Under the direction of City Manager Jeff Fiegenschuh, Commercial and Retail Development Director Peggy Friday assembled a select group of local elected officials, business owners, and managers to collaborate, explore, review, and evaluate a range of potential strategic goals and projects to advance commercial and retail economic development opportunities in Rochelle.
Commercial & Retail Advisory Board members gathered at the RMU Technology Center on Monday to offer insights on changing retail trends, social media strategies, collaborative marketing, business recruitment and retention, reaching external customers, and raising community awareness of the importance of shopping local. How residents of Rochelle perceive current shopping, dining, and recreational opportunities is of importance to those who own businesses and persons looking to invest.
Independent businesses and shops create jobs, unify towns, and build strong economies. The Retail Advisory Board will create events, engage people, build campaigns, create brands, and introduce programs that hope to have a big social and economic impact on Rochelle. They foresee new ways of working together, trading ideas, and greater collaboration to help everyone become more aware how spending money locally can have a huge impact on local jobs, business, economies, and life.
Members include Peter Alfano (Alfano’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant), Samantha Barkus (Sunshine Bakery), Councilman Dan McDermott (Medcare Health Center), Jacob Becker (Query Insurance, A Division of Crum-Halstead) , Jeff Fiegenschuh (City of Rochelle), Becky Johns (Chicagoland Skydiving Center), Manny Lopez (Prescott Brothers Ford of Rochelle), Dale Meyers (Meyers Furniture), Manish Patel (Liquor ‘N’ Wine), Councilwoman Kate Shaw-Dickey (Holcomb Bank), Stephanie Williams (Lifeworks Photography Studio & Hayden Real Estate), and Emily Zimmerman (Sauk Valley Small Business Development Center).
“I’ve served on committees throughout my life, but the passion of this group today shocks me”, said Peter Alfano. “They have the full support of the Alfano Family to truly make a difference in the way we live and see Rochelle”, he added.
The group identified four retail-related projects they would begin working on collectively and in small committees beginning with a Downtown Business Incubator Program, Buy Local Campaign, Support for 2018 National Skydiving Championships hosted by Chicagoland Skydiving Center September 4-18, and the creation of an Entrepreneurship Program to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, and experiences needed to become successful entrepreneurs.
Becky Johns, CSO, Director of Marketing at Chicagoland Skydiving Center and The Flight Deck Bar & Grill said, “I really appreciate being invited to participate and the chance to talk about Nationals”. “I think this is a huge opportunity to show Rochelle to the world, and the excitement about it was quite welcomed!”
The Retail Advisory Board will meet monthly to share success stories and challenges to reshape the commercial and retail landscape in Rochelle. The Sauk Valley Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Sauk Valley Community College will actively participate in meetings and projects.