A Publication of WTVP

To serve as president of a member-funded, 105-year-old organization is humbling, to say the least, and a responsibility I take very seriously. The history of our Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce is rich, as evidenced by the volunteers who have served us with passion in the past and those who carry forth that fervor today. I have colleagues from coast to coast and across the globe that would cherish an opportunity to lead a century-old organization. I let them know it is great, but we never become complacent. We have much work to do in the Greater Peoria Area and across Illinois to ensure the viability of our economy and quality of life for generations to come.

In 1917, our Chamber, then known as the Peoria Association of Commerce, cited ten membership benefits. They were:

  1. To serve as a clearinghouse of information to the business community;
  2. To build the city of Peoria;
  3. To foster cooperation that brings “brick and mortar”;
  4. As a moral obligation to one’s city;
  5. To save businessmen money;
  6. To prevent problems;
  7. To work continuously to plant industry;
  8. To provide promotional work that is valuable;
  9. To stay in close touch with “big affairs”; and
  10. To submerge individual interests.

Today, it would cost a great deal of money to hire a consultant who could develop a very similar list for us. At the end of the day, however, has much really changed? And isn’t this why we should all remain students of history? That’s not to say that my team and I, along with our tremendous core of volunteer board members, ambassadors, committees and young professionals do not keep our pencils sharp. Rather, it is a validation that we carry forth the history of our business community with a keen eye toward the future.

I do not have room here to address the ten priorities from 1917, but with confidence, I can report that we are excelling in many areas. Number one stands out to me in a profound manner: we are a clearinghouse of information to the business community, and that function often serves as a call to action. Your Chamber of Commerce does not shy away from hot topics, and regularly, our board will take an official position on issues such as minimum wage, tax increases, utility service and education, to name a few. We are always a source of credible information and dialogue, thanks to the 1,100 Chamber members who choose to “stay in close touch with big affairs” (#9 on our list).

Presently, our biggest affair is lifting Illinois back to the state of prosperity we should be. The Chamber is fortunate to maintain positive relationships with our local, state and federal elected officials. Combined with the ongoing day-to-day work with our public and private industry partners, we are able to keep our finger on the pulse and our members informed. The network established through our 105-year history is strong, and based on our growing number of member businesses and young professionals, we will remain strong.

We work daily with our local partners to promote our economy and quality of life. We’re fresh off a very successful “Shop Small Business” holiday campaign, in which so many of our locally-owned businesses participated. The holiday response was fantastic, but I’m here to remind you to shop local 365 days a year. By shopping local, your tax dollars stay here while you support our local employers. Here’s to a great 2015 to our businesses, families and all of you working so hard to make Greater Peoria thrive! iBi