• CARBONDALE: A Year in the Life at the Chamber

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    What does a typical day, or a week, or month in Carbondale look like? Well, sometimes it is best to look at a year to see what keeps us hopping.

        The Carbondale Chamber of Commerce runs on a paid staff of two people. During the school year, we employ two Southern Illinois University (SIU) Interns at ten hours per week. They primarily work in the areas of graphic design, public relations, special events, and member outreach. Our Board of Directors, Committee Chairs and Participants, and countless Volunteers help support and assist us through many efforts and activities. Despite the small numbers, together we are a mighty team.
        Member Businesses are our heartbeat. Members are included in print directories and other materials and listed and promoted online. We also send them referrals, provide training, and host member events. Member events include ten monthly Membership Luncheons, two Regional Chamber Luncheons, 12 Networking at Noon Lunches, six Round Pies / Straight Talk Lunches, six Business Builder Breakfasts, numerous Business After Hours, and many Ribbon Cuttings. We do our best to connect the business representatives and provide a place for them to promote themselves. In addition to these essential services, we are active in the community in a myriad of ways.
        The Chamber team works on a number of outside committees including Saluki Start-Up / Weeks of Welcome, Homecoming, Celebrate 618, Carbondale Halloween, City of Carbondale Job Fair, National Small Business Week Committee, Crime Stoppers, Southern Illinois University (SIU) 150th Birthday, Carbondale Proud, Fashion Week, Southern Illinois (SI) Made Expo, The American Heart Association Go Red for Women, Leadership Carbondale, The Great Carbondale Pumpkin Race, and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Fly-In Event.
        We frequently work with Carbondale Main Street, Carbondale Tourism, Keep Carbondale Beautiful, Carbondale Park District, Green Earth, the City of Carbondale, and many other organizations to put on events or programs. We have had the opportunity for brainstorming on Trails, Outdoor Recreation, and Local Economy from Illinois Main Street.
        The Chamber is visible as a Representative of the Business Community. Some of the events attended include the Banterra Center Announcement, Meet the Mayor, Saluki Women’s Excellence Event, Progressive Patio Tour, Southern Illinois Healthcare (SIH) Gala, EmpowHER Luncheon, Special Olympics Opening Ceremony, Grape Growers & Vintners Alliance Dinner, Saluki Athletics Logo Reveal, SIH Logo Reveal, Mayor’s Cup, Carbondale Community High School Awards Night, Southern Business Journal Leadership Breakfast, Veterans Honor Flight Check Presentation, Governor’s Press Conference at Walker’s Bluff, and the Economic Impact of Human Services Sector Report Release.
        The Chamber Co-Hosts a variety of off-site events with Carbondale Young Professionals including Hidden Gems at Route 51 Brewing, Music Bingo at Hanger 9, Speed Networking at Bandanna’s Bar-B-Que, and a Leadership Panel at Pagliai’s Pizza.
        The Chamber staff, along with the committee Chair, and its many volunteers serve as facilitators for Leadership Carbondale. In addition to assisting with the curriculum, we also help coordinate tours of area entities for the class. Maintaining the network of graduates of the Leadership Carbondale program is also a priority.
        We also provide speakers for a variety of speakers for groups such as Rotary Club, Professional Women’s Networking Group, Southern Illinois University Constituency Relations Committee, Study Circles Neighborhood Groups, Lions Club, College of Business Advisory Board, and Banterra Bank’s Life Scripts class.
        As mentioned, the Chamber employs two paid interns. Our office also hosts Participants from our LIFT Mentoring Program. We are a presenter for Jackson CEO (Creating Entrepreneur Opportunities); we are an investor in this youth development program. The SIU College of Business hosts Marketing U each year, and we present at the day-long student event. In partnership with the Illinois Department of Employment Security and Man-Tra-Con, we provided hands-on training for My Tax Illinois and other online programs.
        A monthly appearance on WDBX’s Talk of the Town is on the calendar.  Additionally, our staff has appeared on Everything but the Kitchen Sink on WDBX, and Miller in the Morning on New Radio WJPF. We have also worked with Wither’s Radio. Our team has also made many television appearances on the KFVS-12 and WSIL-TV3. We were also part of a panel for live broadcast on NPR Illinois. We work closely with the Communications and Marketing teams of the City, SIH, SIU, and our Elected officials.
        Our staff works to continue to learn by attending training such as Workforce Development for Rural Communities, Illinois Manufacturing Association Seminar, Delta I-Fund, Delta Leadership Network Conference, Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Training, Grant Writing Workshop for Apprenticeships, Jackson Growth Accliance Creative Placemaking, Enterprise Excellence, and the Building a Competitive Future workshop
        The Chamber has an active role in welcoming prospective and returning students. We staff vendor booths and speak at SIU Open Houses, attend FFA Night, SIU Day, student move-in, and more. We coach at the student Etiquette Dinner. We serve as docents on tour buses for student groups, new staff, and current SIU employees. Our Saluki Pride committee paints Saluki     Paws on area roadways and does all they can 'paint the town maroon' to boost Saluki Spirit. We meet monthly with the Chancellor and Mayor's offices to learn how we can continue to partner in support of SIU. The Chamber attended the House Hearing of the funding of Higher Education.
        While the focus of the work of the Chamber is for the benefit of Carbondale businesses, we are also active at the regional level. Our team attends a Regional Chamber Directors Meeting each quarter. We co-host two luncheons and participate in many other Chambers’ Annual Banquets. The Chamber has also had a role in events in the greater Delta region, of which Southern Illinois is a part. Carbondale Chamber had a significant role in the Shop SI Efforts during the Holidays, serving as social media coordinator.
        With a staff of two; Volunteers are crucial. Carbondale Chamber of Commerce VOLUNTEERS:
    • Call on Businesses to Promote Projects & Programs
    • Pick up Donations, Décor, and other needed Supplies
    • Make Outreach for New Memberships
    • Represent the Chamber to Media, on the News
    • Plan and Develop Programs
    • Represent the Chamber at Community Events
    • Paint Paw Prints on Streets
    • Act as a Welcome Face for Members
    • Serve as Mentors
    • Teach 100% of the Leadership Carbondale Curriculum
    • Speak and Present at reoccurring Events
    • Serve as Board Members, Chairs, and on Committees
    • Set-Up and Tear-Down at Events and Meetings
    • Make Follow-Up Phone Calls
    • Deliver Welcome Bags to New Residents
    • Provide Guidance to Other Members
    • Advocate for Businesses
    Without all the support, we would be unable to accomplish many of the things listed above. We bid them a hearty Thank You, and look forward to another great year serving the Carbondale business community, and the community at large.

    Jennifer Olson, President, and CEO of Carbondale Chamber of Commerce
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