Eight years before the American Revolution business people in the state of New York, responding to the Stamp Act that was passed by British Parliament, banded together and created the first Chamber of Commerce in the United States. Local entities joined the process when Charleston, South Carolina formed a chamber in 1773. Today, nearly every city and town across the nation has some form of organized chamber of commerce.
Simply stated a Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization of business, industrial and professional firms and interested individuals within a community concerned about improving the area in which they do business; the area in which they live; the area in which they have made their greatest investments. There are three levels: national, state and local.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was founded on April 22, 1912, at the suggestion of President William Howard Taft, to develop a strong link between business and government. Today, the Chamber has grown to represent more than 3 million businesses, nearly 3,000 state and local chambers, 830 associations, and over 90 American Chambers of Commerce abroad.
For over a hundred years Californian’s have had a state chamber advocating for and protecting business interest in the political arena of Sacramento. Currently the chamber has more than 14,000 members employing 25% of California’s private sector workforce. The state chamber is predominately made up of small businesses, 75% of Chamber members have 100 or fewer employees.
While working on the Oakley Boundary Committee in the summer of 1984 one of the tasks performed by Ken Graunstadt, of Delta Scrap, was to visit the chambers in the surrounding communities. During these visit it became apparent to Ken that there was no such organization advocating for the businesses in Oakley. He set out to change that. Enlisting the help of others they gathered in the old Oakley Hotel and elected Fred Cline their first president. Soon after they launched their first event, the Oakley Wine and Jazz Festival, on Sellars Ave. Oakley’s Chamber of Commerce was officially recognized on December 13,1984.
The chamber sponsors many activities including the Citizen of the Year Banquet, the Freedom High Scholarship, an annual festival, monthly mixers, monthly breakfasts with the mayor, quarterly luncheons, fundraising events for kids and adults, and a “Starting a Business in Oakley” workshop.
Chamber President Sallie Goetsch and her husband Stefan Didak moved to Oakley in September 2011 and have been on a mission to bring the Chamber into the 21st century. “By launching this new website with its expanded member profile pages, we can give chamber members much more for their money. Even though the Chamber is a service organization, people always want to know what’s in it for them before they join. Now we can offer them the best value for money advertising they’ll find online or off, as well as a chance to work to build a better business community in Oakley. We’re reaching out to past members and to new businesses, and we want to make home-based businesses (Oakley has almost 400) full participants and find out how we can help them succeed. The Chamber’s job is to advocate for the business community and make this a better place for local businesses, and we need as many members as possible to accomplish that.”
The chamber board of directors meets on the first Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM at the chamber office, 3510 Main Street. The public is welcome to attend.