New, Combined Organization – Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce – to Provide Focused, Accelerated Approach to Attract, Develop, and Support Regional Businesses
Rockford, IL (August 18, 2023) – On Thursday, board members from Rockford Chamber of Commerce, Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC), and the Greater Rockford Growth Partnership (GRGP) voted to merge the three organizations to provide one consolidated, focused approach to benefit regional businesses. The new organization will be named the Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce and will integrate all three groups under one board of directors and one leader.
Previously, the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and the RAEDC created a partnership under GRGP in which the organizations retained their individual organizational status, each with their own board of directors.
For the past few months, members of all three boards have met weekly, and sub-committees were set up and met on an ongoing basis, to investigate best practices from peer organizations and communities as well as review the legal, strategic, and operational impact of a possible merger.
“There has been extraordinary work put forth by individuals on all three boards to discuss and debate the options best suited for our businesses and our community overall,” said Jeff Hultman, Board Chair, GRGP. “The merged organization will provide a consolidated and relentless focus on the value proposition to deliver ROI to members, investors, and the public sector.”
The committee selected the name, Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce, after conducting extensive research on the top 25 fastest-growing cities in the United States and evaluating the structures and naming of their combined Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development organizations.
The work of the previously named RAEDC and Rockford Chamber will continue their focuses but as committees under the umbrella of the Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce. The economic development committee work will focus on efforts to attract, retain, and grow businesses for/in our region to cultivate primary job growth in the region. The chamber committee will continue its focus on leading business growth through the promotion of economic growth, advocating for the interests of business, and providing service and educational opportunities that help its members grow.
The Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce will oversee and provide management to these groups to provide more collaboration internally and across the region. The new organization also will support, and influence various other business initiatives including community branding, talent attraction, workforce development, entrepreneurship, safety, regional education, infrastructure, and public policy.
“This merger helps ensure a proactive and consolidated approach to business recruitment and retention for our region,” said Jean Crosby, Board Chair, Rockford Chamber of Commerce. “We have the unique and exciting opportunity to advance a common agenda to support our current businesses, new businesses, and vital organizations in our community.”
“We are in an exceptional position to create specificity where we will play a role as a partner and influencer to build a healthy business community,” said Jimmy Rozinsky, Board Chair, RAEDC. “As a result of this merger our current business leaders – and potential new businesses prospects – will find an easy and collaborative connection to positively impact their organization.”
The Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce board of directions will be comprised of an equal number of board members from all three existing boards to ensure equal representation for all current organizations. Those board members will then select ex-officio board members from the public and community sector.
The Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will begin meeting within the next two weeks to finalize a job description and conduct a nationwide search for a CEO. It is expected to have a CEO hired before the end of 2023.
Until the CEO is named, Caitlin Pusateri, President of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce, will report into the to-be-named board chair of the Greater Rockford Chamber of Commerce and eventually into the CEO. The position of the economic development leader, vacant as of September 1, 2023 by the resignation of Therese Thill, will be hired by the new CEO.
The merger is expected to be finalized by the end of September.
About the Organizations
Greater Rockford Growth Partnership
The Greater Rockford Growth Partnership (GRGP) oversees and aligns the goals of its partner organizations in taking bold action to create the most vibrant, innovative, thriving economy of any mid-sized region in the nation. The Partnership is the catalyst for economic prosperity and well-being by cohesively leveraging our strengths to accelerate business growth, innovation, and entrepreneurs within the region. Currently, the two organizations involved in the partnership are the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.
Rockford Chamber of Commerce
The Rockford Chamber of Commerce is the region’s leading advocate for business growth. The Rockford Chamber works to benefit our community by leading in the promotion of economic growth, advocating for the interests of businesses, and providing service and educational opportunities that help our 1,000 members, representing 60,000+ employees, grow. The Rockford Chamber of Commerce is a partner in the Greater Rockford Growth Partnership.
Rockford Area Economic Development Council
The role of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council (RAEDC) is to collaborate with regional stakeholders to cultivate opportunities for primary job growth that increase the economic well-being of our region. The RAEDC markets the region to attract new capital investment, while assisting existing business with resources for sustainable growth. The RAEDC works closely with many partners to improve the competitiveness of the region by taking what it learns from the region’s employers and engaging the community in the daily work of economic development. As the economic development organization for the region, the RAEDC also serves as the area’s data collection agency on all new capital investment, retained and created quality jobs, and renovated commercial/industrial space.