It really has been a pretty remarkable turnaround for the Riverside Chamber of Commerce, which limped into 2022 facing possible dissolution and exits the year ready to write a new chapter.
It’s not that the handful of people holding the organization together with tape and wire last spring didn’t want to see the chamber succeed, it was more that they were exhausted and saw no help on the horizon.
At one time the chamber boasted 120 members, but by April that list had been whittled down to around a half dozen and not all of those were particularly active. As a result, the same core group of people were on for everything. By late 2021 only the Holiday Stroll survived as a chamber-sponsored event, and barely.
There was no guarantee anyone would step up to take the reins when a new chamber board was elected in November, but a handful of people interested in giving it a shot – Keith Wright, Arrick Pelton and Peter Janunas – did so.
At a non-chamber event that was pretty clearly a chamber recruiting event in September, they were surprised by the response they got to their question: “Does anyone really care?”
It turns out people did.
In November, a new, full slate of officers was elected to the chamber board and those people were officially installed last week, completing the transformation from undead to fully alive.
Their first event – the 2022 Riverside Holiday Stroll – was a great success and now comes the hard work of identifying the chamber’s role as an organization and then translating that into actions that benefit the village’s business community.
Best of luck to them as they enter 2023.
On your mark …
While we’re on the subject of business, Brookfield has the opportunity to expose its downtown business community to the Intelligentsia Cup Chicago, a 10-day bicycle racing series, which has drawn thousands of visitors to its 10 race locations on consecutive days each July for the past decade or so.
It wouldn’t come without some headaches – an all-day closure of the Prairie Avenue grade crossing to vehicular traffic, chief among them, although it would also affect ordinary residents whose streets would be closed to traffic and easy access as well.
But, for a community whose residents are forever pleading with elected officials to address economic development and spread the word about all the village has to offer, this seems like a no-brainer, even as a test run.
If successful the race could become an annual staple, something downtown businesses – who knows, maybe it could expand down to Eight Corners – look forward to as a solid payday.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.