• About Us

  • A Little History

    Chambers of Commerce are vital, dynamic links for any business looking to succeed and grow in today's competitive environment. From acting as an advocate for business interests, to providing opportunities to network within our community, the West Orange Chamber of Commerce is uniquely positioned to provide every business owner with resources that can't be found anywhere else.

    As long as commerce has existed, traders have banded together for the common protection against enemies, to govern the conduct of trade, and later to exert influence on legislation.

    The first known use of the term “chamber of commerce” occurred in Marseilles, France, where such an organization was established by the city council toward the close of the 17th century. From this beginning, chambers of commerce spread to Germany, and then throughout Europe.

    European chambers have little parallel with the American organization. They frequently operate as quasi-public agencies, with administrative and judicial powers with respect to trade.

    The oldest chamber of commerce on the American continent is that of the State of New York, chartered by King George III, in 1770. The establishment of the New York Chamber was a direct result of the Stamp Act that was passed by Parliament in 1765.

    The first local chamber of commerce was founded in Charleston, South Carolina in 1773. By 1870, the number of local chambers had increased to 40. The early American, like their European prototypes, were associations of tradesmen, organized for the protection and promotion of commerce.

    In the United States, early chambers promoted the sale of goods, organized markets, made and enforced rules of trade, protected goods in transit, and even operated their own trading floors. But their activities were limited to those directly connected with commerce.

    The emergence of the chamber as a true community organization came much later, as businessmen began to realize that their own prosperity depended on the development of a prosperous community.

    In the 1950s and 1960s, chambers placed major emphasis on industrial recruitment and job creation activities. As we entered the 1970s, 80s, and 90s major problems with inadequate housing, schools, community services, and high unemployment, the role of chambers of commerce expanded to socioeconomic concerns.

    The chamber of commerce of the 21st Century is the marketplace for business networking. Over 20 million businesses worldwide are members of local chambers of commerce. Add to that all the marketing, business development, and non-retail sales professionals, plus hiring managers, recruiters, and job seekers, and the number gets very large. Generating revenue and supporting other business processes via relationships are as compelling reasons to connect as finding old schoolmates or potential dating partners.

    The basic mission of the West Orange Chamber of Commerce is to create and promote a climate where business can operate in a productive and profitable manner.