Archive for July, 2009

How To Get Our Groove Back

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Guest Blogger: Mary Kurek, Visibility Consultant
www.marykurek.com

We’ve all heard enough sad stories related to this recession to fill a rain bucket, and even if we aren’t as impacted as others, the news can’t help but dampen spirits.

The tendency can be to react by retreating. When you retreat, you pull away from possibilities and opportunities. You withdraw yourself from delivering those same things to others. Your talent, your wisdom, energy, and intelligence are all needed – now more than ever.

But, from what well do you draw this magic “happy juice” to get into a mingling mood? How do you adopt a fresh outlook and new perspective on business, life, and community? Here are some ideas:

1) Get thee to a beach…or a mountain. Nature’s simplicity invigorates and relaxes. You don’t need a 2-week vacation, either – just find the environment that works for you for a few hours. Walk it, bike it, climb it, dig in it, swim in it, or just observe it. Getting your head out of the usual atmosphere invites different thoughts. Some of my most creative ideas have come from beach walks (ie: Taking shrimp to the  Buffalo Bills during their spring training camp. Sons got to meet players up close.)

2) Engage in extraordinary networking. I have clients that have told me that they’d never blog or never post on  Twitter. Here’s what I say: I just got off of the phone with the  Deputy Lt. Governor of the State of MO (to interview him for this newsletter). I found him on Twitter.

The inspiration for my web site reconstruction came from an  executive recruiter in Texas (met him on Twitter).

I just did 3-days of work for a client across town that I met through a Twitter contact.

A couple of weeks ago, I helped a woman connect with two Marines who saved her husband from drowning at a local beach over 4th of July. She contacted me through Twitter.
Need I say more?

3) Take a Mini  Fam Tour – This is tourism lingo. “Fam” (short for familiarization) is an organized tour of travel writers and travel agents and meeting planners who are invited to a town to get familiar with the offerings.

You may have lived in your town all of your life, but I’m betting there is some park, library, community center, or historical residence you’ve not experienced. Go alone or with a group, but, like heading to the beach, this is an act designed to open your head to new ideas.

4) This is a “tuffy,” but the best way to dig yourself out of self-consuming thought is to put your thoughts elsewhere. It’s very easy during these times to feel overly conscious about our own situations, which can be a reason for reclusive behavior. The answer to that is to volunteer to help others. This one action uplifts two-fold and serves in so many ways, you are bound to reap reward as long as you go at it with an open spirit. Talk to your Chamber Membership Director for more suggestions.

Just a few ideas, but ones with significant and proven impact. Stay connected to your community and your Chamber. You business and your (self) will appreciate.

Help for Small Businesses Available

Friday, July 24th, 2009

The US Small Business Administration – through the 2009 Recovery Act – has short-term relief available for qualifying businesses. If your small business is stressed meeting expenses during these economic times, the SBA has a new loan program designed just for you.

Under authority provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (signed Feb. 17, 2009), SBA has designed a deferred-payment loan program to help small businesses make payments on existing debt. Section 506 of the Recovery Act authorized SBA to help viable small businesses make payments on existing small business debt. The America’s Recovery Capital, or ARC Loan Program, is designed to give viable small businesses facing immediate financial hardship some temporary financial relief so they can keep their doors open, refocus and get their cash flow back on track.

ARC loans are available through SBA-approved small business lenders and have been authorized through Sept. 30, 2010, or until the appropriated funds run out, whichever comes first. Non-SBA lenders can become ARC lenders. Contact the local SBA district office for information and training. Interested businesses can find the nearest SBA district office at www.sba.gov/localresources/index.html.

How small business owners benefit

  • ARC loans are interest-free to the borrower, have deferred payments for 12 months, and have no SBA fees associated with them.
  • ARC loans will allow borrowers to redirect cash flow from making loan payments to investing in their businesses.
  • Banks will begin investing in small businesses again, making credit more readily available for those businesses that need it.
  • Streamlined applications by SBA.

According to the SBA website, SBA loan programs now provide greater incentives to the lender, are more affordable for small business owners, and help to drive economic recovery in our community.

Loan structure

  • An ARC loan is a deferred-payment loan of up to $35,000.
  • ARC loans will be used to make up to six months of principal and interest payments on qualifying loans for existing viable for-profit small businesses in the United States.
  • Disbursement period (up to six months) is followed by 12 months with no repayment of the ARC loan principal, followed by a repayment period of five years. SBA pays monthly interest to the bank.

If you would like to speak directly to a customer service representative about the ARC Loan Program, please call our toll-free number (866-947-8081) Monday through Friday during the hours of 8am to 9pm (Eastern Time).

http://www.sba.gov/recovery/arcloanprogram/index.html

Ill. Tollway to Host Open House for Eola Road Interchange

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

New I-PASS Only Interchange to Provide Congestion Relief on Local Roads

The Illinois Tollway will host a public open house meeting to share information with interested residents and commuters regarding construction of the new Eola Road Interchange on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88). The meeting will be held from 4-7 p.m., Tuesday, July 21, at the Eola Community Center, 555 S. Eola Road in Aurora. The open house format will allow the public to view displays and planning documents, as well as pose questions to representatives of the Illinois Tollway’s Engineering Department. The new Eola Road Interchange will include four ramps providing access for Eola Road traffic to and from the Tollway via Bilter Road on the north side of I-88 and Diehl Road on the south side of I-88. Construction is underway and scheduled for completion by the end of 2009. The $50 million project is a joint collaboration between the Tollway, DuPage County and the City of Aurora, with the Tollway serving as the lead agency covering up to $25 million of project costs, the county funding up to $19 million for construction and right-of-way and the city contributing up to $6 million for right-of-way.

First Electronic-Only Toll Collection
The new Eola Road Interchange will provide all-electronic toll collection, the first on the Illinois Tollway system, and will include tolled ramps to and from the east. I-PASS toll rates will be set at 30 cents for passenger vehicles, and truck rates will range from $1.15 to $3.00 during daytime hours, with overnight discounts offered. Cash-paying customers will have access to existing interchanges at Farnsworth Avenue two miles to the west or IL Route 59 two miles to the east.

Eola Road Interchange Project Status
Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) mainline traffic is shifted to the inside shoulder and two left lanes in both directions and crews are working on embankment, installing storm sewers, digging new detention ponds and driving piles for retaining walls as work continues to build the new ramps for the interchange. On local roads, traffic is reduced to one lane in each direction on Diehl Road between White Oak Circle and Eola Road with traffic traveling on the south side of the road. One lane also is closed on Bilter Road between Ferry Road and I-88 for median removal and preparation for resurfacing and widening to accommodate the new interchange.

Aurora Hotel Licensing Information Session

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Many of you have contacted the Greater Aurora Chamber with questions regarding the proposed hotel licensing in the City of Aurora, Illinois.  There are also building code changes proposed and an overall Master Hotel Plan being considered.  Throughout this process there have been some zoning changes.

The Chamber has asked Mike Turner, consultant for the City of Aurora;  Sue Vos, Aurora Area Convention & Visitors Bureau president;  and city staff to share all of this with our members.  Mike & Sue have been involved in this work and are in a position to not only share this information, but to answer your questions as well.

This information session is scheduled for Monday, July 20, at the Chamber Offices from 4:00 – 5:00 pm.  The Chamber Offices are located at 43 W. Galena Blvd., Aurora 60506.  Parking is available in the Hollywood Casino parking facility on Galena Blvd.

We have limited seating available.  Given our limited space, reservations will be requried.  Please send RSVP to chamberinfo@aurora-il.org

Any questions, please call Pam Bellm, director of programs, at (630) 897-3717.

Getting Started in Social Media

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Guest Blogger: Chris Beebe, theVisionaryAgency

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIY-Z-XYt-c

Today, Facebook attracts a wopping 100,000-250,000 new users PER DAY… and it’s not a bunch of teenagers talking about the “hotties” of The O.C.

Facebook’s fastest growing segment is the over 35 crowd, with a whopping 100,000 users over the age of 64!! That’s a lot of potential new leads for your business.

As the Granddaddy of all social maketing tools, use Facebook to generate awareness, promote yourself as an expert and drive people to your website and landing pages. It will be a natural for them to opt-in to your free reports, give-a-ways, classes and more. Facebook is a great way to build your database, promote your niche expertise and expand your sphere of influence.

Join us at the Chamber’s July 14th luncheon to learn more about strategies to use social media to promote your business. To register: http://www.aurorachamber.com

Getting Started in Social Media
Tuesday, July 14, 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Stonebridge Country Club

See you there.

Chris Beebe

Welcome to Our New Home on the Internet

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Thank you for visiting the new http://www.AuroraChamber.com website. During the past six months, we have reviewed our existing communications tools and identified opportunities to better serve our members. We think you’ll agree: The new site is more user-friendly and provides more resources for our visitors.

In addition, the new site contains a members-only section. Follow the steps and register for access. This area includes our benefits program and a forum for you to share information with fellow members. You can even ask questions of the Chamber staff.

Many of our businesses are becoming more engaged with social media. We have embraced this opportunity to increase our networking and communications opportunities with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. But rest assured, this does not mean we will be eliminating the traditional networking opportunities. In fact, this month we have a member lunch with Illinois COO Jack Lavin to discuss the impact of Federal stimulus dollars on our community. On July 14, we’ll have a member lunch to discuss strategies for effectively using social media for your business.

Our planning period has begun. As a staff, we are reaching out to our members, volunteers and other partners to better understand their needs. We plan to make our 2009-2010 fiscal year even better.

Finally, thank you for visiting our blog. We are excited about the opportunity to share information with our members — to be a catalyst for business development. Please visit us often.

Your feedback is always welcome. Let us know how we can serve you.

Joe