The Carbondale Chamber serves the area as an influential non-profit, member-driven, professional organization whose primary mission is to advance the interests of business. We strive to provide opportunities for business leaders to educate and promote themselves and their businesses. Additionally, we partner with a wide variety of organizations committed to making Carbondale a great place to live, work, visit, play, and invest.
Chamber members are people representing businesses who believe in their community and in conducting business the right way. Together they strive to be fully involved in all aspects of the city. They share a bias for action and the understanding that being a member is an investment not only for their business but also in the quality of life for the entire region. The Chamber is a credible source of information for residents, visitors, people relocating to the area, and new and existing businesses. Membership identifies companies as reputable, trustworthy, and invested.
The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce serves the city, and the organization’s nearly 500 member-businesses through a variety of programs, services, and activities. Significant events such as the Chamber’s Annual Awards Banquet showcase the accomplishments and successes of our businesses. On-going programs including the Chamber’s regular Business Builders Breakfast, Round Pies/Straight Talk and Networking at Noon series. Additionally, the Chamber regularly participates in the “Talk of the Town” radio program heard every Monday morning on WDBX-FM. The Chamber also stands as a credible source for the latest in information and business news for other local media outlets.
Ten months out of the year, the Chamber hosts a Monthly Membership Luncheon featuring a program on a topic of interest to the Membership. Each Spring and each Fall, Carbondale Chamber works with other Chambers of Commerce in the region to host a Regional Chamber Luncheon.
The members that reap the most benefit from membership are often the most active; those who serve on committees and attend events. The following are just some of the many efforts that are the responsibility of the Chamber’s volunteer committees:
The Ambassador & Membership Committee strives to promote member participation, support the mission of recruiting and retaining Chamber membership. Committee members also assist participating in ribbon cuttings, grand opening ceremonies, and after-hour events for member businesses. The members of this committee strive to make new and returning members feel welcome at Chamber events.
The Saluki Pride Committee partners with Southern Illinois University in recruitment and retention efforts. The committee participates in activities such as SIU Open Houses, Weeks of Welcome, Dinner in the Dale, Saluki Athletics, Homecoming and International Student Events. This committee is also responsible for the "Dawg Paws" seen on streets and in driveways across town. This committee provides many tools for area businesses to show their Saluki Pride. In addition to the Paws, they offer Saluki Banners and T-shirts. This committee also supports the Saluki Stay Scholarship that assists juniors and seniors by providing a variety of in-kind gifts from member businesses. Saluki Pride also funds the Chamber Scholarship and the Mayors Scholarship, which are awarded to Carbondale Community High School students committed to attending Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
The Government Affairs Committee, aka the DC Advocacy Committee, discusses and researches appropriate state, local and national issues to help the Chamber best represent to governmental bodies the views and opinions of its membership. When applicable, the committee supports a public stance by the Carbondale Chamber in support, or opposition of, actions being taken in government. Members of this committee have also attended Chamber Day at the State Capitol in Springfield. The nickname DC Advocacy Group is a result of recent trips to Washington DC to advocate for our city and county. These annual trips include area Mayors and City Officials, Chamber members, and representatives from local Unions, Southern Illinois University, and Southern Illinois Healthcare.
The Economic Development Committee is comprised of community leaders with a bias for action. Three sub-committees exist within the Economic Development Committee. Each of the committees is focused on an area of Recruitment and Retention. The three areas are Recruitment and Retention of Businesses, Recruitment, and Retention of Residents and Recruitment and Retention of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Students. This committee conducted a Survey to access the needs of the business community. The results of the survey were shared at a luncheon at Keller’s Crossing at Stone Creek. These results have provided a road map for the work of this group. Accomplishments include hosting a Carbondale Connections event to connect businesspeople with free and low-cost services, establishing new resident welcome bags, and working to better partner with the Southern Illinois University.
The Carbondale Young Professionals (CYP) group provides a path for young professionals to live fully by being engaged, shopping local, and participating in events in the Carbondale community. This group provides opportunities for people to build their network of contacts through fun activities and networking events. CYP also provides programing designed to help its members grow in the areas of communication, leadership, and management. Lastly, CYP works to join young professionals together to benefit the Carbondale community through participation in charitable efforts.
The Leadership Carbondale Committee plans and executes an eight-month Leadership Course. The class meets monthly. The class is designed for members of the business community who seek further leadership development and want to learn more about the Carbondale Community. During the mornings of each session, a community leader leads the class through the Positive Leadership Curriculum. The course then travels to a Chamber Member Restaurant for a Lunch and Learn featuring a speaker on the topic of Leadership. The afternoon is reserved for a Field Experience in which the class tours unique locations throughout Carbondale. The class is exposed to a Community Leader who meets with them at each of the sites. The class will also complete a class project during the time of their course. Leadership Carbondale culminates with graduation at our Monthly Membership Luncheon in November. This program had been dormant for some time and resumed in 2018. The program graduated 13 participants in 2018, and currently has a class of 10.
The Finance Committee oversees the day to day financials of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce. The Finance Committee guides high impact on financial decisions. They also manage the budget process and works to ensure that the Chamber is staying within its budget throughout the year. Additionally, the Finance Committee monitors the outsourcing of payroll for office staff and makes recommendations about employee expenses.
The Chamber recently added a new Mentoring Program known as LIFT. The LIFT Mentoring Program prepares young adults for the workforce by equipping them with soft skills and needed contacts. The program allows unemployed and underemployed persons to be paired with a series of business leaders who mentor them of over six weeks. This program is in partnership with Man-Tra-Con Corporation.
In addition to the ongoing committees mentioned above, three Special Event Committees meet seasonally for six months leading up to each of the three major Chamber Events: Annual Awards Banquet, Golf Scramble / Fun Day and the Celebrate 618 Showcase. These Special Events Committees plan, execute, and review results from these three large scale events. In addition to our events, we support a variety of community events including Carbondale Halloween, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church Backpack Give-A-Way, the Crime Stoppers Convention, and many more.
The Chamber President and CEO along with the Chairman of the Board of Directors attend a monthly meeting with the Chancellor and Chief of Staff of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the Mayor and City Manager of the City of Carbondale. This meeting allows all three parties – Chamber, City, and University – to ensure that we are working cooperatively to serve all parties best.
Most of all, the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce tirelessly works to promote and support business in the city. From “Shop Southern IL” programs to bulk electrical aggregation efforts to save members money, business expositions and showcases, specialized training sessions and community outreach efforts, the Chamber is in business for business.
The Chamber of Commerce is overseen by a Board of Directors consisting of 12 elected members and three appointed members. The three appointed members represent the City, the School District, and the University. When quick decisions are needed, the Executive Committee is called into service. The Executive Committee consists of the current Board Chairman, the Past Board Chairman, the Chair-Elect, Treasurer, and an additional member appointed by the Chairman.