August is the month when the chamber will celebrate its centennial anniversary during two events in town, first at our Centennial Celebration, and second during the Naperville Jaycees Last Fling Parade, where we will serve as grand marshal.
Our Centennial Celebration on Friday, Aug. 23, is one place dedicated to the progression and history of our town, Naper Settlement. I want to thank our celebration sponsors: Naper Settlement, My Chef Catering, and M&M — The Special Events Company. This event is just a small way to recognize the chamber’s remarkable journey and look ahead to the next 100 years.
Since 1913, our organization has had the goal of creating a stable, fair and competitive business environment. Some items, such as transportation improvements, have been in our DNA as long as we’ve been around. Near our founding, the chamber’s members championed digging out the streets of downtown Naperville, and decades later, we witnessed the start of the expansion of Route 59, a longtime chamber priority.
We would not be in the position we are today without the leaders who have brought us to this place over the generations. I would like to recognize and thank our board and staff members, past and present, for their dedication, vision and hard work. The chamber’s membership and the community have faced down many challenges together, but never faltered in their commitment to making Naperville one of the best places to live and do business.
I also would like to thank the community for their support of the chamber. We often work in tandem with city, county and state government and organizations for common goals, and this relationship has been vital to our accomplishments. With the support of the mayor, elected officials and business leaders, we have been able to grow our resources and make great strides in our advocacy efforts.
While elected officials and the chamber haven’t always agreed on everything, we understand and respect each other’s missions, and engage in healthy debates and discussions to build consensus. Our work is always in the best interest of the business community, which ultimately affects residents, quality of life, schools and almost every facet of our lives. I would like to thank the community for understanding our goals, and doing their part to foster economic development and growth in Naperville.
As the needs of business become more complex, the chamber also must change and become more diverse to keep up. We have a clear vision to keep our focus on our advocacy efforts, while providing valuable business resources, marketing support and educational opportunities for our members.
It has been a tremendous honor to twice be accredited by our peers as one of the elite 1 percent of chambers in the nation to receive the five-star designation. This recognition has always belonged to our members, and we intend to do everything possible to remain at the forefront of our industry.
While some question whether chambers have a role to play in today’s economy, we are proud to report that the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce’s future has never been brighter. We owe this position to the thousands of members who have contributed to our body of work during the past century.
Our relevancy is never more crucial. As long as we have you, our members and community standing with us, the chamber will remain an influential champion of change.
I want to thank everyone who will help us celebrate this momentous occasion at the Centennial Celebration or take part in the Jaycee’s Labor Day Parade, where the chamber is serving as grand marshal. There is no better way to celebrate than among the members of this community who have made us proud to be your Chamber of Commerce during these 100 years.
Michael A. Evans is the president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, a 1,500-member business advocacy organization in Naperville. He can be reached at 630-544-3382.