Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chamber Celebrates 130th Anniversary

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber today celebrates its 130th year anniversary with congratulatory messages from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and top chamber executives associations. 

Your Chamber staff celebrates the organization's 130th anniversary.

“The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber has been in the instrumental fabric for our city, region and state over these past 130 years. Today we are a fierce fighter for businesses, convener for community solutions and the truth teller to public policy makers.  We are the voice for all businesses, from a family-owned bakery, to the many cornerstone companies throughout Pierce County,” said Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber President & CEO Tom Pierson.

“We congratulate the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber on 130 years of service and support to the area’s business community,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Now, more than ever, it’s important to recognize the vital role businesses of all sizes across the country play in helping the economy grow and communities thrive. As a voice for the county’s business community, the Tacoma-Pierce Chamber has helped its members do just that for more than a century.” 

“Whenever you find a vibrant local economy and a livable community, you’ll usually find a strong chamber of commerce leading the way. Congratulations to the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber for 130 years of leadership,” said Dave Kilby, President & CEO, Western Association of Chamber Executives.

“When the American Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) was celebrating its inaugural event in 1914, the Tacoma Chamber was already 30 years old,” said ACCE President Mick Fleming.  “On behalf of the board and membership of ACCE, I congratulate the Chamber on its impressive 130th anniversary.

At the first ACCE convention, founder Christy Mead of the New York City Chamber told the members assembled in St. Louis that the ‘modern’ chamber of commerce reflects ‘co-operation and co-ordination of effort on the part of chamber members for greater efficiency in the accomplishment of results beneficial to the community.’

That statement of purpose reflects the ongoing legacy of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber in growing the economy, advocating on behalf of businesses, and providing a vibrant business network so critical to a successful region.  Onward!”

130 Years of Promoting Commerce:

On March 4, 1884, the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce was incorporated on principles that still hold strong. “It is a good many years since it was first discovered that there was strength in union; we must depend on each other if we expect to help ourselves...there is in this community a spirit of improvement, and with union there can be accomplished what no individual, or hundred individuals, acting separately from themselves, can accomplish.”

-    General J.W. Sprague, Tacoma’s first mayor and first President of the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce, at the initial meeting to organize the Chamber of Commerce.

From its very first actions, raising $4,000 to build a wagon road connecting Tacoma to Puyallup and instituting a steamer operation for the farmers living on the islands near Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber has enjoyed a storied history.

A brief snapshot of historic Chamber select highlights:

Strong education supporters: In the 1880s - Pledges $13,000 for construction for the Charles Wright School for Boys and raises $75,000 for what would become the University of Puget Sound.

Early advocates: In the late 1890s and early 1900s the Chamber sends a representative to advocate for creating a park at Point Defiance—a precursor to the U.S. government transferring ownership of Point Defiance Park to the City of Tacoma; backs a $2 million voter-approved bond to purchase 70,000 acres of land for the building of a military training center to be known as Camp Lewis (then Fort Lewis, now JBLM); and leads an effort to create a public utility to manage Tacoma’s water supply.

Exercises foresight:  In the 1910s, 20s and 30s the Chamber helps raise $52,000 to commission a plan for the Commencement Bay waterfront that seeds ideas for the Port of Tacoma; hires a bridge architect to design a concept bridge over the Narrows; and successfully lobbies for the transfer of a Pierce County airfield to the U.S. military, which would later become the site of McChord Air Force Base (now McChord Field/JBLM).

In 1950 the Chamber opens a visitor’s center along Highway 99 then continues its advocacy efforts throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s: finding a solution to Interstate 5 bypassing downtown Tacoma, in the form of the Tacoma Spur, aka Interstate 705, providing freeway access to downtown; addressing the feasibility of a domed civic center, eventually leading to the voters approving the construction of the Tacoma Dome; and helping build a growing community voice to advocate and win the Tacoma campus of the University of Washington.

Today, the Chamber continues the exercise of foresight by tirelessly advocating for the completion of SR-167, which will not only answer the region’s freight mobility needs but bring economic development opportunities, including 80,000 jobs to Pierce County and entire South Sound region.

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