Earlier this year, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Area Economic Development Council, and the Greater Rockford Growth Partnership boards voted to merge organizations in an effort to provide more value to our members and investors. This value comes in different forms such as resources, a more collaborative network, talent/workforce support, and a collective voice to policy makers. Since the vote, work has been underway to streamline the organizations, implement foundational changes and structure to realize the mission, and build a foundation for successful years to come.
For the next couple of months, I’ll be writing to you as the Board Chair of the Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce to shed light on what the new organization has been doing since this vote occurred. Our goal is to be transparent in our process and serve you – the businesses in our community – as we work together toward a more prosperous future for the region.
So what’s next?
We are moving quickly to continue the great momentum realized leading up to the merger. We are working through a 90-day implementation plan which includes two parts.
The first part includes implementing the pillars we outlined in the initial merger messaging.
Parallel to the implementation plan is the committee work we’re doing right now that will represent the different pillars of the organization. We want to get the right representatives in those seats, and the right charters for the groups.
The second is working to merge a number of operational, financial, and other functions of the organizations. The implementation plan includes a rebranding initiative underway, and soon you can expect to see a new logo, website, and marketing efforts.
We also are working on filling our board and our committees with more people to best represent the Rockford region. We’re striving to become a more diverse board and will add more seats so we can fulfill that mission. Additionally, we’ve invited ex-officio members to have a seat at the table, ensuring we’re able to maintain relationships with public officials and decision makers.
In the long-term, we want to be a functioning organization supported by robust financials. Overall, the number one measure of our success will be how businesses in our region are succeeding.
How will the new organization be structured?
This is a new, exciting difference we’re working toward. Previously, the three organizations had three separate CEOs or presidents over each. Moving forward, we will have one governing board and one CEO. This greatly clarifies operations and responsibilities.
Hiring the right person, with the right skillset and abilities is critical to the success of the organization and we’re moving swiftly but want to ensure we take the time to hire the best fit for our merged organization and our community overall. We’ve already completed the CEO job description and are planning to work with a search firm to quickly bring this new person to our organization. We’ll continue to provide you updates on our progress.
What does your investment look like moving forward?
The Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce will transition to a single, tiered funding model. The goal is that based on the size of your business, the right package full of the right resources will be made available. Small businesses or large businesses may want to invest in different packages.
The key is clearly defining what matters to you, our customer. We are in the process of finalizing a proposed model based on what we believe are key factors, but we want your input/feedback. Our goal is to get this insight over the next few months and are in the process of defining what is valuable to businesses and getting their feedback to build that into the organization’s funding model. What we do know is this will be more streamlined, with greater efficiencies, and a single interface.
Our overall objective is to support the businesses in the Rockford region better, whether that’s through connectivity, training, or workforce development aspects. We also want to be more effective at attracting businesses to the area and showcasing a great environment for job growth. The board at the Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce is working hard on establishing this foundation, so we can watch the region grow to even greater potential. I look forward to providing more updates, and of course supporting you – and our businesses — any way I can.
Congratulations to our Women-In-Business Nominees! We will be announcing our four honorees, one in each category, at Pow(H)er on November 16 at Prairie Street Brewhouse during our Women-In-Business Luncheon.
Congrats to all nominated!
Community Hero, Presented by The Broken Wings Club
Dezire Childress, Beautiful Beginnings Community Outreach
Roberta (Bobbie) Holzwarth, HolmstromKennedy
Danna Krischke, State Farm
Nicole Morig, LaLoggia Investment Group of Wells Fargo Advisors
Erin Rabon, Circle of Change
Kelli Ritschel Boehle, Nikolas Ritschel Foundation (Nik's Wish)
Christina Valdez, CMM and Associates
Woman Business Owner of the Year, Presented by Thayer Energy Solutions
Sherri De Rosso, Northern Illinois Optical Co Inc
Sandra Reyes, New Era Golden Care
Dr. Elisha Robinson, Intergrative Healing Center
Jen Spencer, Studio GWA
Emerging Leader of the Year
Ebrah Buah, City of Rockford
Ashley Ronquillo, Van Matre Encompass HRI
Odessa Walker, Rockford Housing Authority
Excellence in Leadership, Presented by Erna Colborn - Edward Jones
Eileen Caver, AGHL Law
Patti DeWane, UW Health
Carrie Hagerty, City of Rockford
Emily Hartzog, Chartwell Agency
Laura Kane, Marshmellows Hope
Grayce Lanning, Van Matre Encompass HRI
Dr. Deepshikha Shukla, Rockford University