KEARNEY – The Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce has received the industry’s top ranking from the national federation that represents chambers across the United States.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce awarded the Kearney Chamber with 5-Star Accreditation for its community involvement, effective organizational procedures and sound policies.
The accreditation process examined every aspect of the Kearney Chamber’s operation and programs, giving perfect scores in areas of governance, program development, technology, communications and facilities sections. Kearney also received high marks in government affairs, finances, human resources and benchmarking.
Previously a 4-Star Accredited chamber, this is the first time the Kearney Chamber has received 5-Star Accreditation, which lasts five years. The extensive self-review and application process took more than six months to complete.
“This means your chamber is doing things the right way and has best practices and strategy in place to benefit members,” said Derek Rusher, president and CEO of the Kearney Chamber. “This gave us a measuring stick to show us where we should be, where we are and where we are going and want to be. That direction is helping us be innovative and stay relevant.”
The Accreditation Program defines standards of excellence in chamber planning and performance, and helps members reach and maintain the standards, Rusher added.
“Kearney has always taken a lot of pride in its chamber, and our membership and past leadership over many years all played a role in getting us to this point,” Rusher said. “We get strong direction from our board, members and partnerships, and that has always been a key to building the chamber in Kearney.”
Of the 7,000 chambers in the United States, only five in Nebraska are accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Kearney is one of just three with a 5-star rating in Nebraska, and one of only 125 in the U.S. with the top designation.
The U.S. Chamber commended Kearney for its visibility in the community, recognizing the work of its volunteers, retaining 90 percent of its members, addressing workforce issues in the region and incorporating volunteerism into the culture of the organization.
“We’re excited about this accomplishment, as it reflects the strong leadership our chamber provides for our members,” said Josh Erickson, current board chair. “Kearney has always had a strong chamber with excellent involvement and engagement from the local business community. This reinforces our belief that we have a longstanding culture of success and think strategically about what our members need currently and in the future.
The accreditation comes on the heels of Kearney’s 850 chamber members celebrating the organization’s 100th year.
“The chamber has been a strong advocate for business development in Kearney for many years, and it takes great pride in making a difference for members and helping businesses succeed,” said Todd Gottula, 2018 board chair. “Derek and his staff are to be commended for the work they’ve done to grow the chamber, increase its visibility and earn this accreditation.”
Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce President Derek Rusher, left, and Josh Erickson, board chair, speak at Tuesday’s news conference announcing the chamber’s 5-Star Accreditation by the U.S Chamber of Commerce. (Photo courtesy Kearney Chamber)
Kearney Area Chamber of Commerce President Derek Rusher, front left, board chair Josh Erickson, front right, and Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse, far left, are joined by chamber staff at Tuesday’s news conference. Staff members are holding stars representing the chamber’s 5-Star Accreditation and areas where it received perfect ratings. (Photo courtesy Kearney Chamber)