Besides a new location, this will be the first year that the RoRo Expo will be hosted under the Stateline Chamber of Commerce banner following the merger between the Rockton Area Chamber of Commerce and the Roscoe Area Chamber of Commerce. The Roscoe and Rockton chambers have hosted the RoRo Expo since 1992.
The chambers have been planning to merge for several years. Last year, members from both groups approved the merger, which is set to be launched within the next month. Ryan Rydell, vice president of the Rockton Chamber of Commerce board, said having a combined chamber will be more efficient for the member businesses.
A launch party is planned for Feb. 11.
"Basically, you had two small communities that had a chamber of commerce that was competing against each other," Rydell said. "Over the years, several people became members of both and they thought, ‘Why am I paying for two memberships?’ or ‘Why am I going to two chamber dinners when really we could have one chamber that serves the Stateline community?’"
Rydell said most members conduct business outside of the Rockton-Roscoe area, and the merger allows them to work with other area businesses.
"Nowadays, you don’t only do business in Rockton or Roscoe," Rydell said. "You network with businesses from other areas. Thankfully, the leaders of the two chambers listened to their members to have the chambers get together, and they found a way to make that happen."
Kristi Lambright, former president of the Roscoe Chamber board, said the Stateline Chamber hopes to include more businesses from South Beloit and other northern Illinois communities.
"Two prestigious organizations hope to continue their efforts as one Stateline chamber," Lambright said. "We don’t have a long history of being together, but we look to combine two great resources into one phenomenal resource. We’re looking to include businesses in South Beloit, Poplar Grove and Calendonia, areas that don’t have a chamber. We’re looking to help grow the northern Illinois business community."
Lambright said most of the members are excited about the merger.
"They’re looking forward to seeing what the new chamber will bring them and how it will benefit them," Lambright said. "The executive committee and current board is excited to see how we’re going to grow at the start of 2016."
The chamber will be operated out of the Roscoe Chamber office on Williams Drive, but a more centralized location is being planned. The Stateline Chamber will be staffed by Executive Director Mickey Heinzeroth, Administrative Assistant Margo Anders, board members and volunteers.
"The Roscoe Chamber staff will remain in place. The past couple of years, the Rockton Chamber of Commerce was mostly operated by volunteers," Rydell said. "The Rockton Chamber board of directors and Roscoe Chamber board of directors will merge to form one board."
Rydell said the chamber is launching its new website and updating its printed materials.
"It’s not going to be easy. There’s a lot of work being done in the (chamber) office, but I see the benefits," Rydell said. "We’re in a transition phase as we launch this new organization. We should be ready by Feb. 11 when we have our launch party. Everyone will then have an opportunity to know what’s going on and have their questions answered."
Rydell, owner of RyCom Creative Services in Rockton, said being involved with the chamber has allowed him to form partnerships with other business owners.
"What you get is relationship building. You get to meet people throughout the area. For my business, there’s people I’ve met that I wouldn’t of had met had it not been for the chamber," Rydell said. "It’s impacted the growth of my business and other businesses. You take all the business leaders, from the person who owns a candy shop to a top-level executive, and you offer a way for those individuals to interact with each other. They build off of each other which has a positive impact."
Lambright of NorthPointe Health and Wellness in Roscoe said being a chamber member has allowed her to meet other business professionals in the area.
"Being involved has allowed me to meet other members and network with them both professionally and personally," Lambright said. "I learn how they can help me and how I can help them. It’s a great group of people. We have fun on more than just a professional level. You make new friends and communicate with other business leaders."
For more information about the Stateline Chamber of Commerce, call 815-623-9065.