RANTOUL — Belynda Allen, the executive director of Rantoul Area Chamber of Commerce for nearly the past two years, has left the post to take a position in Hancock County in western Illinois.
Allen will serve as economic development executive director for the county.
The home base is 20 miles from Western Illinois University, where Allen is studying for a master’s degree in community and economic development.
“This is a private-public partnership made up of several communities and the county as well as several businesses and organizations, and they contribute to funding the position,” Allen said.
Allen said she learned of the opening at a conference she was attending. She will succeed the former director of economic development who has retired.
She is excited about the new position
“I’m pretty passionate about this stuff,” she said. “I think it’s important. I think this is how we’ll make America great is we help our citizens and our towns and the people in them to understand they have value, by working together and communicating in positive ways.”
Allen said in many ways the new job will mirror the work she has been doing as chamber director, which she said involves “collaborating with the village and other organizations like the Small Business Develop Center and teaching people, giving them tools to survive in their business.”
On Friday, her last day on the Rantoul job, a chamber of commerce QuickBooks Desktop Lunch and Learn program that it co-sponsored with the SBDC, was held at Rantoul Business Center.
Allen said the chamber’s mission statement is to further initiatives for community and economic development for its members and the community.
Allen’s leaving comes shortly before one of the biggest events sponsored by the chamber of commerce — the Fourth of July Freedom Celebration. She said she believes the chamber office is in good hands until a new director is hired, with three interns working in the office.
She said some of the highs during her two years in the job include helping to improve the chamber’s financial position and its membership totals. She said the Shop Rantoul First program has also shown growth.
“We have increased awareness in the area as well,” Allen said. “And the collaboration with the village of Rantoul ... has also improved.”
Allen said she leaves Rantoul “with the fondest of memories.”
“I’m going to miss Rantoul.”
Chamber board President Michael Fox issued the following statement on behalf of the chamber and its board:
“The RACC and its board of directors thank Belynda and appreciate her efforts for the past two years. We wish her well in her future endeavors.
“RACC is also now accepting applications to fill the role of executive director. Applicants may drop off completed applications to the Chamber office. Current daily office hours are 9:00 – 1:00 until further notice. A copy of the job description is available at the Chamber office.
“The board hopes to have a new director hired by Aug. 1.
“— Michael R. Fox