Recently the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce was asked to give a presentation to the ClassE Entrepreneurs' Group. ClassE is a Coles County high school entrepreneurial development class that aims to educate students about the opportunities and challenges of starting and running a new business venture. Currently ClassE has 19 students enrolled in the program, which represents the biggest group they have ever had and demonstrates the value of this educational opportunity. Prior to attending the Mattoon Chamber Business Expo, the ClassE students asked for guidance on how to promote their golf outing scheduled for Monday, Oct. 23. They also asked what a Chamber of Commerce is and why businesses join. These are great questions that get asked quite often.

The Mattoon Chamber of Commerce is a coalition of area businesses, industries, organizations and professionals who pool their talents and resources to improve the economic, civic and cultural climate of the Mattoon Community. The Mattoon Chamber is an advocate and service organization for its business members. The Chamber endorses and refers all Chamber members to potential customers and those inquiring about local services. We provide a venue where business professionals can take effective action for the progress and growth of our community.

When businesses join the Mattoon Chamber they become part of an organization with a strong credible voice that speaks out and advocates on behalf of business and industry. Chamber members have access to our 300-plus Member strong organization for the most efficient and effective networking systems available to promote their businesses and expand their customer base. The Chamber is a conduit to the City of Mattoon to all County and State agencies for advocacy, educational and informational purposes.

The Mattoon Chamber has many opportunities for members to get involved, network and develop professionally. We have an outstanding group of Chamber Ambassadors who help us with all our networking and social events and promote the Chamber throughout the community. The Ambassadors network with potential customers, promote their businesses and grow personally through engaging with fellow Chamber members.

The Mattoon Chamber offers numerous opportunities for its members to network with fellow businesses and clients including our monthly Business After Hours, our Business Expo and Taste of the Expo, and our Educational and Community Update Breakfasts, just to name a few.

Other great benefits of the Mattoon Chamber include the opportunity to join a large group of member businesses that realize energy cost savings. Our Chamber Bucks program ensures nearly $100,000 a year is exclusively spent locally with Chamber businesses. Notary services, export documentation endorsement, website and directory listings and our monthly Chamber Connection newsletter are some of the other benefits of being a Chamber member. The ClassE students learned a great deal of information about chambers of commerce, and we were impressed with their commitment and drive for success for their golf outing.

Ed Dowd is the executive director of the Mattoon Chamber of Commerce.

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