Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Chamber celebrates 90 years in March

Posted: Friday, March 7, 2014

The Huntington County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate 90 years of service to area businesses and the community on Thursday, March 20, 2014. The foundation of the Chamber as it is known today was laid on March 20, 1924 when the Huntington Commercial Association became the Chamber of Commerce.

First organized as the Commercial Club, July 2, 1902, by retail and industrial leaders of the city, according to the Daily News Democrat, the Chamber of today is a direct link to those early forward thinkers. The first meeting took place at the Huntington Business university hall with approximately 50 of the “leading citizens” of Huntington joining together to form an organization whose purpose would be “to boom the city’s interests in every way possible.”

The decision to incorporate the Commercial Club of Huntington was made at a meeting held July 8, 1902 with yearly dues at $2. Membership was open to business men and all who were interested in the welfare of the city. The articles of incorporation were approved at a meeting held July 10, 1902 and a committee of W.A. Jones, C.A. Tolan, James Canfield, Michael Moore and J.A. Kintz were appointed to canvas the city for members.

By July 24, 1902 officers were elected with the first president of the 15 member board being R.I. Hamilton; first vice president, Adam L. Beck; second vice president, B.F. Biliter; secretary, W.A. Jones; assistant secretary, W.W. Hawley and treasurer, Charles McGrew. The papers of incorporation contained the names of 82 members and by August of that year there were 106 members.

A new constitution was adopted and on November 7, 1911, the Commercial Club became the Huntington Commercial Association as published in the Morning Times of the next day. 400 Huntington men gathered at the Eagles’ and Phi Delta Kappa fraternity club rooms for a banquet to promote the association which was to “deal with industrial affairs and promote any movement which has for its purpose the betterment of Huntington.”

The Huntington Chamber of Commerce had its beginning on Monday, February 25, 1924 when a committee of 50 members of the Commercial Association met with this idea. The group met at the K of C Hall. Letters of interest were mailed and a “big banquet” was planned for March 10 of that year. Jacob L. Brenn, acting secretary, stated in the Huntington Press, that the organization would be formed under purely democratic provisions, that class or creed be discouraged under any and all circumstances and that all local business and professional men as well as employees of the local business and industrial enterprises were given every opportunity to affiliate.

Over 400 men and women attended the banquet on March 10, and The Huntington Press of Friday, March 14, 1924 reported that 472 members were enrolled in the new Huntington Chamber of Commerce when the membership drive closed on March 13. On March 20, 1924, the name of the Commercial Association was changed to the Chamber of Commerce with Donald Purviance, president. On March 20, 1934 the Chamber of Commerce was incorporated as a non-profit organization under the laws of the State of Indiana. Its goal was to facilitate the work of improving the industrial and retail life of the city, stimulate transportation, commerce, agriculture and other varied pursuits.

The Chamber was also to take an active part in the promotion of community activities including the annual Agriculture Achievement fish fry, 4-H clubs, civic dinner, retail courtesy and sales efforts, Community Chest, holiday season decorations and a host of other programs. Heritage Days began in 1963 under the direction of a steering committee of the Chamber in conjunction with downtown businesses. The Huntington County EXPO for business is also directed by the Chamber.

The Chamber has had a variety of locations over the years including offices in the Hotel Lafontaine. The Chamber continues today, 90 years, with the mission statement “The mission of the Huntington County Chamber of Commerce is to support and promote a community atmosphere in which business prospers and the quality of life continually improves.” It is currently located at 305 Warren Street.