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In the United States

The idea of a national institution to represent the unified interests of U.S. business first took shape when President William Howard Taft delivered a message to Congress on December 7, 1911, stating the need for a "central organization in touch with associations and chambers of commerce throughout the country and able to keep purely American interests in a closer touch with different phases of commercial affairs."

Four months later, on April 22, 1912, President Taft's vision became a reality when a group of 700 delegates from various commercial and trade organizations came together to create a unified body of business interest that today is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Over 100 years later, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and
local chambers and industry associations.[1]

In Brown County

The first chamber of commerce was founded in the 1960s by a group of businessmen who recognized the need for a community business organization.

In the 1980s, members of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce recognized a need for a chamber of commerce for the entire county. The Brown County Chamber of Commerce was started by a group of individuals passionate about promoting Brown County through tourism but also as an attraction for the businesses as well. “We would meet monthly at a restaurant on the golf course called Lakewood,” Stan Purdy, one of the founding officers of the Brown County Chamber of Commerce. “We realized that there were under-utilized assets in the county such as Georgetown being the home of a President, being on the path of Morgan’s Raiders, and the history
of the Underground Railroad. We had a Georgetown Chamber, but we were advised to start a county wide chamber to augment the attractions of county as a whole.”

The individuals involved were Selma Brittingham, Betty D. Campbell, David E. Campbell, Eloise Dickinson, Sr. Xavier Ladrigan, Rebecca Nigh, Stan K. Purdy, Judy Ruthven, and Russell Wilson.

The Brown County Chamber of Commerce

In July of 1983, the Brown County Chamber of Commerce became official with the expressed purpose to “develop, advance, and improve agricultural, civic, commercial, industrial, and tourist activity.”

The founding officers were Betty D. Campbell, Carol P. Stivers, David E. Campbell, Russell Wilson, Judy Ruthven, Eloise Dickinson, Sr. Xavier Ladrigan, and Stanley K. Purdy. According to Clyde Taylor, one of the original members, “Sr. Xavier Ladrigan of Chatfield College was our first President. We would meet regularly at the Eagles Hall.”

Milestones for the Brown County Chamber of Commerce

Throughout its history, the Brown County Chamber of Commerce has been evolving, striving to meet the needs of its members and the community as a whole.  Here are some of the milestones:

  • Original Office in 2009. The Brown County Chamber of Commerce originally met in their original building at 125 State Street next to the Gaslight
    Theatre not far off the square in downtown Georgetown. The Chamber would meet monthly.
  • Ribbon Cuttings. The Brown County Chamber of Commerce has offered Ribbon Cuttings to new businesses. In addition to providing a photo opportunity for the local paper, Ribbon Cuttings enable a new
    business to immediately get recognition by the business community.
  • Annual Golf Outing in 1993. “The golf outing has been around since I have been involved, “said Jerry Schumacher, former Chairman of the Board. “It’s an annual event that has been very successful. People like it. People look forward to it.”
  • Monthly Meetings at member locations in 2010.
    The chamber started moving their monthly meetings to different locations around the county. “This gave each business an opportunity to showcase their business to the chamber members and the county,” said Schumacher. “We have events as for north as Lake Lorelei and south as the park in Aberdeen.”
  • Business After Hours in 2010. Business After Hours allows a company to host a reception at their location where chamber members can come, mingle, and network. “Our monthly meetings can be
    morning or noon meetings, but sometimes people can’t get away from work. What’s nice about Business After Hours, is that it gives members an opportunity to catch up with other members in the county” Schumacher said.
  • Building on Main Street in 2013 – The Brown County Chamber of Commerce moved to its current location 103 North Main Street.
    “This was definitely an improvement,” Schumacher commented. “The facility is very professional, can accommodate various meetings, and has room to house a visitor’s center as well.”
  • Legislative Connections in 2017. The
    Brown County Chamber of Commerce launched its Legislative Connections to allow its members to meet with elected officials and talk about issues related to businesses in Brown County. “Legislative Connections has been very successful. Business leaders are able to come together as a community and express their
    concerns in a manner that gets the attention of elected officials,” Lynn
    Harden, Brown County Chamber of Commerce President said.
  • Educational Programs in 2017. In
    conjunction with other organizations around the county, the Brown County
    Chamber of Commerce is able to offer a variety of educational programs for
    business owners. These include computer classes, but also employee benefit and
    retention programs.