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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published Sept. 9, 2010                                                        
 

No rest for Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce in helping local business climate thrive
 

 By Ken Knutson
 kknutson@thehinsdalean.com

   Illinois celebrates Chamber of Commerce week Sept. 13-17, recognizing the more than 456 local chambers in the state working to keep main streets vibrant.
   The Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce began life in 1924 when a group of retail, professional and business people united to promote the economic well being of the village and foster ethical business practices.
   Today, with more than 300 members, the mission remains the same, according to Executive Director Jan Anderson.
   “We are certainly established to be the voice of businesses here in Hinsdale,” she said. “We are an organization to support business and be a visible presence in the town through the events that we do.”
   The chamber’s most visible function is sponsoring a number of large-scale events designed to bring people into the downtown business district, such as the fine arts festival in June and the fall festival in October.
   This summer’s successful series of Uniquely Thursday gatherings has helped build momentum going into the fall and winter seasons, Anderson said.
   “We had such a great, great year. The weather cooperated all season for us, and we had great bands that just drew in the crowds,” Anderson said. “(The proceeds) offset the costs for everything that we do.”
   The 41st annual merchants garage sale is this Saturday, Sept. 11, at the public works garage. Local retailers will be selling new merchandise at discounted prices, rain or shine.
   Anderson said the chamber’s partnership with Hinsdale’s park and recreation department and other community organizations to organize the fall festival has helped raise the profile of the event.
   “We wanted to partner with others to make it grow,” she said.
   A Halloween costume parade kicks off the festivities, followed by trick-or-treating in local businesses. Prizes are awarded in a costume contest during the festival in Burlington Park, where a pumpkin decorating contest also will be held.
   One of the most anticipated events every year is the Christmas Walk, which will celebrate its 46th edition this November.
   “We’re already focused on the Christmas Walk. We’re looking for sponsors for the gingerbread books,” she said.
   The chamber is also responsible for many of the subtler elements that help create a festive atmosphere in the business district during special times.
   Chamber board President Paul Garver said the organization plays an integral role in stimulating the business district and, by extension, the village as a whole.
   “I think the chamber is vital to the Hinsdale community. Not only does the chamber plan great events which members of the community can enjoy, it’s about a reinvestment in the community itself,” Garver said.
   From working with local Boy Scouts to put up flags on patriotic holidays to festooning the downtown with decorative fresh cut greens in winter to give charm to the chill, the chamber takes nary a season off in making the downtown as inviting as possible for visitors.
   “We have things throughout the year. We’re conscious of not allowing some our small businesses to lose business,” Anderson said.
   Efforts include mailing a service kit to new residents to familiarize them with village services and shops. Many chamber members contribute coupons or other materials to the package.
   “We conduct a welcome program to new residents to promote businesses in town,” she said.
   The yearly community directory published by the chamber furnishes important information about the town, including details on local schools, places of worship and recreational facilities.
   Chamber leaders are constantly developing ways to attract visitors and bolster sales, Anderson stressed.
   “We are into several different things. We have Hinsdale gift card programs. We also have the farmers market going on. Our marketing committee addresses these types of things all year long,” she said.
   Anderson admits the sluggish economy has taken a toll on village vendors, but she said Hinsdale has shown resilience in the past and she expects brighter days ahead.
   “Everybody would love to have more business. We’re just kind of moving along with the rest of the economy,” Anderson said.

But that’s no license to be idle, she noted. A campaign to better support chamber members is already in the pipeline.
   Even after nearly nine decades, the chamber’s influence remains a key component in the village’s overall quality of life, Garver said.
   “The chamber’s relationship with (village officials) has only improved,” he said. “I think the chamber has done a better job than ever before at getting the word out about the ways to reinvest in your community.”

Ongoing events

Farmers market
7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Oct. 11
On Chicago Avenue along Burlington Park

Upcoming events

Merchant’s garage sale
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11
Public services garage, 225 Symonds Drive

Hinsdale Fall Festival
11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16
Burlington Park, 30 E. Chicago Ave.
Activities include pumpkin decorating, costume contest, carnival games and inflatables.

Christmas Walk
4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26
Throughout downtown Hinsdale
Activities include visits with Santa, ice carving, and carolers

 

 

 

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