Ball: Local Chamber of Commerce supports quality of life

This Saturday, the 32nd annual Cary Grove Community Showcase takes place at Cary-Grove High School from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free to the public and features nearly 100 local businesses, organizations and leaders from the Cary and Fox River Grove areas.

A farmers market also will take place in the school cafeteria with 18 vendors selling food such cheese, meat, eggs, honey and a variety of local handmade artisanal products such as scarves and jewelry. The event is hosted by the Cary Grove Area Chamber of Commerce.

I encourage you to visit because it’s going to be a great event, but this article isn’t about that.

This article is about the importance of the local chambers across McHenry County, across Illinois and across much of the country. Many host events similar to the Cary Grove Community Showcase.

Most people think the job of the local chamber is to support the business community by providing advocacy, access, resources, marketing and other opportunities that can help them grow and be successful.

But the local business community does not exist in a vacuum; its integration with local residents is critical to quality of life. Events such as Showcase are meant not only to connect residents and visitors to the local business community, but to increase the quality of life in the communities. Events such as this bring people out to experience each other and get to know more about the community. Did you know there are 12 chambers of commerce that serve the greater McHenry County area? Go online and find out what your local chamber is doing. Then, ask your local businesses if they’re a chamber member, because supporting the chamber through membership supports quality of life in your community.

The Cary Grove Area Chamber of Commerce has a number of events in the coming weeks.

The New Member Orientation Breakfast is at 8 a.m. March 5.

The Fox River Grove Business Round Table, with Village President Bob Nunamaker as the speaker, is from noon to 1:30 p.m. March 13. The round table costs $20 and includes lunch.

A business luncheon with Don Orseno, Metra’s executive director/CEO, will be from noon to 1:30 p.m. March 20. The luncheon costs $20 and includes lunch.

For event registration or information, call 847-639-2800 or visit

Election time is just around the corner, and one of the primary things voters want to know about candidates is how they plan to spend our tax money.

Will they advance programs that serve our own needs, or our business’s needs or our community’s needs? Or will they fizzle it away in corruption and waste. These are important questions we need to ask.

But as you evaluate candidates’ answers, do not miss the opportunity to examine how your own spending demonstrates your values as well.

Do you love that local bookstore and browse there every weekend but buy your books on Amazon? Sure, the hardcover is $15 less expensive, but don’t be surprised when the bookstore closes. What about the independent coffee shop you pass on the way to Starbucks? The coffee is probably better, and it also has a drive-through. How you spend your money demonstrates your values.

If you want local, independent businesses in your community, you need to spend money there to support them. No one else is going to do it for you.

“Shop local” campaigns are prolific today and their message could not be more important. One of the jobs of the local chamber is to help bridge the communication gap. 

• Brad Ball is executive director of the Cary Grove Area Chamber of Commerce. 

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