2002: 400th Member Milestone

In 2002, the DeKalb Chamber welcomed its 400th member for the first time. This milestone brought about many celebrations including a chamber after hours and press release.


August 30, 2002

If the strength of an organization lies in its membership, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce is pumping major iron these days.

An unprecedented membership milestone of 400 has been reached by the DeKalb Chamber for the first time in its nearly 80-year history. Scott Ellenberger, president of the Chamber since 1993, attributes the growth to a combination of factors. “A lot of hard work targeting membership growth has been done by chamber staff and volunteer board members over the past 10 years to make this possible,” he said. “Those past efforts are bearing fruit today in the form of increased membership that is unmatched in the Chamber’s history.”

The direction the Chamber has taken in programs and services also has made a difference in membership, Ellenberger said. “We hear from members that they like the programs and services we offer as they are geared to their specific concerns. They also like the fact that the Chamber works every day to represent the best DeKalb has to offer–its people and its business entities.” Programs created recently include the Issues and Answers Breakfast Series, City Visitors’ Guide, Community Map, updated website and Business to Business Trade Show. Ellenberger credited staff members Nancy Corsiglia and Emily Garcia for all of their hard work on membership and website design. “They are the glue that holds the office together,” said Ellenberger.

The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in February, 1928, but was actually founded in 1923. Over the years, the scope of its programs has changed, but its mission has remained virtually the same. That mission includes promotion and marketing of Chamber member businesses, providing networking and educational opportunities to members and providing community information to travelers and the general public.

Warren Osenberg, a member since the 1950s and past Board Chairman, said “anyone who does business in DeKalb needs to belong to the Chamber and work toward the common goal–the Chamber is nothing more than people working together, joining hands for a common cause.”

Recent Chamber member Edward F. Diedrich & Associates, P.C. joined for the benefits in terms of marketing and promotion, according to David E. Do, attorney and office manager of the firm. “The Chamber provides people, in our case potential clients, the opportunity to find businesses to meet their needs through the directories and web site, which has links to business web sites,” he said.

Jerry Smith, Executive Director of the DeKalb County Community Foundation and former Board Chair said “as DeKalb has grown, one of the Chamber’s key challenges was breaking away from being strictly a ‘downtown DeKalb organization’ to one that truly served the broader business community”. He complimented Ellenberger and the staff on “a nice job of growing the Chamber into a well-run 21st Century organization”.

Written by Kathy Siebrasse

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