SYCAMORE – RoseMarie Treml said that the pumpkins on display near Sycamore’s downtown stone signs welcome visitors to the historic district. People in the community had planted them there about mid-October in preparation of the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival.
The signs still were there at the end of the month, undistributed for weeks, even after the festival.
“How many towns do you know that you could actually put pumpkins out on a corner of a Main Street and they’re still there?” she said. “That’s just the way it is in Sycamore. … I wish I could tell you what it is because if I knew, I’d bottle it up and sell it.”
Treml has been the executive director of the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce since 2002. She had lived in Sycamore for six years before then, but worked at the Geneva Chamber of Commerce working in events and marketing.
Earlier in 2019, she joined Shaw Media Illinois’ Corporate Advisory Board, a group of professional leaders from around northern Illinois who want to help the company chart its future course.
“Chambers [of Commerce] have a huge impact on the community as a whole,” Treml said. “We do everything from helping businesses succeed to creating events to bring people downtown. … It’s economic development.”
The Sycamore Chamber has more than 500 members. Former Mayor Ken Mundy said that membership probably has doubled after Treml took over.
“The chamber has been a huge part of the city for so long,” he said. “Rose strengthened the chamber’s position in the city.”
Mundy was Sycamore’s city treasurer when Treml was named executive director. He worked closely with her in that role, and their working relationship continued after he was elected mayor in 2005.
At one point, Mundy said, some people on the City Council were skeptical about the city’s annual subsidy to the chamber and whether it was right to use public funds for the organization.
Mundy said Treml changed the view of the doubters.
The chamber serves several roles for the community, Treml said. It promotes tourism in Sycamore, attracting people to town to eat at restaurants and shop at stores.
“That’s the Discover Sycamore part,” Treml said. “The other part is what most chambers do. … We help businesses market and promote themselves to residents and to other businesses.”
Although Treml spends a lot of time working at the chamber, she also is involved in a number of local boards and nonnprofit events.
“She works hard. People have no idea the hours she works,” Mundy said.
She serves as a director for the DeKalb County Economic Development Corporation, Kishwaukee Valley YMCA and the Kishwaukee College Foundation. She also is on the city of Sycamore Growth Management Committee and city of Sycamore Economic Development Committee.
Dave Juday, former CEO at Sycamore-based IDEAL Industries, said he worked with Treml on many events involving workforce development in the community.
“For a community to be successful, we really have to have all folks working together, and she does a nice job of bringing the assets of the chamber into the larger community picture,” Juday said.
This past summer, Treml helped organize the Sycamore Strong fundraiser after a fire destroyed a building at the city’s St. Albans Green apartment complex in July. More than 120 people were displaced by the fire that destroyed Building A of the complex.
The fire was on a Saturday night, and crews fought it into the early hours of Sunday. On Sunday morning, Treml said she received a call from David Miller of the band Back Country Roads.
“He said ‘We want to help,’ ” Treml said.
Blumen Gardens provided event space; Taxco Restaurant organized local bars to provide alcohol; Sycamore United Methodist Church Youth Ministries designed and sold T-shirts; and by 4 p.m., the fundraiser was planned.
“It was put together literally within four hours,” Treml said.
The event raised more than $73,000 for victims of the fire, Treml said, with community members dropping off checks in the office. Treml said IDEAL helped by matching donations.
Each year, Treml also helps organize the 10K Sycamore Pumpkin Run during Pumpkin Fest. In 2009, she spread the tradition abroad. Teaming up with the Illinois National Guard, Treml worked with a team to bring the Pumpkin Run to Kuwait.
When she’s not working, Treml said she likes to spend time with her two grown children, Keri, who teaches third grade in Michigan, and Colan, who will be graduating college shortly.
Treml said she couldn’t describe what makes the Sycamore community special. She said Mundy used to say once you dip your toes in the Kishwaukee River, you’ll be back.
“She’s a strong, professional woman,” Mundy said. “She’s a great mom, a great worker for the chamber and a lovely, lovely lady.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle