A fluke in timing is allowing the Monticello Chamber and Main Street organizations to enter into an era of increased cooperation. The two organizations have decided to share one full-time director instead of each supporting their own part-time employees, an arrangement that had gone back decades.
The move was made possible when both part-time directors – Stefanie McLeese for Main Street Monticello and Denise Flaar for the Monticello Chamber of Commerce and Tourism – left their posts in December.
The two organizations decided to take the opportunity to combine forces and share one full-time director, that being the recent hire of Monticello native Shelly Crawford-Stock.
Each will retain their own board of directors and unique focus on business development, but Chamber Board President Jim Singleton said there is enough overlap to make the combined director a benefit to all.
“The two entities should work together for the betterment of Monticello, for the businesses, for the members, and should have the same end goals in mind, which is supporting the businesses here in town, first and foremost,” said Singleton.
Samantha Koon, the current president of the Main Street board, likes that the decision came on their own terms, and not due to a crisis for either group.
“It’s not that one of us is struggling and the other is going to come in and save the day. It’s that both organizations are doing some great work, and we think this is just a way for us to extend capacity by merging some of the administrative responsibilities so that the boards can focus on the more strategic opportunities,” said Koon, who owns several businesses include the Zybell House in Monticello.
“I think the reason this works right now is that both organizations enter into the partnership in a position of strength,” she added.
Crawford-Stock is a Monticello High School graduate who went on to earn her degree in insurance from Illinois State University, then owned a local insurance business before selling her shares in 2018.
She is thrilled to help usher in a new era of shared responsibility for the Chamber and Main Street.
“I’m excited to shine a spotlight on the hometown I love and on the business community that I respect,” said Crawford-Stock, who has volunteered for both groups. “I am thrilled to be a part of making the organizations responsible for promoting Monticello more effective with better cooperation and increased communication. Ultimately, it’s an honor to be trusted to help preserve our historical charm and modernize our approach to business support.”
Despite the collaboration, both organizations stress that they are still separate groups.
“Each organization will maintain its status as a separate entity with its own leadership structure, benefit to their members/partners, and annual roster of events,” noted a joint press release from Main Street and the Chamber.
Singleton said Crawford-Stock’s resume fits the role, as she has been both a Chamber board member and a volunteer for Main Street events.
“She understands how things work, and what it takes to volunteer for those events, and behind the scenes organizational things that have to be taken care of,” he said. “There is a crossover that could make things more efficient, and maybe do some things that neither organization could do apart because they didn’t have the resources.”
“This is a rare opportunity for us to think strategically about what our organizations need at this moment in time. The timing was right for us,” addd Koon.
Crawford-Stock officially started as the joint director on Feb. 3. She will keep just one office, that being in the Wabash Depot near the downtown business district. Office hours are Monday through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. The office can be reached at 217-762-7921.