Chamber Also Gives Back To the Community through Scholarship Program
Through its networking and varied programs aimed at helping local businesses thrive, the St. John Chamber of Commerce is a driving force within the town.
The St. John Chamber’s mission statement is “to cultivate an economic climate that is conducive to the growth and development of our business community. We will create a spirit of teamwork among our members to advance our commitment to private enterprise, enhance the quality of life within our community and promote mutually beneficial relationships between business and the community through government interaction and community service.”
This lofty goal is successfully achieved through a foundation of team work by the board and members, St. John Chamber of Commerce President Jeremy Gorelick said.
“First and foremost the chamber is obviously an organization, as all chambers are, which helps the businesses located inside that community to prosper and grow and help get the new businesses off and running as best we can,” Gorelick, who is the Peoples Bank Assistant Vice President-Mortgage Loan Officer, said. “That is the primary focus of our organization to help one another achieve our goals, to be there for one another.”
New St. John businesses are greeted by a recently formed facet of the chamber called The Advocates, Gorelick said.
“That group is a welcoming party,” he said.
The chamber urges new members to have a ribbon cutting ceremony to promote their business, Gorelick said.
Since its founding in July of 1961, the St. John Chamber has grown substantially. The 2012 Chamber membership is approximately 150 strong and growing. The general membership business meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month and the chamber publishes a monthly newsletter for all members with important information for the business community.
“Our chamber, we are thankful to say, the last couple of years has grown pretty regularly,” Gorelick said.
Gorelick said the chamber has a good turnout at its monthly meetings.
“We help our businesses grow and give them advertising opportunities,” Gorelick said. “There is a lot to offer for a minimal fee.”
Gorelick urges community residents to contact the chamber when they need information on a local business or a product.
“Whether it is St. John, Schererville or Dyer, residents should look to those people first to get some answers or input as to how they can find what they are looking for,” Gorelick said. “Helping you get what you need is important. That is why we are here.”
The chamber welcomes new residents with informational packets, Gorelick said. It also has an annual directory which is distributed throughout St. John.
“It is a nice marketing piece for the businesses,” Gorelick said. “In past years, we have had banners along U.S. 41 that are a source of advertising. We are always trying to think of new things to do for the businesses to keep them engaged and make their membership have some value.”
Gorelick said the St. John Chamber is always open for suggestions.
“We have a wide range of individuals on our board of directors,” Gorelick said. “We never have a hard time finding people to volunteer for things. It is a good organization.”
In addition to Gorelick the 2013 St John Chamber Board of Directors are: Vice President Tim Swallers, of Edward Jones; Secretary Cheryl Scott, of Standard Bank & Trust; Treasurer Nick Georgiou, of G&K Development; Director Melissa Garcia, of Porters Restoration; Director Larry Miller, of Fagen-Miller Funeral Home; Director Barb Gulden, of American Family Insurance; Director Bill Burke, of Walgreens; and Director Erik Schneider, of Hometown Appliance & Electronics.
The St. John Chamber gives back to the community through its scholarship program, Gorelick said.
The members of the St. John Chamber awarded three $1,000 scholarships this year to graduating seniors who are town residents. These scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need, academic ability, and commitment to community service and educational advancement. The scholarship program began several decades ago with the awarding of one $500 scholarship. The scholarships were increased to two $500 awards in 2006 and to four $500 awards in 2009. This year’s scholarship winners were Peter Boyd, Keller Phalen and Taylor Stewart.
“With everyone knowing how expensive schooling is, every little increase helps,” Gorelick said. “That has been one of my goals as it relates to a fundraising standpoint of the chamber. Helping the citizens of our community is something that all of us in the chamber take pride in and enjoy doing.”
Gorelick said the students helped through the scholarship program are the future generation of business owners who will eventually take over chamber leadership.
“I was born and raised in St. John and I went through the school corporation and now work for the city and am a member of this organization,” Gorelick said. “I take a lot of pride on being involved in where we live and where we work. This is our home.”
The St. John Chamber’s primary fundraiser is the annual corn roast, a joint venture with the Tri Town Rotary.
“Right behind that is our annual golf outing,” Gorelick said. “Those two events are the bread winners in terms of supporting that scholarship foundation.”
Throughout the year other fundraising events include 50/50 raffles, a chili cook-off, Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and Breakfast with Santa.
The St. John Chamber of Commerce office is located at 9495 Keilman Street, Suite #10. It is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Chamber office is managed by Sue Golec who can be reached at (219) 365-4686 or via email at email@example.com.