Understanding the Chamber of Commerce
A Chamber of Commerce is an organization focused on improving the commercial environment for businesses within a physical area. It is comprised of local businesses, local leaders and other people of influence in the local business economy. The area of influence can be as localized as a particularly city or as wide reaching as a nationally focused organization.
One function of a Chamber of Commerce is to encourage area businesses to network amongst each other. This promotes the sharing of information and the forging of bonds to improve the wellbeing of member businesses. Since different Chambers encompass a variety of locations it is not uncommon for a person or business to belong to multiple Chambers that include areas of concern for them.
Often mistaken for a government agency, a Chamber of Commerce is actually a private lobbying group. Membership is strictly voluntary though many businesses find benefit in the professional affiliation. The organization promotes the interests of local businesses and often meets with potential incoming businesses to discuss any mutual benefits or concerns. This can include discussions on local laws or resources, and anything that may make the area more or less attractive to incoming businesses.
The local Chamber of Commerce will often become involved in projects regarding the improvement of business areas. This can activities from the revitalization of a cities historic downtown to the creation of a new business industrial park. Additionally, they provide a touch point for local governments to better understand the point-of-view of area businesses prior to a project being started.
A Chamber of Commerce is structured similarly to many other business organizations. It will often include one person in a primarily leadership position. This person may carry the title of President or CEO. Additionally, they often have a high-level board, such as a Board of Directors, that are involved in determining the direction of the Chamber. They may be divided into various committees and subcommittees depending on the nature of the businesses involved.
No strict rules govern the structure or function of a Chamber of Commerce. Internal committees may concentrate on the business area specific companies operate in, such as restaurants or print shops. This allows that committee the ability to focus on the issues pertaining specifically to the associated area of business. Committees may also be formed by other common factors, such as all of the businesses located in a certain shopping center or those that operate in a historic downtown district.