Free market economic theory assumes all stakeholders are rational actors that share the same information, have full mobility and can attract resources on the strength of expected return on investment.

Of course, that is all very simplistic.  In the real world, there’s marketing, connections, inherent skill sets, inability to pick up and move, government, inefficient capital markets and all sorts of barriers to perfect competition.  The Chamber of Commerce helps local business people bridge many of these inefficiencies, especially through professional development programs and opportunities for networking and connections. Spreading information is one of the most important, but most challenging, things we do.

“I didn’t know” and “Nobody told me” are the two most common phrases we hear from local business owners.  There are many reasons for that. First, there is so much information out there – with a constant onslaught of new “critical” items.  It is overwhelming and easy to miss things. Not only is there new technology available seemingly every day, but the local environment is in a constant state of flux. It is tough to keep up.

Communication itself is changing, too.  There are so many more ways to disseminate information:  post on a website, post on social media, send an email, call, visit, mail a flyer, tell a representative or – one of our local favorites – announce at a meeting.  More often than not, “Nobody told me” isn’t quite accurate. More likely, the information you need wasn’t provided via your own preferred media consumption vehicle.

At the Chamber, we do our best each week to curate relevant business information into a single newsletter emailed to members.  It contains links to news stories, events, round-up of municipal meetings, highlights and other need-to-know items. This week we took the next step towards promoting free market information:  we began sending the newsletter to all business people, regardless of membership.

We believe in an informed and inclusive business community and we hope this will get us a bit closer to that “theoretical” state.  We’ll augment the weekly email with links on our website and social media posts to reach more people. Interested in receiving the newsletter?  Sign up at

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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...