Salt Lake City, Utah — The Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) has recognized the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce as 2023 Chamber of the Year. The award was announced during the ACCE’s annual convention held on August 1, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and positions the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce as the first chamber of commerce in Massachusetts and New England to receive the prestigious award.
“The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce is honored and humbled to be named the 2023 Chamber of the Year,” said Roy Nascimento, president & CEO of the chamber. “We are very proud to bring this award home to our region and to the Commonwealth. This recognition exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and collective action that lives within North Central Massachusetts and the dedication of our hard-working staff, our engaged board of directors, our community partners and the many diverse businesses that make up our membership.”
Chamber of the Year is the most prestigious and competitive award in the chamber industry and recognizes chambers that demonstrate excellence in operations, member services and community leadership. Based in Alexandria, Va., ACCE has more than 1,600 chambers of commerce and related business and economic development organizations as members, representing more than 9,000 professionals in the industry.
“Chambers of commerce play an increasingly vital role in promoting regional prosperity,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Earning this pinnacle achievement reflects their commitment and drive to ensure the vibrancy of their communities and organizational success. Congratulations on the North Central Massachusetts Chamber’s outstanding leadership, dedication to its community and serving as a role model for the chamber profession.”
“This award is a testament to not only the quality of the Chamber’s programs and initiatives, but its impact on our region as well,” said James Vander Hooven, president, Mount Wachusett Community College and chair of the Chamber’s board of directors. “I’ve witnessed the impact the Chamber provides firsthand from my time on the board and as a leader of a member organization. From helping support entrepreneurs with loans and technical assistance to marketing the region as a destination for visitors and groups to championing important public investments, the Chamber’s efforts benefit everyone who calls North Central Massachusetts home.”
ACCE previously named the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce as a finalist for Chamber of the Year recognition in 2017 and 2021. For the 2023 award, the Chamber presented a number of innovative programs for consideration, including its efforts to engage and support Latinx small businesses, partnerships built to support talent and workforce development in the region, as well as the Chamber’s efforts to update and transform the Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center from a highway rest stop into a unique and inclusive anchor destination showcasing the region and helping advance the economy. The recognition also comes just a few months after the North Central Massachusetts Chamber was awarded five-star accreditation by the Accrediting Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for its operations and initiatives.
The Chamber of the Year award’s multi-stage selection process starts with an initial operations benchmark, where chambers must meet minimum thresholds in key performance areas. Qualifying chambers are then invited to submit a written application addressing all aspects of organizational operations and programmatic work. Finalists are invited to interview before a panel of experienced chamber professionals.
“Our city and region are truly grateful for the economic partnership that brings business and tourist dollars to our area,” said Mayor Stephen DiNatale of Fitchburg. “The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce is deserving of this prestigious honor and the City of Fitchburg offers a resounding congratulations for this accomplishment.”
“The North Central Massachusetts Chamber has been a great resource to us in the Chair City,” said Mayor Michael Nicholson of Gardner. “From partnering with us on the new Business Development Fund, marketing initiatives for the region, and more, the Chamber does tremendous work and I’m looking forward to that work continuing in the future. Congratulations from all of us in Gardner!”
“The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce is a strong partner that regularly collaborates with the city in multiple ways to advance our economy,” said Mayor Dean Mazzarella of Leominster. “I am so glad others have finally recognized what we already knew—that we have the best chamber of commerce in the country!”
The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce develops and delivers a wide variety of programs and services designed to bolster the local economy and support businesses of all shapes and sizes, from large corporations to small startups. The Chamber views itself as a connector, facilitator, advocate, thought leader and partner to businesses, organizations and communities in the region. In addition to providing services and programs for its member organizations, the Chamber also leads regional economic development and tourism efforts through its affiliate organizations the North Central Massachusetts Development Corporation and Visit North Central Massachusetts along with its education and workforce efforts through the North Central Massachusetts Chamber Foundation.
“At the North Central Massachusetts Chamber, we strongly believe in continuous improvement, and the Chamber of the Year nomination process is a great opportunity for introspection and evaluation of our operations and the work we are doing. While we are thrilled to be recognized and celebrated nationally by our peers, the real value results in making us a better chamber and propels us to move forward,” said Nascimento. “This award also reflects the Chamber and business community’s commitment to improving the quality of life in North Central Massachusetts. Our work is a collaborative effort not possible by any single entity, and we are very thankful for our many partnerships with businesses, government, non-profits, educational institutions and many more.”
The origins of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce can be traced back to the early 1900s with the formation of chambers of commerce in Leominster and Fitchburg. In 1984, the boards of directors of both organizations, along with several smaller business groups, voted to regionalize and merged to form the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has since evolved into the region’s leading economic development and business advocacy organization. Today, the Chamber serves nearly 700 leading businesses and organizations that employ over 25,000 people in the twenty-seven communities that comprise North Central Massachusetts.