For 68 years the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. (Supplied photo)

For 68 years the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. (Supplied photo)

Palos Area Chamber dedicated to promoting area 

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By Kelly White 

Dedicated to helping local area businesses strive is the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber was formed in 1949 when a small group of merchants joined together for the purpose of advancing economic, industrial, professional, cultural, and civic welfare of the Palos Heights area.

For 68 years, the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce has remained actively involved in the everyday life of the Palos area, residents and business community. Supporting the communities of Palos Heights and Palos Park, along with some of the businesses within the Palos Hills community, is the chamber’s top priority.

“I joined about seven months ago because I feel like being an active Chamber member is a huge must,” Debbie George, Palos Area Chamber Secretary and owner of Sassy Girl Chalet Marketplace in Palos Heights, said. “Building relationships and helping promote the other business owners can be a huge success for all, and building relationships is key to any business owners.”

Chamber members, like George, understand the importance of civic responsibility and take great pride in the growth and development of our community.

The Palos Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to promoting the business community and the many wonderful amenities our city offers to both residents and guests and is dedicated to making the Palos area a wonderful and convenient place to live, work, visit and build a business.

“They promote local businesses and spawn cooperation among the businesses in the area,” Bob Straz, Mayor of Palos Heights, said.

The Palos Area Chamber’s board of directors is made up of President, Veronica Studnicka, Executive Director of Southside Pregnancy Center; Vice President, Todd Probasco, of Lakeside Bank; Chairperson; Secretary, Debbie George, of Sassy Girl Chalet Marketplace; and Treasurer, Jim Daemicke of Daemicke Financial Group.

“I joined the Palos Area Chamber because I want to be involved in our community, represent the local businesses and network with other professionals,” Todd Probasco, Chamber Vice President and President of Mortgage Lending Lakeside Bank, said.

Veronica Studnicka, Executive Director of Southside Pregnancy Center, agreed and said her decision to join the Chamber has positively impacted not only her personally, but also small local businesses in the Palos area.

“I joined the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce in 2017 soon after starting at Bethany Christian Services,” Studnicka said. “As I worked toward promoting Bethany within the Palos Heights area, I discovered that very few people knew about the nonprofit. I asked my supervisor if she would permit me to join both the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce and the Oak Lawn Chamber of Commerce with the intention of wanting to promote the nonprofit.

I was eventually invited to join the Board of the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce. I was really excited about the opportunity to work with others to contribute to the Chamber. I come from a family of small business owners and I know how challenging it can be. Plus, it tends to be small business owners who tend to financially give to local nonprofits and support community affairs.”

Other members include proud Palos area business owners: Yvonne Bustos, Christmas Party Chair, Admissions Director, Villa at Palos Heights; David Dewar, Independent Tax-Free Specialist; Rojean Gager, Community Relations Specialist at United Insurance Services Palos Heights; Laith Jabra, Vice President–Commercial Lending at First Secure Bank & Trust; Angel Malone, Owner of Photography by Angel Studio; and Tricia Trendle-Marker, Marketing Chair of the Palos Area Chamber,, CDP, General Manager at Home Instead.

“I enjoy meeting new members and expanding my own network,” Studnicka said. “I love being able to say, ‘Oh, I know someone’, should someone need an insurance agent, lawyer, accountant, etc. In doing so, I am recommending Chamber members to folks. Because I love getting to know people. I especially like putting together events for our members; thus, giving them the opportunity to expand their own network.”

As Studnicka said, the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce is committed to promoting the business community, even as the pandemic hit small businesses.

“During the pandemic, the Chamber strived to keep the members informed on the constantly evolving requirements businesses need to adhere to due to COVID,” Studnicka said. “Now, the Chamber is putting a great deal of effort in creating a sense of community for the members by offering numerous events that would allow members to network, partner, and share their expertise.”

Some difficulties the Chamber faced during the pandemic were improving communications to members, growing our membership base, and securing a board of directors who would be willing to volunteer to further develop the Chamber in order to offer more services to the membership base.

“The pandemic took its toll on business owners and limited their availability to volunteer for the Chamber,” Studnicka said. “We remained persistent in seeking out potential board of directors. We are still growing and thankfully have a great group of board of directors who have demonstrated a commitment to Palos Heights and Palos Park.”

Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett had nothing but positive things to say about the Chamber and their efforts to keep small businesses thriving.

“The Chamber has been always played an important role in working with the business community in Palos Hills along with their partnership with our city in sponsoring and promoting many special activities our businesses and citizens can participate and enjoy,” Bennett said. “Shopping local is their main messaging, and the Chamber does a wonderful job in introducing the many different retail and service businesses offered in Palos Hills. Support local business.”

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