Ask an expert - BOB SMITH, HINSDALE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE BOARD CHAIR
Last updated 2/10/2021 at 2:48pm | View PDF
What do you hope to accomplish during your term?
When independent insurance agent Bob Smith moved his office from downtown Hinsdale to Westmont, part of his heart remained in the village. A graduate of Hinsdale Central High School, Smith said he feels a strong bond to this community.
"Hinsdale has a special place in my heart. I want to see it succeed and grow," said Smith, who will do his best to see that happen in his role as chairman of the 2021 Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
Having served as vice chair of the 2020 board, Smith moved into the role of chair on Jan. 1. As chair, he leads the chamber's governing board and advisors, all of whom are charged with finding ways to support Hinsdale businesses and to drive customers to the village's stores, service providers and restaurants.
Smith said 2020 Chair Melissa Waters skillfully guided the chamber through the throes of COVID-19, which included the decision to cancel the Chamber's weekly summer concert series, Uniquely Thursdays.
"That's the largest revenue generator for the Chamber," Smith said.
As 2021 chair, Smith is tasked with what he hopes will be a recovery - and a return to the beloved Thursday evening concerts in the park.
"As of now, it's a wait-and-see situation," Smith said.
Limited in its ability to raise money, Smith said the chamber switched its focus in 2020 to being a resource for local businesses. Rather than hosting public events, the chamber did what it could to help members navigate a new world of PPE, payroll protection loans and ever-changing restrictions.
"We were involved with advocating for the local restaurants, to open up the downtown," Smith said.
Smith said the chamber will continue to work closely with the village to find safe ways to support local businesses while protecting employees and consumers. That includes plans to extend the Farmer's Market again this year. And Smith said discussions are taking place about the return of the downtown wine walk this fall.
"We have a lot of different ideas," he said, all geared toward driving business to Hinsdale. With the opening of the downtown parking deck in July 2020, there is plenty of room for shoppers and diners alike to discover and rediscover all the village has to offer.
Smith joined the Chamber in 2012 and worked in downtown Hinsdale for six years. An independent insurance agent with Corporate Risk Management Strategy in Westmont, Smith's customer base includes Hinsdale.
Smith said his work with the chamber requires several meetings a month, all of which are taking place remotely. But like the summer concerts and the downtown wine walk, Smith said he hopes that face-to-face meetings will make a return this year, even if they have to be held outdoors.
"I'm confident that sometime in 2021, we will meet face to face," he said.
As part of his commitment to support and improve his community, Smith also sits on the board of AIM-CIL, a DuPage County nonprofit that helps people with disabilities live independently.
- by Sandy Illian Bosch