2016 has been a banner year for the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce with Tom Kara (Dancing Marlin) at the helm. Kara focused on delivering value to current members while also reaching out to bring new members onto our team. The result has been a 12 percent increase in membership. We currently serve more than 580 members, our highest membership in five years. Lest we think these are just numbers, we have also had the highest attendance ever at many of our events. From Meet, Greet & Network to our Business After Hours, from Frankfort Fall Festival to our General Membership meeting, our attendance numbers have never been higher. The Frankfort Chamber is growing and our members are involved.

We thank the entire 2016 Board for their hard work and dedication: Steve Hogan (Stumm Insurance), Richard Rappold (Law Office of Richard W. Rappold), Pauline Modjeski (White Street Café), Judy Hageman (Silver Cross Foundation), Tom Powers (Safety Meeting Outlines Inc.), Aimee Feehery (Lincoln-Way High School District 210), Craig Lyons (Sandler Training), Gretchen Dust (Evolve Media), Kris McGuire (My Town Too) and 2016 Frankfort Fall Festival Chair, Andrew Wright (Yankee Ridge Homeowners Association).

The Frankfort Chamber is strongly focused on both business in Frankfort as well as community. A strong business environment will create a better place to live; a strong community will create a better place in which to locate a business. To that end, many of the Chamber events focus as much on business as on community.

As we focus on community, the Chamber is proud to partner with our village on events such as Chili Cook-Off and Movies on the Green. Our Chamber members asked for more networking opportunities in 2016, and we heard them loud and clear. The Chamber hosted 15 Business After Hours networking events and 15 ribbon cuttings for new businesses. These events helped to allow our business partners to showcase themselves.

The Chamber morning networking event, Meet, Greet & Network found a new home in 2016 at the Village Hall. Attendance soared at this event as we welcomed six to 15 new members each month. More than 70 business people gathered every third Tuesday morning to hear a short education presentation, welcome new members, and provide their 30-second commercials. In 2017, we look forward to meeting at the Frankfort Public Library. Pub! Grub! & Network! sold out in 2016 with three buses taking participants to three restaurants around town. Participants and restaurant owners had a fabulous time and had an opportunity to learn about each other.

The Chamber is about business and community working together, and what better way to do that than at our annual Frankfort Community Showcase, a free family event that occurs in partnership with Artworks. Local businesses filled the Lincoln-Way East fieldhouse last March, showcasing their best products and services to community members. Additionally, local businesses and nonprofit organizations gave presentations from dances to dog training – the demo floor was always full.

What would our summers in Frankfort be without Concerts on the Green on Sunday evenings and our annual community Golf Outing in July? Both had beautiful weather and record attendance.

Finally, what would the Chamber be without our crowning jewel, Frankfort Fall Festival? “Happy Days” marked our 48th year for this iconic event that unites so many forces in Frankfort. It takes more than 300 volunteers and community partners to make this event possible. More than 300 artisans participated and crowds surpassed 300,000. It is one of the most rewarding challenges we dedicate ourselves to annually and it succeeds through the support from all our Chamber friends. Fall Fest is truly a shining example of how our community works together.

The collaborative efforts and the strong support of our members and community allowed the Chamber to continue reinvesting in local activities and organizations, from the 4th of July fireworks to scholarships. For this, our members should be proud.

As we enter 2017, Steve Hogan (Stumm Insurance) will serve as the Chamber president, and we will continue to deliver impactful programs, products and services. New opportunities are listed at www.frankfortchamber.com. We wish you a very happy and healthy 2017.