Your Chamber of Commerce: A Guide to Starting and Growing a Chamber of Commerce

Your Chamber of Commerce: A Guide to Starting and Growing a Chamber of Commerce equips you with the basic tools to get your chamber up and running. We address the most frequently asked startup questions, provide a wide array of resources, and describe how an interested, well-organized group can create a climate for growth and success in the community. 

Use the links in the sidebar below to navigate between sections, or download the full guide as a PDF:

 

Chamber of Commerce Overview

What Is a Chamber?

A chamber of commerce is a voluntary partnership of businesses and professionals working together to build a healthy economy and improve the quality of life in a community. As a chamber works to accomplish these goals, it must champion many different functions: economic developer and planner, tourist information center, business spokesperson, economic counselor and teacher, government relations specialist, human resources adviser, and public relations practitioner.

Who Are Chamber Members?

Chamber members are businesses, organizations, and individuals concerned with the socioeconomic climate of a community. These groups have joined together because they stand a better chance of getting things done when speaking with a collective voice. Chamber members can include the small hardware store on the corner, the mom-and-pop diner, the established bank downtown, franchise and major retailers, and the local baseball team. There are no limits or restrictions on the number or kind of members that choose to get involved in a chamber of commerce.

Who Leads a Chamber?

A chamber of commerce is run by its members. They elect a board of directors who determines policies and sets goals. The chief elected officer presides over all board meetings. A chamber’s day-to-day operations are handled by a professional manager. This person is generally a paid employee. Some small communities have a manager who is either a volunteer or a part-time employee. You can increase participation by encouraging members to work on committees. Committees can include economic development, education, government relations, human resources, public affairs, and tourism.

What Are the Objectives of a Chamber?

The chamber keeps these broad objectives in mind as it works to improve a community’s economy and quality of life:

  • Help businesses prosper and grow.
  • Increase job opportunities.
  • Encourage an orderly expansion and development of all segments of the community.
  • Contribute to the overall economic stability of the community.
  • Promote the nation’s private enterprise system of competitive marketing.