It was the first chartered in the country.
It's a milestone year for the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce: the local organization has reached its 100th anniversary. "It's pretty amazing to think that most businesses don't survive 100 years. For the Chamber not only to survive but to be the trusted leader for business in all those years, and to begin to look forward to the next 100, I think is truly amazing," says Chamber President and CEO Ric Adams. "It's really exciting to have been a part of that."
Adams says it all started in 1912, when then President William Howard Taft was hosting about 700 industry and commerce leaders at the White House. He suggested that they establish a formal organization to lead and protect the interests of businesses. There were four Frederick County residents in attendance. They paid their dues, and became the first officially chartered Chamber of Commerce in the US.
Now, there are chambers of commerce all across the US and in other countries.
Over the years, Adams says, the local chamber has played a big part in the community. He says the Chamber helped established the Community Chest during the Great Depression to help with relief efforts. That organization later became the United Way. The Chamber was also instrumental in setting up the Tourism Council of Frederick County.
As for the future, Adams says the Chamber has set up a Major Employers Group, consisting of companies with 500 or more employees. "And one of the first things they've tried to tackle is having a hotel and conference center in the downtown. And I'm happy to say that we're moving forward with that," he says.
In addition, the Chamber of Commerce will be involved in the 2012 elections, although it cannot endorse candidates for office. Adams says it will provide education and information on charter government for Frederick County. He says the Chamber supports a charter form of government because it will put the county in an advantageous position when it deals with state. Voters in Frederick County will be voting on a charter form of government during the general election in November.
But the Chamber still remains the voice of the local business community, whether they're big, small or medium size companies. "80% of our members have less than 20 employees," he says. "So, not only do we have every large business in Frederick County, we have lots of the small ones too."
He says it will be worthwhile any business to join the Chamber, even if they are one-person operations. "We also have many social medial outlets. If they can't attend, we have our own Linked-In Group; we have Twitter accounts. So they are always able and through advertising to get the word out. So we have multiple ways for one-person businesses to get involved in the Chamber," he says.
"I think it's a true honor for me to be the President and CEO of such a vibrant organization, and the fact I get to interact with every CEO in Frederick County and all of the employees," Adams says. "I love my job."