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Arlington Heights chamber celebrates success stories

Daily Herald | Christopher Placek | January 27, 2017

The Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce on Friday celebrated successes of the business community over the past year, while chamber officials look to enhance the services they provide to their membership in 2017.

It’s the 70th anniversary of the business group, and so Friday night’s annual installation and awards celebration at Arlington International Racecourse was James Bond 007-themed, with outgoing board Chairman Colin Gilbert calling himself “Agent 070” and attendees posing for pictures with fake guns.

Gilbert officially handed the chairmanship reins to Mike Driskell, who said the chamber will continue to evolve in 2017, with the goal to get the chamber staff out of the office and into the business community more often.

One way the organization is doing that is by moving the chamber offices from 311 S. Arlington Heights Road in downtown Arlington Heights to 25N Coworking, the new 11,000-square-foot work and meeting space that formally opened this week at the One Arlington residential tower, part of the Arlington Downs development on Euclid Avenue.

“The co-working community space will be shared with other businesses and will help us to keep our finger on the pulse of the business community,” Driskell said. “The new service model will help us to remain agile and respond quickly to changes in the business climate and the needs of our members.”

Driskell, the director of administration of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, said he also wants to explore partnership opportunities between the chamber and library.

Mayor Tom Hayes honored the chamber’s 70th anniversary by referencing an old newspaper clipping from the Arlington Heights Herald, the predecessor to the Daily Herald, that he found online.

In likely one of the chamber’s first newspaper advertisements in 1947, the ad encouraged consumers to shop in Arlington Heights on Thursdays until 9 p.m., when a number of stores were keeping their doors open late.

Gilbert gave President’s Awards to Ken Drost, his partner at the Drost, Gilbert, Andrew & Apicella law firm, and Amy Philpott, a Realtor at Picket Fence Realty. Philpott also won the award for Business Leader of the Year.

Business Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Frank Lesniak, owner of Air-Flo HVAC, for his work with the Santa Run, golf outings and other events.

Business of the Year went to AAA Travel & Insurance, which has been in Arlington Heights for 30 years and Illinois for the past 100 years.

Frontier Days, the annual summer festival that will be in its 42nd year, was named Nonprofit of the Year.

Bottle & Bottega was named Emerging Business of the Year. Owner Chris Bonk thanked village and chamber officials for their assistance in helping him open a little more than a year ago.

“When people come to our studio to paint every night, it’s very heartwarming. People come in and they say, ‘This is such a charming downtown,'” Bonk said. “It feels nice that they think it’s a great place.”