Wow, what a year this has been. When we started our year in January with such promise to the new year, I never in a million years could we have imagined what our chamber, city, county, state, and country would go through. While we could focus on all the negatives, many positives came from this most challenging year.
Within 24 hours of the COVID-19 restrictions being announced, your Chamber team was able to make a COVID response page with all the up-to-date information. The information included on this page was gathered from the CDC, Illinois Department of Public Health, SBA, US Chamber of Commerce, St. Clair County Health Department, local hospitals, etc. All this information was vetted by our team for accuracy and relevancy to our members. This page became a community lifeblood for not only our members but for non-members and the public.
Our social media pages were filled with valuable information as well. When the response came that our local hospitals needed essential PPE at the very beginning a post was made on our FB page. This post reached over 300,000 people and donations were received at both of our local hospitals. The response from this generated the feel-good stories that we shared. Diana wanted to make sure our community knew that In the midst of all of the uncertainty, there was still good news to be shared. Many of you sent stories in. Thank you.
While the Chamber had to suspend all in-person events, we were not closed. Many hours have been spent consulting with other Chambers around the State, calls with the US Chamber of Commerce, the SBA, and wherever we can obtain valuable information to pass on to our members.
My team has answered many of our Chamber members’ questions at all times of the day and weekend. Many who have thanked us for all we have done as they would not have been able to navigate through this pandemic without the support of the Chamber and their investment has paid off. Peggy did a fantastic job of personally calling or emailing each of our Chamber members to find out what more we could do, share with them information that was important for their businesses or remind them to get on a phone call or Zoom we were hosting.
We continue to fight for our members that all should have the same rights as large merchants, and I can assure you we are still fighting every day. The Chamber has been in constant contact with our State Representatives and local officials. We have hosted many webinars/virtual meetings that have provided valuable resources for our members. We have testified for the recovery task force for the State of Illinois, we have a direct line to the IL DCEO, and trust me, we have used it. We sent two letters to the Governor in support of opening all industries under safe COVID guidelines. The GBCC became the central hub for many in our community. Chamber member or not, we answered their questions and provided resources to all of them. All of this could not have happened without the relationship that the Chamber has built over the years with our elected officials and we thank them for their communication and support this year.
To my E-Board, thank you. Edmond, Kevin, Amy, Mary & Mike; each of you were a sounding board for me at some point in time. I leaned on you for sound advice. Whether it had to do with making challenging decisions or allow us to step out of the box a bit, you stood by us. Kevin, as you take the Chairman’s seat for 2021, I promise you this: the Chamber team will continue to focus on our mission of Advancing Business and Supporting Community.
To my team: all I can say is THANK YOU. This year our day did not end at 4:30, 5, or 5:30, we have been working 24/7. There were many times we were on the phones at night or over the weekend and I thank you for your constant support and hard work to make this year the best we could.
Finally, I want to thank you, our members. You have been patient with us as we searched for answers for you, followed up on issues, or adjusted to our new normal. We truly miss seeing every one of you and cannot wait until we can all be together again at one of our events. Please reach out to our Chamber team if we can be of any assistance to you as we continue to Advance Business & Support Community.