Promoting local business ... with fun along the way

Opinion: Columns

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Laurie Kokenes

What exactly does a chamber of commerce do? Despite all that's happening in the world, I'm convinced that getting an answer to this question is at the top of your list. It's a burning question that needs to be extinguished, but let's fan the flames for a bit.

This might seem like a shameless plug, and I'd be fibbing if I didn't admit that there's a smidgen of truth to that. But my guess is most folks are hard put to come up with an answer and I feel a sense of obligation to help you become an expert.

The long history of chambers can be traced back to 1599 when the term "chamber of commerce" first appeared in Marseille, France. Our history began on June 17, 1912 when a group of local businessmen founded the Forest Park Business Men's Association (that's us!) with Albert C. Roos serving as president.

A "more suitable name" — Forest Park Commercial Association — was adopted in 1918, and finally turned into the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce in 1924. No matter the name, it boils down to 108 years of service to Forest Park's business community.

Through the years the mission has remained the same. Promoting local businesses, marketing Forest Park, creating events that bring people to our charming village, and providing an outlet for business owners to connect is the basis of our work, and there's no organization that works for and represents the business community like the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce. Your chamber plays a key role in maintaining a vibrant business community, which enhances the quality of life of the community as a whole.

Along the way have a good time … and we know how to do that in Forest Park. From picnics, parades and promotions to sidewalk sales, sipping wine and visits from Santa, there's no shortage of fun.

We serve as a resource to the business community and, like everyone else, we've been catapulted in to uncharted territory. Chambers everywhere are working to navigate and understand the ever-changing, complicated rules, regulations and resources around this health crisis so that business owners can concentrate on managing their business. As a group and on our own, we're talking with local and state leaders, hosting and attending webinars, gathering info, communicating with and promoting the business community and more.  

Why do we do it? Aside from desperately wishing our business owners didn't have to deal with the struggles of the current situation, we love what we do. We love this community and the businesses that have chosen to call Forest Park home.

How is our work supported? Through membership dues, sponsorships and event revenue. So there you have it, as my dad would say. Become a Chamber Ambassador today! (

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