OVERVIEW: Incorporated in 1995, the Northern Ohio Area Chambers of Commerce (NOACC) was established to provide tangible benefits of chamber membership to local businesses. NOACC has now grown to over 125 chambers of commerce–some volunteer managed, some county-wide in scope–and some of the NOACC chambers have grown ten-fold with the adoption of these benefits.
INCEPTION: The genesis of NOACC started with a group of chamber executive directors gathering on a regular basis in the late eighties. Chambers from eastern Cuyahoga County, Lake County, Hudson and Parma were represented. The directors met about every six weeks to discuss matters of common interest, such as membership, programming, newsletter, and sources of revenue. In November of 1992, Ron White of Beachwood asked Bill Ryan of Master Benefits to participate in the development of tangible benefits of membership for the Beachwood Chamber of Commerce. In April of 1993, Ryan presented the answer to the Board: A Community Mutual Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance product that offered chamber members deep discounts off standard street rates and standard commissions to agents. All licensed agents were eligible to represent the product, hence attracting the immediate interest of dozens of local agents.
Within weeks the word had spread to other local chambers. They saw the potential to compete for local members with real tangible benefits. They saw the capability of growing their chambers through the health insurance agent sales force.
NOACC was formed and incorporated in November 1995 by the three founding chambers: Beachwood, Euclid and Solon.
LEADERSHIP: Vicky Hawke was offered and accepted the position of Executive Director of NOACC in March 2002 and served as the Executive Director of NOACC until September 2018. Cindy Caldwell (nka Holzheimer), the Executive Director of the Beachwood Chamber and served until 2018. Cindy now serves as the NOACC Executive Director. John Sobolewski, Executive Director of the Fairview Park, N. Coast, N. Olmsted and W. Shore Chambers was elected Chair in 2019.
BENEFITS: The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield program has been responsible for much of the growth and success of the NOACC Chamber partnership, as chambers across the state have sought membership to be able to offer the high quality Anthem plans exclusively to their members. Even with the changes brought with the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010 and implemented in January 2014, the ChamberSaver program has grown. With the addition of the SOCA Benefit Plan in May 2016, this Multiple Employer Welfare Association (MEWA) has offered new savings to businesses through their chamber membership and growth for NOACC Chambers.
A review of workers’ compensation third party administrators (TPAs) in 2008 resulted in the selection of Paramount Preferred Solutions (formerly known as Benefits 1 Group) as the preferred TPA for NOACC’s Workers’ Compensation Group Rating Program. PPS brings a wide variety of services to businesses with workers’ comp issues, i.e. penalty rated, etc.
The Wellness Council of Northeast Ohio was a natural evolvement for NOACC due to Anthem’s sponsorship and focus on wellness. The council was adopted in 2000 with a weight management program that now has expanded its offerings to a walking program and a smoking cessation program recently.
An association plan for overnight delivery and freight services with PartnerShip (working with FedEx) to bring significant savings from small packages-ground and air delivery to truckload savings. This has provided a revenue program for the participating chambers.
In January of 2001 the Board adopted a discounted rate plan and the services of a top ranked credit card processing company, Heartland Payment Systems, providing an opportunity for even the smallest business to offer an additional payment option. When a Payroll Processing benefit was researched in 2003, after studying multi proposals, Heartland Payment Systems was chosen again as the best option for both chambers and their members.
A printing/copying discount card program was established in 2019 in conjunction with the Power of More. This allows for an almost 80% discount on printing and copying services through Office Max and Office Depot locations all over Ohio.
The Community Energy Advisors (CEA) joined with the success of their program evident in the Greater Medina Chamber and has proven to be a reliable energy savings and education program for all the chambers, and a significant revenue generator for many.
Since 1995, several benefits, besides the ones mentioned above, have been added, i.e., digital marketing, group life & disability insurance, a managed care organization, etc. The NOACC executive team works diligently to research and negotiate the best terms and offers that can be made available regionally to the growing NOACC membership. Potential benefits are constantly being studied.
The launch of the Chamber Bright Star program in 2008 brought the chambers together to celebrate the efforts of their volunteers in their mutual success. Each year since 40-50 Bright Stars have been recognized locally and regionally with a gala event held in various locations in north east Ohio. Venues have included the Cleveland Metropolitan Zoo, Cleveland Arcade, Cleveland Browns Stadium, Greater Cleveland Science Museum, Hard Rock Rocksino, Canton Pro-Football Hall of Fame and more.
GROWTH: In March 2003, NOACC celebrated the 100th chamber joining its pool of members. In October of 2006 NOACC Celebrated its 10th Anniversary with Governor Bob Taft visiting to award membership plaques to 40 chambers in attendance. NOACC celebrates its 25th anniversary in 200.
NOACC currently offers benefits to almost 30,000 employer groups through the membership of over 125 Chambers of Commerce in Northern Ohio. It is now the largest independent chamber association in the United States and is prepared to meet the current and future needs of this expanded service area and membership. The NOACC events and meetings offer chamber leadership–both staff and volunteer–many networking and sharing opportunities. And the main purpose of NOACC’s creation, to attract and keep members in the local chambers of commerce by offering significant discounts and rates on benefits and businesses want and to seek opportunities for non-dues revenue generation for chambers–has been successful. Thanks to all NOACC Volunteers and Vendors–past, current and future.