Archive for the ‘stimulus’ Category

Help Local Businesses Do More Business

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015

In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday to help business owners with their most pressing need — getting more customers. Today, shoppers across the nation continue to rally in support of small businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

The following Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce Members will be participating and offering something special on Saturday, Nov. 28.  We encourage you to support fellow Chambers members on this day.


Aurora Fastprint, Inc

Aurora Historical Society and Museum

Fox Valley Nutrition

Gillerson’s Grubbery

Grothman Clinic of Chiropractic, P.C.

It These Walls Could Talk Framing & Gallery

K.Hollis Jewelers

Kirhofer’s Sports

Prisco’s Family Market

Promcam Photo & Video Gear

Rocktown Adventures

The Voice

WBIG Radio AM 1280


For a complete list of members and specials, click here.

Why Aren’t We Getting Our Fair Share?

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner and Chamber President Joseph Henning will join Congressman Bill Foster for a panel discussion on Illinois’ “Payer State” problem. Business and community leaders are invited to join the discussion Friday, Feb. 6, in Aurora City Council Chambers at 44 E. Downer Place. The event begins at 1:30 p.m.

Other panelists include Illinois Deputy Treasurer Jay Rowell and Illinois Poison Center Medical Director and MCHC Physician Michael Wahl, MD.

In a typical year, $20 billion leaves Illinois because we are a “payer state.” In fact, we pay $1.36 in Federal taxes for every dollar of Federal spending returned to the state. Illinois ranks in the bottom three nationwide when it comes to return on the Federal dollar. What could Illinois do with that money?

To attend, register at

Shop Local this Holiday Season; We All Benefit

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

This week begins the holiday season for many of us. It also starts the chaotic rush of list making, shopping and shipping. By all reports, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be bigger than ever. But on Saturday, we all have an opportunity to support our local businesses and our community.

For the third consecutive year, the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce has partnered with American Express and others to encourage the community to support our local businesses.

Celebrate the local character of our retailers. In a world that is increasingly mass produced and packaged, there are a number of options for consumers to find something unique and personal within our community. By supporting these businesses, you are helping to preserve their distinctive character.

For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $68 of additional economic activity is generated through additional spending cycles. According to a Civic Economics’ study of Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, this activity is in addition to wages and local taxes. Businesses tend to use local services such as marketing, accounting, and consulting firms. They get their supplies — such as paper, signage, and products — from fellow local businesses.

These businesses build strong communities that link us with our neighbors. They contribute to the causes and societal needs of our community.

In addition, when supporting our local retailers, restaurants, and service providers, you realize lower taxes. According to the American Independent Business Alliance, a local focus on shopping and dining locally means a more efficient use of land which results in less demand on our roads, sewers, and safety services.

More importantly, the Alliance reports that specialty retail — primarily small neighborhood-located businesses — generate a net annual return to municipalities of $326 per 1,000 square feet of store space. Most other businesses in the survey actually cost the taxpayers more than the return on the investment.

Furthermore, according to the City of Aurora and Village of North Aurora, they each receive one percent in gross sales back from the State of Illinois. This money is applied to essential public services such as police, fire and public works. In addition, North Aurora receives $0.50 per $100 general merchandise purchases while Aurora (a home-rule community) receives $1.25 per $100 for road improvements and capital projects.

While supporting our local businesses, we are also reducing our reliance on other taxes. We realize more effective and efficient services.

I encourage you to support the many retailers, restaurants and service providers in our area this shopping season. Keep our tax dollars in the community where they can truly make a difference.

Check out the business directory at and select a couple of local businesses to visit. Choose to do some of your holiday shopping at a local business. Join us on Facebook and let us know what you find.

Year in Review: An Annual Report to Our Membership

Friday, October 31st, 2014
We appreciate all of our members, community partners, and volunteers. During yesterday’s Annual Celebration of Membership,
we shared the following data with those in attendance. We believe this information supports the work of our members, our volunteers,
and our staff. We are focused on supporting our business members. If you are interested in discussing membership with
the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, please contact our office.
October 31, 2014
In This Issue


Quick Links


Follow Us!
Facebook Twitter Blog

Signed and Sealed
Certificates of Origin
(a 44% increase over previous year)


Products, Programs, Services for Our Business Members


Public Policy Meetings


Visitors to Website


Represented more than
Employees in Membership


Accreditation with
U.S. Chamber of Commerce


Business Members Represented
Communities in Illinois


Took Positions on
Bills in Illinois General Assembly


Business Members Realized
Hits to 534 Job Postings


According to National Study
by The Schapiro Group
of Consumers were More Aware
of Chamber Member Businesses


Hosted more than
Events for Members


Creating a Strong Local Economy
  • Produced workshops on Medical Marijuana in the Workplace, Concealed Carry, Affordable Care Act, and other Employment Law programs to support our businesses
  • Conducted business retention, expansion, and development activities
  • Produced week-long Small Business Aurora event
  • Forged ongoing collaboration with regional and statewide economic development programs
  • Graduated the 35th Leadership Academy class
  • Offered opportunities to improve their bottom line with affinity programs for office supplies, utilities, and internet services
  • Responded to information requests and data research for member support services
  • CEO represented membership on numerous workforce development groups, including River Valley Workforce Investment Board, Governor’s 21st Century Workforce Development Advisory Fund, and Pathways to Prosperity
  • Provided intermediary responsibilities for Aurora Region Pathways to Prosperity initiative with City of Aurora, community colleges, and public school districts
Representing Business to Government
  • Presented on behalf of business at City Council meetings
  • Held monthly Aurora First meetings to support improvements in Permitting, Electrical Ordinances, and other initiatives
  • Board and CEO attended Illinois Business Lobby Day in Springfield
  • Participated in 107 public policy meetings with elected officials, State departments, and local committees and groups
  • CEO and Board represented business members on various task forces, committees, and advisory groups
  • Conducted member surveys and provided input to elected officials on issues ranging from business taxes, state finances, economic development, and education reform
  • Hosted regular Council on Legislative Affairs to address pending legislation that would impact business community
  • Took positions on 45 bills in Illinois General Assembly, including Pension Reform, Workers’ Compensation, Minimum Wage, Taxes, and more
  • Coordinated grassroots engagement of members with elected officials through meetings, communications, and business visits
Relationship Building Opportunities
  • Presented six successful Coffee & Connections programs with more than 300 total attendees
  • Hosted the Mayor’s State of the City address with more than 400 in attendance
  • Hosted the State of the Village of North Aurora address
  • Offered two Business Development Leads Groups for interested members
  • Leveraged U.S. Chamber of Commerce membership while offering Federation Partnership to participating small business members
  • Offered Constant Contact affinity program to better connect member businesses with their customers and prospects
  • Coordinated more than 55 ribbon cuttings, grand openings, groundbreakings, and open houses for business members
  • Offered Not-For-Profit Alliance to support collaboration, advancement of participating members
  • Coordinated annual Holiday Celebration in collaboration with Quad County African American and Aurora Hispanic chambers of commerce
Promoting Our Community
  • Maintained existing website with nearly 65,000 unique visitors
  • Realized more than 2.2 million page hits to the website
  • Reached 718 fans on Facebook page
  • Counted 2,079 twitter followers
  • CEO commenced writing a monthly column in Beacon News
  • Responded to all media interview requests
  • Produced weekly e-newsletters, blogs, and social media posts
  • Supported community special events
  • Collaborated with City of Aurora and Village of North Aurora as well as more than 50 other partners on various initiatives
  • Collaborated on Diversity Network to support business-inclusion practices in community
  • CEO and staff served on numerous state and national boards and committees
Promoting Our Members
  • Provided members with sponsorship, marketing, and promotional opportunities via our newsletters, eBlasts, special events, and website
  • Offered additional levels of membership, including Premier Membership with 12 members and Elite Membership with more than 50 members
  • Promoted several Member-to-Member discount programs
  • Successfully supported the Shop Local and Shop Small campaigns
Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce | 43 W. Galena Blvd. Aurora, Illinois 60506
Phone: (630) 256-3180 Fax: (630) 256-3189 |

State Award Will Drive Economic Development

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

Governor Pat Quinn announced today that OnLight Aurora is a recipient of an Illinois Gigabit Communities Challenge Grant award, a statewide competition to establish ultra-high speed broadband networks across Illinois. The state is awarding $1 million in Illinois Jobs Now! capital funding to OnLight Aurora to help connect the city of Aurora’s fiber optic network to its education, business, and healthcare communities and accelerate economic growth and job creation.

“Smart communities will foster the job engines of the future,” Governor Quinn said. “To win in the information economy, we need information infrastructure that is second to none. Through the Gigabit Communities Challenge, Illinois will build stronger, smarter communities with Internet connections more than 100 times faster than they are today.”

OnLight Aurora is an independent, not-for-profit organization that was formed out of a technology task force organized by Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner in 2011 that included volunteers from Aurora’s business community and city officials. The mission of OnLight Aurora is to leverage the world class connectivity of Aurora’s Fiber Optic Network for non-municipal use. The $1 million award from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will help provide connectivity to Aurora’s public and private K-12 schools; higher education and healthcare institutions; commercial corridors and community anchors in underserved areas; and major non-profit organizations across the city.

“This grant will help OnLight Aurora continue to close the digital divide within our city by capitalizing on our Fiber Optic Network,” said Mayor Weisner. “We know that technology has the potential to revolutionize our educational system and it is an absolute must for successful companies of all sizes. By developing the infrastructure of the future, we drive economic development, strengthen our tax base, and address our community’s most fundamental needs: jobs, quality of life, and global competitiveness.”

“One of the major factors in companies locating to a city is the access to technology,” said Joseph Henning, President and CEO of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce. “This grant will make it more cost effective to provide current businesses and those looking to make Aurora home, with the technology they need to succeed in today’s global business environment while creating thousands of jobs over the next five years.”

OnLight Aurora Board Member and software business owner Mark McCoy added, “It has always been OnLight Aurora’s goal to provide internet access to the many organizations that make Aurora a great city for families and businesses. This grant will help move Aurora into the future and assure success for our schools, hospitals, business community and non-profits.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Lists States Seen Growing, Creating Jobs

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

WASHINGTON–North Dakota, Utah and Texas will likely be leaders in the next decade when it comes to growth and job creation, according to a report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce released ahead of the group’s jobs summit on Wednesday.

Rounding out the top 10 “future boom states” are Virginia, Wyoming, Washington, Maryland, Colorado, South Dakota and Massachusetts, according to the Chamber’s report on enterprising states.

“Businesses need a highly skilled workforce — including many workers with certificate or two-year degrees — that is able to perform the jobs of a 21st century economy,” according to the report. “States that are able to get students involved in…science, technology, engineering, and math – and provide the tools, support, and tax and regulatory environment for companies to continuously innovate will be the most competitive.”

For full story, visit their website.

JOBS Act would aid young companies by lightening regulations

Monday, March 12th, 2012

March 12, 2012
USA Today
Tim Mullaney

After winning rare bipartisan approval in the House of Representatives, a package of bills aimed at kick-starting the market for initial public offerings and other financing options for start-up companies may reach a Senate vote in a week.

The Jumpstart Our Business Start-ups bill, or JOBS Act, would help young companies by exempting smaller businesses from some regulations imposed after the tech stock bust of 2000, said Kate Mitchell, chairwoman of the IPO Task Force, a group organized by the National Venture Capital Association. Former venture-backed start-ups account for 12 million U.S. private-sector jobs, according to an NVCA-commissioned study.

The measure won a 390-23 vote in the House on Thursday and has White House backing.

Venture capital lobbyists plan to deliver a letter today with 700 signatures to Senate leaders urging a quick vote, NVCA spokeswoman Emily Mendell said.

“I see this as a confluence of smart regulatory reform and a jobs agenda,” said Mitchell, a partner at Scale Venture Partners in Silicon Valley.

She said the companies need access to IPOs and other capital to grow quickly and create jobs.

The association has argued that IPOs have fallen 80% since the 1990s. It largely blames the cost of complying with the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley securities law, which it says can cost a company $1.5 million a year, and restrictions on when investment banks can publish research reports on IPO clients after a public offering. Loosening those restrictions would increase information available to investors, the association says.

The bill would allow companies with less than $1 billion in annual sales, or that are selling less than $700 million of stock, to give investors two years of audited financial results before they go public instead of three, and have lighter regulation for up to five years after the IPO.

It would also let investment banks publish research about their clients’ IPOs deals before they happen, which is now barred under the so-called “quiet period” rules to avoid market manipulation.

Other provisions would raise from $5 million to $50 million the ceiling for shares that a private company can sell as part of a public offering before having to register with the SEC, raise the SEC registration threshold from 500 to 1,000 shareholders, and increase the number of shareholders permitted to invest in a community bank from 500 to 2,000.

The bill would help businesses about the size of Demandware, a maker of Web commerce software used by clients such as Panasonic and Callaway Golf, which is scheduled to go public this week; and Chuy’s Holdings, a Texas-based chain of 31 Mexican restaurants that is in pre-IPO registration.

Chuy’s CEO Steve Hislop said he hasn’t yet determined if the proposed rules will affect anything about his company’s deal.

The bill sparked some backlash from groups representing consumers and small investors, who said it would boost chances of immature companies going public, and also of fraud by investment bankers.

Kathleen Smith, head of an IPO-focused mutual find company and research firm, said Congress wants to be seen as supporting anything intended to create jobs.

“If it’s a job-creating headline, the politicians will all agree we need jobs,” said Smith, a principal at Renaissance Capital, which runs the IPO Plus Aftermarket mutual fund.

Banks that manage IPOs will be able to use inside access to past financial results to dominate research on new companies, with incentives to promote their firms’ banking clients, she said.

Instead of being narrowly tailored to help small business, the bill will loosen rules, some decades-old, for larger companies that did 98% of all recent IPOs, she said.

“But we’re better independent analysts when we have three years of financials, because we know more.”

Creating jobs is Job #1 for Illinois’ future

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Courtesy of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce

As the General Assembly returns to Springfield to begin the second year of the 97th session and candidates for legislative office look toward voter approval in the March 20th primary, it is appropriate that we reflect upon the big picture issues that continue to demand the attention of our state’s political leadership.

Last year at this time the Illinois Chamber published “Jobs Agenda: A Blueprint For Growth & Prosperity.” I’m pleased to report some progress was achieved, as the legislature adopted a few measures that emerged from the recommendations. However, the overriding themes have not changed as we preview “Jobs Agenda II.” More must be accomplished if our state is to accelerate economic growth, significantly improve employment opportunity and raise Illinois’ standing in the eyes of the nation relative to other states.

All business owners, managers and chamber members who encounter a candidate for legislative office over the next two months should attempt to keep their incumbent legislator or the would-be legislator focused on the following talking points:

Commit to Making State Fiscal Responsibility a Reality. Governor Quinn and the legislators continue to adopt budgets that fail to meet the Illinois Constitution’s mandate for a balanced budget where expenditures do not exceed revenues. According to research compiled by the Institute for Truth in Accounting, Illinois is in the 48th worst financial position of the 50 states.

The goals should be obvious: meet outstanding bond payments, satisfy the full pension payment obligations due each year, get current on all accounts payable, pay future vendors and tax refunds within 90 days and do not obligate expenditures that exceed available revenue. State budget makers must get on a spending trajectory that will reach these goals.

The remedies are harder:

1. Public employee pension liabilities and health care commitments of more than $100 billion are the single greatest obligation. As has already been done in the private sector, these benefit programs are unsustainable and must be restructured. Current and former public employees must assume more responsibility for their health care costs.

2. The largest budget item is Medicaid benefits. The state has over-promised services it cannot afford and has underpaid health care providers for services delivered. The Medicaid program must be restructured to control costs, reduce the number of eligible recipients and adjust payments to more closely meet cost of care.

3. The high cost of corrections is directly related to the number of incarcerations. To reduce the inmate population the state must revisit sentencing, drug policies, education and employment.

The chief fix to improving the state’s fiscal condition is an expanding economy. The state’s focus must be on public policies that encourage private sector job growth. Illinois needs to pursue an agenda that will help the private sector generate 500,000 more jobs in our state. A half million new jobs would bring the number of people employed in Illinois back to where it was a decade ago. Jobs are a magnet for population growth. Population growth accelerates spending. Spending equals tax generation.

Our elected officials need to understand that they cannot tax our citizens and businesses back to prosperity. The state’s elected leaders need private sector confidence and investment to do that for us.

Attack the high costs of doing business associated with taxation, workers’ compensation, litigation and regulation. Governor Quinn and the legislators should begin by following the lead of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle who is rolling back the excessive county sales tax rate and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel who is rolling back the city’s employee head tax. Or mimic Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, who has successfully imposed a hard cap on real estate taxes and is pursuing a program to step down the corporate income tax rate.

Raising the state’s corporate income tax rate a year ago to impose the fourth highest rate in the country is a poison pill that must be diluted before it does more damage. Our state’s leaders need to start rolling the rate back immediately and make sure to target a new rate that is not just competitive, but attractive.

Legislators must revisit the workers’ compensation statute. There was progress in 2011, but the results are not going to show sufficient savings to move Illinois from the top of the list of most expensive states when workers’ compensation costs are measured. In order to change the state’s standing there must be a clear and dramatic departure from past practice. The private sector employer community must keep legislators focused on the need to change the definition for determining work-related injuries. Legislators should be reminded that since public agencies – including the state – are major employers, reducing workers’ compensation expenses can help them with government budget problems.

Outsiders continue to view Illinois as a “judicial hellhole” that attracts litigation because a lax standard for venue means that companies from all over the world find themselves appearing in Illinois Circuit Court. For example, Madison County has become the venue of choice for asbestos cases and has a docket that exceeds the number of cases filed in any other jurisdiction in the country. Another legal reform that could improve Illinois’ image in the eyes of employers would be to raise the level of responsibility that any business must have in order to be held liable for 100 percent of a damage award. The employers’ exposure to liability in Illinois is clearly an aberration to what is common across the nation.

Keep focused on guaranteeing employers access to a high-quality workforce. Despite unacceptably high unemployment statistics, employers across the state lament the lack of qualified workers to fulfill their job needs. This disconnect is pronounced and must be addressed. If public officials and educators can partner with employers to satisfy this fundamental need, the state will be on the road to prosperity.

Illinois’ standing as a leading industrial state and headquarters for multi-national corporations, and Chicago’s status as a world class metropolitan area, are synonymous with the emergence of a truly global economy. Globalization of the state’s economy has made it obvious that Illinois’ approach to education must change.

The foundation is obviously making sure there are better educational outcomes for the state’s public schools. To successfully compete on a global scale and gain distinction for quality outcomes, it is apparent Illinois must commit to a longer school day and school year, embrace early childhood education, and impose higher learning standards.

Educators and employers must simultaneously assault and reverse the trend in high school dropout rates and put more emphasis on career academies and technical training opportunities. The key to a prosperous economy is having every able-bodied citizen adequately prepared and gainfully employed. Employers cannot afford to be complacent or disengaged from the state’s education community. Instead, employers must work with educators to implement programs that align employer needs for workplace skills with the K-12 curriculum, as well as institutions for higher education.

A state that values human capital and promotes educational systems that yield quality outcomes for a higher percentage of youth not only stimulates private sector growth and prosperity for its citizens, but also puts less pressure on major state budget expenses like health care, unemployment, and law enforcement.

Recognize that economic development and job growth does not occur without favorable public policies. Every public official must commit to making private sector job growth the No. 1 priority for our state. Most often the attention on government’s role in helping the private sector has to do with taking steps to eliminate barriers and regulations imposed by governments, promoting greater efficiency and responsiveness in agencies, and trying to modernize systems. It is necessary to continue giving attention to government operations and interface with employers.

However, there are also government expenditures that are advantageous to stimulating job growth. Continued investment in transportation and infrastructure is a fundamental public sector obligation that is critical to the state’s economy. The state and local economies also benefit from expenditures for convention and tourism promotion.

It is encouraging that Governor Quinn has recognized the importance of international trade to Illinois’ economy and has recently announced plans for trade missions. International trade is already a major contributor to the state gross product and is fertile ground for opportunity and future job growth. Our public officials need to embrace international trade opportunities by putting more emphasis on trade missions and interaction with foreign consulates, increasing the state’s presence at trade fairs – including those held on other continents – and by putting an increased focus on business matchmaking and partnerships with multi-national corporations that are investing or seeking business in Illinois.

The time for attention and action is now. Business and civic leaders across the state must appreciate that the political discourse of 2012 is an important moment for setting our state on a new path toward a more prosperous future. Between now and the November election there is time to help nurture the thoughts and actions of the candidates for public office toward embracing the elements of a proactive jobs agenda for their success and for a better Illinois.

Chamber Economic Report Highlighted

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Surprise! 2011 Ended With Unexpected Economic Bang
David Mielach, BusinessNewsDaily Staff Writer

While Americans were getting ready for the holiday season, the United States Chamber of Commerce delivered what might have been the most coveted gift of all: a report that claims that 2011 was ending on an economic high note. In fact, many analysts say the economy may have grown by as much as 3 percent from October to December, which the chamber said would represent the largest growth since spring of 2010.

Part of this sudden economic boom came from record holiday sales. According to a recent survey by digital tracker comScore, online sales hit $36.3 billion during the first 56 days of November and December, a 15 percent increase from the same period a year earlier. And just 10 days before Christmas, the National Retail Federation revised its projection of holiday sales to $469.1 billion, up from its own October estimates of $465.6 billion.

Strong holiday sales were not the only factor, however, in 2011′s strong finish. While holiday shopping reached an all-time high in 2011, the Chamber of Commerce says many other economic indicators ended the year unexpectedly healthy.

For the full article, visit the US Chamber here.

Another Way Your Aurora Chamber Membership Pays

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

The Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce a new membership benefit that will help your business or organization save money on the everyday purchases to run your business.

Through a partnership between the Aurora Chamber and Office Depot, Chamber Members can save anywhere from 15 to 30 percent on copy paper, ink, toner and general supplies. You also will receive deeper discounts on their most-purchased items.

Chamber Members will receive a straight 5 percent discount on almost everything Office Depot sells.

Enroll today and begin saving!

This program is completely free for Chamber Members to enroll. You can click here to begin the process or contact Anthony Falbo, program manager, at (815) 474-4086 with any questions.

“In this economic climate, every dollar counts and we are pleased to provide this benefit of bulk purchasing to our Members,” explains Joseph Henning, president & CEO of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce. “If you choose to enroll and use this membership benefit, your business will save on the products your organization wants and needs.”

Office Depot values its relationships with the small-business community and chambers of commerce and has a long history of collaborating to provide industry-leading rewards programs.

“We foster mutually beneficial working relationships with many businesses in Illinois,” said Steve Calkins, senior vice president of North America Business Solutions Division for Office Depot. “This is another opportunity for us to showcase our high-quality office products and services in a very cost-effective manner.”

Click HERE to Enroll Now!

For more information, contact:
Anthony Falbo, program manager, at (815) 474-4086 or the Aurora Chamber at (630) 256-3180.