SYCAMORE – The Sycamore Chamber of Commerce celebrated the past and future at its annual meeting Thursday by recognizing outstanding residents and businesses and a changing of the board's guard.
The real star of the show, however, was the community of Sycamore.
Grant Goltz, the outgoing president of the Sycamore Chamber board of directors, said the board began 2017 with the goal to grow to 500 members, a goal it exceeded.
"At the end of 2017 we had 520 active members," he said.
Describing the Chamber's 2017 activity, Executive Director RoseMarie Treml said it had conducted 85 networking and learning opportunities, welcomed 80 new members, visited more than 500 member businesses and hosted or sponsored 14 community events. It also spent $55,000 promoting Sycamore outside the area with "provocative imagery and exciting editorial."
"We want to entice people to Sycamore," she said.
While individuals and businesses received the official awards of the event, the community received more praise than any individual person.
"I've lived all over the country," said Thor Dolan, president and chief executive officer of Illinois Community Credit Union. "There's nothing like Sycamore."
ICCU won the Discover Diamond award, which recognizes businesses that have made significant improvements, for its new building at 508 W. State Street in Sycamore.
Tim Suter of the Suter Co., winner of the Chamber Champion Award, said it was a privilege to be able to invest in the community.
Taxco Mexican Cuisine received the Spirit of Small Business Award, and owner Jesus Romero related the story of how, when he first move to Sycamore, he didn't want to. And then he didn't want to stay, until he met his wife.
"It's such a philanthropic and lovely community," he said.
Romero said he doesn't know what would have happened if he'd followed his original instinct and gone to Chicago, but praised Sycamore.
"Sycamore has been so great for my family," he said.
When Opportunity House received the award for Outstanding Business of the Year, Executive Director Bob Shipman said simply, "We wouldn't be here without you."
The Clifford Danielson Award went to to Sycamore resident John Ward. A farmer from rural Sycamore, Ward served on a number of boards and committees since the 1970s, including a time as Sycamore School District 427 Board president. In an emotional speech, he thanked his family for standing by him as he worked for the community.
As the event wrapped up, Goltz introduced the president for 2018, attorney Kevin Buick. Buick said there were plans to grow the chamber over the next year, and Sycamore would provide a strong foundation.
"We really are lucky," Buick said. "We have rallying point to unite us: our pride in our community. ... That's a special thing not to be taken lightly."