Wednesday, July 18, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson during a July 18 business luncheon, where she announced that the Broadview Chamber of Commerce has been reconstituted. | VFP
In front of a crowd of roughly 30 small business owners, elected officials and local bank executives, Broadview Mayor Katrina Thompson announced that the Broadview Chamber of Commerce is now the Broadview Business Association.
Thompson made the announcement during a business luncheon held July 18 at the village’s council chambers, 2350 S. 25th Ave. in Broadview. The event was co-sponsored by Proviso Community Bank.
“We’ve restructured and reorganized [the chamber, which] will now be the Broadview Business Association,” Thompson said, adding that the new organization has a new logo, a new motto (“connecting the businesses and people of Broadview”), some new functions and is looking to recruit a brand new executive board.
Thompson told those in attendance that her office will “be the support system” for the new association, which she said will provide local businesses and nonprofits with a range of services and resources.
Broadview Clerk Kevin McGrier, who helped establish the Broadview Chamber, will be influential in getting the Broadview Business Association off the ground, Thompson said.
She added that the old chamber “did a good job” getting the “ball rolling, but we just didn’t have great success with that, so we need to just change, rebrand, re-market and do things a little bit differently.”
The mayor said that the new association will help steer members to information on local tax incentives, contract and procurement opportunities, certifications, and business development strategies; provide them with marketing and branding assistance; and create a platform on which local business and nonprofit leaders can network, among other functions.
“We want to be the source where you guys can come and network with us and we can solicit your business,” Thompson said. “The village has not been very good on soliciting the business we have in town. So, we’re looking to revamp that.”
Thompson said that her office has been focused on developing the village’s Roosevelt Road corridor, which she called “the first point of interest to Broadview.” She said that last year, she brought in an architect to help reface the corridor, which runs from 9th to 25th Avenues, so that business facades have a uniform, consistent aesthetic.
The mayor said that she’s also had discussions with the Illinois Department of Transportation about ways to make the corridor more pedestrian and biker friendly.
The move to rebrand the Broadview chamber comes in the wake of Maywood’s effort to renew its status as an enterprise zone, which expires at the end of the year.
An enterprise zone offers various state tax incentives designed to attract new businesses to the area or to help existing businesses expand — those incentives, the idea goes, should, in turn, help stimulate the local economy and create jobs.
State officials have alerted municipalities applying for renewals that they’re prioritizing applications for zones that encompass multiple municipalities, so Maywood officials have offered to expand their enterprise zone to include Bellwood, Broadview, Melrose Park and certain parts of unincorporated Cook County.
As part of the renewal application process, the five local governments within the zone have appointed representatives to sit on a five-person startup committee. All of the governments have contributed 20 percent of the costs of funding the application process.
Part of that funding has been allocated to hire a consultant — Warren Ribley, the president of WCR Enterprises — to help facilitate the process.
“The business support is vital,” said Ribley, who is the former executive director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity — the entity that administers the state’s enterprise zone program, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“One of the things we’re asking for are letters of support from the business community, including manufacturing, industrial commercial and healthcare,” he said.
Ribley said that, as a criteria for securing enterprise zone designation, the local business community must make a long-term case for economic growth.
“We have to demonstrate that, if we create this enterprise zone, then there will be growth,” Ribley said during the luncheon.
“We need to have you put on your long-term planning hat,” he added, “look at the best-case scenario and say, ‘We support the enterprise zone and we anticipate that if this designation is granted we’ll be able to invest [so many] millions [of dollars] in capital, create so many jobs and retain whatever jobs we have.”
In order to shore up their argument, leaders of the Bellwood, Broadview, Maywood and Melrose Park chambers of commerce recently announced that they plan on joining forces to create the Proviso Township Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The new entity will serve as a legislative arm for the individual chambers, representing their interests in Springfield and in conversations with officials from large corporations that have local presence, such as ComEd and Nicor.
Christopher Parker, the co-chair of the regional chamber’s exploratory committee, said during an interview earlier this month that the new consolidated chamber should be finalized by the end of this year — around the time when applications for the renewal of enterprise zone status are due.
Parker — who is also the executive vice president of commercial lending with Wintrust Bank, which owns Proviso Community Bank, and the president of the Bellwood Chamber of Commerce — echoed Thompson’s point that businesses in Proviso Township need greater regional representation.
“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 earlier this month. “We need an entity that will represent our particular business community in the region.” VFP
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