Chambers of commerce play an important role in local municipalities in promoting business activity and representing chamber members. At least at the local level, chamber of commerce members often meet to discuss and attempt to shape policy that relates to the business and overall economic environment. Members also receive the distinction of being a preferred local vendor, as well as listing on various chamber website and literature.
By definition, a chamber of commerce is a voluntary association of people whose function is to promote and develop the commercial, service, retail and industrial opportunities in a community or communities. The association's members generally consist of business people. A chamber collectively acts on behalf of its members, much like a spokesperson, communicating their desires for the betterment of the community to parties in power that can see them to fruition.
Like every Association, Civic Club or Not-for-Profit Organization the Western DuPage Chamber is made up of those that have common goals, and like these other groups, our goal is to aid and support. In our case, the common goals are related to starting, maintaining and growing business.
Businesses are as different as people, they come in many sizes and do many different things and are faced with a variety of challenges at different times during their evolution. Small businesses or start-ups may need organizational or legal guidance and they all want help getting their name out to potential customers or clients. Later, they may need funding to grow or to purchase new equipment or even franchise.
We are one of the first chambers to partner with Innovation DuPage and have matched dozens of small businesses with mentors, web developers, finance, accounting and other resources to help guide them through the obstacles and position them for success. Our Shop-Small / Shop-Local initiative promoted 18 businesses and received over 60,000 connections during a 12-week period on just one social media site.
We provide Notary services and issue Certificates or Origin for those members that need this in order to ship products to foreign countries we even provided certification so that a world-class equestrian team could transport their horses to an international competition.
Businesses engage governing institutions very infrequently and when they do, often they find the processes confusing and/or the rules to be unfair. The Chamber advocates for these members and regularly works with planning and zoning boards, administrators and elected officials to find solutions and we work with the member to help create plans that meet both their needs and the expectations of the municipality or township.
We take the fight to our legislators in Springfield on issues of unfunded mandates placed on local schools, fire departments and municipalities. We fight for education funding to help fill the skills gap that has been ignored for too long. We work with the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition and continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that will be thoughtful, fair and enforced.
Most of the work our Board of Directors and staff do is behind the scenes the boring stuff. We also have a monthly Lunch and Learn, Business Networking Breakfast and a multi-chamber gathering. A few times per year we co-host an event with a national keynote speaker.  We also host the State of the City addresses in both Warrenville and West Chicago and co-host the State of the County. We have a golf outing and even host an overseas adventure. In 2017 and 2018 it was China and this year, we are headed to the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Just last month, we held our Annual Awards gala and had over 150 members together for food, fun, entertainment and an amazing time recognizing our best of the best.
Our chamber has been contracted by DuPage County to oversee workforce development at DuPage Comprehensive One-Stop Career Center WorkNet DuPage. There is no chamber more knowledgeable about workforce and talent pipeline than the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce. We hold Hiring Events and have free job listing on our website for our members.
As for protection, whether cyber security, IRS or Department of Labor we have resources to keep you safe. We help keep our members informed about the many changes in Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) American with Disabilities Act (ADA), Mileage reimbursement rates and a plethora of compliance laws that can easily derail a growing business. When an employee wants to start legal action against an employer the first question the lawyer asks, is have you seen your employee handbook and did you sign it? So, does your business have a compliant employee handbook and do all your employees sign it?
How about I-9 and E-Verify? Do you have up to date files on ALL EMPLOYEES? Do you know how to file these forms? EVERY EMPLOYER IS REQUIRED TO HAVE CURRENT I-9 FORMS ON EVERY EMPLOYEE. Will you be prepared if Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) drops in on you? If your answer is no I only have US citizens employed so I do not need them, you may be one visit away from disaster!
In some cases non-member businesses can take part in chamber related events depending on the event.  Such gatherings as training and some networking events to name a couple however non-members will pay a higher fee structure.
Yes, employees of a member business in good standing can take advantage of chamber benefits.  Such things as training, member events, and other promotional marketing that highlights that business.