As long as commerce has existed traders have banded together for common protection against enemies and marauding bands of raiders. Later they established codes to govern the conduct of trade and still later attempted to exert influence on legislation.
These early associations had little in common with the modern chamber of commerce which is, in fact, a twentieth century product. The first know use of the term “chamber of commerce” occurred in Marsailles, France where such an organization was established by the City Council toward the close of the 17th century. The purpose was to establish an organization that would promote trade and train young men for careers in commerce – especially overseas.
The oldest Chamber on this continent is that of the State of New York, chartered in 1770. The first local Chamber in this country was founded in Charleston, SC in 1773. The emergence of the Chamber as a true community organization came much later as businesses began to realize that their own prosperity depended on the development of a prosperous, healthy and happy community. Basically, the local Chamber of Commerce is the business, industry, the professions and all civic interest groups performing tasks that no individual can do alone – rendering a variety of services that benefit all citizens.
The Allen Chamber of Commerce was formed from the original Downtown Business Association and was organized in the early 1960’s with Don Rodenbaugh serving as the first president. The Chamber was not; however, incorporated until 1982. In those Articles of Incorporation it was stated that the purpose of the organization was the advance the general welfare and prosperity of the city of Allen and the Collin County geographical area so that its citizens and all areas of its business community shall prosper with all necessary means of promotion to be provided and particular emphasis and attention being given to the economic, civic, commercial, cultural, industrial, and education interests of the area in question.
In 2010, the Chamber officially expanded to include representing the businesses within the Town of Fairview and legally became the Allen Fairview Chamber of Commerce. In the years that have followed the Chamber has significantly grown, fine-tuned its mission and programs and developed training and leadership development programs that tie directly back to the original purpose for its being. Currently the Chamber has close to 600 members with four full-time staff members and a board of directors of fifteen members elected from the general membership of the chamber. In addition, there are six ex-officios members (non-voting) including the city manager, school superintendent, county commissioner, economic development director, executive director of the small business development center and our attorney of record.
Board members serve three year terms with the opportunity to serve, if elected, a second term before being replaced. The Executive Committee consisting of the Chairman, Chair-elect, Immediate Past Chair, Treasurer, President and two At-large members acts on behalf of the Board when necessary and has direct supervision over the President. The president is considered the CEO and is charged with managing staff and chamber programs as well as maintaining financial oversight and visioning for the organization.
The Chamber utilizes a strategic planning process in determining future programs, staff development, facility management and other future needs or concerns for the Chamber. The board develops, with staff assistance, a program of work for each year charging the staff with the responsibility of executing the responsibilities and programs detailed within that document.