Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Executive Director's Report by Bill Fleming

Sluggish Economy Continues
While many businesses and economists are beginning to project more favorable economic conditions, there are still signs our economy is struggling. As an example, the unemployment numbers for Illinois and our region jumped significantly in June.

The effects of the slow economy are being felt at many businesses and organizations in our area, including the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce. While we have many generous members who have continued to support the chamber with their sponsorships and membership investments, we have also lost a few longtime members and event sponsors.

Like many of you, the chamber has taken steps to weather this storm. At their August meeting, the Board of Directors amended our budget, reducing or eliminating expenses totaling $10,600 for the rest of the fiscal year. These expense reductions will not have an impact on the chamber’s programs, and the staff will work diligently to ensure our members continue to receive the same level of service.

Chamber’s Value
What value does the chamber provide our community? Sometimes it’s hard to quantify the answer to that question, but not this time. This time the answer is $30 million dollars.

In 1992 Chamber President Carol Shields organized a transportation committee and appointed Rich Kriegsman as the chairman and Denny Kief as the vice-chairman. Working closely with the City of Pekin and other local organizations, this committee has worked tirelessly over the past 17 years, advocating at the state and federal levels for the funds to construct Veterans Drive.

The progress has been slow – sometimes frustratingly slow. But every-once-in-a-while there is something to celebrate. The inclusion of $30 million dollars in the state’s capital plan for the construction of the southerly section of Veterans Drive is a huge step forward for the committee.

While not taking all of the credit for this success, I don’t believe there would be $30 million dollars in the state’s capital plan for Veteran’s Drive if not for the leadership of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce and our transportation committee on this issue.

Terri Trueblood Retires
Long-time employee Terri Trueblood will work her last day for the chamber on September 10th. Her retirement comes after nearly 10 years of service.

Over the years she has been a major reason for the success of many of our chamber events and programs, including the R. David Tebben Community Leadership Academy, the monthly FOCUS newsletter, and several Marigold Festival events. I’m grateful for all her contributions over these past 10 years, and know she’ll enjoy spending more time with her family.

We will hold an open house in her honor on Wednesday, September 16th, from 3:00pm to 4:30pm at the chamber office. I hope you’ll stop by and thank her for her service and wish her well in her retirement.

New Chamber Address
Please note we no longer have a PO Box. Our mailing address is: Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce, 402 Court Street, Pekin, IL 61554.

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