By MELISSA CROCKETT MESKE
It finally happened. After spending the last few years in an ongoing shared dialogue and with an equally shared passion, two groups of leaders in the real estate industry with a common mission have now officially combined forces for a greater good.
A merger has been approved between the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois and the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors. The affirmative vote by the members of both groups took place as part of a meeting held on Oct. 12, 2022.
So, what does this mean for the futures of the two previous organizations, their members, and the clients they all serve?
Sam Row, recently installed as the 2022-2023 President of the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois, shared the merger’s immediate impact.
“The vote by both Associations was an overwhelming yes,” Row noted. “This is an exciting time, and we are so glad that this has finally happened. I feel very positive about the merger.
“While still pending approval from the National Association of REALTORS, the merged group’s proposed new name is Southwestern Illinois Board of REALTORS,” he added.
Jean Lewis from the Greater Gateway group will serve as the merged group’s first president. Row will become its president-elect.
Lewis is with Keller Williams Pinnacle and is in her 25th year selling real estate. She had been sworn in as the 2022-2023 President of the Greater Gateway Association of Realtors on Sept. 7.
Row is also with Keller Williams Pinnacle. In real estate for 15 years now, he has served as a board member of the REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois (RASI) since 2019, joining RASI in 2007.
“The mission of both associations has always been to empower our Realtors and our affiliates, and to fight for the rights of homeowners. That will remain unchanged,” said Row.
And as Row had previously noted in an interview with the Illinois Business Journal, “The pros are continuity, shared services, a more united Southwestern Illinois, a larger voice for our community, more opportunities for greater education, speakers and involvement in our communities.”
“The vote happened on October 12; now the hard work will begin,” said RASI CEO Deb Frazier. “All the timelines and processes to move forward will be established, and we deeply appreciate the continued support from both memberships in helping make this happen.
“This has been a huge goal to accomplish,” Frazier further noted. “The merger helps our clients and the industry as a whole. We now have a larger voice with legislators to make sure property rights of homeowners are protected.” Anyone interested in learning more about the merger may contact Frazier’s office at (618) 277-1980.
The former REALTOR® Association of Southwestern Illinois boasts 1,000-plus members. The Greater Gateway Association of Realtors includes more than 1,400 Realtor and affiliate members throughout Southwestern Illinois including Bond, Calhoun, Fayette, Jersey, Macoupin, Madison, Monroe and Montgomery counties.
Now, as a combined force, their impact should be seen more visibly than ever before, with a united voice to be heard even more loudly.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story also appears in the November 2022 print edition of the Illinois Business Journal.)