Serving on a Chamber of Commerce
By Dr. Scott Peska
Waubonsee Community College is represented on 13 different chambers of commerce throughout Kane and Kendall counties. Having served on the Elburn chamber for the last four years as a representative for Waubonsee, I have learned the value these organizations offer our communities.
For those unfamiliar with chambers of commerce, they consist of business and community leaders who meet with the purpose of addressing issues facing local business and industry, promoting entrepreneurship and economic development, and collectively serving the local community. Chambers of commerce are each unique in the relation to their city governments and the role they serve in their respective community. Chambers can be funded solely by membership dues or may be partially funded by local governments. Since many businesses, such as Waubonsee, serve multiple communities, it is common for them to be members of multiple chambers of commerce. Membership in these business networks offers a means of staying connected, informed and active.
Through my membership with the chamber, I have been able to make many connections with alumni of Waubonsee, who are excited to share their experiences and some who want to learn about ways to give back to the college. For example, a recent connection I made through a chamber golf event led to that individual being invited to campus to speak at a student leadership event. I have also learned about volunteer or internship opportunities that I am able to share with students interested in those fields. Another example of the networking that takes place through chambers of commerce is my learning about a community agency board position opening, for which they desired a representative from a two-year college.
Being actively involved in a chamber of commerce has helped me connect and develop a network of leaders throughout the community. Karen Parks, the Elburn Branch Manager for Old Second Bank, shared that “the beauty of being a member of the chamber of commerce is the amount of people you are able to meet and forge friendships with outside of the chamber group itself.” Her colleague, Jackie Link, the Sugar Grove Branch Manager, says, “it provides growth opportunities, camaraderie, and access to resources.”
In addition to connecting with others, the chamber is a great way to stay informed about local issues facing business and community leaders. At each Elburn Chamber of Commerce meeting, a business is highlighted, and many businesses have the opportunity to share needs they have or issues they are facing. Also, each year the city mayor or officials provide the chamber with an update on growth and progress on key initiatives.
Lastly, chambers of commerce are striving to enrich the lives of residents within their communities through collectively supporting community events and services. For example, the Elburn chamber supports an Elburn Christmas Stroll event, and also has hosted a “Folks on Spokes” community bicycle event. This dedication and service among our business and community leaders is why I enjoy serving on the Elburn Chamber of Commerce and believe more leaders of both small and large business should consider joining or becoming more active in their local chamber.