Gurnee Chamber of Commerce Chairman, Brad Jenks, along with Executive Director, Craig Hathaway, addressed the Board giving a brief history of the Chamber’s 200 members comprised of local businesses and community organizations and their accomplishments. Mr. Jenks stated the Chamber’s purpose is to enhance the economic viability and growth of the local business community. Mr. Jenks informed the Board that Mr. Hathway and he are in the final stages of the development of a Gurnee application (“app”) for smartphones called All Things Gurnee. All Things Gurnee is a mobile resource platform for business, entertainment, shopping, dining, festivals, community events, village services and more. This app is the biggest and most ambitious project the Chamber has undertaken to date. This app will be instrumental in helping to promote Gurnee’s local businesses. Mr. Hathaway gave a presentation regarding the mobile app, how it works, branding, various categories and pages of the app and membership levels including silver, gold and platinum.
In summary, the Chamber feels that All Things Gurnee would allow local businesses to have a low cost option when it comes to reaching their base with the added benefit of Chamber membership and visitors will find it a rewarding and helpful way to navigate our community.
Mr. Jenks stated that a lot of time and effort has been put into the development of this app with their web designer. Mr. Jenks further stated they are in need of partners in order to bring this app to our members, market the app, and to continue to maintain the app in the future. The Chamber is requesting the Village to financially partner with the Chamber and become a partner member in the annual amount of $10,000. The $10,000 would enable the Chamber to better support their member businesses, and be better equipped tem to handle the ongoing demands of a growing Chamber of Commerce.
Trustee Ross asked how the app fits in with the Lake County Visitor’s’ Bureau and stated that she believes there is some redundancy as it relates with many of the same services the Visitor’s Bureau already offers to residents, as well as visitors. She further stated that the Village funds the Visitor’s Bureau to promote the same services that the Chamber’s smart app will provide. Trustee Ross also asked for clarification of the partner level, who else the Chamber has approached to become partners, and expressed concern with the differences between this program and the Gurnee’s Got It! campaign.
Mr. Jenks said that this app will specifically target Gurnee businesses via a mobile app as opposed to the Visitor Bureau’s website that targets visitors, as well as residents.
Mr. Hathaway stated while the Visitor Bureau has a great site, it’s not Gurnee centered as the mobile smart app would be. Regarding the Partner Level funding. Mr. Jenks stated that Partner Level funding starts at $4,900; however, they are requesting $10,000 from the Village to be a partner. Mr. Jenks further stated the Chamber will be approaching KeyLime Cove, Gurnee Mills, Six Flags, and AT&T to become partners. Mr. Jenks stated the businesses who are currently participating in the Gurnee’s Got It! campaign will be integrated into the All Things Gurnee mobile application.
Trustee Ross reiterated her concerns, stating the three main summer campaign partners are Six Flags, KeyLime Cove, and Gurnee Mills. She stated the theory of the Visitor’s Bureau is what’s good for Gurnee is good for Lake County and what’s good for Lake County is good for Gurnee. She’d like to see the Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau work together.
Trustee Park stated the issue of how to push economic development in Gurnee and using groups like the Chamber to do that is very valid. He also stated the potential for commonality amongst the Economic Development Committee’s objectives is great and the difference between the Visitor’s Bureau and the Chamber is that the Visitor’s Bureau’s focus is specifically the tourism side of the business, while the Chamber’s focus is Gurnee businesses, especially the small business owners. Trustee Park stated the mobile app would provide an option for the residents.
Mr. Hathaway stated the Chamber’s goal, through the All Things Gurnee mobile app, is to develop residential loyalty.
Trustee Wilson asked if any other communities are utilizing a mobile app.
Mr. Jenks stated Lakeview community in Chicago has a mobile app. called Go Lakeview.
Trustee Hood echoed Trustee Ross’ concern stating the he would like the Chamber and the Visitor’s Bureau to work together establishing a cross communication. He stated the mobile app is a great idea that will assist the business community.
Mr. Jenks stated at this point, they are at the implementation stage and funding is now needed to allow the Chamber to go to the next level. Currently, they do not have enough money with 200 members to allow for an Executive Director and staff. The Chamber feels that support in the amount of $10,000 annually would enable the Chamber to better support our member businesses, cover the costs of the development of the app, and cover the costs associated with maintaining such an app.
Trustee Balmes stated she is in favor of anything that will help to promote Gurnee businesses; however, she questions whether or not the $10,000 is a one-time investment or is it ongoing. The funding issue would result in Trustee Balmes’ concern that as a business owner, what would the Chamber’s stance be if she had an issue with the Village and the Village is providing funding to the Chamber.
Trustee Ross asked what the Chamber’s plan is if the Village becomes a partner. Mr. Jenks stated some of the $10,000 would go towards the hiring of a full time Executive Director and Administrative Staff which equals approximately $100,000 a year. In addition, the Chamber is still looking for a location and welcomes the Board’s input to that end.
Mayor Kovarik stated the All Things Gurnee app is a huge value for the Village and uniquely different from the Visitor’s Bureau. Gurnee’s Got It! helped the small business to stay alive and was never meant to be permanent. She further stated that she believes there is a way to get the mobile app accomplished with an implementation/project plan detailing exactly where tax dollars will be spent. She believes there’s room for a partnership; however, the Board must be comfortable. Trustee Hood, along with staff, will work with the Chamber to accomplish their goal.