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    Leaders of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce say they had an exciting year, retooling and introducing innovative initiatives designed to serve businesses of all sizes, across industries.
    ACCELERATE Edwardsville/Glen Carbon was unveiled early in the year, the purpose of which is to strengthen the business community as a whole through mentoring relationships and leadership skills. The program has featured prominent guest speakers throughout the year.
    Another new development in 2016 was SAVOR: Restaurant Week. The social media-driven campaign was a resounding success, driving thousands of diners from throughout the St. Louis region to local establishments.
    The chamber continues to host a full menu of programs designed to facilitate relationship-building among business leaders, helping members grow their businesses. The chamber’s 2016 calendar offered more than 75 opportunities to expand professional networks, including traditional networking programs and educational presentations – such as a briefing on the Department of Labor’s overtime ruling. In addition, the chamber hosted members-only summits with both Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti and Congressman Rodney Davis.
    Business starts in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon occurred at a healthy pace throughout 2016, as evidenced by the large number of ribbon-cutting and ground-breaking ceremonies the chamber celebrated with businesses.
    “Our market saw a great deal of public and private sector activity and growth in 2016,” said Desiree Bennyhoff, president and CEO of the Edwardsville/Glen Carbon Chamber of Commerce. “Last year was a busy one as ground was broken on multiple new projects, and several businesses expanded with new locations and additions.”
    In line with the chamber’s strategic plan and ultimate goal of becoming accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, staff achieved significant milestones throughout 2016. Bennyhoff graduated from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Institute for Organization Management (IOM) at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and earned the Accredited Chamber Executive credential from the Illinois Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. She was also honored as the St. Louis Regional Chamber’s 2016 Jim Anderson Professional Torch Award & Scholarship, which is presented annually to recognize an outstanding chamber of commerce professional from Missouri or Southwestern Illinois. In addition, Membership Director Kerry Smith completed her first of four years of study at IOM.
    Bennyhoff continues serving as IACCE’s chairman of the board, and as an Illinois Chamber of Commerce board member – further evidence, she said, of the Ed/Glen Chamber’s commitment to consistently representing the voice of Metro East businesses before a statewide audience. Smith is active on IACCE’s government affairs and communications committees.
    “I am proud of the significant economic and quality-of-life impacts our businesses have, and the implications for our respective communities’ tax bases,” said Bennyhoff. “The future of our community appears strong, and we’re eager for what 2017 brings.”