What is a Chamber of Commerce?

Chamber of Commerce definition and a brief history

Amelia County Chamber | January 02, 2018 | Informational

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A Chamber of Commerce is a form of business network or organization that provides a platform for business and community to get to know each other and to grow through these connections, with a goal of to further the interests of the member businesses. The Chamber does this by its membership of businesses and community members. Business owners in towns and cities form these local organizations to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members, and they elect a board of directors or executive council to set policy for the chamber. A Chamber can only be as strong as its members. The Chamber’s job is to bring its members together in one place. The Chamber does this job through providing networking opportunities to its members. These opportunities can bring growth in the form of new customers or clients, staffing help and other positive results.

The first chamber of commerce on record was founded in 1599 in Marseille, France. Another official chamber of commerce would follow 65 years later, probably in Bruges, then part of the Spanish Netherlands. The world's oldest English-speaking chamber of commerce is the Jersey Chamber founded in February 1768, the same year the New York City Chamber was founded. The oldest known existing chamber in the English-speaking world with continuous records, the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, was founded in 1783.

As a non-governmental institution, a chamber of commerce has no direct role in the writing and passage of laws or regulations that affect businesses however many chambers of commerce lobby in an attempt to get laws passed that are favorable to businesses. However, results can only materialize through the participation and attendance of the business and community members to the Chamber’s networking meetings and events. Member support makes the Chamber successful in its goal of community development. The Chamber also acts as an advocate for business and community concerns. However, the Chamber by law, is not allowed to persuade businesses or the communities to take any one position or vote.

The Amelia County Chamber of Commerce (ACCOC) was established from efforts of the Amelia Cooperative Extension Leadership Council (ELC) and the Amelia County Tourism committee. The ACCOC held its first meeting March 2012. Since then, the ACCOC board members - all volunteers - have met each month working to develop a plan to provide resources and support for our local businesses and community. In December 2012, the ACCOC held its first public meeting. Each month, we feature experienced and informative guest speakers providing business advice and resources. Chamber board members look forward to providing resources for local businesses; assist local officials with community business development; offer our business community and residents learning opportunities for business and personal growth; provide networking opportunities; develop Chamber sponsored events to benefit our community. Our board members represent an excellent cross section of local business owners, managers and volunteers with many years of business expertise in many fields.


chamber of commerce, history, what is a chamber


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