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Bates: McHenry chamber celebrates 60 years on Oct. 2

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

The McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 60th anniversary on Oct. 2. From 5 to 7 p.m., the chamber will be welcoming members and well-wishers to its office at 1257 N. Green St..

Board members will be serving beverages, hors d’oeuvres and decadent desserts. Ambassadors will be the official welcomers to the newly designed chamber office. A ribbon cutting will take place at 4:45 p.m.

Attendees will have the opportunity to win up to $2,500 in chamber gifts.

The chamber got its start in 1952 by a group of business leaders that included Anthony “Tony” Wirtz, John Torrence, Gus (Augustine) Freund, Jack Theis, Dick Hester, Dan Justen, Albert Blake, Jack Buckie, Russ Switzer, John Looze, Mildred Hohman and Dr. Eugene Saylor.

McHenry chamber highlights over the years include the first McHenry County Expo in 1972, the expansion of Fiesta Days into alternative events such as the Kid’s Ice Cream Social in 1996, Shakespeare in the Park in 2007 and Family Faith Nite in 2002, the development of a pace-setting Business Networking Scramble in 1998, Young Professionals in 2008 and a professional women’s group in 2004.

Other initiatives include the 2005 McHenry NOW Newsletter launched to the public increasing circulation from 1,000 to 9,000, Girl Party during 2011, and State of McHenry mayoral luncheons initiated in 1998.

During 2012 the chamber began five new activities: Men of Monday Night events with raffles, and contests surrounding football; Red Carpet Business Awards; Chapters, Stories of the Witty, Wise and Wonderful; Chamber “Shop In’s” and popular lunch-time mixers.

During 2013, the chamber will launch our McHenry NOW mobile app allowing members to connect with our on-the-go population with timely deals, information and events.

The chamber staff has long been involved in community initiatives, including the McHenry County Economic Development Corp., Riverwalk Foundation, Riverview Theatre Co., District 156 planning sessions and Main Stay Therapeutic. We take representing our membership in the community seriously.

Of particular pride, the McHenry chamber has grown to become one of the largest chambers in Illinois all the while producing quality events with a staff of three full-timers and one part-timer and, most fortunately, quality volunteers.

To learn more about the McHenry chamber, visit www.mchenrychamber.com.

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Tonight is our Tastefully Simple and Xango mixer. Plan to bring business cards and an appetite ready for a tasting.

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Oct. 4 is our next chamber “Shop In” from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Camp Bow Wow in McHenry. Community and members welcome. Be sure to register for a free stay for your pet. What do you say upon entering Camp Bow Wow,? “Chamber sent me.”

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Nov. 2 is the McHenry chamber’s Scramble. Be sure to register for this networking event that does the job for you.

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The chamber’s Red Carpet Awards take place on Nov. 14. Members and their friends should download an application at mchenrychamber.com. Categories are: Best New Start-Up of the Year, Most Innovative Marketing Program, SOHO Business of the Year, Swan, Excellence in Customer Service, Rotary Club of McHenry - Sunrise's Community Service and Ethics Award,, Referral Group or Service Organization Giving Back, Top Young Professional and Retailer of the Year.

• Kay Rial Bates is the president and chief executive officer of the McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at kay@mchenrychamber.com.

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