Brad Ball is the new executive director of the Cary-Grove Area Chamber of Commerce.
He replaced Suzanne Corr, who joined the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce as its president/CEO.
After working at the Northcenter Chamber of Commerce, on Chicago’s North Side, as the associate director, Ball joined the Cary-Grove Area Chamber on Oct. 14.
Ball recently spoke with reporter Joseph Bustos about working in a chamber of commerce.
Bustos: How much of your job is sales of memberships and sponsorships?
Ball: A lot of it is coordinating sales, but also making sure the chamber follows through on the commitments we’ve made. ... It’s always administering the deals we’ve already made, and making sure we’re providing what we promised ... and keeping an eye out of who could be good potential partners.
Bustos: When you were growing up, what did you want to be?
Ball: I don’t know. That absolutely impacted my ability to choose a major in college. My first interaction with a chamber of commerce I think I was in fourth or fifth grade, and we all had to do a report on a major U.S. city, and I got Houston. ... I think it was the librarian who said, “You should write to the Houston Chamber of Commerce.” So I penned my letter to the Houston Chamber of Commerce. A couple days later, this huge envelope with all this beautiful information about the city of Houston showed up at my door.
Bustos: Are certain chamber positions stepping stones to a bigger chamber?
Ball: That really depends on the individual. One of the things ... that I have gotten a life lesson on is being an effective chamber leader is a relationship-based business. Being at my old chamber for so many years, I had lots of relationships, so I knew who I could call to get an article in the paper, who I could call to buy an ad ... or to commit to a sponsorship or participate in an event. Now I’ve come to a new chamber, I’m effectively starting from scratch. ... Once you start developing those relationships, it’s not hard to get comfortable.
Bustos: How do you know if you’re successful as a chamber director?
Ball: Is the membership happy, are they renewing, are they participating in the events and opportunities we have? As long as those things are growing, I think that is successful.
Looking at the bottom line. Is the chamber making more money year after year? ... One of the chamber’s primary jobs is to reinvest in itself and reinvest in the community. ... Looking at how much we’re able to give back. Is financially what we’re giving back to the community, is that increasing? ... Is that give back meaningful?
Bustos: What’s the best part about this job?
Ball: I like getting to meet and work with all sorts of different people, and all sorts of different industries. Getting to know what’s going on in local government, what’s going on in local real estate, what does local retail look like, what kind of businesses are being successful, and getting to hear everybody’s story.