STERLING – Working together creates wonders: That’s been the winning formula for the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce.
Recognized for bringing its businesses together to accomplish successful ventures, the Sterling-based chamber was awarded the Outstanding Chamber of Commerce of the Year for Illinois by the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives at a banquet Thursday in Champaign.
It’s the first time the chamber has been nominated, Executive Director Kris Noble said.
“We’re really engaging a lot of our chamber members to be part of the conversation on workforce development,” Noble said. “Member engagement is huge to us. We want our members to get involved.”
The association also cited strides the chamber has made in agriculture focus and workforce development. Its agribusiness committee has awarded scholarships to high school and local community college students for 35 years, raising money through its Steak Fry in the Country dinner and dessert auction, held annually at Ted Jacobs Farms in Rock Falls. Ag in the Classroom and Whiteside County 4-H also are beneficiaries.
Educational institutions and nearly 400 chamber members also have worked together to help area students find career pathways, Noble said.
The chamber has thrived by showing strength in commitment to its membership under strong leadership, IACCE Chairman Jon Ridler said.
“They have successfully established partnerships, especially their education-workforce collaboration, and continue to develop and model best practices in the chamber industry as evidenced by their continued U.S. Chamber accreditation status that can be replicated around the state.”
The award is a tribute to the many executives, businesses and community organizations the chamber serves, Chamber Board President Mike Loos said.
“Through the leadership of our exceptional executive director and her talented staff, our chamber has been able to implement a vision that is pushing boundaries and providing value. We hope to continue building on this for years to come.”
Founded in 1912 as the Sterling Area Chamber of Commerce, its membership is spread across 23 cities in 12 counties, and in Clinton and Davenport, Iowa. The chamber adopted its present name in 2003.
“We’re a small, we’re a rural chamber, and we try really hard to help our membership grow, and our community grow,” Noble said. “It’s nice that they are recognizing what small, rural Illinois is trying to do.
“It’s a big deal in the chamber world. It validates hard work.”