• 2021 Outstanding Chamber of the Year

  • Champaign County Chamber of Commerce Wins Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award 
    Presented at the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (IACCE)  Annual Celebration & Awards Dinner Thursday, November 4, 2021, this award honors an outstanding Illinois Chamber of Commerce and its leadership team. 
    "Under the leadership of President & CEO Laura Weis, IOM, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce, as a partner in the Champaign County Safe coalition, helped to develop and distribute resources during the  height of the COVID-19 pandemic. As noted by Ms. Weis in the nomination process, Champaign County is an example of how strong community partnerships saved lives. It is a testament to all of the Champaign County  leadership. As part of the coalition, the chamber assisted in developing a buying program with a local supplier  to help reduce increased costs restaurants faced as they began to adapt operations to meet the state  restrictions,” said Matt Duffy, IOM, ACE, 2021 IACCE Board Chair and Executive Director of the DeKalb  Chamber of Commerce. 
    Duffy continued, “Through a collaborative approach, the Champaign County Chamber has implemented notable programs, established new partnerships and developed best practices that other chambers can  replicate around the state. The chamber spearheaded an initiative, Chambers All In for Economic  Recovery. This partnership has united 50+ Illinois chambers and is focused on getting the General Assembly  to prioritize economic relief for businesses. The work also prioritizes making advocacy tools and engagement accessible to all Illinois chambers regardless of staff experience, chamber size, or available resources.” 
    Kyle Emkes, the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce’ immediate past chair and partner with Maatuka  Al-Heeti Emkes, LLC said, “The pandemic was our call to think differently about how we serve the business community as a chamber. We have traditionally offered most programming, activities and services to members  only. The pandemic provided an opportunity to open our doors to the entire business community. It was a chance for non-members to experience how we serve the community. We served every business that sought our assistance during COVID. Membership was not a deterrent. Our chamber led an effort to gather COVID impact stories from the greater business community. We shared those stories with local, state and federal  elected officials. We gave a collective voice to business owners who feared losing their livelihoods.” 

    Emkes continued, “Over the year, we offered unique services that supported the business community while  keeping the health and safety of the community a priority. We quickly recognized the need for members to feel  connected and launched well-attended virtual networking and webinars. We completed two successful virtual  leadership programs. Our members needed employees as employee shortages became the new fallout of the  pandemic. As a solution, we pioneered an outdoor job fair in our community. Employers and applicants were  able to connect safely.  
    Through the effort of our chamber staff, we kept the business community connected and informed. For 61- straight weeks, five days a week, the chamber produced and delivered COVID-19 daily updates to the membership. We were a trusted, credible resource for the business community. And while it was difficult to  connect in person, the chamber also counseled and supported 28 entrepreneurs (who were not deterred by the  pandemic) seeking to start their own businesses.”  
    The IACCE Outstanding Chamber of the Year Award recognizes organization excellence in chambers of  commerce and provides a unique benchmarking opportunity to assess a chamber’s strengths. The award is based on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s accreditation process for local chambers and highlights accomplishments in the areas of leadership, governance, finance, advocacy and membership development. 
    About the Champaign County Chamber of Commerce 
    The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce is a member-focused business association that facilitates business growth and improves the quality of life in the region.  
    About IACCE 
    Applying the highest standards, IACCE supports the development of chamber professionals by creating opportunities for growth and  recognition.