How will Main Streets across the entire country rise to America’s small & local business challenge as each neighborhood, town, city, and region tries to mobilize their post-COVID recovery and reinvention?
About the Mary S. Peake Fellowship[edit | edit source]
The Peake Fellowship provides a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world. It was co-founded by Dean Emeritus John McArthur of the Harvard Business School and other Platform Development Team Founding Partners who were chosen for their pioneering contributions across industry, education, and public service. Through a competitive application process, outstanding recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses are selected from throughout the United States. Each Peake Fellow trains small & local business leaders as part of an intensive 12-month Service Learning experience in partnership with local chambers of commerce.
The Peake Fellowship partners with Higher Ed Centers at Historically Black Colleges & Universities, Hispanic Service Institutions, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Regional Colleges & Universities, National Liberal Arts Colleges and Research Universities, Community Colleges, and Vocational-Technical Schools. In conjunction with these higher ed institutions, the Peake Fellowship and its Applied Learning Partners will help the 50 U.S. states and 5 U.S. territories jointly mobilize to upskill adult learners in every community through 8,000+ local chambers of commerce and local chamber equivalents. As the world continues its next industrial revolution based on Networked AI & Big Data, the team started with the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce which is co-located with the U.S. National Park for the birthplace of the first American Industrial Revolution.
For more than a decade, Venly has served as the Peake Fellowship Development Team leading the Peake Pilot Program to support each Fellow and other Community Navigators. The name Venly comes from the Venn diagram at the intersection of community and technology in a user friendly context (Ven + ly = Venly). Venly’s social enterprise mission to help local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community served, continues to support the Peake Fellowship’s Applied Learning & Teaching approach powered by Networked AI & Big Data.
The Peake Fellowship Development Team expands the impact of MIT & Harvard’s Open edX platform. To date, over 40 million learners and 100 higher ed institutions have benefited from the free, open source innovations of edX. To accelerate the reinvention and recovery of small & local businesses, the Peake Fellowship Development Team partnered with the leadership of the Historically Black Colleges & Universities Research and Innovation Network (HBCU RAIN), and the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU), Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, University of Chicago, and University of California San Diego. This joint mobilization will improve the access, quality, and cost of Connected Online Education & Operations as part of a strength-based innovation process for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth locally and globally (glocally).
From this core effort comes a seed for change.
Peake Fellowship Institute[edit | edit source]
The Peake Fellowship Institute comprises methodologies for training, tools, certifications, and governance for Applied Learning & Teaching. The Institute’s Applied Learning & Teaching programs expand the impact of courses from industry leaders, business schools, vocational schools, community colleges, and universities. The Peake Fellowship Institute’s effectiveness is measured by how much it strengthens the network of small & local businesses, their chambers of commerce and other industry or professional associations, community institutions, individual contributors, and the overall Peake Fellowship Support Team. That means the definition of success is not course completion alone or even competence in a particular skill—it is measurable business value created by the actions of Peake Fellowship Institute Learners.
National Upskilling of Small & Local Businesses: Platform Development Team Executive Director – Chiderah Okoye (left) & Platform Development Team General Manager – Tom Fellows (right) leading a national business forum with St. Louis Chamber CEO/incoming Chair of the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (middle left) and the Admiral who leads U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supply chain partnerships with the private sector (middle right).
Executive Summary[edit | edit source]
Peake Fellowship Program Powered By Networked AI & Big Data[edit | edit source]
The Peake Fellowship’s mission is to provide a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world. To accomplish this mission, the Fellows Service relies on people, processes, and a platform to meet the needs of each community for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth.
The Peake Fellowship Program and Fellowship Network platform support small & local businesses to recover and reinvent themselves through learning to jointly innovate new products & services while offering online & in-person commerce. The Peake Fellowship calls this combination Community Commerce as opposed to the commodity commerce already offered efficiently and effectively by global ecommerce providers.
”Each of our Fellows has definitely made a big difference, and we continue to get way more traction on social media. A 5-7% increase in sales is a big jump in this industry. And beyond sales,we’ve been gaining followers.”
— Justin Cournoyer, 6+ Year Applied Learning Partner & Fellows Service Client, Vice President of Micknuck’s Fresh Marketplace
Introduction: Rising to America’s Small and Local Business Challenge[edit | edit source]
Introduction[edit | edit source]
How Can the U.S. Begin Rising to America’s Small & Local Business Challenge?[edit | edit source]
Any mass scale effort to ensure the vitality of small & local businesses across America’s neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions will require a grassroots parallel to the:
This document describes a mass scale, Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-driven approach based on the nationwide Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform. The Peake Fellowship’s mission is to provide a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world. The Peake Fellowship Network platform’s proven and operational system revolutionizes adult upskilling and fundamentally improves America’s economic future one neighborhood, town, city, and region at a time.
The Peake Fellowship’s intergenerational high touch and high tech approach helps each small & local business improve:
Why Focus on Small & Local Businesses?[edit | edit source]
Small & local businesses create the lifeline of communities and the majority of jobs in the United States, but they operate without the staff and budget safety nets of bigger businesses. In the societal disruption driven by Post-COVID, economic inequality, and automation, the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform provides tools to bridge how small & local businesses can become leaders in the next industrial revolution based on networked intelligence. Without that bridge, small & local businesses become the casualties of both a pandemic and technology change.
To provide maximum impact and minimum cost, the Peake Fellowship combines specific resources that are often under-engaged:
The Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform levels the playing field for small & local businesses by connecting them to expertise and technology support that allows them to coexist with the ecommerce giants. Specifically, the Peake Fellowship Network platform helps small & local businesses band together to innovate new products and services that differentiate from the commodity commerce that Big Tech giants deliver so effectively.
The Peake Fellowship refers to that joint innovation as Community Commerce. Individual small & local businesses struggle to support Community Commerce without access to local and global resources that are capable of contending with the challenges of:
How Can the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network Platform Support Small & Local Businesses in Each Community?[edit | edit source]
Supported by the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform , small & local businesses can begin to collaborate through Networked AI & Big Data. In the U.S., local chambers have been jointly innovating going back to the time of Benjamin Franklin. Local chambers and equivalent associations cover the entire country. Together they have more than 3 million small & local business members in a uniquely American network. Their 200+ years of connecting community businesses prepares the local chambers to play a key role for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth, recovery, and reinvention.
Paraphrasing the observations of the ancient philosopher Seneca, fortune is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Despite fundamental imperfections, communities across the country have been practicing how to connect businesses through local chambers of commerce for centuries. Based on that preparation, Seneca’s wisdom still applies as communities learn to jointly innovate new products and services while offering online and in-person commerce.
Section I outlines how the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform supports nationwide small & local business mobilization and economic impact immediately and in the long term. Section II details proof points of measurable small & local business growth driven by the Service Learning of each Fellow. Section III highlights a particular local chamber and its Community Connection Campaign as a role model for the nation. Section IV invites potential candidates to learn more about the Peake Fellowship and to help local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community they would serve. Appendix I describes the unique role of local chambers and Fellows in supporting their community networks. Appendix II contextualizes the national starting point for joint progress. Appendix III explains how Platform Development Team Founding Partners support this process as leaders from industry, education, and public service.
Mobilizing for Nationwide Recovery and the Next Industrial Revolution[edit | edit source]
The Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform strengthens small & local businesses and their local associations by upskilling their leaders with new collaboration and commerce capabilities. “The Peake Fellowship’s job is to become the nation’s largest mobilization of upskilling to coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world.,” says Harvard Business School’s Len Schlesinger, who as President of Babson College served as an advisor and key academic partner for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
The Peake Fellowship’s combined approach aligns thousands of recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses as well as millions of small & local businesses. The Peake Fellowship Support Team, guided by Len Schlesinger in his role as Platform Development Team Business Metrics Strategy Lead, built a Service Learning platform that measures revenue growth and jobs created in each business that the Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform supports.
Over the next four years, the Peake Fellowship’s full mobilization will create $16 billion in net new U.S. small & local business revenue (or retained small & local business revenue that would have been lost). The Peake Fellowship Team estimates that this new revenue will cumulatively create or save 160,000 jobs during that period (based on an estimate of each $100,000 in revenue generating one job).
Over ten years, the Peake Fellowship, Community Commerce marketplace, and related services aim to create more than $100 billion in net new revenue for small & local businesses and over 1 million net new or saved jobs in that process.
For the 50 states and five U.S. territories, the Fellows Service helps local businesses succeed in a world of Amazon & Alibaba. Without the Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform, small & local businesses often find themselves overwhelmed by AI & Big Data-driven global competitors who offer more for less with the personalization once a unique feature of a neighborhood store. This was true well before the shuttering of small & local businesses from Post-COVID.
Meanwhile, recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses increasingly hold a passion for their small & local businesses according to multiple studies (e.g., Sezzle Gen Z survey). They grew up learning their way around collaboration technology despite the absence of training on tech for commerce. Many of them face a COVID-exacerbated year of flux after graduation or transition out of the military when instead they could be matched with organizations that would engage their current and potential skills to help local businesses grow.
Against that backdrop, the U.S. has over 8,000 local chambers of commerce which have yet to be engaged as conduits between recent graduates, returning veterans, military spouses, and local businesses. In partnership with the chambers, the Fellows Service upskills the recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses through a one-year Applied Learning & Teaching experience that, in turn, upskills small & local businesses for growth. The Peake Fellowship’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-driven approach connects to each of the 120,000+ communities across the U.S.
Each Fellow coaches multiple businesses brought together through the local chambers and is provided with training that is enabled by a Networked AI & Big Data-based platform. Fellows complete their year with a range of 60+ field-based certifications in Outreach & Engagement, Ecommerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. The Peake Fellowship Program and Peake Fellowship Network platform’s systems measure the gains by each small & local business and their communities. Fellows fast-track post-fellowship careers based on their portfolio of local impact. The Peake Fellowship ensures that its training and marketplace meet the needs of both Fellows and small & local businesses across 1,000+ market categories.
Ultimately, this Community Commerce marketplace builds on ubiquitous access through a mass scale and open source social network of all local and global products and services by expanding Wikipedia with its 3.5 billion users in 300 languages. In doing so, The Peake Fellowship’s Community Commerce mobilization strengthens each area served and levels the playing field for small & local businesses. This next generation apprenticeship and free basic marketplace create a grassroots complement to global commodity commerce by enabling small & local businesses to jointly innovate.
Source: Fellowship Team
Measuring Small and Local Business Growth from Each Fellow’s Service Learning[edit | edit source]
Enter the Fellows[edit | edit source]
To overcome the barriers for small & local businesses to engage and grow through social media, a one-year Peake Fellowship was created for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses. Local chambers nominate the Fellows, and the Fellows serve the chambers by training chamber members to be more effective with their social media as a first step of cybersecure best practices for growth. In turn, each Fellow’s achievements become launch points to various career trajectories after the Peake Fellowship. All Fellows enhance their skills as trusted advisors to the small & local business owners while they serve as each business’s personal tech trainer on Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. Normally, recent graduates, returning veterans, or military spouses would have seemed too junior to earn such in a business that is new to them. In this case, their social media skills gives them the advantage.
The Peake Fellowship continually trains Fellows to apply their existing social media skills to help specific business categories grow. Social media strategies are different for each industry. For example, diner owners need different support than dermatologists. For this reason, the Peake Fellowship trains Fellows to handle more than 1,000 different market categories with the understanding that the strategies for each business category are unique and covers over 30 specialties in healthcare alone. For instance, dermatologists want their own customized strategies to their specialty just as orthodontists want custom strategies for their specialty as well. Without this benchmarking per business category, the various enterprises tend to dismiss social media until they see a firm just like them using it effectively. With a category specific lens, each small & local business sees a natural bridge from the public issue of social media to the transactional and complicated topics that Fellows address within Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity.
Example Proof Points[edit | edit source]
The Pilot Program Peake Fellowship’s seven annual cycles of Fellows created measurable growth across the Central Massachusetts pilot region around the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce. (See a detailed analysis from the region’s Applied Learning Partnerships with the Fellows as a national role model for COVID-related small & local business recovery/reinvention.) The pilot region ranges from urban to rural, affluent to economically hard-pressed.
Take the Quaboag Hills (pronounced KWAY-bog) Chamber of Commerce in Palmer, Massachusetts which operates from a four-room space in a renovated former schoolhouse that many of the members attended for elementary school. The chamber functions as a region of its own, serving 15 towns that cover 440 square miles with a total population of 84,000 (i.e., 191 residents per sq. mi. compared to 858 per sq. mi. in Massachusetts statewide). The name Quaboag comes from the Quaboag Pond that used to be called Podunk Pond, a local Algonquian Native American name. The Quaboag Hills Chamber is proud to be the “original Podunk.”
However, anyone who knows the Quaboag Hills area intimately knows that it is rich in culture, history, business, and connections to the rest of the world. The Quaboag Hills Chamber’s challenge is connecting those dots. To accomplish that goal, a Peake Pilot Program Fellow helped the chamber improve its outreach and then proceeded to support its members with their individual businesses.
Community Connection Drives 400% More Web Traffic[edit | edit source]
Point of View, the leading African American community newspaper in the region, is headquartered only 11 miles away from the Quaboag Hills Chamber, but the Chamber and the Point of View had never connected in person or online.
“Our Community Connection Campaign goal is to add enough value that we double revenues from our largest advertisers. As a first phase, the training with our Fellow has already helped drive 4-5 times more traffic to our website.”
— Frederick Hurst, Point of View Co-Founder and Publisher
“Social media is the next generation of our community presence as a change agent. But if it were not for our Fellow, we would not have gotten our social media off the ground, and we would not have known the step-by-step best practices on each channel. Now we are active on four different channels in a disciplined process that we trained on and improved with our Fellow’s help every month.”
— Marie Zanazanian, Point of View Production Manager
More generally, the Peake Fellowship sees one of its roles as strengthening the Community Commerce innovation between an area’s local businesses and its higher ed institutions. Rick and Marjorie Hurst have been pioneers on Applied Learning & Teaching based on their own experiences with public schools specializing in
The session was co-led with another Applied Learning Partner, Cambridge College President Deborah Jackson. As graduates of Howard and Hampton Universities, Publisher Hurst and President Jackson share the Fellowship’s priority on recruiting candidates who can make a difference in the communities where they grew up or studied after graduating from Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCUs), Regional Colleges & Universities, and National Colleges & Universities.
Social Media Increases Revenue 19%[edit | edit source]
Less than a mile from the Quaboag Hills chamber office stands PTS Trucking, Trailer, and Construction Equipment Supply. Elaine Boone, the firm’s CEO, leads the trucking equipment company that her mother-in-law founded. PTS is one of the oldest female-owned truck accessory firms in the United States.
“With the Fellows Service training, we exceeded our previous fiscal year’s revenue by 19 percent. That was especially exciting since PTS just celebrated our 50th year. Our Fellows’ social media expertise was the critical ‘missing component’ to our long-term plan. In the years ahead, the Fellows Service will continue to play a vital role for PTS as we pioneer new growth.”
— Elaine Boone, PTS Trucking CEO
Elaine started working with their company’s Peake Pilot Program Fellow after meeting at the chamber. “Soon after, we noticed how outreach started to propel our growth strategy. We got measurable improvements in our branding and marketing with customers and vendors.”
Social Score Improves from 16% to 86%[edit | edit source]
In nearby Belchertown, Massachusetts, Fellows served another Quaboag Hills Chamber member, the 150-year-old company Bell & Hudson Insurance. This family-owned, 16-person firm is well known in the area for personalized service. But Bell & Hudson faces national competition that spends more than a billion dollars per year
Given the additional cost of targeted online advertising, small insurance firms need to effectively combine their social outreach and campaigns with their personal connections and community partners. Given these trends, Bell & Hudson former President Jim Phaneuf asked his son, the firm’s current President Matt Phaneuf, to take the lead getting Bell & Hudson’s social media up and running on each of the big ten channels with support from their Fellow.
Bell & Hudson’s overall Social Score—which measures a company’s outreach against 100 best practices—gradually rose from 16 percent to 86 percent. Matt also contracted the Fellowship’s Social Media Support Team to update the company’s website for mobile phone integration. Once Bell & Hudson achieved these first goals of search engine optimization and community engagement, Matt enlisted his Fellow’s help to begin a Community Connection Campaign that integrated social media advertising. Matt also expanded the Fellows Service support for growth through Bell & Hudson’s branch office 17 miles away.
“I consider myself pretty strong on social media. But there are so many social media systems and the changes are so constant, that I decided I needed some help. Training with Fellows has made a big difference for how far we have progressed, and how fast.”
— Matt Phaneuf, Bell & Hudson Insurance
130+ Year Old Business with 50% New Service Growth Goal[edit | edit source]
One Bell & Hudson Insurance Fellows Service client is longtime chamber member Noonan Energy. The 130-year-old heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) company is run by its fifth generation CEO Ted Noonan. On the 100th anniversary of the firm, which began as a horse-drawn ice delivery service, Ted’s father printed a four-page spread in the newspaper. For the 125th anniversary and beyond, Ted led a Community Connection Campaign through social media to celebrate and propel the business forward.
His Peake Pilot Program Fellow recommended that the content be produced by the staff, but Ted knew that would not happen quickly enough because of their workloads. So until his team was trained and could carve out time to create the content themselves, the Fellowship Operations Center provided Noonan Energy with a daily editorial calendar and HVAC-specific postings that were valued by Noonan’s community.
“Our first goal from social media is community building. But as a quantifiable impact, we aim to increase our number of home energy audits by 50 percent this year. That drives big value for our customers and all kinds of new business for us.”
— Ted Noonan, CEO of Noonan Energy
Outreach Grows Patrons More than 20%[edit | edit source]
Half a mile from Noonan Energy’s Amherst location stands the Emily Dickinson Museum, family home of the renowned poet that receives thousands of visits from around the world each year. Executive Director Jane Wald connected her global outreach with visitors to local engagement with Pioneer Valley businesses across the region’s chambers. Each step of the way, Fellows educated Jane and her staff’s social media leader.
“We were really struggling with how to assert a social media presence and how to tie that into an overall public relations plan. My original Fellow and the one who followed her the next year have been a tremendous help. It was like turning on a light switch in a dark room. Beyond the qualitative benefits of working with the Fellows, we have noticed extraordinary quantitative benefits of our growing community on social media. In one year, we tracked a 30 percent increase in people attending our events, and a 22.4 percent increase of unique visitors to our website.”
— Jane Wald, Emily Dickinson Museum
Growing Revenue 24% as a Bridge to Online Sales that Prevented COVID Layoffs[edit | edit source]
Another area business that sparks a Community Connection Campaign like the Emily Dickinson Museum is a nearby iconic barbecue joint B.T.’s Smokehouse. With a national reputation, B.T.’s draws customers from across the country. Founder Brian Treitman is a social media power-user. With a perfect 100 percent Social Score, B.T.’s Smokehouse has more than 30,000 followers on Facebook alone, and hundreds of those online community members share Brian’s posts about B.T.’s daily.
“Social media is our only form of marketing. I use my Fellow as an educational partner in my social media process which adds a discipline and cadence to my campaigns. Together with the Fellows Service we have doubled our Facebook followers over the last 12 months, and our revenue over last year increased by 24 percent as a direct result of social media.”
— Brian Treitman, B.T.’s Smokehouse Founder
Brian heard about the Peake Pilot Program Fellowship from Alexandra McNitt, Executive Director of the Chamber of Central Mass South, located a few steps away from B.T.’s in their town of Sturbridge. Brian also got a thumbs up about the Fellowship Program from the leader of a local advertising firm who sits with him on the chamber’s board. The advertising executive described the Fellows Service as a cost-effective way for a small & local business to have a personal trainer who can then refer work if a more senior marketing professional is needed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian pioneered ways for social media to keep his business and employees growing through online ordering and deliveries for area health workers. Locally, Brian joined his Fellow in recording online chamber best practice tips as a training for other members of the chamber who could learn from B.T.’s response to the challenge of recovery and reinvention. Nationally, Brian began development of a Private Group for collaboration on the Fellowship Network platform among other regional barbeque leaders in each of the 50 states.
“The value proposition from Fellows is a ‘no-brainer’ if someone wants to improve on social media. The members get their own chamber-based advisor—a skilled and personable professional—who methodically, step-by-step, trains the business owners and their staffs to learn about, use, and leverage the strengths of social media.”
— Alexandra McNitt, Chamber of Central
Geographic Expansion Allows for 50% Net Profit Growth[edit | edit source]
Fellows work as part of each business’s team which often includes other partners (e.g.,marketing companies). One business that has its Peake Pilot Program Fellows training on social media alongside a local advertising firm is the employee-owned precision manufacturer, Lampin Corporation in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Bill DiBenedetto, Lampin’s then President, heard about the Fellowship program from Jeannie Hebert, CEO of the Blackstone Valley Chamber, where Bill serves on the chamber’s board.
Bill and his successor as President, Robin LeClaire, meet with their Fellow once a month hourly to address prioritized worksteps, and between meetings for ad-hoc questions, as needed. At each session, they learn how Lampin can achieve business results by strengthening Lampin’s social media one channel at a time, which they measure with the Social Score.
“The Fellowship Program helped Lampin complete our first fiscal year together with 22 percent growth in revenue, 15 percent growth in business from new clients, and well over 50 percent growth in net profit. We extended that growth each year winning new clients like SpaceX with the help of digital outreach and engagement.”
Venn Diagram + User Friendly[edit | edit source]
The Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform are derived from the notion of a Venn diagram between community and technology, with a user friendly mix of high touch and high tech. Fellows working with chamber leadership provide the high touch. The high tech comes from the benefits of Networked AI & Big Data combined with better collaboration. That lets each business team manage distributed tasks anywhere and anytime. These capabilities helped before Post-COVID recovery, but now are indispensable survival skills as online commerce and collaboration became the only way to work with many partners.
Several of the new virtual approaches will continue to be adopted as standard operating procedures for small & local business efficiency even after the pandemic ends. Likewise, COVID accelerated changes in education and training so that people can learn and become certified on new skills anytime and anywhere. Community institutions (e.g., chambers, community colleges, vocational schools, community access TV stations, and public libraries), like small & local businesses, often miss the benefits of the advances in collaboration and education because of constrained resources.
Peake Fellowship Network Platform[edit | edit source]
To help communities progress, Platform Development Team Founding Partners brought together a simple and secure mobile system to support local chambers and their members. In turn, local chambers and their Fellows can proactively train community businesses and institutions to benefit faster from market changes that might otherwise leave them behind.
Fellows serve 30-50 small & local businesses within a chamber through the Fellows Service. Over the year, each Fellow receives a $30,000 stipend with additional financial support. Fellows lead 60-minute monthly coaching sessions with individual business leaders, answer ad hoc questions between meetings, and support Big Data Community Commerce Projects. The Peake Fellowship refers to these small & local businesses working with the Fellows as Applied Learning Partners. Fellows with the required certifications can also instruct these Applied Learning Partners on additional capabilities as requested (e.g., website development).
Continuous Learning[edit | edit source]
Peake Fellowship candidates complete skills assessments and certifications after nomination by a local chamber as well as nomination by their college or university in the case of recent graduates. Fellows qualify on each skill set through a four-level process.
Once qualified, Fellows begin coaching chamber members while continuing their own
Photo Source: Fellowship Team
The Peake Fellowship Network platform is a comprehensive set of systems that builds on open source software to simplify the upskilling of an organization or community. The platform allows the Fellows, chambers, and small & local businesses to increase the value of each company’s social media Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. The platform also enables the administration of the Peake Fellowship itself.
The Peake Fellowship’s Operations Center Staff began developing the for-credit, semester-long course “Social Media for Small & Local Businesses” with Cambridge College, a nonprofit, multi-campus institution focused on adult learners. The joint effort was co-led by the Peake Operations Center and Provost of Cambridge College Dr. Elwood Robinson, who is now Chancellor of Winston-Salem State University, a North Carolina Historically Black College/University. The team is pictured here developing an in-person field experience for the course on increasing social media outreach by owners of local diners.
(Visible from left to right: Platform Development Team Director Chiderah Okoye; Platform Development Team General Manager Tom Fellows; former Cambridge College Provost Elwood Robinson, PhD; Platform Development Team User Experience Consultant Wenmei Hill; Fellows Service client, mentor,and restaurateur JJ Gonson; Training Developer Alexis Obernauer.)
Photo Source: Fellowship Team
Highlighting a Role Model Community Connection Campaign for the Nation[edit | edit source]
Making a Difference Pre & Post Covid[edit | edit source]
In order to reach the 30 million small & local businesses, the Peake Fellowship Network platform integrates the 8,000+ local chambers who together cover every community in the U.S. Moreover, each chamber shares the Peake Fellowship’s mission to provide a one-year program for recent college graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses to develop next generation leadership skills as they coach small & local businesses to succeed in a Networked AI & Big Data-driven world.
Years before Post-COVID, the Fellowship kicked off training with the local communities and chambers around the Blackstone River Valley and the nearby areas going the south to Providence, Rhode Island or going north and west to Worcester and Springfield, Massachusetts. This region pioneered America’s first Industrial Revolution, driven by steam, at the end of the 1700s and continued to prosper during the second Industrial Revolution, driven by electricity, at the end of the 1800s. However, the region fell behind during the third Industrial Revolution, driven by computers, in the 1990s. The region had fallen even further back, in the current fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by Networked AI & Big Data. Geographically, this region appears to be relatively close to East Coast tech & venture capital hubs in Kendall Square and Silicon Alley; experientially, communities in the Blackstone Valley have often felt as far away from Cambridge and New York City as they do from Palo Alto and Austin.
The Fellowship Team chose the Blackstone Valley Region to be the role model for a national community connection campaign across the nation’s 8,000 local chambers. This section details the approach and impact of that mobilization role model.
When Post-COVID struck, the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce was already supported by the Peake Fellowship & Peake Fellowship Network platform. The chamber coordinated teams from vocational high schools and other higher ed institutions from four states. Each “closed for COVID” location safely transported their
Their response included delivering face shields to address the lack of PPE at the nearby Holyoke Veterans Home, an eldercare facility that suffered more than 75 Post-COVID deaths.
Meanwhile, the chamber ran 24/7 support for each of the member businesses to make
Networked AI & Big Data Adult Upskilling As A National Priority[edit | edit source]
“As a national security issue, the Department of Defense relies on every business in the industrial base to upskill their cyber & physical operations. Doing that successfully requires a deep understanding of new capabilities like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Trusted Transaction Networks. Too often, that understanding is missed, and the latest technologies are seen as shiny objects to be bought and sprinkled around big organizations. But with enough understanding, we can use those systems to transform the underpinnings of how people and technology work together.
We have come to a crossroads where our future depends on each of us in the industrial base upskilling as non-traditional learners. That includes even the smallest businesses. The future depends on inspiring each person’s passion to learn more; then giving them the tools to decide what to learn first given their interests and mission.
The Fellowship Program inspired me to think in a different way about trusted networks and upskilling, sparked my imagination, and got me to act on those ideas.”
— General Darren McDew (ret.), Commander USTRANSCOM 2016-2018, joint distribution process lead for the DoD, Co-Chair Special Committee to Review the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Certification Process.
After starting the Network Partnership with the Blackstone Valley Chamber in 2013, chamber members began to use the Fellowship’s Networked AI & Big Data platform. A specific set of these tools matched each of the 300+ market categories represented in the chamber membership. Those tools broadly divide into Revenue Growers for the for-profits, Support Growers for the nonprofits, and Wellness Growers for the healthcare practices. Fellows used these tools as part of their Best Practices Sessions with more than 1,000 businesses. At each one-on-one session, the Fellow coached a business leader based on that business’s Outreach & Engagement effectiveness as measured by 100 benchmarks per market category.
Making Community Readiness A Standard Operating Procedure[edit | edit source]
In early 2015, the Fellowship Team and the chamber created a Community Connection Campaign to help prepare for large scale disasters including infectious disease outbreaks. The effort brought together key leaders from across healthcare disciplines starting with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Director of Infectious Diseases who continues to lead the state’s efforts today. The Fellowship drew on Platform Development Team Founding Partner, Dr. Brad Perkins, a career U.S. Health Service Officer who went on to become Chief Strategy Officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Specifically, Dr. Perkins helped the Fellowship Team design how the chamber and community health resources can collaborate during disasters.
Meanwhile, Harvard Business School Dean Emeritus & Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training John McArthur convened a working group on community healthcare resource mobilization based on his hospital system experience as Founding Co-Chair of Mass General Brigham/Partners Healthcare, the largest private employer in Massachusetts. Platform Development Team Co-Chair for Training Vice Admiral David Brewer joined Dean McArthur at the roundtable based on Admiral Brewer’s experience commanding Navy Hospital Ships during Katrina and his understanding of population health from serving as Superintendent of the Los Angeles public schools.
In conjunction with the Blackstone Valley Chamber, the Healthcare Roundtable team met with a combination of recent graduates from universities and colleges between Worcester and Springfield, the state’s Director of Infectious Diseases, and the CEO of the Massachusetts Hospital Association. Together, they addressed how small & local businesses could collaborate to prepare, respond, and recover from disasters.
Mobilizing Community Commerce & Community Health Resources[edit | edit source]
The Peake Fellowship & Peake Fellowship Network platform started in the Blackstone Valley, as it does with any chamber’s community, by providing a simple way to facilitate digital collaboration between every chamber-related organization. The Peake Fellowship’s Networked AI & Big Data platform—which is organized for every neighborhood, town, city, and region of the country—categorizes each organization into one of 1,000+ Community Commerce market categories.
Among all for-profit, nonprofit, and government organizations in the Blackstone Valley, the Peake Fellowship focuses on connecting the Community Commerce Innovation Hubs. The Peake Fellowship defines these hubs as network-based organizations connecting multiple businesses to jointly develop new products and services both locally and globally. If these hubs in each U.S. community live up to their Post-COVID potential, they can lead the local recovery and reinvention of Community Commerce nationwide.
The Peake Fellowship specifies ten particular market categories that each naturally fill the function of a hub. Within those ten categories, the Peake Fellowship Network platform clusters and connects all organizations by geography. (See table.) For example, the first of the ten market categories in the cluster of “natural hubs” is Public Libraries. That means the Peake Fellowship considers each branch as a natural Community Commerce Hub for Innovation to be reinvented given that America’s public libraries have always been the country’s “original co-working spaces.”
While the Peake Fellowship Network platform lists chambers and these 10 market categories as natural hubs for innovation, any organization can position itself as a Community Commerce Hub for Innovation regardless of its market category.
The Peake Fellowship Network platform also highlights Community Health Resources as an additional cluster of market categories given their common role in any geography’s Community Commerce growth, since all segments of a community relate to health (e.g., houses of worship, the arts, etc.). However, the Peake Fellowship Network platform specifies 16 market categories as directly making up the standard cluster of Community Health Resources.
Blackstone Valley benefited from the Peake Fellowship Networked AI & Big Data connection of the hundreds of organizations in these innovation hub and Community Health Resource categories. Before the chamber’s Community Connection Campaign with the Peake Fellowship & Peake Fellowship Network platform, the Blackstone Valley often perceived itself as lacking in the resources compared to more affluent communities. With the Program & platform, the Blackstone Valley entered a collaborative process that expanded the chamber’s role as a Community Commerce Innovation Hub.
The process also identified missing capabilities that could be added. For example, the Blackstone Valley lacked any nearby dialysis center, but has recently filled that gap with a new facility championed by the chamber.
As a comparative example, Fellows and university volunteers created similar network was created across the ecosystem surrounding the Harvard teaching hospitals that make up Mass General Brigham/Partners Healthcare. The combined resources within the Blackstone Valley provided a remarkably strong regional
Reframing the Next Generation Community Commerce Hub For Innovation[edit | edit source]
In addition to healthcare, the chamber’s Community Commerce innovation process recognized that the Blackstone Valley’s strength for 200 years had been manufacturing, but there was no concerted, next generation effort on 3D printing and other additive production techniques. Working with the Fellowship Program and local partners, the Blackstone Valley became the first chamber in the country to run its own Makerspace and Education Hub. The Blackstone Valley Chamber co-located the Makerspace and Ed Hub at the chamber headquarters as part of a 24/7 Innovation Center.
To house all of these next generation efforts, the Blackstone Valley Chamber and a chamber member who enrolled as a Fellowship Applied Learning Partner, co-led a renovation of a 19th century mill that was scheduled to be demolished. Today, that mill also serves as the U.S. National Park Service headquarters for the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Students from the Blackstone Valley Vocational Technical High School built out the Makerspace and Ed Hub as part of the $500,000 project. The fully outfitted complex includes 3D printers, welding, and both CNC (computer numerical control) and conventional machine tools with CAD (computer aided design) workstations across multiple classroom/shop areas. Despite the COVID-19 facility shutdowns, the operation continues as an innovation hub running online advanced programs in conjunction with small & local businesses, community colleges, universities, and vocational technical high schools.
2014 Fellowship Team Kickoff with the Blackstone Valley Chamber at a former mill that now serves as a community skills development center run by a small & local business and Fellowship Applied Learning Partner.
Recognizing Small & Local Business Innovation Leaders[edit | edit source]
Since 2014, these efforts culminated in a retrospective of what the chamber accomplished with the inspiration of Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Advanced Manufacturing Strategy Lead, Evan Malone. At a gathering of the whole Blackstone Valley Chamber, Platform Development Team Executive Director Chiderah Okoye emceed a November 2019 celebration of all the chamber had achieved. Platform Development Team Founding Partner Andrea Jung, Platform Development Team Founding Partner Executive Chair Paul Horn, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training Vice Admiral David Brewer, and Platform Development Team Founding Partner & Rollout Strategy Lead Mark Coblitz gave the first Community Commerce Innovation Awards to recognize the pacesetting efforts of the chamber and the members as role models for what will be done nationwide.
“Working with the Fellowship Program has been a revolutionary experience for the Blackstone Valley Chamber. Our Fellows stimulated us to collaborate and develop partnerships that advance the region and the community and encouraged us to become an organization that truly does work every day to live our mission and not just talk about it. And because of Platform Development Team Founding Partner Evan Malone, we were inspired to create the Blackstone Valley Ed Hub which transformed how the whole region responded to COVID-19.”
— Jeannie Hebert, Blackstone Valley Chamber CEO
Community Commerce Pacesetter Awards[edit | edit source]
Making a Difference One Organization at a Time[edit | edit source]
“Thanks to the Blackstone Valley Chamber for connecting us to the Fellowship Program. The Fellows helped me by web conference every step of the way from showing me how to use more of the functions on my iPhone to growing our clients through smarter outreach.
The Fellowship Network platform allowed us to see how much strength we had around the Blackstone Valley. We were able to envision new services with other firms who we should have been working with already, but never would have seen as natural partners without our new insights from the Fellowship Network platform.
Then COVID-19 hit, and I got to understand why all our Central Blackstone Valley’s work on Community Health Resources was so important.“
— Therese DeLongchamp, Director of Elderwood Home Care, specialized elder care provider, Blackstone Valley Chamber member, 2-year Fellowship Applied Learning Partner.
“During Lampin’s seven years of work with the Fellows Service, we’ve been able to get new customers and serve our strategic partners in more sustainably profitable relationships. That began with analyzing which customers and suppliers are most strategic with the help of Big Data and the open community exchange Private Group.
We’ve responded to COVID-19, but we can do even more in the future if we work smarter together. We shouldn’t wait, as a company or as a country, for the next emergency to talk about the essential products and services we can already predict that the country will need. For example, why don’t all of us as local machining companies understand our capacities ahead of time for making essential products for predictable scenarios? That way we would be able to better leverage our capabilities here in the U.S. during a crisis when it’s hard to be dependent on faraway suppliers.“
— Robin LeClaire, President of Lampin Corp., precision component manufacturer, Blackstone Valley Chamber member, 7-Year Fellowship Applied Learning Partner, and 33-year Lampin employee.
Enrolling Applied Learning Partners[edit | edit source]
More than a quarter of these businesses enrolled in an Applied Learning Partnership with a Fellow after completing their chamber-sponsored, no-cost Best Practice Session. As part of the enrollment, each business pays a $180 set up fee, followed by $6 per day to continue the coaching relationship with a Fellow. On average the businesses “graduate” after ten months of support on their Outreach & Engagement. Once the Fellows introduce the Institute’s other three business tracks: Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity, the average business graduates after five years. That $6/day service makes the Fellowship model self-sustaining as the Fellowship rolls out 1,400 Fellows nationally.
Although chambers pay nothing for the Network Partnership, they schedule the Best
“A member CEO stood up at the last board meeting and said that the social media training by the chamber’s Fellow was one of the most valuable experiences they had ever had. Since the Best Practice Sessions are customized to each chamber member, the members can get a valuable analysis of their business without paying anything beyond their chamber membership. Then they get an affordable way forward if they need more.”
— Jeannie Hebert, Blackstone Valley Chamber CEO
National Rollout[edit | edit source]
“The model itself—a strategic and tactical partnership with “the local chambers” leveraging community commerce—all in a non-governmental pursuit of innovation, solutions, and success—is a priceless gift to our nation, and indeed the world.”
— General Walt Kross (ret.) Longtime DOD supply chain leader
From the start, the Fellowship intended for the Blackstone Valley and surrounding areas to serve as a national role model for mobilization. In that spirit, the Blackstone Valley Chamber’s CEO co-presented with the Fellowship Platform Development Team’s leadership and Fellows at the national gathering of local chambers in Nashville, Tennessee. the Fellowship’s 50 state rollout builds on field-developed, tested, and continually improved Fellowship Program and Fellowship Network platform modules for mass scale.
The Fellowship and Platform Development Teams engineered both the Program and the platform for a Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-driven approach. Other sections of this document describe the Fellowship Program in more depth. The Fellowship also provides local chambers with separate documentation of the Fellowship Network platform as an open source system with mass accessibility.
Call to Action[edit | edit source]
Taking On The Challenge From The Bottom Up[edit | edit source]
In neighborhoods, towns, cities, and regions across the United States, small & local businesses are falling behind multinational corporations in their cybersecure use of Networked AI & Big Data, social media, and ecommerce.
How can small & local businesses succeed? The Fellowship is a high-intensity, 12-month applied learning and teaching experience for a select team of pioneering candidates who passionately want to serve community businesses locally and globally. Fellows support small & local businesses to recover and reinvent themselves through learning to jointly innovate new products and services as part of online and in-person commerce.
Contradiction: Small & local businesses struggle with social media-based growth despite their established credibility and personal relationships. As a result, small & local businesses and their chambers typically benefit less than global enterprises from social media-based business applications. Going forward local organizations should also be pacesetters.
Resolution: Small & local businesses are not falling behind for lack of high tech solutions since plenty of online services and tools are already available. Small & local businesses need trusted advisors and disciplined coaches on social media and Community Commerce.
Rising to that challenge matters because U.S. democracy and progress depends on the recovery and reinvention of small & local businesses. The 8,000+ local chambers and their members can thrive if they effectively use Networked AI & Big Data for Outreach & Engagement, Community Commerce, Operations, and Cybersecurity. In supporting that progress, Fellows help fulfill the national need for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth.
Next Steps[edit | edit source]
Learn more about the Fellowship here.
Fellows experience an intensive 12 months of applied learning and teaching where they instruct local businesses to overcome digital, operational, and cybersecurity challenges. The field-based Fellowship is a distinguished leadership program that serves as an industry-led springboard for the future career of each Fellow.
Photo Source: Fellowship Team
Appendix I. Recognizing the Unique Role of Local Chambers and Fellows[edit | edit source]
America’s local chambers have always helped their members mobilize in response to emergencies…starting long before COVID-19 began shutting down US businesses. When the Fellowship Program in the broad region around the Blackstone Valley, emergencies and chamber-led responses were already occurring every week.
For example, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce immediately responded to a strip mall fire by offering a free membership to a specialty food market. The chamber also helped find new space for the businesses that were destroyed.
What made the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce’s response to that particular fire special was the chamber’s ability to send in a social media expert, recent Mount Holyoke College graduate and Fellow Em Shank. The chamber had been offering members and area business owners the Fellows Service of the chamber’s local Fellow as one of its membership benefits. Fellows already know the area as their home and work out of the local chamber as their base for the year.
“We lost everything in last month’s fire that destroyed all the businesses in our plaza including our store. We can not say how much we appreciate the outpouring of community support, starting with the generosity of the Community Connection Campaign led by the chamber and Fellowship Program.
We are especially grateful to the chamber’s executive director and the chamber’s Fellow for providing us with a pro bono chamber membership, and then website development and social media setup beyond our everyday Fellows Service. Their immediate help let us reopen online until we can rebuild on site.”
— Hassan Oulied, Casablanca Halal Market Owner
Step One: Placing Fellows In Independent Chambers Nationwide[edit | edit source]
The Fellowship Program selects candidates for the Chamber Support Team to become next generation community leaders. For example, a young Marine who led Female Engagement Teams in Afghanistan finished her military service, and two weeks later applied her outreach experience directing the Social Media Support Team for the chambers around the Blackstone Valley. Her year with the Fellowship Team became a springboard to her future career as a process improvement leader for community environmental education.
In Em Shank’s case, they had traveled 1,300 miles to attend college as a sociology major in Massachusetts where they hoped to settle
Local Chambers of Commerce serve in all 50 states, 5 territories, and tribal lands.
Source: Fellowship Team/Google Earth
Each Fellow’s accomplishments support their careers and create long-term mentorship from the chambers, the small & local businesses, and Fellowship. When Em completed their Fellowship, the experience earned them a job as a Digital Marketing Strategist for a growing company that had not found anyone with their hard-earned, Fellow skillset. Em’s chambers and their members took pride in Em’s success as they prepared for the next year’s Fellow to assume their role.
Where Will New Jobs Come From?[edit | edit source]
Where will most of the new jobs come from to employ the recent graduates, transitioning veterans, military spouses, and everyone else seeking work? Not from big businesses alone since pressure from Wall Street to cut costs continues to lead publicly-traded firms to work as hard to eliminate jobs as they do to create them.
It is no accident that Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet are three of the highest value U.S. companies by financial market capitalization. However, none of them show up among Fortune magazine’s 2019 ranking of the largest 25 U.S. employers. Instead, Apple, Microsoft, and Alphabet distinguish themselves by growing internationally with fewer and fewer U.S. workers per dollar of revenue.
Big company limitations on creating jobs extend across the U.S. economy. According to the SBA in 2019, big businesses (500 or more employees) produced 56 percent of all U.S. private-sector output, but created only 33 percent of the net new U.S. private-sector jobs. In contrast, small businesses (499 employees or fewer) produced only 44 percent of the U.S. private-sector output, but traditionally created 67 percent of net new U.S. private-sector jobs.
This data on big versus small businesses comes from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Since its 1953 creation during the Eisenhower administration, the SBA has carried out its mandate to “aid, counsel, assist and protect, insofar as is possible, the interests of small business concerns.” Despite the SBA’s recent Post-COVID relief role, for decades Congress has threatened repeatedly to shut down the SBA based on criticism that the Federal Government is structurally ill-equipped to support small businesses.
Similarly, a President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness dealt with its own structural challenges around supporting small business jobs growth during its 4-year existence. The members of the jobs council reflected a who’s who of industry, labor, and academia, but of its 25 members, only one came from a small business.
Outside of government, the United States Chamber of Commerce focuses on national advocacy and government policies rather than hands-on involvement with small & local business growth. Headquartered across Lafayette Square from the White House, the U.S. Chamber manages one of the nation’s largest lobbying budgets. The U.S. Chamber’s activities reach across the country. However, the bulk of its spending purposely focuses on the three branches of government in Washington, D.C.
Unrecognized Resources For Small & Local Business Growth in More Than 120,000 Communities[edit | edit source]
At the local level, what organization engages Main Street businesses in America’s 120,000+ cities, towns, unincorporated communities, and neighborhoods? The uniquely American but unheralded answer is more than 8,000 independent local chambers of commerce. Each serves as a nonprofit, non-partisan community organizer for small business jobs creation.
Most other countries have government-chartered chambers that operate from the top
Local chambers generally operate with member-funded threadbare budgets, small full-time or part-time staffs, and volunteer leadership from activists in the area’s business community. Despite their limitations these chambers have persevered and progressed as the unsung local incubators for new businesses across the country for centuries. At a time when America’s communities and institutions often face partisan paralysis, local chambers set themselves apart as being pragmatic and non-partisan. In each case, these independent chambers share a simple, constructive mission: to help local businesses grow, create jobs, and strengthen each community they serve.
Uniquely American At The Intersection Of Self-Interest And Community Interest[edit | edit source]
In the United States, small & local businesses have regularly self-organized at the micro-local level without government involvement. Small & local businesses self-organize in the U.S. more than in any other country, with the noteworthy exception of Canada. As early as the 1830’s, the French political observer Alexis de Tocqueville observed this widespread American passion for grassroots organizing of nonprofit associations. On the contrary, countries with a history of kings, colonialism, communism, or corruption tended to forbid the formation of non-governmental grassroots community associations that could foment opposition.
Not Your Grandparents’ Chamber[edit | edit source]
Despite their inherent strength and tradition of service, many chambers struggle to retain members and attract new leadership. When chamber executives introduce themselves at a public gathering, a common self-deprecating quip begins: “I’m still trying to figure out how I ended up in this position. I can tell you that no kid ever says ‘When I grow up, I want to be a chamber executive.’” Part of that joke is a healthy humility that goes along with the unpretentious style of a local chamber. But the underbelly of their humor is a concern that local chambers are “your grandparents’ association.” On a bad day, some leaders feel like they are trying to preserve a community organization that is needed, but too far behind the times to catch up.
As chamber members push for change, chamber executives often worry that their organizations lack all of the necessary skills to respond. And they are right. Several market forces threaten the status quo “local chamber industry.” These forces include: new return-on-investment expectations from the members and the increasing presence in each community of multinationals, home-based businesses, cloud-based operations, and social media. No amount of past contributions will ensure a local chamber’s ongoing vitality. Failure will always be an option as it has been for other Main Street institutions. Witness video stores and local post offices as two Main Street examples. In both these cases, their strategic advantage came from their purpose-built locations, their software systems, and their physical inventory. Then sudden technology disruptions destroyed their Main Street roles in less than a generation.
In contrast, local chambers almost never gained their strategic advantage from purpose-built locations, systems, or physical inventory. In fact the opposite is true. A local chamber typically operates out of a modest storefront, has yet
The strategic advantage of local chambers for centuries has been the personal connections and community commitment they build among their leaders and their members. That is good news because a key disruptive technology threatening the franchise of local chambers is social media. What is the critical factor for social media success, especially a part of Post-COVID recovery and reinvention? Personal connections and community engagement.
A History of Joint Innovation[edit | edit source]
With the right support, local chambers should be in a better position than ever to benefit from social media. The Fellowship provides social media support from recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses who are already committed to each local chamber’s community. For inspiration, look to the archetypal 20-something: 21-year-old Benjamin Franklin.
It was 1727 when Benjamin Franklin filled the void for a local chamber in Philadelphia by forming a non-governmental, nonprofit association for the mutual improvement of fellow tradespeople. The group went by two names: the Leather Apron Club, alluding to the protective covering worn by tradespeople, and the “Junto,” a name derived from the Latin “to join.” Members exchanged knowledge of business affairs, drawing on their diverse set of occupations ranging at the start from printers and surveyors to cabinetmakers and bartenders.
They came up with enterprise-building initiatives and debated issues of the day related to social enterprise and social responsibility. However, there is no record that the cans in the Colonies. Franklin himself profited from the advertisements he sold and printed in his newspaper for the buying and
From its earliest days, the Leather Apron Club held weekly meetings where members asked a routine series of questions that would sound familiar to any local chamber gathering today.
To quote three examples from each meeting’s list:
*Source: J.A. Leo Lemay. The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 1, Journalist, 1706-1730 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006) Page 340.
Franklin is a tough act to follow. But like Franklin, every chamber’s leadership and activist members can think of long lists of inventive joint efforts they would like to start in their communities if only they had the collective resources. If Franklin were in the room, he would remind today’s local chambers that they do have access to resources, given that they live in the golden age of crowdsourcing. However, those resources are only accessible when local chambers are willing and able to more effectively engage the community where people increasingly want to engage: on smartphones and computers, as well as in person.
Unfortunately, even though market research has shown that more than 70 percent of consumers said a social media network influenced a recent store visit via their smartphone or computer, 23 percent of small businesses lack any social media presence according to SCORE. Barriers vary for each business, but seven factors
Fellowship Life Cycle Components: Service Learning by the Fellows that helps their portfolio of small & local businesses grow.
Source: Fellowship Team
[edit | edit source]
Section II, Section III, and Appendix I herald the collaborative achievements of the American local chamber movement. These achievements reinforce why the Fellowship Program engages local chambers as an underrecognized and critical resource for America rising to the challenge of automation, ecommerce, AI & Big Data.
To engage every neighborhood, town, city, and regional resource in the nationwide recovery and reinvention of small & local businesses, the Fellowship helps each Fellow find a shared starting point for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth with chambers and their membership. The headquarters of the Fellowship Program’s activity is based in each local chamber, and the Fellowship’s Cambridge, Massachusetts location serves as the Operations Center to support those headquarters in the field.
In the chamber-based model brought together by a nationwide network, Fellows who commit to understanding the local and national economic experience of the community they serve will be stronger in supporting Sustainable & Inclusive Growth that engages all stakeholders going forward.
As a foundation to what the Fellows learn, this section introduces how the local chamber movement actively benefited from Native Americans and African Americans during centuries when they were excluded from membership. The roots of the American local chamber movement began with a direct connection to slavery. Examples span the country, but three communities make this point as the nation’s first local organizations to call themselves Chambers of Commerce:
The U.S. rightly celebrates the country’s wealth-producing inventiveness and enterprise from Eli Whitney’s cotton gin to Samuel Morse’s telegraph. In contrast, the nation rarely acknowledges that until the Civil War, land and enslaved people accounted for the highest and second highest percentages of the nation’s total wealth respectively. Enslaved Africans counted as property worth more than all the other physical assets of buildings and equipment combined according to the pioneering pre-Civil War historian David Brion Davis.
Professor Davis’s analysis details that from 1800-1860, “slave values more than tripled. By 1860, a young ‘prime field hand’ in New Orleans would sell for the equivalent of an expensive car, say a Mercedes-Benz, today. American slaves represented more capital than any other asset in the nation with the exception of land. In 1860, the value of Southern [enslaved African Americans] was about three times the amount invested in manufacturing or railroads nationwide. The spiraling value of [enslaved African Americans], translated financially into an almost limitless source of collateral, mortgages, and derivatives…”
The staggering wealth created from Native American removal, African American enslavement, and their aftermath still shape local economies across the U.S. today. In the case of American slavery, the 246-year duration over approximately twelve generations extends those effects as does the programmatic lack of full citizenship long after slavery’s end.
As a recent example among African Americans, the GI Bill after World War II holds the title of being the largest middle-class family wealth transfer program in U.S. history. However the GI Bill legislation was purposely designed to be administered locally in part as a way to restrict the benefits received by African Americans. This directly supported the White-led business community’s interest in “keeping African Americans in their societal place” and away from higher education scholarships, home loans, and business loans. The GI Bill as a driver of educational and investment capital still shapes America’s wealth gaps affecting recovery and reinvention today.
Fellow Certification on Sustainable & Inclusive Growth[edit | edit source]
Candidates for the Fellowship rarely apply with any background knowledge on local chambers. These outstanding recent graduates, returning veterans, and military spouses rightly rely on the Fellowship for training to help them understand how small & local businesses organize themselves.
In response, the Fellowship Program and local chambers provide Fellows with background training on America’s small & local business associations. That knowledge and understanding strengthens both Fellows and the chambers they serve. As a frame of reference for Fellows, the Fellowship relies on national and local records, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives history of the chambers, and the local chambers themselves.
The Fellowship’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth certifications train Fellows on how financial gains drove the design of oppressive laws and commercial codes despite fierce resistance from Native Americans and African Americans. Fellows who have earned Sustainable and Inclusive Growth certifications explore with community members and the chamber how each of these three frames of reference apply to current progress and concerns in each neighborhood, town, city, or region served.
[edit | edit source]
All local chamber leaders independently develop plans for membership outreach. The Fellowship Program looks forward to the process of Fellows supporting all these chambers and their communities from Paris, Texas to Columbus, Mississippi to Northbridge, Massachusetts and every city and town across America as each community strives to help small & local businesses grow. In each case, Fellows work more effectively if they understand the context of the communities they serve. The following three local chambers highlight how a community’s background relates to chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plans for engaging all community resources. In the Fellowship Program’s view, if a community avoids its history, positive or negative, the members of that community will be much less likely to fully trust in and commit to the local chamber’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan.
Source: Fellowship Team/Google Earth
1. Community Background for Chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth: Lamar County Chamber of Commerce – Paris, Texas
Ken Higdon, the President of the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce in 2017, returned to his local chamber storefront in Paris, Texas after meeting with Platform Development Team leadership to begin a relationship. The Lamar County Chamber’s motto, Bonjour Y’all, and its cowboy hat on an Eiffel Tower speak to the good-humored energy that the city would like to see fueling the county’s economic growth. The chamber’s new President, Paul Allen, a former educator and Paris native, shared in public interviews his goal for Lamar County to grow based on the entire community being part of the story. The Fellowship Program started a discussion with one of Lamar County’s under-engaged resources that has an international footprint to consider how a Strength-based Innovation Process for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth could start.
As one of his first initiatives, Paul Allen prioritized the chamber’s integration with Lamar County’s high schools on workforce development as they chart the course for an economic future beyond the community’s historic strength in cotton growing and processing.
Today, the county disproportionately depends on manufacturing and retail as industries employing the most people. Any future mobilization by the chamber will benefit from engaging all 50,000 residents of Lamar County.
With an understanding of Lamar County’s potential assets and liabilities for growth, the chamber will make decisions about how to address the community’s painful history of seven documented lynchings in the context of Lamar County and Paris today. A recent East Texas Historical Journal study recounts how Whites in the county during a single 30-year period…“generally accepted lynching as a form of racial control. Locals repeatedly resorted to mob violence in an effort to establish racial subordination…”
Quick Facts on the latest U.S. Census demographics of Lamar County and Paris, Texas
The Crisis magazine, edited by W. E. B. Du Bois, highlighted Paris, Texas as part of its February 1921 article called the Lynching Industry. In particular, the Crisis referenced the lynching of Herman Arthur, a returning World War I veteran and his brother Irving Arthur. The public burning of the brothers in front of thousands and the simultaneous mob sexual assault on their sisters while in police custody continues to be an unattended wound in Paris.
No convictions came from the incident. Today, the Lamar County Courthouse in Paris still hosts the second largest Confederate monument in Texas after the largest on Capitol grounds in Austin. However, the city of Paris and Lamar County have yet to officially memorialize any of the lynchings and related attacks. The unaddressed history of the county will inevitably affect Sustainable & Inclusive Growth efforts to attract local, national, and international talent and customers.
In response, locals founded the Community Remembrance Coalition. Klark Byrd, the Managing Editor of The Paris News and the Editor of Paris Life Magazine, highlighted the coalition by authoring a 2020 editorial in his newspaper entitled “Paris must come to terms with its past.” His editorial followed a gathering of descendants of the victims and the instigators of the lynching on the crime’s 100th anniversary in July, 2020. According to the Community Remembrance Coalition’s about page on Facebook, the group is: Seeking to partner with city leaders, organizations and citizens to further racial healing through promoting acknowledgement, remembrance and dialogue. In 2020-2021, [the coalition] will work to receive a historical marker memorializing the Arthur lynching events. Leaders of the Paris effort hope to place the marker with the help of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, which memorializes unacknowledged lynchings across the U.S. as part of community growth.
Equal Justice Initiative Founder Bryan Stevenson reinforces that call across the country. He rallies every American “to help towns, cities, and states confront and recover from tragic histories of racial violence and terrorism and to improve the health of our communities by creating an environment where there can truly be equal justice for all.” As a result of facing history and committing to equal justice under the law, the Equal Justice Initiative has helped lead a Sustainable & Inclusive Growth-based revitalization of Montgomery. In turn, Montgomery has become an important Sustainable & Inclusive Growth benchmark for Paris, Texas and communities nationwide.
Janese Walton-Roberts, (left) a descendant of the victims of a 1920 lynching in Paris, Texas, speaks with Melinda Watters (right) at a memorial event in Paris on July 5, 2020. Watters is a descendant of John H. Hodges, the landlord whose actions set in place incidents leading to the lynching of the Arthur brothers.
Photo Source: Klark Byrd, The Paris News
2. Community Background for Chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth: Columbus Lowndes County Chamber – Columbus, Mississippi
Chamber of commerce leader and elected official, Robert Gleed, a subject of the 2020 HBO documentary Our Towns, provides a tragic example of the coordinated terror used to exclude African American from local economic growth. As an African American, Gleed moved from Columbus, Mississippi to Paris, Texas in 1876 for reasons directly related to the nation’s legacy of lynchings. Specifically, Senator Robert Gleed, at age 39, fled for his life from Columbus after his near election as Lowndes County Sheriff. As in Paris, the threat of lynching in Columbus was ever present given Lowndes County’s record of 20 documented lynchings.
At 17, Robert Gleed escaped slavery in Virginia, was recaptured in Mississippi, managed to buy his freedom, and settled in the Eastern Mississippi town of Columbus. After the Civil War, he served as a two-term Mississippi state senator, a Columbus city alderman, and leader of his county chamber. As a prominent business leader, Robert Gleed owned a general store and other businesses, 300 acres of farmland and city lots, a stately home, and also served as president of the Mercantile Land and Banking Co.
Dangers to African Americans increased as post-war Reconstruction unraveled across the nation generally, and especially in the South. Amid those pressures, Robert Gleed was still appointed a lieutenant colonel in the Lowndes County Militia in 1873.
Senator Gleed testified in 1871 to a U.S. Congressional commission on how lynchings and whippings led by the Ku Klux Klan used mob attacks to promote fear and cut short the economic growth of the county’s African American community. Anti-Black groups used violence to stop educational improvements across the county which were severely needed for business development, given that African American’s learning to read had been illegal in several states prior to the Civil War. Despite the economic and physical dangers of testifying, Senator Gleed and others explained how intimidation, like the written death threat he received with the KKK’s signature, halted the recruitment of teachers and the efforts of African Americans to get an education in the county. In the words of Robert Gleed, “They could not get anybody to teach them up there, for fear of their lives, either white or colored.” In parallel with nationwide Black voter suppression, violent intimidation kept virtually all of the African Americans in Lowndes County away from the 1875 polls. Robert Gleed was the expected winner in the 1875 election for Lowndes County Sheriff based on the overwhelming majority of African American registered voters in Lowndes County. Specifically, White city officials invited armed White mobs to patrol the city on horseback and on foot to prevent African Americans from voting, as detailed in eyewitness testimonies ordered by an 1876 U.S. Congressional investigation of the 1875 election and also recorded in a book by
“On the day before the election a body of armed [White out-of-state opponents to Gleed] rode into the town of Columbus. These men were employed as policemen, and the city council paid their expenses for being present on election day.
…for some time prior to the election [White political leaders] held meetings in the county. The [White party members] attended these meetings heavily armed, and the cannon was also taken along. All persons were invited to attend. It was openly announced at these meetings that [African Americans] should not vote unless they voted the [White] ticket…”
In a summary of the testimony, Brigadier General Raum quoted Robert Gleed “We had so many threats of violence…we used to ask for life and liberty, —but now, if we could be just spared our lives, so as we could go peacefully along and be permitted to enjoy our lives as men and as human beings, we would be satisfied with that.“ The Associated Press  recounted the scene in Columbus on the eve of Gleed’s election, November 1, 1875. “…A mob of whites attacked a parade of [Gleed’s] supporters. Four blacks were killed, one on the sidewalk in front of Gleed’s store…the only thing that saved him that night, according to historical accounts, was a white friend who hid him in a well. As the mob of torch-carrying whites surged through town on election eve, fires broke out. Whites invaded Gleed’s house, shot up his furniture…
The next day, Gleed’s [White] opponent…was elected sheriff. Gleed fled to Paris, Texas, leaving behind his house, his general store, and its stock, his city lots and farmland. Soon after, two white townspeople claimed Gleed owed them money, and foreclosed on his property, records show. Toby W. Johnston liquidated the store and stock, pocketing $941. Bernard G. Nedrick, a city councilman, took 215 acres of Gleed’s farm for what he said was a $125 debt. [Another White resident] snapped up Gleed’s home and an adjacent lot for $11 at an auction, and later took the rest of Gleed’s city holdings for $500. In the 1940s, the old Gleed farm was sold to the federal government; today, U.S. Highway 50 runs through it. One of Gleed’s city lots now holds four houses, a gas station and [realty company].”
After reviewing a litany of such incidents in county after county, Brigadier General Raum concluded: “…the white inhabitants resisted those measures of equality which were essential to local and general peace and prosperity. They refused to accept the negro as their equal politically, and for ten years they have seized every fresh opportunity for a fresh denial of his rights. At last they have gained supremacy in the State by acts of violence, fraud, and murder, fraught with more than all the horrors of open war, without its honor, dignity, generosity, or justice.”
Robert Gleed died in Paris, Texas in 1916. The Columbus Commercial newspaper’s 1916 obituary wrote: Gleed was about 80 years old, and is believed to have been the last remaining negro who has served Lowndes county in an office which is now filled by honorable and distinguished white citizens.”
That was 1916. More recently, the community has begun to celebrate Robert Gleed. In 2018, the Columbus Commercial Dispatch newspaper described the portrayal of Robert Gleed as part of an annual recognition of Mississippi history by Dairian Bowles, a junior at Mississippi School of Science and Math. The article reported how impressed Dairian was by the successful life Gleed had during such a difficult time for African Americans in the South.
“I was really surprised,” [Dairian] said. “It wasn’t something I had any knowledge of, that a man like that lived in Columbus.” The organizer of the event, sixth-generation Mississippian and Dairian’s high school history teacher, Chuck Yarborough added that “These students are…telling the stories of African American leaders who faced difficulties and yet continued to work for their own betterment, the betterment of their families and communities, and ultimately they worked for the betterment of the nation…To me, there’s no more American story than that.”
For the U.S. as a whole, Robert Gleed is a national reminder of the country’s history of community-maintained looting that still affects today’s capabilities for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth. As Columbus Lowndes County Chamber creates Sustainable & Inclusive Growth initiatives, recognition of Robert Gleed’s pioneering economic leadership, along with the institutional realities that led him to flee Columbus for his life will benefit growth plans going forward.
3. Community Background for Chamber-led Sustainable & Inclusive Growth: Blackstone Valley Chamber – Northbridge, Massachusetts
Like Lamar County Chamber’s Paul Allen, Jeannie Hebert, the Blackstone Valley Chamber CEO, sees education and training as a source of her region’s future growth. As detailed throughout this document, the Fellowship Program partnered with the Blackstone Valley Chamber as part of its Community Connection Campaign with Fellows and a range of initiatives that started in early 2014. Throughout that period, Jeannie architected a Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan that built on the community’s strong history of manufacturing innovation, business collaboration, workforce education, and public transportation.
One of the region’s liabilities for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth going forward that Jeannie Hebert identified has been a shortage of new entrants to the workforce who are willing to train for a career in advanced manufacturing despite the relatively high wages of those jobs. The continuing loss of good public transportation to and from the Blackstone Valley has exacerbated that shortage of high skill-trainees.
Developing new transportation infrastructure presents the chamber with a tough challenge given the combination of public investment and mass traffic needed to build any new systems. However, Jeannie engaged the local vocational technical high school in conjunction with the chamber’s Ed Hub and Makerspace to work around those challenges through distance learning. The Blackstone Valley also tried to address the workforce shortage by making sure its Sustainable & Inclusive Growth strategy embraces all its community members.
In 2020, the Blackstone Valley Chamber completed the inaugural year of providing the nation’s first chamber-led reentry program from incarceration into professional development. People from the region incarcerated at the Worcester County correctional facilities begin training for advanced manufacturing certifications while still incarcerated. Upon parole, each student starts in-person training at the Blackstone Valley Chamber’s Ed Hub and Makerspace where they get experience with 3D printing, CNC machine tools, and other advanced equipment.
During Post-COVID, Jeannie Hebert personally delivered Chromebooks to each of the paroled student’s homes so they could get their advanced manufacturing certifications on schedule. Members of the chamber already guaranteed jobs for each of the individuals coming out of the criminal justice system and reentering the community through the Blackstone Valley Chamber. This Central Massachusetts program is a pacesetter for the nation in taking on one of the most under-engaged
The Fellowship sees local chamber progress on this issue being important for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth across every U.S. community given the reality that America has become the leading incarceration nation worldwide. The U.S. incarceration rate grew exponentially since the 1970s to account for more than 20% of the world’s people incarcerated despite the U.S. representing less than 5% of the world’s population.
Addressing the incarceration challenge as part the chamber’s Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan holds special community significance for the region around the Blackstone Valley given the area’s formative history leading to the separation and incarceration of Native American families.
The coverage areas of the Blackstone Valley Chamber and its adjacent chambers include cities and towns that were previously Native American villages created by the Massachusetts General Court. These villages range from Hassannamisco (now Grafton) to Waentug (now Uxbridge) either within the Blackstone Chamber or at other chambers in nearby communities. Each of these communities were inhabited by Nipmuc and other nearby tribes who had converted to Christianity in the mid-1600s through their reading of the first printed Bible in a Native American language and the ministry of John Eliot. They were known as the Praying Indians.
One young Nipmuc convert was James Wawaus from a prominent Praying Indian family with successful agricultural crops and livestock in the four square mile village of Hassanamisco. At age 19, he journeyed with Reverend Eliot from his Nipmuk River (now Blackstone River) community to a new home at the Harvard Indian College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. James Wawaus apprenticed at Harvard using North America’s first printing press. He became known thereafter to English-speaking New Englanders as James Printer.
The combined knowledge of technical printing skills and fluency in English, Latin, and indigenous languages allowed James Printer to work with John Eliot to translate the Bible into Eastern Algonquin. In 1663, they published the first complete Bible printed in North America before James Printer returned to the Blackstone Valley as a teacher.
Praying Indian families sided with the New Englanders in the fierce fighting remembered as King Philip’s War. However, they were distrusted by the settlers. During the winter of 1675-1676, an estimated 500-1,100 of the Praying Indians were shackled, forced on to three ships, and then transported to be imprisoned on Deer Island in Boston Harbor without sufficient food or shelter. By the time the Praying Indians were released, approximately half had died of hunger and disease, and others were too ill to enjoy their liberty. Some, according to colonial records, were sold into slavery or indentured as servants to English families.
During King Philip’s War, colonial authorities imprisoned James Printer in 1675 but released him a year later. After the war he returned to printing a second Bible edition with John Eliot and teaching Native American families. He died in 1709.
By 1741, Grafton still had a Printer family member in town based on the will recorded for Ammi Printer, a prosperous Native American local with fruit trees, livestock, and 300 acres of land. He had married and had a family with an English New Englander, Sarah Solomon.
Massachusetts officially disbanded most of the Praying Indian towns after King Philip’s War which facilitated a rapid dissolution of Native American landholdings. New England leaders began to describe Native Americans as a people and a culture that had disappeared from the Blackstone Region and New England generally. Meanwhile, Native Americans regulary intermarried with African Americans and census counts less frequently mentioned individual connection to Native American or Nipmuc identity.
Instead, the census increasingly categorized the descendants of the Nipmuc as negro, black or mixed blood despite their continued presence in the Blackstone Valley.
Colonial Massachusetts had legally joined the fates of Native Americans and African Americans long before King Philip’s War. Enslavement of Native Americans in Massachusetts goes back to the aftermath of the 1637 Pequot War south and west of the Blackstone Valley where war captives and non-combatant refugees found themselves “sold and devoted unto servitude” among the English settlers in accordance with the official 1641 Massachusetts legislation of slavery. Even the first Governor, John Winthrop, who proclaimed his goal for the Massachusetts Bay Colony to be a “city on the hill”, had kept Indians enslaved in his home.
By the end of the 1600s, New Englanders enslaved more than 1,200 Native American men, women, and children either in Massachusetts or in transport south to the Caribbean and beyond. Colonial records sometimes showed the newly enslaved Native Americans being traded in the West Indies for enslaved Africans who were brought back to continued enslavement in Massachusetts.
Reverend John Eliot was a rare voice in opposition to selling humans for profit writing authorities that: “This usage of them is worse than death.” Massachusetts had begun its leadership in the Atlantic slave trade, the business of incarceration, and the establishment of race-based laws and commercial codes to remaining Nipmuc community to be acknowledged as a nation in 2004. Nevertheless, the Nipmuc maintain themselves as an indefatigable force in their original Praying Indian community of Hassanamisco within Grafton…walking distance from the Nipmuc/Blackstone River.
Photo Source: Massachusetts Secretary of State Website
The Nipmuc hold an annual Sacred Paddle of remembrance to the Praying Indians being taken into bondage and onto prison boats down the Charles River and over to Deer Island.
Today, multiple monuments exist to honor Reverend John Eliot. The monuments recognize Eliot’s leadership in the conversion of the Native Americans and in the integration of the Praying Indians into Central Massachusetts colonial communities.
Massachusetts has yet to fully create any official memorial to the Praying Indians or their imprisonment and death on Deer Island. The government has since converted Deer Island into a prison, immigration center, and most recently into Boston’s primary sewage treatment plant alongside the unmarked graves of
In 2004, the Mayor of Boston finally repealed the 1675 Indian Imprisonment Act, which authorized the arrest of Native Americans who enter the city of Boston and prescribed that “None of that Barbarous Crew, or any Strangers not of our Nation” be permitted “to lodge in Town, unless in Prison.”
While the Blackstone Valley’s Community Connection Campaign does not begin to directly address the painful history of the Praying Indians or Native Americans in New England, the Sustainable & Inclusive Growth plan does connect to the Blackstone Valley’s past and resets the Blackstone Valley’s aspirations for the future. More fundamentally, the innovation along with Sustainable & Inclusive Growth better connects previously disconnected members of the community today.
Situational Awareness & Analytics[edit | edit source]
Fellows serve local chambers with the benefit of situational awareness by growing up or going to college in that geographic area. The Fellowship adds to the depth of each Fellow’s situational awareness by providing a combination of historical context and diagnostics to understand how each community can grow. Over time, the Fellowship aims for the sum of the community-specific contributions by Fellows to help revitalize the local chamber movement nationally.
As a first step, Fellows take on the responsibility of learning what their local chambers want to prioritize in the context of each chamber’s past and present assets and challenges. Specifically, Fellows help chambers evaluate
Community Connection Campaign Precedents[edit | edit source]
There is nothing new about addressing Sustainable & Inclusive Growth challenges through Community Connection Campaigns. As one example, the program introduces Fellows to the 1899 Atlanta Conference study by pioneering American Civil Rights activist, W. E.B. Du Bois. His team’s extensive research detailed the experiences across the U.S. of 1,900 African American freedmen who had become business leaders themselves or whose children had become business leaders in the three decades after the Civil War. This massive quantitative project, called The Negro in Business, culminated in multiple studies by Du Bois on community growth after slavery with thousands of African Americans.
Du Bois and his team resolved at the 1899 Atlanta Conference that the U.S. needs a Negro Business League as an ”…organization in every town and hamlet where colored people dwell…and the gradual federation from these of state and national organizations.” Tuskegee University founder, Booker T. Washington, established the National Negro Business League in 1900 which operated in hundreds of communities across the country during the years when the White-led chamber movement regularly excluded African American businesses.
At the close of his best selling 1901 autobiography, Up From Slavery, Booker T. Washington recounts his vision for the National Negro Business League. Washington, who was formerly enslaved himself, explained how, only 35 years after slavery’s end, 300 African American delegates assembled in 1900 from their various “lines of trade or business in different parts of the United States. Thirty states were represented at our first meeting. Out of this national meeting grew state and local business leagues.”
Each session of the first annual conference and subsequent annual conferences focused on best practice sharing across successful leaders in dozens of market categories. For example, Boston business leader, Alice Casneau spoke on rising to the general and race-based challenges of local and national success in every industry including her field of dressmaking.
Casneau’s leadership in the business league followed her activism against lynching, unjust laws, and discriminatory commercial codes with several legends of her day (e.g., Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Mary Church Terrell, Elizabeth Lindsay Davis, and Professor Josephine Silone Yates).
By the fourth annual session of the National Negro Business League held in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 19-21, 1903, ”over two hundred delegates were present…many of these delegates came as representatives of local business leagues, whose membership is often quite large…3,000 men and women of our race who are engaged in business.”
In 2017, the Fellowship and Platform Development Team reconvened in Nashville with local chamber executives from across the U.S. and Canada where Booker T. Washington had gathered leaders near Fisk University over 100 years earlier. Together, more than 1,000 local chamber executives committed to a new set of priorities by 2025 beginning with “Belonging and Gathering” as their number one priority. According to the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives, the new local business leaders “bring with them inclusive core values that challenge traditional perceptions of a chamber.”
Business leader Alice Casneau from Proceedings of the First Annual National Negro Business League in front of design pages from her nationally recognized book on dressmaking techniques. Photo Source: National Negro Business League
The Value of Constructive Benchmarks[edit | edit source]
Little Rock Central High School students including teenaged Terrence Roberts being protected in 1957 by Federal troops enforcing the Supreme Court’s ruling to desegregate U.S. public education. One of the inspirations to the Fellowship’s process has been the eminent Arkansan psychologist and professor, Dr. Terrence Roberts. His professional path was shaped by his choice as a teenager to be one of the “Little Rock Nine” teenagers who volunteered to integrate the all-White Central High School in the capital city of Arkansas. After the Arkansas governor deployed the National Guard to stop the students from entering Central High School in spite of the Supreme Court desegregation ruling, President Eisenhower deployed U.S. troops to accompany the students to school each day until the school year ended. In a Platform planning workshop with Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training, Dean John McArthur, Dr. Roberts summarized why he saw data-driven Best Practices Scoring as a key to nationwide community mobilization:
“The Fellowship Program and platform contributes to Community Commerce innovation by combining tools that score business best practices with the simple principles of being constructive and non-partisan.Each of the local chambers of commerce could logically connect and upskill small businesses and their teams. But they need that common rating scale and benchmarking system like the Fellowship Program scores to bring the businesses and people together. Otherwise, we’re all human and tend to fall back on pride, shame, fear, greed, cowardice, and our other traits that get in the way of positive progress.”
— Dr. Terrence Roberts, Psychologist, long-time professor, and author of Lessons from Little Rock, A Memoir of his experience as part of the Little Rock Nine.
“In every country, diversity in the local business community is like the alloys that make steel strong. Iron on its own is brittle. But the alloys added make the combination much stronger and more valuable.”
– Dr. Sanjay Sarma, Pioneer of digital supply chain commerce and Applied Learning & Teaching; MIT Vice President of Open Learning
1. Sustainable & Inclusive Growth Oriented.
As a starting point for the Fellows, the Fellowship Program defines two terms:
Sustainable & Inclusive Growth is the advancement of equal economic opportunity for all populations and resources across a community through the regenerative expansion of income & wealth driven by:
2. Transparent and Data-Driven. By understanding the U.S. Census representation of small & local businesses currently and historically, Fellows help local chambers expand their impact through a strength-based approach to Sustainable & Inclusive Growth across their communities. The Fellowship Network platform uses Networked AI & Big Data to empower collaboration and ensure the more vital role of women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses in local chambers in accord with the U.S. Census analytics.
3. Systemic with Measurable Impact. Fellows focus on helping small & local businesses grow revenue and jobs one step at a time. They multiply their impact through Networked AI & Big Data systems that accelerate the systemic progress that each local community prioritizes. At each step, the Fellowship Network platform measures that progress as the basis of success for the chambers, their members, their communities, and their Fellows.
4. Long-term Partnership Focused. As with any effective collaboration, the Fellowship Program’s Applied Learning methodology builds on strong partnering between the Fellows, the Fellowship’s Support Team, small & local businesses, their chambers, other business associations, and a combination of higher education and public service institutions. Each member of the partnership has responsibilities to the others and understands how mutual accountability maximizes growth in skills, revenue, jobs, and community strength across stakeholders.
5. Constructive, Non-partisan, and Respectful. The Fellowship focuses on progress and the development of shared pride across each individual local community. The program encourages Fellows to listen during that process as principled learn-it-alls rather than know-it-alls.
Strength-Based Community Commerce Innovation Process For Sustainable & Inclusive Growth[edit | edit source]
The Fellowship’s approach builds its Strength-based Community Commerce Innovation process
1. What are we most proud of:
2. Given the answers to question 1, what potential resources for growth are available from:
… And how can we expand them?
3. Given the answers to questions 1 and 2, which past and present concerns could get in the way of progress and how could we address those concerns across:
For example, Boston as a higher ed and high tech center has numerous strengths for the next Industrial Revolution based on networked intelligence. However, Boston has yet to address its centuries of glaring but under-acknowledged racial disparities that currently range from equal access to quality health care and education to equal opportunities for businesses bidding on municipal and state government procurements.
The Fellowship and Platform Development Teams believe that acknowledging and addressing these concerns will make the local chambers and Boston stronger, not weaker. Indeed, the Boston area’s ability to attract a diverse workforce depends on acknowledging and addressing these challenges.
[edit | edit source]
Before 1776, no country had declared higher ideals for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness than the United States of America. Today, the U.S. continues to reckon with profound contradictions in these national ideals.
At the center of these contradictions, the U.S. has been hallmarked from its founding by unparalleled free enterprise started and sustained by subjugation and oppression.
The U.S. free enterprise system has yielded enormous wealth, yet whole communities have been systemically excluded from sharing in that prosperity. This has not been a failure of the nation’s system. The U.S. has institutionalized exclusion by design, acquiescence, or negligence for particular demographics during specific time periods.
Against this backdrop, remarkable American precedents exist for fundamental and continued progress on Sustainable & Inclusive Growth through systemic changes that are purpose built for each U.S. community. The Fellowship Program and Fellowship Network platform were developed to support that progress one neighborhood, town, city, and region at a time.
Appendix III. Continuing to Find the Right Founding Partners for the Platform Development Team[edit | edit source]
The Peake Fellowship and Peake Fellowship Network platform strategy and funding comes from a unique coming together of Platform Development Team Founding Partners who reflect the Peake Fellowship’s principles of constructive and non-partisan service. Each of the Platform Development Team Founding Partners has a specific skill set that the program depends on to support the efforts of the Fellows, local chambers, and member businesses. The group established the standard for leadership experience in commerce, education, service, and technology with the background of Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Founding Chair Andrea Jung along side the Platform Development Team Co-Founding Chairs for Training: Vice Admiral David Brewer (Ret.) and Harvard Business School Dean Emeritus John McArthur.
Andrea Jung, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Founding Chair[edit | edit source]
Paul Horn, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner, Executive Chair, and AI Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]
Vice Admiral David Brewer (Ret.), Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Training Co-Chair[edit | edit source]
Nancy Bekavac, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Training Co-Chair[edit | edit source]
Professor Julie Reuben, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Training Co-Chair[edit | edit source]
Mark Bezos, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Marketing Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]
Mark Coblitz, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Roll-Out Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]
Perry Cohen, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Experiential Learning/Supply Chain Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]
Professor David Cooperrider, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Strength-Based Campaign Lead[edit | edit source]
Sarah Hancock, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Community Experience Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]
Robert S. Kaplan, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Scorecarding / Cost Management Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]
Evan Malone, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; NextFab CEO and Jill Weber, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Restaurateur[edit | edit source]
Allison Mnookin, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Industry-Specific Best Practices Lead[edit | edit source]
Pamela Passman, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Platform Risk Management Best Practices Lead[edit | edit source]
David Sandberg, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and General Counsel[edit | edit source]
Professor Len Schlesinger, Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Business Metrics Strategy Lead[edit | edit source]
Don Bulens, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]
Governor Gaston Caperton, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]
Kelly Conlin, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]
Harriet Edelman, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Bed, Bath & Beyond Chair[edit | edit source]
John Esler, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]
Richard Joseph, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]
Robert Keith Jr., Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]
Vani Kola, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Kalaari Capital CEO[edit | edit source]
Ed Lange, Platform Development Team Founding Partner[edit | edit source]
John Malone, PHD, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Chairman, Liberty Media[edit | edit source]
Charlie Martin, Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Healthcare Industry Innovator[edit | edit source]
Brad Perkins, M.D., Platform Development Team Founding Partner; Former CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer[edit | edit source]
John McArthur In Memoriam (1934-2019), Platform Development Team Founding Partner and Co-Chair for Training; Harvard Business School Dean Emeritus[edit | edit source]
How will Main Streets across the entire country rise to America’s small & local business challenge as each neighborhood, town, city, and region tries to mobilize their Post-COVID recovery and reinvention? By adopting Networked AI & Big Data-based capabilities for 24/7 responsiveness and innovation, small & local businesses across the country can upskill for Sustainable & Inclusive Growth through Community Commerce.
Photo Source: Arizona Daily Independent News Network, Fellowship Team