The Origins of Chambers of Commerce
On Monday, some Chamber board members presented a certificate to Jessy Shelton, a senior at CV High and our pick for this year’s Student of the Year. In the next few weeks, we’ll be announcing and presenting awards to all sorts of outstanding men, women and organizations in the community in preparation for our recognition banquet on Oct. 27.
Before presenting the award to Ms. Shelton, Principal Linda Junge asked the assembled classroom what they thought a chamber of commerce was.
“It has to do with business,” was the popular (and correct) answer.
Kaipo Chock, our board president, expanded on this idea by explaining the CV Chamber’s primary role is to support and advocate for local businesses. In a related coincidence, while doing his U.S. Government homework, my son asked me what the term “commerce” means and how it differs from “manufacturing.” I had to look this up.
The word “commerce” comes from the Latin com meaning “together” and mercium meaning “merchandise.” In the 16th century, the French did a mash up to make the word commerce, which translates as “trading.” The French also opened the first chambre de commerce in Marseilles, a major shipping port, in 1599. Primarily a defensive tactic, traders banded together for protection against common enemies and to establish policies governing trade.
Today there are chambers of commerce on the international, national, state, city and local levels. Their purposes have evolved over the years as well as adapting for each community’s needs. Ours, for instance, leans towards community events such as the Hometown Country Fair and the upcoming Halloween Fun Run on Oct. 15 since many local residents appreciate businesses that are affiliated with family-friendly events.
Our recent Foothills Community Business Expo was a smashing success and prime example of a positive commerce-meets-community event. Close to 500 attendees and vendors filled the community room and hallways of USC Verdugo Hills Hospital last Wednesday. Restaurateurs and businesses from all three area chambers (Montrose-Verdugo City, La Cañada Flintridge and Crescenta Valley) got to know one another better and hopefully garnered a few new customers. Ethel Cummens from LegalShield said, “I made so many new contacts … far more than I expected!”
Thanks for participating, Ethel!
Stay posted for more announcements of awards recipients in coming weeks. The public is invited to attend the recognition banquet formally honoring these individuals on Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. at Oakmont Country Club. Tickets are $50 and include a lovely sit-down dinner. Please contact the Chamber for reservations.
So the next time someone asks you what a chamber of commerce is you can say it’s a group of people who care about maintaining a vibrant community of, as the French call them, “traders” – traders of products, traders of services, traders of appreciativeness and traders of good will.