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A Brief History of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The US Chamber of Commerce has over 300,000,000 members. Each of those delegates represents a business in the United States or an American business abroad. Needless to say, the organization directly impacts millions of workers across the United States and around the world!

This year, the Federal Chamber of Commerce will celebrate its one-hundredth birthday! The iconic Chamber of Commerce building on capitol hill has undergone extensive renovations to prepare for the centennial celebration. All Americans can recognize that the organization has come a long way, but where and how did it begin?

We’ve created this guide to the history of the US Chamber of Commerce, from its formation to the present. Keep reading to learn more about this nonprofit federal institution and how it has changed and transformed over one hundred years!

What Is the US Chamber of Commerce?

The United States Chamber of Commerce is a nonprofit federal organization that advocates for businesses. The federal branch of the Chamber of Commerce is in Washington D.C. There are seven other regional offices spanning the country.

The chamber is a membership organization. US Chamber of Commerce members include local chambers of commerce, trade associations, representatives of American businesses abroad, and businesses themselves.

The organization’s primary goal is to analyze social and economic issues that may impact America’s businesses. They play an active role in shaping new policies and proposals. Their end goal is to continue to foster the development and progress of the business landscape in America.

How Was the US Chamber of Commerce Formed?

On December 7, 1911, President Taft wrote a letter to Congress expressing a need for an organization with America’s business interests at heart. It took only four months for this vision to become a reality. The US Chamber of Congress was officially formed on April 22, 1912.

On that day in 1912, delegates representing 700 businesses and organizations gathered to show support.

The History of the US Chamber of Commerce

Those 700 individuals got right to work. Only two years later, in April of 1914, they’d successfully formed the Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission is, in essence, an organization that advocates for American consumers. This would prove essential during times of financial upset, such as during the Great Depression. The FTC and Chamber of Commerce were the greatest supporters of the Revenue Act of 1938.

Meanwhile, construction of the Chamber of Commerce building in Washington D.C. was ongoing. They completed this project in 1925. It took three years and cost three million dollars.

Many of the Chamber’s earliest projects concerned infrastructure and transportation. In fact, they are responsible for the formation of the US Department of Transportation in 1966. This organization has helped transform the commute in America, improving the quality of life for many.

The group was also a major supporter of NAFTA, formed in 1994. This reduced tariffs and promoted trade competition when exporting goods between the US, Mexico, and Canada. It made strides in patent law and protecting intellectual property.

US chamber of commerce lobbying has also made a difference. They began this practice fairly recently, in 1997. They hope to win legislative victories for the businesses local to the Capitol region.

Today, the organization is the largest business federation in the US Government. It represents the interests of over three million businesses! That doesn’t include their support for state and local Chambers of Commerce across the country.

The Chamber of Commerce Today

In 2015, the Chamber of Commerce began dabbling in other areas of US politics, as they promoted an agenda focused on Jobs, Growth, and Opportunity. Through this initiative, they sought to address the following:

  • Protecting intellectual property
  • Curbing lawsuit abuse
  • Addressing flaws in the Federal healthcare program
  • Making contemporary changes to entitlements
  • Modernizing the regulatory process
  • Prioritizing the production of domestic energy
  • Expanding trade

They are also working toward expanding educational opportunities. This affects business because it addresses inequity and helps create a stronger future workforce.

The Chamber of Commerce continued to support the Jobs, Growth, and Opportunity Agenda through 2020. Their focus expanded to include immigration reform.

American businesses were grateful for the US Chamber of Commerce during the pandemic when many businesses needed to change the way they operated. Then-president Suzanne Clark created digital resources to keep many businesses running. In March of 2021, she became the new CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

The Chamber’s goal was to help as many businesses as possible avoid bankruptcy during the Covid-19 situation. They continue this work today.

Restoration of the D.C. Headquarters

Between 2019 and 2020, the US Chamber of Commerce began an 18-month restoration project. This included preservation and maintenance of their 97-year-old headquarters, which was once the home of Daniel Webster. Many historically significant events have taken place on the property, even before it became the home of the Chamber of Commerce.

The building is both a historical and political landmark in the Capitol region. The goal of the restoration was to ensure that the building remains in excellent shape for the next hundred years to come.

The Future of Commerce in America

With its newly renovated headquarters and its clear and thoughtful agenda, there is no doubt that the US Chamber of Commerce will do much more good work in the century to come. In the meantime, they continue their work on everything from access to education to immigration reform. Consider becoming a member of this federal organization and repeating the benefits!

There is plenty more financial, legal, and business news and advice where this came from! Check out the rest of the blog for more posts for the smart and savvy business owner!

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