Naperville Sun

Speakers to offer solutions for businesses, state budget

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Each month the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce encourages members and the community to join us for our luncheon.

In addition to providing members with an opportunity to connect with one another and build relationships, our luncheons provide insight to the workplace and education about important community issues. The chamber has two luncheons coming up that meet both of these goals, and we want to extend an invitation to the entire community.

On Monday, we will welcome Jack Rooney, retiring CEO of U.S. Cellular, to our luncheon series as keynote speaker on "Ethical Conduct as a Competitive Advantage." The talk will provide attendees with a case study illustrating the power of investing in the organization through developing leaders and improving customer service.

Several years ago, U.S. Cellular was on the verge of going out of business, and today it is a vibrant company receiving high marks from employees and customers. This transformation didn't occur overnight; it was through implementation of a business model known as the dynamic organization. This model relies heavily on the fundamental concept of personal and professional values. Through empowering and inspiring leadership and instilling the virtues of ethics and integrity at all levels of the organization, U.S. Cellular has transformed itself and survived against the odds.

On Aug. 23, the chamber will welcome Miles White, chairman and CEO of Abbott Laboratories, and R. Eden Martin, president of the civic committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. They will present a new initiative of the civic committee, the "Illinois Is Broke Campaign."

The Commercial Club of Chicago has a vibrant history in our region's development. Founded in 1877 by 17 business leaders, the Commercial Club has been a vocal and effective champion of growth and development of our entire region. It championed the famed Burnham plan that altered the development of Chicago for the better.

Nearly a century later, the Civic Committee is looking for support on the Illinois Is Broke Campaign. Every resident of Illinois is endangered by the fiscal crisis the state faces. The main culprit of the fiscal calamity is the albatross of unfunded obligation to pay retirement benefits of state workers.

The perilous nature of the pension funds is jeopardizing the delivery of vital services to residents of Illinois. State leaders must take drastic action to prove that they honor and protect the rights already earned by retirees and current employees.

Together as business, civic and citizen leaders, we must stand up and raise the pressure on our officials to answer this crisis. They took a good first step earlier this year by reforming the pension system for future employees, but it isn't enough.

In concert with other budget reforms, the state of Illinois can work for its residents again. Attend our August luncheon, learn the facts, become an educated advocate, join the campaign and show your support for real budget reform.

Register at or call the chamber at 630-355-4141. I hope you can join us for both of these great programs and connect with fellow business leaders.
John Schmitt is president and CEO of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce. He can be reached at 630-544-3370.