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Marketplace

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce finds new home at First Midwest Bank

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce moving into new digs Friday

DeKALB – The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce is headed from one bank to another, and on Friday will have a new home on the second floor of First Midwest Bank, 130 W. Lincoln Highway.

We were able to fit [the move] in a good time frame for us," said Matt Duffy, executive director of the Chamber, on Monday. "First Midwest Bank has been great working with us as far as asking 'what can we do to be a partner in the community.' The timing just worked out well for both sides."

The Chamber is one of three agencies, including the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau and the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association, that were given a Dec. 31 deadline to vacate their current space, the former First National Bank that is known as the Nehring Building, 164 E. Lincoln Highway, since it's to become the new city hall.

The Chamber will close Wednesday and Thursday for the move, and reopen at its new location Friday.

The new digs are all set to go, Duffy said, with five offices, conference and lobby space and more technology in the office. First Midwest Bank underwent a minor lobby remodel on the first floor, so the elevator and stairs are accessible to all.

"If the bank is closed on any holiday that we're open, you can still use the elevator and the stairs to get to us without going in the bank," he said.

Agencies and city staff alike have cited a changing downtown scene – namely, "new business, new buildings, new construction and new plans" as Duffy put it – as reasons for the location shifts. Chamber staff had been on the lookout for a new spot since May.

"We looked at a variety of different locations," Duffy said. "The board's focus was to keep it in downtown DeKalb. So we took a look at it, it's got an entryway into downtown DeKalb, and bridge between city and university."

First Midwest Bank sits on the edge of downtown DeKalb and the Northern Illinois University campus.

It's been a busy season for Chamber staff, Duffy said, as they come off hosting the Athena-Women of Accomplishment Award reception, State of the City and Spooktacular. Three of the staff will be out of town at a conference next week, and then the holiday season begins with four more Chamber events.

"The reason we're moving even quicker than before the end of the year is because we have a number of events, programs, travel, different things that are going on," Duffy said. "So it would have been mid-December or later, then you're factoring in weather and holidays."

Anna Coates, membership manager with the Chamber, said that although she's excited for the big move, she'll miss some of the aspects of the old Nehring building.

"We'll miss this space because its close to where we do the farmers market (in Van Buer Plaza) and stuff like that," Coates said. "And people can just walk in and ask us questions."

Duffy echoed Coates' comments, and said chambers seem to be drawn to banks, whether old or new.

Duffy said he won't miss the draftiness of his office, which isn't well-insulated in the cold months due to the age of the space. But the Nehring building has a certain character, he said, including its rich history.

"We went from a 100-plus-year-old bank to a less than 10-year-old bank," Duffy said. "So that's a nice change."

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