What is the Chamber of Commerce?
The Chamber of Commerce was established for multiple reasons, but its main goal is supporting the business community. It creates a business network on behalf of local, state, national, and international business interests.
This complex network of companies comes together to achieve important objectives, both strategically and operationally. It also assists Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME), enabling more competitive and innovative opportunities.
The Chamber of Commerce of New York—the first of its kind in the United States—was established in 1768, during the British Colonial Period.
The Chamber does not have the authority to directly write, regulate, or pass laws that affect businesses. However, they do lobby local and Federal Government entities for the passage of bills related to business practices.
Unlike the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which represents both businesses and the general public, the Chamber of Commerce focuses only on local business interests.
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Bettering the Local Business Community
Local business owners join together to advocate for their individual business communities.
They do this in the interest of improving the area’s economic, civic, and cultural well-being.
Each Chamber of Commerce has its own elected officials to decide its policies.
To do this, each Chamber conducts a careful study of the community’s needs and designs an Action Plan.
The success of each Chamber depends on:
The members’ and elected officials’ level of activity within the Chamber, as well as an Action Plan best suited to the needs of the local community.
Executing a Plan of Action
The goal of the Action Plan is to ensure the community’s economic growth and stability. Furthermore, serves to attract additional customers and income for the business community.
The Action Plan focuses on:
Development and expansion in business and industry,
Development of infrastructure,
Marketing and promotional techniques,
Another major focus is networking between businesses locally, statewide, nationally, and even internationally.
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Working Together, Near or Far
The World Chambers Network is the largest global business network. There are approximately 13,000 Chambers of Commerce registered in its World Chambers Network Registry.
Of those, roughly 4,000 Chambers of Commerce are in the United States. Each one has at least one full-time staff person and thousands more established as strictly volunteer entities.
Each Chamber is incorporated and individually operated.
The Chamber of Commerce is not an agency of the United States Government but often works closely with the local mayor, council bodies, and state representatives to improve the quality of commerce in the region.
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In the United States, Chambers of Commerce operate almost exclusively as non-profit organizations known as 501(c)(6) corporations.
- Under state and federal tax laws, these 501(c)(6) non-profit entities are able to represent Chamber members in public policy debates through the practice of lobbying and working with local and state representatives.
The senior executive members are often state-registered lobbyist and the use of general fund revenues for Chamber political and lobbying purposes is strictly regulated.
- The business models and organizational missions of individual Chambers of Commerce may greatly vary from Chamber to Chamber.
Finding a Chamber
The Chamber’s service territory is typically defined by the catchment area and location of its member businesses. This is different than other demographically-focused business groups established in a wider range around the country.
Chambers are often named or trademarked based on their geographic location. Some examples are the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce or Cape May County Chamber of Commerce.
However, there are no rules governing the number of economic advancement groups in an area.
For example: in the city of Chicago, there are currently more than 20 individually run Chambers of Commerce and related organizations.
A company may choose to join multiple Chambers of Commerce to broaden their business opportunities. Logistically, this could create a need for air travel or ground transportation to each location.
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Joining the Chamber
It is not mandatory for business proprietors to become a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. Furthermore, it’s beneficial in terms of business growth and support from both the Chamber and local government officials.
Depending on the size of the region, membership can range from a few dozen firms to more than 20,000. It is important to note that the Chamber member is the business itself, rather than the individuals representing the company.
Each member company pays dues, typically based on its size. This can be measured in terms of employee count or annual revenue.
Senior level employees from each entity are encouraged to participate in the work of the Chamber. This is a good way to advance the company’s market or policy interests.
Top-Rated Chambers of Commerce in the U.S.
Looking for the best-rated Chambers in your area?
These are some of the best in the United States.
Greater New York
20 West 44th Street, 4th Floor
New York City, NY 10036
Improving the business opportunities and general quality of living are the Greater New York Chamber’s top priorities. This Chamber represents over 30,000 business and civic leaders in the New York Metropolitan Area business community.
The Greater New York Chamber also provides member referral services, listings in the Business Directory and Economic Development Guide, networking and educational forums, a business research center, and much more!
330 North Federal Hwy.
Hollywood, FL 33020
Established in 1926, the Greater Hollywood Chamber has a proven record representing local business interests, advancing economic growth, and providing high-quality community leadership.
- Therefore offering over 230 networking opportunities and educational seminars and promote local businesses through advanced technology. They also offer an interactive Hollywood map and a current list of all upcoming events.
410 N. Michigan Ave., #900
Chicago, IL 60611
Chicagoland’s Chamber is a very influential economic advancement group representing over 1,100 businesses across all major industries. With more than half of Chicagoland’s Chamber members conducting international business, this Chamber provides both regional and global networking.
Local members employ 400,000 people and create more than $24 billion in local annual revenue. This Chamber conducts over 100 educational conferences, seminars, and networking events every year, providing vast opportunities for local businesses.
4500 Leeds Ave., Suite 100
North Charleston, SC 29405
The Charleston Metro Chamber was the first municipal Chamber of Commerce in the United States. It was established in 1773 and now has a 243-plus-year legacy of supporting and strengthening the local area’s business community.
In 2017, it received its third consecutive 5-Star Accreditation from the U.S Chamber of Commerce (USCC).
Representing approximately 1,600 members, the Charleston Metro Chamber strives to be a leader for regional advancement and an international leader in the Chamber profession.
Los Angeles Area
350 Bixel Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90017
The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce is the voice and advocate for over 235,000 businesses in the metro area. This Chamber was established in 1888. It now represents over 1,650 companies and 650,000 employees.
Its small, medium, and large businesses encompass more than 35 industry sectors. This Chamber has made over 40,000 direct referrals to member companies and offers more than 120 business and professional development programs.
- In addition, they offer a civic leadership program. The program’s nearly 100 graduates further support the LA youth with over 10,000 job opportunities and internships.
Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber
1402 N. Corinth St., Suite #225
Dallas, TX 75215
For over 77 years, the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has promoted the growth and support of the Hispanic business community in Northern Texas.
This Chamber’s mission is to represent and assist corporations, government entities, non-profit organizations, and small business owners to achieve their goals in the Hispanic and minority communities.
To Better Serve its Communities Chamber Of Commerce Provides:
Corporate Advisory Council
Economic Development Committee
North Texas Advertising and Media site
Gulf Region Small Business Transportation Resource Center
ESL Entrepreneurship Program
President’s Advisory Board
& Procurement Series
51 Monroe St., Suite 1800
Rockville, MD 20850
The Montgomery County Chamber (MCCC) provides a network of progressive and future-focused business leaders. Therefore, they have many unique programs and events, which create a platform for a multitude of connections.
These connections may be:
Business to business
Business to government
Local to national
SMEs to Fortune 500’s
Leader to leader
This Chamber advances their members’ success by strategically planning and assisting local business owners in achieving their goals and objectives.
As an advocate, MCCC focuses on policies to ensure policy changes have a positive impact on local businesses and link thought leaders from all industry sectors through unique programs and events and market-based resources.
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