Lincolnwood Chamber of Commerce Turns “30”
“What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been”
This year marks the 30th Anniversary since the foundation of the Lincolnwood Chamber of Commerce. “What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.” The title of this song by the Grateful Dead is a fairly accurate description of the evolution of our Chamber of Commerce.
In 1978, a group of local business people had the vision and foresight to recognize that an organization of local businesses could effectively help promote business, each other and the community. The path to this end was uncharted; the steps to reach the goal were not yet built or defined; the plans for accomplishment had holes in them; the ‘color of money’ had not been released, but the foundation for something special had been laid.
In the formative years, it wasn’t difficult to generate membership. Businesses proudly and willingly joined the Chamber to be a part of this new civic organization to which there appeared to be no down-side. The Chamber, however, as with any new entity, had operating costs (i.e., rent, salaries, equipment, supplies) all of which needed to be funded. This was done, in part, from the annual investment of its members as well as through a bank loan from a local financial institution. The Chamber entered in a new area for funding and that was the administration of a health insurance program for small businesses. This program was a supplement to the cash flow problem, but was a major drain on the time needed to bring programs to the membership. Membership numbers dropped creating another cash flow obstacle.
In the mid 1990’s the Chamber took another path in this winding road and made the decision to exit from the insurance business in order to focus on the Chamber’s true mission. What fun is a smooth road?
Another bump in the occurred when the Chamber’s Executive Director, its sole employee, was forced to resign due to health concerns. The Chamber was almost forced to follow the dinosaurs into extinction and was virtually inactive for a year while it could rebuild. Start-up time brings with it growing pains and once again the Chamber had to walk before it could run, but the Chamber started to function again. Activities for members re-appeared, the Chamber had a pulse, and a presence. But there’re was an underlying feeling within the board that there was not a real commitment from the Board to the Chamber membership nor to the community.
Shortly after the millennium, the Board, individually and as a body, challenged itself to define the Chamber’s mission. A mission statement encompassing a philosophy of promoting its members and the community was born. “SERVICE, BUSINESS, COMMUNITY” became the Chamber’s commitment.
Today, your Chamber has a record membership. It has increased nearly 200% since the turn of the century. Today, the Chamber is truly a brotherhood of 170+ organizations working together to promote each other and our great community. Our calendar throughout the year is full of opportunities for organizational enhancement, fun and friendship. Our programs now include such staples as the Annual Business Expo. Golf Outing, Salute to Business, State of the Village Address, and a monthly Women-in-Motion meeting.
Your Chamber’s trip to the “top of the magical mountain” will continue. We have not now, nor will we ever, reach perfection, but our journey will go on. We must thank all those in the last 30 years who have traveled with us. Thank you to our original members who demonstrated their civic pride; to our original Board members who shared a dream; to those employees who made the dreams reality; and to those parties that shared part of the journey with us. Thank you to the former members who have relocated; to the former members who re no longer in business – we wish you success in your new ventures; to the former members who decided the
Chamber was not for them –thank you for letting us get to know you.
Our everlasting gratitude to those who began this trip 30 years ago and are still traveling with us:
- ATF, Inc.
- Bank of Lincolnwood
- Grossinger Autoplex
- Liberty Bank for Savings
- Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria
- Myron & Phil
- Nadig Newspapers, Inc.
- Oakton Community College
- Voss Belting & Specialty Company
- Village of Lincolnwood