Joseph B. Henning, IOM
President and CEO
The Chamber often refers to change. By definition, as a “catalyst for business success,” the Chamber must be an agent for change in our economy to better provide programs, services, activities and benefits that help our members succeed. Often, that change we must provide results in a direct change for the Chamber and its leadership.
In September, as we sought to begin another great year of providing outstanding programs for our members, the Board of Directors unanimously voted to change our name to Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce. It was not done in haste.
In fact, the Board called a special meeting for discussion of the topic and, in the end, agreed that it was the right time for the Chamber to address its growing coverage. In fact, as the Chamber team — including its experienced and dedicated staff and the committed Board — began reviewing the highlights and statistics for the year, it became apparent that our reach was increasing with the membership more than 90 percent of our membership in the eight counties of northeastern Illinois. While more than two-thirds of our membership comes from an Aurora location, the communities of North Aurora and Naperville each contribute nearly seven percent to our membership. Other communities with significant segments of our membership include Oswego, Montgomery, Batavia and Sugar Grove.
The value that we strive to provide to our members is recognized through the area as being necessary for businesses to identify and market to prospective customers and to address pro-business ideals with our elected officials.
With that in mind, Pam Bellm has taken on the position of director of Legislative Affairs. Although she has long been involved in many of these efforts, this shift commits the Chamber to a more effective and focused presence in assisting our members with advocacy.
We also have a number of new programs and services for our membership this year. Opportunity Institute will offer new ideas and tactics for better financial management, sales strategies and business development. A new collaboration with Aurora University’s Dunham School of Business has resulted in a three-part Leadership Series to begin this year. A partnership with Dynamic Professional Women’s Network will bring the first Illinois Women’s Symposium to the area next spring. Plus, we still will offer great programs for our members on topics they have requested to advance their business.
I share these details with you to let you know that we at the Chamber are effectively committed to identifying the needs of our membership and to provide the resources they require. Last year we saw more than 20 percent increase in attendance and participation at our programs and seminars. With effective management of our resources, we were able to end the year with a positive balance in our books. As you are aware, this was not easy. But each of our members deserves our appreciation for their support of our programs and our organization.
We look forward to another great year of providing services to our membership. If you are a member, we look forward to seeing you at the many events we have scheduled for the year; and remember, each of your employees is a member, as well. If you cannot make it, perhaps someone else within your organization is interested and available.
If you are not currently a member of the Aurora Regional Chamber of Commerce, we invite you to become involved in our programs and services. Check out our website — www.AuroraChamber.com — and see what we are about. Call the Chamber at (630) 897-9214 for information. We look forward to meeting you.