The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce has the responsibility and expectation to advocate, promote, network, and support businesses in the Greater Great Falls trade area to enable their growth and prosperity. This critical success will only be achieved through relentless membership focus; strong, visible and vocal business advocacy; legislative influence; superior delivery of communications mechanisms while providing continuing education and serving as an example of “Best” practices; and powerful commitment to community support programs.
To successfully perform the above, will require utilization of the talents of each member of the Board of Directors, staff and Chamber committees. Each must dedicate themselves to exceed the expectations of the general membership. The success of members and local business will create employment for local citizens, and promote a better quality of life for the entire community.
The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is an outstanding organization with a rich history. However, I believe we need to look at the history of chambers at what our chamber does and why.
A chamber of commerce is a form of business network. Business owners form these local organizations to advocate on behalf of the business community. Local businesses are members, and they elect a board of directors to set policy for the chamber. The board then hires a President, CEO or Executive Director, plus staffing appropriate to size, to run the organization.
The first chambers of commerce were founded in 1599 in continental Europe. The Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1889 and was a founding member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1912. Currently, there are about 13,000 chambers registered in the official World Chambers Network registry, and the chamber of commerce network is the largest business network globally. This network is informal, with each local chamber incorporated and operating separately, rather than as a chapter of a national or state chamber.
Generally, chambers of commerce serve the following purposes:
- Creating a strong local economy
- Promoting the community
- Providing networking opportunities
- Speaking with government on behalf of business
- Political action, such as getting pro-business candidates elected to office
Local chamber membership is strictly voluntary. In addition, chambers represent the interests of all businesses and can include economic development corporations or groups as well as tourism and visitor bureaus. A chamber’s strength is derived from its diverse members from all industries.
The Great Falls Area Chamber is actively engaged in all the above purposes. However, we generally look at local candidates for public office. State offices are generally the responsibility of the State Chamber and national offices are generally the responsibility of the National Chamber. I would remind you that the Great Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is not associated with State or Nation Chambers in term of their endorsements and our funding does not support those endorsements.
Legislative advocacy is one of the most important aspects of our purposes. We must be actively involved and take firm positions on behalf of membership.