Mission & Vision
The Central Mass South Chamber of Commerce is the leading advocate for business, promotes the success of its members, and enhances regional prosperity through networking, education, and promotion.
To be the leading business organization in the region, fostering exciting economic and community development with a new spirit for collaboration and success.
History of Chambers
The first Chamber of Commerce was founded in Marseilles, France in 1599 upon King Henri IV's request. This was really in answer to economic challenges Marseilles experienced after the incorporation of Provence into France in 1481. It seems Marseilles was having trouble competing with other ports in the Mediterranean like Genoa, Venice, and Montpellier and started slowly to decline. The King had an interest in protecting the economic engine in the South. His philosophy of the Chamber of Commerce was expressed as being "in charge of increasing the town's prosperity." The idea spread through France in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The first to be formed in Great Britain was on the island of Jersey in 1768.
In America, the first Chamber was formed in the state of New York, organized prior to the American Revolution in 1768 to rally against the Stamp Act.
In 1773, the first local Chamber of Commerce was formed in Charleston, South Carolina.
By 1870, the number of local Chambers increased to forty. These early chambers were essentially associations of tradesmen organized to protect and promote commerce.
The emergence of the Chamber as a true community organization came much later as businessmen began to realize that their own prosperity depended on the development of a prosperous community.
Today there are over 5,000 Chambers of Commerce in the U.S.
There are a few levels of Chambers of Commerce, each serving a slightly different function:
Local Chambers of Commerce
The primary goal of a local chamber is to improve the business climate in a specific locality, typically through business networking, publicizing, promoting, and developing commercial and industrial opportunities, and various business services. Companies often become members to develop their business contacts and to demonstrate a commitment to the local economy.
National Chambers of Commerce
In our case, the US Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1912 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. Its membership includes 3 million companies, 3,000 state and local Chambers, 830 business associations; and more than 100 American Chambers of Commerce in 91 other countries. Their core mission is to fight for business and free enterprise before Congress, the White House, regulatory agencies, the courts, the court of public opinion, and governments around the world.
The International Chamber of Commerce
Founded 1920 and headquartered in Paris, the International Chamber of Commerce promotes open international trade and investment and runs a court of arbitration for settling international commercial disputes.
The Chamber of Commerce network is the single largest business network globally.
Bringing things a little closer to home, the Central Mass South Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1945.
Our service area includes the towns of Southbridge, Sturbridge, Charlton, Brimfield, Holland, Wales, Warren, East Brookfield, West Brookfield, North Brookfield, Brookfield, Spencer and Northern Connecticut.
Membership is strictly voluntary and much of the work is done through committees. The Chamber employs the Executive Director, one part-time staff member, and operates the visitor center.