For more than 100 years, the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce has been supporting business and economic development in and around Marietta.
Charlotte Keim, president and CEO of the chamber, said the chamber originally existed as something other than a "chamber of commerce."
"It was founded in 1887 as a board of trade," she said.
The Marietta Times
The chamber has changed locations over the years from Front Street, to Third Street and back to Front Street at its current location, 100 Front St.
AMANDA NICHOLSON The Marietta Times
From left to right, President Charlotte Keim, Administrative Assistant Emily Malone and Project Manager Tom Fulton look over chamber papers that will be used to build business packets.
Keim said the name of the board bounced between Marietta Board of Trade and Marietta and Harmar Board of Trade.
"They weren't always a united community," she said.
She added that in 1915, the board of trade became a chamber of commerce.
About the chamber
President: Charlotte Keim.
Location: 100 Front St.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
1887-The chamber starts as the Marietta Board of Trade.
1887-1915-The name bounces between Marietta Board of Trade and Marietta and Harmar Board of Trade.
1915-The board of trade becomes a chamber of commerce, and is a charter member of the U.S. Chamber.
"The U.S. Chamber started in 1915," Keim said. "We are one of the charter members of the U.S. Chamber."
Keim said the organization hasn't changed in some ways in its long existence.
"We (still) support the business community and find ways to encourage and improve economic development," she said.
The way the organization has evolved might be more minor than expected, starting with the secretary, said Keim.
"A secretary 100 years ago is different from a secretary today," she said. "It was the equivalent of an executive director, who carries on the day to day operations."
Keim said the digital age has also influenced how the chamber operates. She said postage rates have drastically decreased with the heavy reliance on email, Facebook and other social media.
"We have a lot more communication with our members," she said.
Keim said the chamber is the voice for the businesses in the area.
"There's only one organization, one association in the country focused on the support of all business, which is especially important at a local level; all business from a sole proprietor to the largest in the area," she said. "We give information pertinent to business in the community and they can express their concerns. We're the voice for business."
The chamber can help businesses work with legislators and is an advocate for the community as well, Keim said.
"Businesses can work with legislators to ensure that the local community has the best economic and business development environment," she said. "I think that's why the chamber has lasted; nobody does what we do in a large scope."
Similarly, Jack Moberg, who worked with the chamber for nearly 15 years, said it is a driving force in the community.
"They are the front door to the community," he said. "They are the business interest of the community."
Moberg said the chamber used to act as a clearing house for what businesses would and wouldn't be admitted to the city.
"The chamber...met and assessed the businesses that wanted to come to town," he said. "If you were not favorably disposed, it was hard to set up business. I guess you could call it autocratic."
Moberg joined the chamber in February 1987.
He said he remembers the chamber getting its first fax machine.
"It cost $935," he said, adding that he thought it was silly to send a fax of something when he could run it two blocks up the street.
Moberg said one thing he's noticed is a lack of active industry participation.
"One thing I'm keenly aware of is the chamber used to be on a first name basis with most plant managers in the area," Moberg said. "They had a budget to commit to local business efforts...They could write a check and make a project go...They no longer have the authority (to do that). It's a different world. You used to see integrating with the community as a part of (the job). That's a big change for a small community like Marietta; they were big players."
The organization is set to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, which Keim said is an exciting prospect and that the staff is looking forward to continuing to help businesses.
"We try to stay ahead of what's happening in the business world, to better help small business better adapt to what's coming," Keim said. "We offer educational programs to help our members adapt...As business becomes more regulated, the chamber will offer more programs (so businesses can) understand the regulations. We're really excited about celebrating 100 years as a chamber of commerce."