According to Wikipedia, a Chamber of Commerce is "a local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses." The first Chamber of Commerce in the U.S. was the New York chamber founded in 1768. The following mission statement for the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce in Chicago is representative of the activities of many local chambers throughout our country.
"The West Ridge Chamber of Commerce is a not-for-profit organization for businesses and organizations who seek through their united efforts to improve the business community in the West Ridge Neighborhood, attract new businesses and shoppers and improve the appearance of the neighborhood. We are a 501(c) 6 agency that is funded in part by the City of Chicago's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection
Rena Klingenberg, a jewelry artist and small business owner, offers these 10 Ways Your Chamber of Commerce Can Help Your Business Grow. Her websites are http://www.trade-show-booth-display.com and http://www.home-jewelry-business-success-tips.com,
* If you make it known that your product or service makes great client or employee gifts, you could wind up with a very nice flow of business from your fellow Chamber members.
* You may be able to line up some lunchtime sales or parties featuring your products at local businesses to help employees with gift shopping (especially at Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day).
* You may qualify for less-expensive health insurance and business insurance available to Chamber of Commerce members.
* You can find out about local events where you might set up a booth and promote your business.
* You'll meet good, reliable sources for products and services like accounting, printing, computer support, etc.
* You'll be referred to other Chamber members' contacts.
* You have a good chance of meeting local retailers who may be interested in carrying your products.
* You'll have an opportunity to do joint ventures with other local businesses, such as cooperative advertising or trunk shows.
* Your business name can be associated with improving your community, since Chambers of Commerce generally work on civic improvement, legislation favoring local businesses, and economic development.
* You may have access to mentors who can help you develop your business; or you may be able to serve as a mentor to someone else.
So, what are you waiting for? Join your our chamber and actively participate in its activities.