Arlington Heights is moving forward with a partnership between the village and chamber of commerce to focus on small-business retention, education and assistance.
The Arlington Heights committee of the whole voted on Monday to support a proposed agreement with the chamber that involves the village paying $50,000 a year for three years for a position to be shared between the two entities.
The agreement, proposed by Village President Tom Hayes in March, is still being worked into a final form but had unanimous support from the village board, chamber representatives and the Arlington Economic Alliance.
The chamber position would focus on educating small-business owners, helping them find solutions to their problems and keeping them in town, while newly hired Business Development Coordinator Michael Mertes and the village's planning department would work on attracting new businesses big and small, Hayes said.
"This provides an opportunity for business development that will really move our town forward in the months and years to come," Hayes said.
The agreement is for three years but is contingent on the village approving funding each year.
According to the agreement, a small business is defined as one that is 2,000 square feet or less or has fewer than eight full time employees, though Hayes said those parameters can be flexible.
There are 462 small businesses in Arlington Heights that qualify under those parameters, said Charles Witherington-Perkins, director of planning and community development.
Officials said they hope this will make the process easier for businesses coming to the village or trying to figure out where to turn when they have a problem.
"Collaboratively I think we have more to offer than if everyone is working in a silo," said Trustee Mike Sidor.
"The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing."
The board will take a vote on the final agreement at its meeting on Monday, July 15
"I'm so happy to see this before us," said Trustee Carol Blackwood, who is also a past president of the chamber.
"I've been waiting for this for 20 years."