Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce - Port Huron, MI

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Historical Chamber News

The Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce originated in 1906 by a leading group of Port Huron's new business owners and entrepreneurs who volunteered their time and financial resources to the growth of the greater Port Huron - Marysville business community.  The chamber was incorporated on May 31, 1917 as a county-wide chamber with 905 members. Historical news headings published by founding member, The Times Herald, in the feature section, Blue Water Memories, are recorded here.

Feb. 11, 1906 – Within a few months, the John L. Fead & Sons knitting mill at Huron Avenue and Park Street in Port Huron has grown into one of the most prosperous of Port Huron ’s smaller industries.  The factory was brought here from Lexington, Kentucky through the efforts of the Chamber of Commerce.

Feb. 28, 1906 – Wine, wit and wisdom flowed freely last night at the first annual banquet of the Port Huron Chamber of Commerce in the elegantly appointed dining room of the Hotel Harrington. About 100 men attended.

May, 1906 – Believing that the only sure way of getting manufacturing enterprises to locate in Port Huron is by lending them financial encouragement, the Chamber of Commerce last night laid the foundation for an industrial fund that will be increased to not less than $100,000. Pledges of $20,000 were raised in 20 minutes. Committees were appointed to go among the people of Port Huron in every business to secure pledges until the desired amount is secured.

May 26, 1906 – Another $1,500 was secured today toward a $100,000 industrial fund to help attract new industries to Port Huron.  It is expected that $8,000 or $10,000 will roll in next week as several large subscriptions are in sight.

June 23, 1906 – The Port Huron Chamber of Commerce has scored its first big success in landing the Dr. Perkins Sanitary Refrigerator Co. of Battle Creek for Port Huron . Negotiations for the plant were concluded yesterday. The company has agreed to employ 100 men 11 months of the year.

June 25, 1906 – A year has rolled away since the organization of the Port Huron Chamber of Commerce, and some members who took stock of events today consider that a pretty good record has been made.  The organization has landed two factories, a mammoth summer encampment and has raised a big industrial fund.

Aug. 30, 1906 – President Sperry of the Chamber of Commerce is of the opinion that Port Huron will secure a factory for the manufacture of gas machines. Chicago parties have spent a portion of the week in the city looking over the ground. It is expected the deal will be closed in a few days.

Aug. 25, 1906 – A committee from the Chamber of Commerce, consisting of President Sperry, F.E. Beard, William Canham and E. J. Schoolcraft, visited the plant of the Huron Packing Co. on Griswold street Friday, for the purpose of ascertaining if the reports regarding the stench and odors were correct.

Sept. 8, 1906 –The American Palace Car Co. is looking around for a new place to locate. The company is anxious to invest in the neighborhood of $1 million. Here is a chance for the Port Huron Chamber of Commerce.

1917 - The Chamber of Commerce helps address a housing shortage created by the arrival of Grand Trunk Railroad workers.

May 17, 1917 - The Chamber of Commerce is officially incorporated as a countywide chamber of commerce with 905 members.  The chamber sought its first home, noting the importance of a high quality, centrally located office.  The first item of business is recruiting the H. Mueller Manufacturing Company from Ontario to locate in Port Huron.

1918 - The Chamber forms the first public affairs committee to retain the spirit of pride generated by the war, and passes a referendum to support banning trade with Germany nationwide.

1919 - The Chamber is recognized by the St. Clair County Farm Bureau for its commitment to improving business and living conditions in the area.

1921 - The Chamber of Commerce hosts its first international conference with Chinese delegates, participates in the first international picnic with Sarnia Chamber, forms the first ambassadors committee to grow its membership, and partners with the City of Port Huron to approve council pay, department pay, city charter and parking fees.

1924 - The Chamber advocates for improved conditions of schools.

1925 - The Chamber advocates the need for an airfield.

1927 - The Chamber lobbies President Calvin Coolidge for construction of the locks system that is now known as the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway, and forms the first tourism bureau.

1928 - The Chamber celebrates "paving the way for industry" as M-29 is paved from Huron Boulevard to Davis Road in Marysville.  The Chamber also shows support for the federal government's plan to clear channels throughout the seaway system.

1929 - The Chamber supports the International Bridge Association in constructing the bridge terminal east of Huron Avenue, fills all industrial buildings with the arrival of Beebe Boat Works, and secures Gar Wood Boat Company for Marysville by promising to build a shipping channel for its use.

1930 - The Chamber agrees to pay Electric Auto Light Company $50,000 as an incentive to relocate its plants in Port Huron, goes on record opposing the state income tax, and commits to making improvements to the Port Huron-Marysville Airport to create an air industrial park.

1931 - The Chamber begins a business visitation program.  Port Huron Sulphite, now Domtar, is the first manufacturer visited.

1934 - Local building contractors remodel a FHA home and move it to the city hall lawn for auction to promote the Renaissance Zone program and raise funds for the Chamber of Commerce.  O.B. Mueller, Mueller Brass Company, wins the house bid at $1,750.

1935 - The Chamber writes to Congressman Wolcott to lobby for increased funding for the Great Lakes' harbors adn rivers.

1936 - The Chamber supports construction of the Mackinac Bridge.

June 1, 1936 – H.A. Hopkins assumed his duties as secretary-manager of the Port Huron Chamber of Commerce by announcing a get-acquainted cruise on the steamer Noronic for River District residents.

1939 - The Chamber seeks to secure daily boat service to and from Detroit, plans to market the Blue Water International Bridge adn routes to the city, and sponsors weekly broadcasts on the area's industries on WHLS.

1940 - The Chamber focuses on drawing 40 conventions to the city annually to generate 20,000 visitors, and advocates for improved mail service to the east.

1941 - The Chamber sees employment jump by 1,000 workers in 60 days as industries grow, and produces the first Blue Water Visitors Guide.

1942 - The Chamber helps farmers locate laborers to work the harvest.

July 12, 1942 - A search for idle machinery in the Port Huron area which can be utilized to increase the volume of war production was started by the Chamber of Commerce.

1943 - The Chamber focuses on developing the county airport.  The Chamber moves into leased space in the Kern Building at 6th Street and Pine Street.

1945 - The Chamber makes the city stadium its top priority and determines agriculture to be a growing priority.

1946 - The Chamber seeks membership and partnership from the Retail Merchants Division and Convention Bureau, plans to work on more favorable freight rates, improvement to Lakeside bathing beach, and begins planning for Thomas Edison's 100th birthday (February 11, 1947).

1947 - The Chamber begins marketing the area with the Blue Water Map Folder.

1948 - The Chamber advocates local needs regarding the federal bridge to be built across the Black River, Bypass Highway 25.

1950 - The Chamber assists Marine City in forming its own Chamber of Commerce, and provides support for establishing the St. Clair County Airport.

1952 - The Chamber launches the "Friendly City" campaign to attract tourists.

1953 - The Chamber is involved in forming the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), now known as the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County (EDA), and moves into temporary headquarters at 313 Huron Avenue above J.C. Penney, and merges with the Marysville Chamber of Commerce.

1955 - The Chamber helps host J.C. Penney during a local retirement dinner at the Harrington Hotel.  The Chamber office relocates to 920 Pine Grove Avenue where it resided until October 2009.

June 23, 1956 – About 25 members of the Greater Port Huron-Marysville Chamber of Commerce participated yesterday in the inauguration of a new Blue Water District tourist attraction when they took a trip aboard the new Miss Port Huron on the St. Clair River and Lake Huron.

1959 - The Chamber helps with the Welcome sign placed at the Harrington Hotel and supports an 18-month study proposed by teh Downtown Development Council.

April 27, 1961 – The retail board of the Greater Port Huron-Marysville Chamber of Commerce sought comment on a program of uptown beautification by placing living trees in concrete boxes on Military Street and Huron Avenue.

July 13, 1963 - Area residents crowded the sidewalks in downtown Port Huron during the fourth annual Sidewalk Sale sponsored by the Greater Port Huron-Marysville Chamber of Commerce.

1968 - The Chamber looks into expanding into the St. Clair County Chamber of Commerce.

1973 - The Chamber offers to help arrange professional volunteers in the schools for business-related programs, and supports the relocation of city hall.

1976 - The Chamber becomes a financing partner in a hotel feasibility study to attract more conventions.

1984 - The Chamber partners with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan to offer health insurance to members.

1985 - Creates a 501c3 Community Benefit Fund to support the Port Huron Area School District's academic achievement awards programs.  The first award program had 40 students participate.  The Chamber also organized a local SCORE chapter.

1986 - The Chamber organizes its first business exposition and is chosen for the Community of Economic Excellence Award by the Michigan Department of Commerce.

1989 - The Chamber supports the city's proposal for the Blue Water Bridge Plaza Project.

1990 - The Chamber hosts the Michigan Chamber of Commerce Executive Meeting at the Thomas Edison Inn, and contributes $1,700 to ensure Good Morning America broadcasts weather forecasts from Port Huron during Mackinac week.

1993 - The Chamber adopts a resolution supporting the Indian Gaming Proposal for the City of Port Huron.

1994 - The Chamber advocates for school financing reform and organizes and conducts a second school millage campaign.

1995 - Begins the Lunch Buddies program that matches professionals with elementary school students for mentoring.

2000 - After 30 years of service, Executive Director, Miles "Mike" Benedict retires.

2007 - The Blue Water Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 90th anniversary with a grand party at the Seaway Terminal with Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce, and also commemorates the City's sesquicentennial by developing the Historic Business Registry of businesses over a century old.  The Chamber receives the "Chamber of the Year" Award from the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals for organizing the Chamber Leaders Circle of St. Clair County, developing a candidate rating system under its Public Affairs Committee, creating a new website, and partnering in publishing the 'Midway on the Seaway' maritime heritage map.

2010 - The Chamber receives the "Chamber of the Year" Award from the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals for outstanding work in advocacy, education and assistance programs to its membership.

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