Sunday, July 15, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
The chambers of commerce for Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood and Melrose Park are joining forces to create a joint chamber of commerce for all of Proviso Township, according to Chris Parker, the co-chair of an exploratory committee that’s been established for the burgeoning entity.
The committee includes co-chair and current Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough, along with a range of business, civic and local political leaders, including: Tom Engoren, Debra Vines, businessman, Jesse Macias, Jack Stonebracker, Kevin McGee, Gerald Davis, Arnetta Watkins, Jacqueline Walton and Tami Yarbrough.
Parker, who is a vice president of commercial lending with Wintrust Bank and the current president of the Bellwood Chamber of Commerce, said in an interview on July 13 that the Proviso Township Regional Chamber of Commerce would not replace the individual chambers of commerce in those four towns.
“The new regional chamber will serve as the legislative and governmental affairs arm of all the chambers represented in this group,” said Parker, who added that the new regional chamber will allow those individual chambers a voice in the legislative process at the state level.
Parker said that the new chamber will also work with officials from private companies like ComEd on behalf of individual chambers.
“The mission will be for us to have a bigger voice as it relates to legislative and municipal strength from a regional perspective,” Parker said. “We need an entity that will representative our particular business community in the region.”
The idea for local chambers to combine forces, Parker explained, was prompted, in large part, by Maywood’s ongoing effort to renew its status as an enterprise zone — a designation it has held since 1988.
An enterprise zone is an area that offers various tax incentives to promote business development and job creation. Maywood’s status as an enterprise zone is scheduled to expire at the end of this year. Village officials are currently working to renew Maywood’s enterprise zone status before the year is out.
But in order to satisfy new state requirements that prioritize larger zones encompassing multiple municipalities, the village is seeking to expand the zone to include most of Bellwood, Broadview, Melrose Park and certain nearby areas in unincorporated Cook County, including the sites of the shuttered Maywood Park Racetrack and Loyola University Medical Center. ‘
The newly expanded zone entailed the creation of a five-person startup committee, with one designated representative from each government that will be part of the expanded zone. As part of the application process, a consulting firm was hired to assist the committee with identifying the zone’s specific boundaries, preparing the enterprise zone application and reaching out to area businesses to inform them about the tax benefits that come with being located in the zone, among other duties.
Parker said that the consulting firm reached out to the area chambers of commerce and “said we need to be able to quantify that there is development needed and that it will take place in the next five years.”
He said that the regional chamber is still in the early stages of formation. Parker said that the process could be wrapped up by the end of the year. Eventually, he said, the regional chamber will welcome businesses and chambers within Proviso Township but outside of the four inaugural municipalities.
In the meantime, Parker encouraged anyone with questions about the regional chamber, or interested in joining a local chamber, to contact him at (630) 321-2188. VFP
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