Matt Duffy, executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
Matt Duffy, executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce

The simple definition of “fortitude” is courage in pain or adversity. Last week’s 19th anniversary of Sept. 11 brought back memories I know I will never forget for a number of reasons. Watching the videos of that day in 2001 reminds me of what fortitude really is. I know that I will never forget watching the plane crash into the second tower live on television while firefighters and police officers were entering the building to try to save lives without any thought for their own.

With the challenges of today, we are again faced with tremendous adversity. Although this is much different than the attacks of 9/11, the adversity is still something that we must all overcome. Leaders in our community are in a no-win situation as each decision made often negatively affects a section of the population. Schools are forced to adapt quickly to educating using technology in lieu of in-person classes. Businesses must change the way they operate and provide additional services such as online and delivery options. Health care workers are putting themselves in harm’s way daily to help those in need of their expertise. Adversity is everywhere!

With this adversity comes the need for fortitude. We’ve seen this type of courage throughout the past six months and we’ll need even more to continue toward the road to recovery. Working together and partnering to accomplish the goals for individuals, students, staff/faculty, businesses and the community is vital to the success of those in our community.

As much as we would all probably prefer to return to what normal used to be, the reality is that we must continue with the terms in place right now. Northern Illinois University students still need to become better prepared for the workforce. NIU faculty still need to provide direction to position them for success and local businesses need to adjust their business plans to the current times within a limited budget in most cases.

“40Tude” is an example of people stepping up and showing courage during this current pain and adversity. This program is a partnership with NIU to help small businesses and nonprofits with the unique challenges of today. Small businesses can improve their online presence at extremely low or no cost using two of the greatest assets we have in our area, knowledge and students. Find out more about this program and how you can benefit at

As the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Let’s use this challenge as an opportunity to make our community stronger.

The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce has scheduled the following events:

Sept. 16 – Gather Connect Fore

Sept. 17 – DeKalb Farmers’ Market at Van Buer Plaza, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sept. 17 – Business After Hours at Home Instead Senior Care, 5 to 7 p.m.

Oct. 1 – Drive-thru Community Expo at the NIU Convocation Center Parking Lot, 3 to 6 p.m.

For more information and a complete list of upcoming events, check out

• Matt Duffy is executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.

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