Thursday, April 26, 2012
Open for Business: The St. Louis Chamber of Commerce?
Chambers of Commerce serve as business associations for area businesses. They are by and large membership organizations, with businesses making up the membership. Businesses pay dues to join, and the chamber provides services to member businesses.
A standard mission statement of a chamber of commerce often reads, "The Mission of the ____ Chamber of Commerce, in close association with the City of ______, is dedicated to developing a strong network for potential and existing local business to prosper and thrive in our community".
Another example is, "The Greater _____ Chamber of Commerce is a trusted business organization working for the development and voice of business success in ______. We provide opportunities for all businesses and individuals who invest in the _______community. Our goal is to keep ______ a healthy, thriving community with an exceptional quality of life. We invite you to join us today and help build a sound foundation to support the economic momentum in ______!"
So why doesn't St. Louis have its own chamber of commerce? One reason is that there are already a number of smaller business associations serving neighborhood business districts. There is the South Broadway Business Association serving the Carondelet area, the Hampton Chippewa Business Association serving the Hampton Village, Southwest City area. In Baden, there was a Businessmen's Association formed in 1913.
A chamber of commerce builds sense of community. It creates a sense of shared purpose and interest among community stakeholders. If St. Louis had a city-wide chamber of commerce, connections would be made across neighborhood, ward, and bigger city boundaries.
In the past, people may have believed that the most important thing to them was to have a healthy neighborhood business district where they lived. They weren't too concerned about what was happening in another neighborhood or the other side of town.
With efforts on today to build a more sustainable city, does it make sense to establish a citywide chamber of commerce for the entire city of St. Louis? It might go to number one on the St. Louis Business Journal's list of the region's Top 25 Chambers of Commerce!