- Dec 17, 2015
A year ago, as I began my first term as the Chamber Board Chair, I used this column space to express my enthusiasm for my new position and to share my goals for the organization. As I start my second year, I can honestly say that my excitement and the pride that I have in the organization have not waned. I state with confidence, our Chamber continues to excel in many ways – We have a growing and engaged membership base, offer informative programs, and are effective advocate for the business community.
Allow me to briefly reflect on the goals that I wrote about last year. Critical for the Chamber’s success is to be relevant — to find ways to be a meaningful partner to our growing and diverse membership. Our investment in technology is one way we have been a successful partner to our members. Our website usage is up 29% over 2014 with 3,263 user visits every month. More importantly, our conversion to a responsive platform has made it easier for members to find and use the Chamber website. More than 30% of all visitors accessed the website through their mobile devices. We’ve also increased our social media presence through our Facebook posts reaching an average of 4,000 users every month. Last year we expanded our partnership with the Village to extend the holiday focused “Northbrook Shopping Elf” Facebook page into a year round campaign to build awareness of Northbrook’s outstanding shopping and dining options.
We also tapped into experts to keep our members informed on topics of interest and concern. Our Annual Meeting speakers from Ernst and Young tackled the challenge of cyber security and nationally respected financial expert Jack Ablin from BMO Harris shared his views at our Economic Outlook breakfast. To help our smaller businesses, we reached out to Oakton Community College to conduct focus groups to identify relevant programming which will be forthcoming this year.
The Chamber made significant progress towards our goal of building community, both within our organization and with our neighbors. I have personally witnessed how our networking events provide connections for an increasing number of attendees. Last year we used our collective voices to make a difference locally. To support their scholarship program, and to build awareness of all that the Northbrook Civic Foundation does, the Chamber presented Civic with a check for $2,000 at a Business After Hours at the Northbrook Days festival. On several occasions the Chamber offered support to Glenbrook North High School’s DECA program that helps prepare students for business careers. To further their goals and give them valuable experience, we sponsored their participation at regional and national competitions and gave them opportunities to interact with business leaders at both a Chamber Board meeting and at a Business After Hours event.
We also carried on our tradition of hosting a meal packing event to give members the opportunity to give back to the community. An impressive 220 Chamber members from 83 businesses packed over 50,000 meals to deliver to needy families through area food banks. Taking it a step further, the Chamber made an additional $1,000 donation to the Northfield Food pantry to directly benefit local families. And, of course, members stepped up last month with their donations at the First Friday breakfast for both the Northfield Food Pantry and Youth Services.
I have personnally witnessed the influence of the Chamber. Through ourpartnership with the Village, and the relationships we have established with civic leaders, I’ve seen how our collective voices have made a difference, and how the Chamber has been able to effectively communicate the perspective and interest of the business community on important issues.
All of this lays the groundwork for another great year for the Chamber in 2016. I hope you will join us on our journey as we continue to build on these accomplishments, strive to serve our members and our community, and take the organization to new heights.