Mergers, economic nightmares and even a fire couldn’t stop the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce from becoming a leader in the community. For more than 140 years, the Chamber has been the voice of business in the region.
It all started in 1869 when the Madison Business Board was established. Its mission was to advance economic development in the city and enable businesses to gather and share information and resources. The organization merged with others and grew over the years.
In 1978, the Chamber’s positive strides forward came to a sudden halt as a devastating fire destroyed its headquarters. But, the resilient staff worked tirelessly to make the Chamber flourished once again. With the dedicated support of the business community, the Chamber and its partners created new associations, many of which still flourish today.
- Association renamed Madison Chamber of Commerce and members elect Arthur Towell as president.
- Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison Associations, Inc., and Madison and Wisconsin Foundation merge and rename as Madison Chamber of Commerce and Foundation.
- Chamber membership reaches 1,100 members.
- Chamber renamed Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce to encompass the entire Madison metropolitan area.
- Two new organizations emerge from the Chamber:
- Its Convention and Promotion Division spins off as the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau.
- The Central Madison Council launches to revitalize downtown and promote it as a place to shop, live, work and play.
- Business and Education Coordinating Council, formed in partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District, begins as a forum for communication and interaction between business and education.
- On May 4, fire destroys the Chamber’s headquarters, along with all organizational property and records.
- In partnership with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Chamber forms the Wisconsin Innovation Network (WIN) to expand Wisconsin Venture Fair and High Technology Consortium efforts statewide.
- Metropolitan Neighborhood Business Council of the Chamber forms, with local neighborhood associations.
- Leadership Greater Madison launches with Chamber sponsorship, designed to prepare emerging leaders to make meaningful community contributions.
- Jennifer Alexander joins as Chamber president. Chamber starts MAGNET, targeting people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, designed to attract and retain the next generation of leaders to the region.
- Small Business Advisory Council forms as an advisory committee to the leadership of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of the City of Madison.
- Jennifer Alexander announces first-ever candidate endorsements for the Madison Common Council on Feb. 7. “Our goal for this election is to educate the voters on the candidates and their positions on issues that shape the business climate in Madison,” said Alexander. “I think you’re going to see the business community more involved in the elections—and it’s only going to grow.”
- Jennifer Alexander retires, and Zach Brandon is hired as Chamber President.