Jefferson Co. Chamber named Illinois Chamber of the Year

November 12, 2018

MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce has received state-wide recognition and named Chamber of the Year by the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

“Under the leadership of Executive Director Mike Beard, the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce has thrived, showing that commitment to membership and strong leadership can grow an organization and positively impact its community,” said Bill Fleming, the 2018 IACCE chair and executive director of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce. “Through a collaborative approach, the organization has implemented notable programs, established new partnerships and developed best practices that can be replicated around the state.”

JCCC President Tony Wielt said he is proud of the award.

“It’s always nice to be recognized by your peers,” Wielt said. “In Southern Illinois, we know that we have made significant progress within the business community, but to be recognized at the state level is just icing on the cake.”

The award recognizes organizational excellence in chambers of commerce and provides a unique benchmarking opportunity to assess a chamber’s strengths, according to information from the IACCE. The award is based on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce accreditation process for local chambers and highlights accomplishments in the areas of leadership, governance, finance, advocacy and membership development.
“We didn’t anticipate winning this,” Beard said. “This is the first time I’ve been to the state convention, and this was the first time we applied for recognition. We were thinking, not this year, but maybe in the future.”

The paperwork to be considered for the Chamber of the Year Award was sent to the IACCE in July.

“They have their people look over the applications, and literally, I had no idea we were going to win it until they called my name out and it stunned me,” Beard said. “When you ask for something, you better be careful, you might just win it.”

Beard said the criteria for the award include many of the things the JCCC has done for years.

“What this really speaks volumes for is the Chamber,” Beard said. “The majority of things we had to prove and answer questions about are things the Chamber was already doing. That’s a sign of how good the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce really is. In the past few years, we have accentuated things we are doing now, and getting us up-to-date with today’s world.”

Beard said there are 135 chamber members of the IACCE, with almost 300 chambers in the state.

“This is as good as a chamber can get in Illinois,” Beard said. “It’s quite an honor. It brings a lot of recognition to Southern Illinois. It’s nice any time Southern Illinois is recognized — whether it’s a chamber of commerce or a business in the community — at the state level.
“Remember, there’s always something going on in Jefferson County,” Beard added.