Join us at the 2024 Economic Symposium, where we'll delve into the theme of "Economic Resilience: Insider Tactics on Surviving and Thriving in Today’s Economic Climate." This half-day event is designed specifically for small business owners seeking practical strategies to navigate economic challenges with confidence.


    Throughout the Symposium, attendees will have the opportunity to participate in engaging breakout sessions led by industry experts. These sessions will cover a wide range of topics, including financial planning, marketing strategies, operational efficiency, and innovative approaches to business sustainability.


    Our keynote speaker will share invaluable insights and real-world experiences, providing inspiration and actionable advice for attendees to apply to their own businesses. Whether you're looking to fortify your current operations or explore new avenues for growth, this keynote address will offer invaluable perspectives on achieving success in any economic climate.


    To wrap up the day's events, we invite you to join us for a networking happy hour where you can connect with fellow entrepreneurs, share experiences, and forge valuable connections. This informal setting provides the perfect opportunity to exchange ideas, gather insights, and build relationships with like-minded individuals who share your commitment to economic resilience and business success.

    Don't miss this opportunity to gain the knowledge, tools, and connections you need to thrive in today's dynamic economic landscape. Reserve your spot at the 2024 Economic Symposium and take the first step towards securing a prosperous future for your business.

    Event Timeline: 

    1:00 PM - 1:30 PM: Registration and Networking: Attendees arrive, check-in, and mingle with fellow small business owners and industry professionals.

    1:30 PM - 1:40 PM: Opening Remarks: Welcome address and introduction to the symposium by the event organizers, setting the tone for the day's discussions and activities.

    1:40 PM - 2:30 PM: Breakout Session 1 Concurrent breakout sessions covering various aspects of economic resilience, such as financial planning, marketing strategies, operational efficiency, and risk management.

    2:40 PM - 3:25 PM: Breakout Session 2 Attendees choose their next breakout session based on their interests and business needs, diving deeper into specific areas of economic resilience.

    3:35 PM - 4:20 PM: Breakout Session 3 Final round of breakout sessions offering attendees the opportunity to explore additional topics or revisit sessions they found particularly valuable.

    4:30 PM - 5:15 PM: Keynote Address Engaging keynote presentation by a renowned expert in the field, sharing insights, strategies, and success stories on surviving and thriving in a recession.

    5:15 PM - 6:30 PM: Networking Happy Hour: The symposium concludes with a networking happy hour, providing attendees with the opportunity to unwind, connect with speakers and fellow attendees, exchange business cards, and foster new relationships in a relaxed and informal setting.


  • Meet Alycia Mason:

    Alycia leads a multi-state regional field organization to support ~1000 restaurants. She is responsible for growing annual sales, guest counts and operating income. Prior to her role as Field VP, Alycia was the Chief Customer Experience Office of McDonald’s leading the development and commercialization of digital and delivery strategies for McDonald’s USA, including the MyMcDonald’s Rewards loyalty club, transforming the McDonald’s experience across 13,500 restaurants for 230 million customers each year. In this role she created an experience that bridges consumer needs with new ways to tell the iconic brand’s stories to resonate with a new generation of customers. 

    An accomplished marketing executive and digital brand builder with success leading organizations through marketing and digital transformations, Alycia joined McDonald’s in 2018 and is elevating the McDonald’s customer experience by creating seamless and memorable experiences for both customers and team members that grow the business. Under her leadership, McDonald’s has grown digital and delivery from 5% of sales to 1 in 3 transactions and launched the largest QSR loyalty program.  In recognition for her efforts Alycia was honored among Ad Age’s Leading Women for 2022.


    Alycia is recognized for consistently delivering results against aggressive goals with both agency and client-side experience. Prior to joining to McDonald's, Alycia spent seven years at Publicis as a proven leader of large scale, integrated teams.  In this role she led the Kellogg’s Publicis Global team, which transformed Kellogg’s brand-building model inclusive of Creative, Media, CRM and Analytics.  Under Alycia’s leadership, ROMI doubled with a renewed focus on business outcomes; she built a Media and CRM team and helped evolve Kellogg’s creative approach to better support a digitally led consumer.  During her career Alycia has worked on large brands including BP, Kraft and Luxottica Retail in various leadership roles in media and digital.    


    In 2022, her and her husband, Patrick and their two daughters Addison (13) and Campbell (10), opened a candy store in Oak Park – Candycopia.  Their vision for Candycopia is to bring some sweet relief to the world by helping people discover and experience new flavors that hit their sweet spot. Inspired by our experiences visiting family-owned candy shops with their kids, they sought to bring their own kind of creation to their community of Oak Park.  Candycopia features hundreds of gummies and bulk items, nostalgic favorites, and a totally unique collection of handmade specialties from small-batch candymakers.  They strive to partner with local, women and diverse-owned candymakers to feature their delicious creations and share their amazing stories all in one place.  In 2023, Alycia joined the board of directors of the Chicago Children’s Museum as providing access to play for all is something that Alycia values.      

  • Meet our Breakout Session Presenters:

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  • Breakout Session #1

    Session A: What is your Banker Thinking! Access to capital for small business owners revealed | Stephan Ball (Byline Bank)

    I will use everything form polar bears who can't read to donuts in order to provide insight into how commercial lending at banks really work.   There's too much mystery and sometimes too much information which makes our local businesses unsure, unprepared and many times unwilling to go to a bank.   Loan officers blame credit and government while they draw out applications which should be a no forever.   They also don't tell the WHY.   I will tell the why and the how in a very approachable on potentially silly way.  It's time to know the TRUTH.  😁🙄😮😃😃😃


    Session B: Website Workshop: How to Write Copy that Connects | Katie Crouch (KC Copy)

    Your business website is your opportunity to impress, inform, and inspire action---but if visitors don't quickly understand how you can help them, you may be losing opportunities. Join Katie Crouch, Website Copywriter and Strategist at KC Copy, to learn some easy-to-apply best practices for giving your prospects heart eyes--and walk away with a plan of action to improve your site (and your marketing in general).


    Session C: Transformative Interactions: Building relationships. Reaping financial benefit. Creating sustainability. | Marcy Miller (CollectiveWorks Consulting)

    Transformative Interactions: Building Relationships, Reaping Financial Benefits, Creating Sustainability" is an interactive presentation designed for professionals from corporate and nonprofit sectors. Discover how meaningful relationships drive success in business. Explore strategies and unlock opportunities for authentic connections leading to financial growth and sustainability.  Learn essential elements of relationship-building: trust, communication, and collaboration and gain actionable takeaways for nonprofits to strengthen relationships with donors, volunteers, and stakeholders. Whether a corporate executive or nonprofit leader, this talk equips you with tools to drive positive change and long-term success through relationship


    Breakout Session #2

    Session A: Take Care of Your People - Leading by Inspiration, and Organizing for Success | Denis Lee (Insperity HR Soluntions)

    This presentation will focus on the growth and value proposition of the increasing popularity of the PEO market, and the keys to helping business owners and CEO's, come together with their teams around a compelling vision, a comprehensive strategy, and a relentless implementation plan, that together create a smart and healthy organization that delivers sustainable value creation for all stakeholders.  This will be an interactive presentation dealing with issues like, "getting your culture right"   "Finding, hiring, and keeping the best"- "Compensation, recognition and rewards" - "Employee administration and HR Technology" and - "Organization and Leadership" to name a few.  

    Session B: The Power of Partnerships: How Building a Trusted Referral Network Can Build in Economic Resilience | Liz Singh Holt (Solace Divorce Mediation) 

    This presentation will outline the importance of establishing a network of trusted referral sources as a way of building resilience into a business's overall strategy. Specifically we will discuss how to: assess what kind of referral network is right for your business and sector, develop a Partnership Program that is right for your business, attract the right partners, the role of vetting for suitability, and establishing protocols, "package up" your referral network information for your clients, and the importance of that messaging, and add value to your partner businesses as well as build trust with your clients through marketing of your Partnerships. This presentation will use as a case study the Power Partnerships in Healing referral program that has been developed for Solace.


    Session C: Understanding the Value of Your Business | Andy Kaczkowski (Westpoint Financial Services)

    The workshop is designed to educate business owners on the critical role business valuation plays in effective succession, retirement and estate planning.


    Breakout Session #3

    Session A: Leveraging Authentic Partnerships for Local Businesses | Emily Egan (Village of Oak Park)

    New Director of Development Services for the Village of Oak Park, Emily Egan, will present on the critical aspects of creating effective partnerships with local government, maximizing the utilization of business district assets, and strategizing methods to extend business presence throughout the broader regional scope.


    Session B: Who's in Charge Now? The Importance of Succession Planning for Your Small Business | Tim O'Brien (O'Brien Estate Law, LLC)

    Small business owners seldom have the time to pause and engage in thoughtful succession planning. But, what happens when they don't outline who is next and the logical sequence of activities that needs to occur to prepare that person to be next. With family businesses, there's often an assumption that one child will take over, but many times, that child doesn't even know it until it's too late. In this session, Estate and Small Business Planning Attorney Tim O'Brien will talk about the steps a small business owner should put in place to make sure that the business will continue as seamlessly as possible if the unexpected happens. At a high level, we'll talk about some strategies including: communicating with stakeholders, especially family members, business partners, and key customers; the importance of early planning and annual review, and what the process of succession planning looks like.


    Session C: Introduce Yourself: Be Seen, Heard, and Remembered | Leora Dowling (Leora Dowling Public Speaking Coach)

    When you go to a Chamber event and have the opportunity to introduce yourself for the first time--or the fiftieth--how do you look and sound? Do you and your business stand out? It's easy to falter. You might feel nervous, speak too quickly--or too softly--forget to smile, talk to one side of the room only, or hide behind your chair.   Feeling, looking, and sounding articulate and in command is easy, but takes some practice and preparation.  Together we'll go over networking basics and even get a chance to write (and practice!) our introductions. 

  • Sponsorship opportunities available!

    Below you will find 2024 sponsorship opportunities. This is a GREAT event for businesses looking to connect with other business owners and community leaders. If you are interested in sponsoring the 2024 Economic Symposium, please reach out to Darien Marion-Burton (Executive Director) at Dmarionburton@oprfchamber.org


    Exclusive Presenting Sponsor - $5,000

    - All benefits from Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and Silver Sponsorships.

    - Headline recognition in all event marketing & promotional collateral.

    - Opportunity to speak to the crowd of 200+.

    - Opportunity to share products/marketing materials on chairs at Keynote

    - Promotional table at the event + reserved seating for keynote.

    - Distinctive 3' x 2' signage at the event.

    - Generous social media marketing.

    - 8 event tickets.


    Diamond Sponsor - $2,500

    - Premier recognition in all event marketing & promotional collateral.

    - Promotional table at the event + reserved seating for keynote.

    - Opportunity to share products/marketing materials on chairs at Keynote

    - Distinctive 3' x 2' signage at the event.

    - Enhanced social media marketing.

    - 4 event tickets.


    Platinum Sponsor - $1200

    - Prominent recognition in all event marketing & promotional collateral.

    - Promotional table at the event + reserved seating for keynote.

    - 2 event tickets.


    Gold Sponsor - $500

    - Recognition in all event marketing & promotional collateral.

    - 1 event ticket.

  • Highlights from 2022 7th Annual Economic Luncheon