Foundation of all Chambers of Commerce
The Chamber of Commerce, as a wholly voluntary institution in the United States, is eight years older than the Declaration of Independence. The New York State Chamber, first in America, was organized in 1768, and five years later the first local Chamber was formed in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, there are more than 4,000 Chambers of Commerce in the United States. In these nearly 222 years, Chambers of Commerce have steadily developed to a high point of efficiency and have proved to be vitally important in business and civic development throughout the nation.
A piece of Jefferson County Chamber History from the booklet handed out in 1908 at the very first annual dinner and banquet.
…Steubenville is one of the oldest and most substantial of Ohio cities and until within recent years has had a slow but steady growth. With the location of the big steel and tin mills here the real boom wave struck this locality and all lines of business prospered to an unusual degree and the leading men of the city devoted all of their energy toward amassing money.
Such things as improved sanitation, pure water, clean streets, children’s play grounds and other matters of civic improvement which are agitating other communities, were during this expanding period, hardly given a thought here and as a result this city fell behind others in their respects, a condition of affairs which was most galling to the few men who had taken an interest in these subjects.
So when the panic days came and business rush slowed down temporarily these men talked to their neighbors regarding these matters and as a result an interest was aroused which resulted in a meeting of a few of the more enthusiastic of the number who resolved to form an organization to be known as the “Steubenville Business Men’s Association”.
From the first the organization which was formed on broad lines seemed to appeal to the sound judgment and good will of the people and as a result the membership soon embraced some fifty of our leading business and professional men and the officers then determined to hold a banquet at which the aims and purposes of the Association should be fully set forth and an appeal made for such support as would enable it to go forward to the cleansing and the bettering of this city.