Local Chambers of Commerce Go International - Again
The Census Bureau's Foreign Trade Division blog recently asked ACCE's Senior Vice President of Member and Sponsor Relations, Chris Mead, to write a guest column about chambers of commerce getting involved in international business. Here's an excerpt!
From the earliest days, international trade has been a major concern for local chambers of commerce. The first U.S. chamber was born in 1768 in New York out of struggles with the Stamp Act. Shortly afterward, in 1773, the Charleston Chamber of Commerce was formed to help land British tea safely on shore. In 1819, the Savannah Chamberís leading members sent the first steamship across the Atlantic. Other chambers lobbied for a railroad and a canal across Panama, helped lay the first transatlantic telegraph cables, and even named and financed Lindbergh's plane, The Spirit of Saint Louis, for its world-shrinking trip across the ocean in 1927. Commerce - not surprisingly - is in the institutional bones of chambers of commerce.
In recent years, however, much of the attention of these business associations has focused more on domestic matters. With a vast internal U.S. market to develop, and relatively limited resources to go abroad, most local chambers have tended to stay close to home. Getting the local highway completed or keeping an eye on the city council have taken precedence over learning about markets in Austria or Australia.