Fairview Heights Director of Economic Development Paul Ellis, left, and local resident John Vitale were among those present for a meeting of the Mid-America Business Brokers Association held in early September at The Rec.
By RANDY PIERCE
Fairview Heights Tribune
Fairview Heights’ recreation complex served as the location for the signing of an agreement formalizing the establishment of the Mid-America Business Broker Association in early September.
The new, nonprofit organization, many months in the making before the Fairview Heights meeting, is part of an international community of intermediary specialists who help those interested in selling an existing business or buying a new business with guidance through every step of the process.
Local resident John Vitale, one of the founding members who serves on the board of directors of the MABBA, was present at the meeting held at The Rec to implement the group’s formation. Also present and addressing the MABBA briefly was Paul Ellis, director of economic development for the city of Fairview Heights.
Vitale has for many years been an active role player in the Southwestern Illinois chapter of SCORE, formerly known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, which is a group of individuals who provide mentorship and assistance to those new to the business world.
MABBA President Julie Pumfrey led the signing of the agreement setting up the new group, prompting a round of applause from those present, either in person or remotely, which included Illinois BBA Executive Director Kylene, IBBA Chair Barry Berkowitz, IBBA Chair-Elect Lisa Riley, MABBA President Elect Jeff Kalil and MABBA Treasurer Joe Behnken of O’Fallon who helped set up the group’s 501 (c) (3) status.
Ellis welcomed everyone to the meeting, the one-year-old-plus recreation center and the city which he referred to as the “retail center of southern Illinois.”
Explaining that people shop in Fairview Heights from many other regions of Illinois and nearby Missouri, Ellis said there is 3.5 million square feet of retail space here including St. Clair Square, the regional mall that prompted all of the growth.
Ellis told the MABBA members that his job is to help promote the patronizing of businesses here, encourage and assist them in whatever way needed to ensure they are
Despite the interference from the coronavirus pandemic, Ellis commented that business development interest in Fairview Heights is still strong, perhaps even increasing from what it had been previously. As an example, he cited the pending opening of a new Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers eatery in a few months. He further mentioned that Fairview Heights is taking a leadership role in the establishment of a business incubator program, the first of its kind in the Metro East.
Pumfrey said the formation of the MABBA, which will meet again in November, took about two years and could not have happened without the dedicated efforts of many individuals whose specific involvement she explained such as Brian Rogers, who provided legal counsel, Dave Driscoll, who worked on by-laws and policy, Ben Strake, the marketing chair, Dick Mueller, who led the membership committee, Pam Ludwinski, who is the ethics chair and Vital,e who is chair of the planning committee.
Riley commented that in looking forward to taking over as the new IBBA chair in January, she feels this group will help stimulate the economy through its efforts.
Kalil offered his praise to the efforts of the group and, in particular, to Pumfrey who agreed to serve as president, helping to take the MABBA “to the next level” by “doing a lot of heavy lifting.”
The MABBA “didn’t happen by accident,” Kalil went on, taking a lot of hard work by many people, truly reflecting “a team effort.”