me, assist our members. The recent summer conference did just that for me. What better way to grow professionally than to learn amongst friends and colleagues who do what I do every day.

As a group, we were fortunate enough to be hosted by CenterState CEO. They had the opportunity to showcase the revitalization of Syracuse for which they played a significant role in, and rightfully so, very proud of.

Whether it membership and retention ideas or health insurance updates to meeting a true Chamber guru like Jim Durland, the state conferences matter and do provide valuable information. The only thing that can make these events even better would be to have more participation and I encourage you if you are not currently a member of the NYS Chamber Alliance, you should join today. If you, or members of your staff, haven’t attended a conference in the past, you should. Knowledge is power and power is king.

I Second that Emotion

by Jim Durland, President of ChamberMax and publisher of Membership Monday

Business owners are exposed to more sales and marketing messages today than ever before in history. It has been suggested that they see and hear upwards of 5,000 messages every single day. What does this mean for chambers of commerce? This message overload means that chamber professionals must set themselves apart from the crowd in order to inspire a prospect to join the chamber.

One way to accomplish this is to take advantage of the basic emotional triggers that evoke genuine, heartfelt feelings in the prospect. The following emotional triggers are applicable to chamber development.

FEAR: Fear is the strongest human emotion. In chamber development, it is the fear of loss or of losing something, which is a stronger feeling than that of a potential gain. Understanding this basic human condition can have a big impact on membership sales.

The majority of membership representatives present the benefits of membership by painting a picture of what the prospect would gain by becoming a chamber member. However, the top professionals know how to articulate what the prospect will lose by not being a member.

GUILT: Over the years, I have learned that prospects feel guilty when they do not join and members feel guilty when they do not renew. They know that the chamber is doing great things on their behalf. This feeling of guilt is part of the reason why the prospect or past due member won’t return your phone calls or reply to your letters or emails.

Prospects and non-renewing members will often ease their guilt by rationalizing that the chamber has many other members who support the cause, so their support won’t be missed. To keep them from rationalizing away their guilt, make sure to continually communicate why the chamber needs them specifically (you do!), and how they are anything but just another number (they aren’t!).

TRUST: You would be hard-pressed to find a more respected, credible and prestigious business organization than the chamber of commerce. Emphasizing this will go a long way toward establishing trust with a new member prospect. How long the chamber has been in operation, the number of members and the length of time you have been employed by the chamber will also help to build up trust.

Additionally, you should reassure your members on just how frugal and conscientious your chamber is in spending their membership investments. While the question is seldom asked, I assure you that all of your members, as well as prospects, want to know how their money is being used.

BELONGING: Few people can honestly say they prefer to be isolated, to be an island separated from the mainland. In fact, human nature dictates that people want to belong to a group of like-minded individuals – in the chamber world, they want to belong to a group of like-minded professionals. Appeal to this basic desire to belong. As the saying goes, “Birds of a feather flock together.”

COMPETITION: At times seeming at odds with the need to belong, competition will nevertheless always be a strong motivating factor for many people – and businesses. The old adage of keeping up with the Joneses persists for a reason. Many people are affected by a competitive desire to feel equal to or better than their peers. Being able to compete is not only a sign of belonging, but it also provides an opportunity to move ahead or “win.”

Relevance for Chambers: Not New, But Reality

by Charles P. Steiner, CCE,  President and CEO, The Chamber of Schenectady County

A habit – and not a bad one – that I have embraced over my career in organizational management has been to always look for the “best practice” and or to embrace a good solid thought process to address the abundant variety of issues that confront me on  a daily basis in operating a chamber of commerce.

Of course now with the Internet, so much information is available at the click of a mouse, which I do access and utilize at times. However, sometimes the good old-fashioned method of reading a book still works to provide helpful, thought-provoking information – and sometimes I’ll even read it more than once!

Such is the case with the book Race For Relevance – 5 Radical Changes for Associations, written by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE. Both authors have extensive experience in association management and share that expertise in a very practical, yet inspiring book.

I highly recommend Race For Relevance, whether you are brand-new or a seasoned veteran of organizational management, or even a volunteer or staff member of a chamber or association. Change is inevitable, and managing change and the pressure to be relevant go hand in hand.

A look at the Table of Contents best outlines what the book offers and, quite frankly, why I’m reading it for the third time:

  • Chapter 1 – The Imperative for Change
  • Chapter 2 – Overhaul the Governance Model
  • Chapter 3 – Overhaul Committees
  • Chapter 4 – Empower the CEO and Enhance Staff
  • Chapter 5 – Rationalize the Member Market
  • Chapter 6 – Rationalize Programs, Services and Activities
  • Chapter 7 – Bridge the Technology Gap and Build a Framework for the Future
  • Chapter 8 – Strategies for Success

To purchase Race For Relevance – 5 Radical Changes for Associations, contact: ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership, in Washington, DC, or email

Why read, you ask? Is your retention of members 100 percent? Are you providing ROI to your members? Is the ever-increasing competition impacting your ability to provide what has been your standard deliverable?

Those questions and many more face all of us in our efforts to be relevant in today’s marketplace and be successful in the future.

Register Today for the 2013 CANYS Summer Conference

“Revitalize Your Chamber & Your Community”
June 24-25, 2013
Genesee Grand Hotel, Syracuse, NY 
Early Bird Conference Registration (Register by June 7)
$169 CANYS Members/$189 Non-Members
Late Registration: $199
$125 for each additional staff personREGISTER TODAY!

syracuse_skylineRegister for the 2013 CANYS Summer Conference “Revitalizing your Chamber & your Community.” This year’s conference will include a tour of downtown Syracuse, ample opportunities to network with other Chamber executives and professional development conference sessions that will prepare your chamber for the future and assist in its success! Conference sessions topics to include:


  • Affinity Programs: What is your chamber doing to make them work? Share ideas and learn from other chamber executives
  • New York State Health Exchange Update: What is the latest on Heath Exchange and how will it impact your chamber and your members?
  • Buy Local Programs: Panel discussion on Solutions for a Stronger Local Economy
  • Taking your Chamber Mobile – Join us to learn more about how Chambers in NYS are using mobile apps and mobile websites to grow and further connect with their members and the community
  • Health Care Reform from a Chamber Perspective: Round-Table discussion with Todd Tranum, Chair of CANYS Health Insurance Taskforce and Paul Muoio, President of Benefit Specialists of NY
Click HERE for Full Conference and Registration Information

Why attend CANYS conferences?

I attended my first Winter Conference as a new Chamber Executive three years ago. I found the information to be a tremendous way to jump start my position in our local Chamber. I still refer back to the sessions I attended and found the advice shared by our veteran executives very valuable. Three years later each conference I attend always has ideas that improve what we’re doing and how we do it. It’s a must attend for me and it’s fully supported by our Board of Directors.
Bob Haight, Executive Director
Cortland County Chamber of Commerce

Over the years I’ve learned so much at CANYS Conferences that have made my job easier and my work more effective. The two annual conferences should not be missed if you want to do the best possible job for your members.
Jean McPheeters, President
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce

As someone who has attended every CANYS January conference for over a decade, I can attest that it has without question been one of the most valuable uses of our time and resources.  My staff and I have always walked away with at least one invaluable nugget, connection or insight that has benefitted both our Chamber and our members!
Peter Aust, President & CEO
Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce

Saratoga 150

by Denise Romeo, IOM – Vice President Member Services, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce

saratogaracewayIt is impossible to measure the contributions the Saratoga Race Course has made to both the City of Saratoga, as well as Saratoga County, over the many years. The annual event that attracts thousands of race fans each year has reached a huge milestone.

This year, 2013, marks the 150th anniversary of the vision of Mr. John Hunter and Mr. William R. Travers who were looking for a worthy location to race their majestic thoroughbreds. In the summer of 1863, the Saratoga Race Course was born and remains the oldest sporting venue in the country.  It is the only race track in the country at which the horses walk right through the crowd, on a white-fenced path, to get to the paddock for their races. To get to stand so close to actual greatness-to see the sun glimmering off the horses’ beautifully-maintained coats and to experience their eyes, their musculature that close, is an absolute thrill. Only the most accomplished thoroughbreds have raced in Saratoga and to come across Union Avenue in the morning on a beautiful summer day and see these creatures heading out for their early morning workout is a beautiful sight.  The majesty and elegance is something I wish everyone could experience.

Celebrating 150 years of racing in Saratoga this summer will bring in thousands of tourists/visitors which will ignite commerce all over Saratoga County. How exciting this will be for our Chamber members who will reap the benefit of this historic occasion. As Chamber professionals, it is exciting for us as we will be doing our due diligence to not only support the business community and celebrate this greatness but we will also embrace the opportunity to showcase beautiful Saratoga County. In conjunction with a committee established well over a year ago, made up of community leaders, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce plans to be visible and vocal as we welcome the world to experience what we all know to be true; “Saratoga County” is the place to be.

Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers… Preventing the Spread of Invasive Species

by Michael Consuelo, CHME, Executive Director, Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce

zebra_musselsWhen you have brand name as well recognized as Lake George, and you have a Lake designated as one of the top vacation destinations in the state, you become somewhat concerned when you hear words like, Water Chestnut, Zebra/Quagga Mussel (pictured), Eurasian Watermilfoil, Spiny Waterflea, Hydrilla, Live Bait and recently the Asian Clam.  No, they are not new items listed on any restaurant menus….they are much worse and they are invading our waters!

Once introduced into our lakes and other bodies of water, these invasive species are extremely expensive to eradicate and manage.  These types of species are not only a threat to Lake George; they are also invading lakes in our state and throughout the country… think Lake Tahoe, for example.  They also threaten many valuable industries within the state.  It is said that as a nation we spend $167 billion each year to address only the economic impact of invasive species.  Potential economic impact such as: decline in lakeshore property values, annual loss of visitor events, tourism related expenditures such as lodging, meals, shopping, entertainment, and possible contraction of retail space.

Here in Lake George we have spent millions and last year alone, we have spent over $600,000 on just the Asian Clam.  Much more will be spent and the job will still not be complete.  According to an article in the Lake George Mirror, Lake George spent approximately $3.6 million to control Eurasian milfoil from 1985 – 2010.

Currently, there are recommendations for mandatory boat inspections to protect Lake George from invasive species.  This is program similar to one in place on Lake Tahoe in Nevada.  In the meantime, EDUCATION is the primary source for stopping any further invasion.

We need to do all we can to PREVENT more expensive infestations on a statewide basis.  We need to educate our state legislators, as well as the thousands of boaters, lake residents and, in general, the PUBLIC who visit our waters every year.  Here in Lake George, we have adopted the CLEAN, DRAIN and DRY approach offering the following guidelines:  Clean and remove all visible plants, animals, fish and mud from your boat, trailer, or other equipment and dispose of it in a suitable trash container or on dry land.  Drain water from bilge, live wells, ballast tanks and any other locations with water before leaving the launch.  Dry your boat, trailer and all equipment completely.  Drying times vary depending on the weather and the type of material.  At least five days of drying time is generally recommended during the summer.

Our state is blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery within the country and our lakes and waterways are so vital to this beauty.  We need our lakes, as much as we need our mountains, vibrant cities, rural countrysides and the millions of visitors who come to experience what this wonderful state has to offer.  Let’s not discourage them by allowing these invasive species to enter our waters.