Time for small businesses to reinvent themselves – especially the independent ones without corporate parents to lean on for help.  The costs of doing business are escalating even while consumer habits are changing.  We need fresh ideas. 

At the Chamber, we are excited about our new resources for local small business owners.  Here is a peek at the five new initiatives and partnerships we will be announcing soon.

Two marketing-focused partnerships will launch this month.  Working with the Wednesday Journal, we created a new feature highlighting the people behind our terrific local businesses.  The “Small Business Superheroes” column will be available soon on oakpark.com.

We also have been working with a local tech startup on an exciting “Shop Local” solution. With this truly innovative platform, Oak Park small businesses can easily participate in a digital marketplace that offers a convenient “click to mortar” shopping experience for our community.

Business members pay nothing to market and sell with this platform, so it’s effectively The Anti-Groupon.  Further, it’s a way for local Oak Park area independents to offer community members exclusive opportunities.  Our neighbors can shop for local deals on a proprietary OPRF live feed.  Every offer is redeemed in one of our local restaurants or shops.

This idea, which we will unveil shortly, will offer cyber-age shopping convenience while enlivening our streets and enriching our local entrepreneurs.

Two other initiatives address the need for better communication and information flow.  First, we will be launching a newsletter in early August that provides links to local business news as well and events and opportunities for business people.  The newsletter will be targeted towards Chamber members, but available to everyone.

The second communication initiative focuses on the business districts in Oak Park, partnering with the Business Association Council (BAC).  We’ll be working with the districts to design better means of raising issues, communicating back to businesses, and representing our business community’s diverse needs and viewpoints.

Our fifth initiative is our revamped professional development series, “Retail Roundtable.”  This monthly series will offer owners education in topics relevant to running a small business.  Look for information on our oprfchamber.org/events calendar.

More to come…

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...