Chamber NewsA QUARTERLY PUBLICATION OF THE GREATER DECATUR CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Decatur, Illinois The City that Made aLake is the title of a pamphlet producedby theAssociation of Commerce around1930 to entice anyone seeking a desirablelocation for a factory, warehouse, districtoffice, distribution center, or for a home toconsider Decatur as an ideal location tolive, work, and play.TheAssociation of Commerce a
forerunner to todays Greater DecaturChamber of Commerce originallyperformed the duties of three organizations:economicdevelopment,tourism, andsupport for localbusinesses. Thecreation of theEconomicDevelopment Corp.of Decatur-MaconCounty and theDecaturAreaConvention andVisitors Bureauallowed theChamber to focus onits core mission ofproviding service,political advocacy,and leadership tostrengthen localbusinesses.But throughout its history, the Chamber
has remained dedicated to enhancing thequality of life in Decatur. Lake Decatur is a
valuable asset to local businesses and ourcommunitys quality of life and an assetthe Chamber strives hard to preserve.
A community investmentDecatur experienced water supply issues
as early as 1874, when the citybuilt its first reservoir. Sincethen, it has been a constantstruggle to expand andmaintain the citys watersupply to meet the demandsof industry and its citizens.
In 1919, the IllinoisDepartments of Public Healthand Public Works grantedpermission for the city to damthe Sangamon River to createa lake. But before the damcould be constructed, theA.E.Staley ManufacturingCompanys need for waterbecame so great that it offeredto construct a dam at its ownexpense. Staley was thenconsuming an amount ofwater equal to the demand of
the entire city and was projected to soondouble that need.The city nixed this idea since the project
required competitivebidding, but the bids couldnot go out until a bond issuewas approved to securefinancing for the project.Staley then offered to build atemporary dam near what isnow the bridge carrying U.S.36 over the lake near NelsonPark.When this plan ran into
trouble because of difficultycompleting land purchases,theAssociation of Commercestepped in to rescue the dealand speed up the process ofbuilding both the temporary and permanentdams. TheAssociation of Commerceorganized a corporation to front the city the$1 million it needed for the purchase andclearing of river bottom lands, thus allowingconstruction of the lake to move forward.
Central Illinois PlaygroundA1927 brochure produced by the
Association of Commerce to extol Decatursvirtues to visitors and investors capitalizedon the latest addition to the communityslandscape. The pamphlets cover featuredan idyllic day at the beach and proclaimed
Lake Decatur The Playground of CentralIllinois.The Chamber proposed the Chamber of
Commerce Sangamon River RestorationPlan in 1991 and continues to be an activecommunity partner to encourage thehighest use of our manmade resource.Today, in conjunction with the city, theDecatur Park District, labor, and theCoalition of Neighborhood Organizations,the Chamber is once again working to makeLake Decatur a tourist attraction. See what isbeing proposed atwww.decaturslakefront.com.
The Citythat Made a Lake
A re-enactment of the meeting to discuss the construction of a damon the Sangamon River was part of the 1923 Lake DecaturCelebration pageant.
The cover of a 1927 Association ofCommerce brochure promoting thequality of life in Decatur.
Decatur is, andalways has been, apull-yourself-up-from-the-bootstrapskind of town.As E.E. Lindsay,
an executive of theDecatur Herald &Review, so eloquentlyobserved at the 1944Decatur Associationof Commerce AnnualDinner: There are nopeople in Decaturwhose forebears camehere with great namesor great fortunes. Theaccomplishments wesee about us are ourown built herefrom the ground up.People with vision
and determination helped shape Decaturinto the community we have today andare continuing to position it for a bettertomorrow.Many of these hometown movers and
shakers have been bolstered with supportfrom the Greater Decatur Chamber ofCommerce and its forerunner organizations.More than just a business association,
the Chamber has long hadthe interests of the entirecommunity at heart. In 1938,outgoing board President J.J.Maloney stated, (TheAssociation of Commerce) isnot a manufacturersassociation; it is not amerchants association; it isan organization that isconcerned with the welfareof Decatur, so broadly basedthat nothing that is for thegood of Decatur can beforeign to it.This quarters Through
the Years installment offersmore examples of how theChamber of Commerce hasbeen involved in improvingDecatur for the benefit of thewhole community.
Infrastructure Collected funds to oil the first north-
south road from Decatur to Pana in 1915. Pushed to secure state commitment to
widen U.S. 51 to a 4-lane highway. Supported the airport from its infancy
(funding the oiling of runways) to present(lobbied for increased air service to/from
Decatur). Working to obtain high-speed
passenger rail service to Decatur. Worked to secure adequate water
supply by organizing funding for purchaseof lake bed, by financing silt studies, and bypromoting CCC Camp for soil conservationwork. Provided, in 1920, the first plan for
orderly development of the city and urgedrevision of the city plan in 1937; encouragedparticipation of all public bodies in aplanning commission.
Education Founding partner of the Decatur Area
Education Coalition. Collaborated with community groups
to initiate the Drop Out Prevention TaskForce and Partners in Education. The Decatur Leadership Institute.
Health, housing, and human services Worked to alleviate housing shortages
and to improve housing conditionsfollowing the Great Depression. Pushed to locate Veterans
Administration hospital in Decatur. Promoted study in the 1960s on the
plight of senior citizens.
CommunityThe Chamber played a key role in
founding the following nonprofitorganizations for the communitys benefit: The Decatur Area Convention and
Visitors Bureau The Economic Development
Corporation of Decatur and Macon County The Decatur Area Labor-Management
Committee Macon County Juvenile Justice
Committee The 501 Club for young professionalsThese initiatives and others have spun
off a multitude of other committees thathave brought about positive changes in thegreater Decatur area, such as Weed andSeed and CrimeStoppers.Rarely do good things just happen by
chance. Decatur needs people with thevision to dream big things for ourcommunity, the ability to motivate people tochange these dreams into plans, and hard-working people that will strive to transformtheses plans into reality.The Chamber has proven to be an
incubator for dreams, a platform formotivating the community, and a trainingground for leaders and volunteers who willcarry out visions that will advance ourcommunity well into the future.
A continuing look at how the Chamber hascontributed to the development of Macon CountyThrough theYears
Chamber Executive Vice PresidentJames C. Patrick outlines the KeepPace With Tomorrow program in 1968.
MEETthe leaders and staff
DIRECTORSChamber Board Chair ...................................Beth Stringer
publisher, Decatur Magazine
Chamber Board Vice Chair ............................Keith Casteelattorney, Samuels, MillerSchroeder, Jackson & Sly
Second Vice Chair ............................................Pete Paulinpresident, 300 Below
Treasurer ..........................................................Randy Earlvice president,
Brintlinger & Earl Funeral Home
Secretary ..............................................Christine Pinckardsenior vice president,
Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce
Assistant Secretary/Treasurer ..........................Kevin Kastchief executive officer,
St. Marys Hospital
At Large...................................................Mirinda Rothrockmanager of community engagement,
Archer Daniels Midland Company
President .......................................................Randy Princepresident,
Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce
Honorary Past Chair ....................................Jeff Hendrickspartner, Hendricks & Carr Marketing
BOARDWole Adeoye, owner, Victory Pharmacy of Decatur, Inc.Mark Avery, publisher, Grain JournalGary Birschbach, owner, Decatur Area McDonaldsErik Brechnitz, senior vice president, Brechnitz Group of
Raymond JamesCarla Brinkoetter, president, Brinkoetter & AssociatesCraig Coil, president, Economic Development Corp.Cathy Coulter, president, Swartz PropertiesGloria Davis, superintendent, Decatur School DistrictCindy Deadrick, owner, Shop on MainPatrick Dienslake, market president-Greater Illinois,
Regions BankJ. Richard L. Dunsworth, vice president for enrollment,
Millikin UniversityJim Gresham, manager, Lock, Stock and BarrelPhil Hazenfield, partner, Homer L. Chastain & AssociatesSteve Horve Sr., president, Horve BuildersWalt Hupe, general manager, Caterpillar, Inc.George Justice, manager-Division III, AmerenDave Moran, general manager, Refreshment Services
PepsiGretchen Murphy, senior vice president, Soy Capital Bank
& TrustTodd Nelson, publisher, Herald & ReviewChris Olsen, director community and government
relations, Tate & LyleRon Pulera, vice president and general manager, WAND TVDarren Reynolds, J.D., senior vice president and general
manager, Consociate-DansigDr. Gayle Saunders, president, Richland Community
CollegeDave Weber, president, Macon-Shelb