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'Dine Out Chester' introduced

A new initiative is coming to Chester intended to help spur business growth in the city.

Called “Dine Out Chester” the program is a collaboration between the Chester Chamber of Commerce and River City Renewal, according to River City Renewal President/Chamber Director Chris Blechle.

The program was formally introduced during Tuesday’s lunch meeting of the Chester Chamber of Commerce.

“We realize the importance of all small businesses in our community and something we’ve all seen is the struggles of the business community,” Blechle said.

The program offers incentives for people to visit 11 Chester businesses from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 in order to be entered to win $500 in gift certificates to Chester restaurants.

In order to take part, people will need a checkoff card - on which each block will need to be initialed by the servers or cashiers at the participating business the person visits.

One block will be initialed for every $10 spent. Participating businesses are Chester Eagles, Rough House Pizza, Knights of Columbus, Chester VFW, Barb’s Bounty, Reids’ Harvest House, Tequilas, Subway, Domino’s Pizza, Jodie’s Ol’ Farmhouse Cafe and Chester Country Club.

The checkoff cards will be available at those businesses. Blechle said the program is modeled after a similar one the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce has.

“It’s similar, but with our own little spin on it,” he said.

Completed cards can be dropped off at any Buena Vista National Bank location, as well as the Chester Chamber of Commerce. Completed cards must be turned in by Jan. 4.

Also during Tuesday’s chamber meeting, April Nail, facilitator of Randolph County’s Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) program, gave an update on her class’s progress.

Nail said there are 13 students in the program, with three from Chester, one from Red Bud, four from Sparta, two from Coulterville and three from Steeleville.

Only two of the students are girls.

“They’re a great group of kids,” Nail said. “I hope they are successful and help the economy in Randolph County.”

Nail said the class has chosen to have a “showcase of Randolph County” as its class event, planned to take place at the World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta in February.

Proceeds from that event will be divided up among the students for use in their business.

At the end of the school year in May, the students will have a trade show that will be used to launch their businesses.

Nail said applications for next year’s class are due Dec. 15, with final approvals scheduled for January.

Craig Lindvahl, executive director of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship and who help found the CEO program, will be visiting area schools in Monroe and Randolph County on Nov. 3 and 4 to talk about the program.

Chamber Director Tom Welge gave an update on this weekend’s Old Glory Coast-to-Coast Relay event, which is returning to Chester after a successful visit last year.

The relay is expected to cross the Chester Bridge between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Saturday, with the American flag to be retired for the night in front of the Randolph County Courthouse. The relay group will leave Chester on Sunday morning and proceed down State Street and out of town via County Farm Road.

The public is invited to witness the event.

The next meeting of the Chamber is another lunch program, scheduled for noon on Nov. 17. County officials and members of the County Board will provide updates on items discussed at last year’s Randolph County Development Summit.

By Pete Spitler

Posted Oct. 20, 2015 at 5:00 PM

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