Hundreds of Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce members celebrated a new year, a new president and several award winners at the annual Installation Celebration at European Crystal Banquets in Arlington Heights Thursday night.
"This chamber is in its 67th year, and I believe we are one of the strongest in the Chicago Northwest," said outgoing chamber President Dianna Ehrenfried. "The strength comes from our members' energy, talents, participation and collaboration."
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Ehrenfried thanked many members of the chamber for their help over the past year and listed several things the group has to look forward to in 2014.
For example, the chamber recently created the Frank P. Soprano Sr. Past-President Advisory Council for former leaders of the organization to mentor chamber and board members, Ehrenfried said.
The group will also work with focus groups and market research to create a new branding strategy for the chamber over the next year.
Enrenfried said the group hopes to have the new brand that will tell the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce's story in place by the end of 2014.
A new young professionals group recently had a first and successful meeting with more than 30 people attending, she said.
The biggest accomplishment of the past year, however, was a collaboration between the chamber of commerce and the village to create a small business retention agreement, Ehrenfried said. The program provided village and chamber funds to allow chamber employee Jim Platt to act as a liaison between the two organizations and small businesses in town.
Since the program was approved over the summer, Platt has made more than 75 visits to small businesses, Ehrenfried said.
Village President Tom Hayes, who helped push the program through soon after being elected in April, touted it as out-of-the-box thinking to help the village and its small business owners.
Before handing over the gavel to the 2014 Chamber President Jim Bertucci, Ehrenfried gave two special President's Awards to Jim Platt and Kris Stabler for their contributions.
Lutheran Life Communities, LLC, was named the Nonprofit of the Year; Krystle Seifert of St. Viator High School was named the Business Volunteer of the Year; Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella, LLC., was named the Emerging Business of the Year; Cliff Higgley was named the Business Leader of the Year; and Northwest Speech & Hearing Center, Ltd. was named the Business of the Year.
Mary Kay Chisholm, director of Northwest Speech & Hearing Center, said she was shocked to even be nominated, let alone win the year's biggest honor from the chamber.
"I'm very humbled to even be included with these other businesses," Chisholm said. "Thirty-six years ago we started with a small office and the goal was to provide quality health care solutions for Arlington Heights. This means the world to us."