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History of the Westfield Chamber

In 1981 the Westfield Chamber of Commerce was founded and has been proudly serving the businesses and residents in the Westfield Community ever since.

In 2021, the City of Westfield was ranked as the sixth-best place to live in the United States by Money Magazine, and then in 2022, Westfield was ranked the 10th best small city to live in, according to WalletHub.

Thirty minutes north of Indianapolis, where the city gives way to gold and green cornfields, you will find Westfield, the fastest-growing city in Indiana for two years in a row, 2021 and 2022, with more than 50,000 residents. We are a fantastic community with first-class schools, vibrant shopping, and superior dining. We are home to the 400-acre Grand Park Sports Campus, the Indianapolis Colts Training Camp, and the Pacers Athletic Center.

History of Chambers

"Throughout the centuries, perhaps as long as commerce has existed, traders have bended together. In the beginning, perhaps it was for the purpose of seeking common protection against enemies and marauding bands of robbers. Later, codes were established to govern the conduct of trade. And still later, efforts were begun to exert influence on legislative matters.

But those early associations of traders had little in common with Chambers of Commerce as we know them today. The first known use of the term "Chamber of Commerce" occurred in Marseilles, France, where such an organization was established by the city council toward the close of the 17th century. The oldest Chambers in the British Isles are those of Glasnow (1783), Edinburgh (1785) and Manchester (1794).

It was the imperial ambitions of Kaiser William I of Germany that gave impetus to the Chamber of Commerce movement in that country. Recognizing the usefulness of such organizations in promoting trade and training young men for commercial careers, Bismark encouraged their establishment in principal cities. Other European countries followed Germany's example.

However, the European Chamber of Commerce has little in common with the modern American organization. Although they are associations of business people, they are frequently operate as quasi-public agencies, vested with certain administrative and judicial powers with respect to trade. These powers often include establishment of codes governing commercial practice, arbitration of rules of navigation, and supervision over other commercial bodies. And under some highly centralized governments, the Chambers have been used as agencies for directing and controlling economic activity in behalf of the central planning authority.

On the American continent, the oldest Chamber of Commerce is that of the State of New York, organized in 1768, and chartered by King George III in 1770. The second oldest is Charleston, South Carolina. Chambers were organized in New Haven and Philadelphia soon afterwards, and by 1870 the number of Chambers in this country had grown to 40.

Early American Chambers, like their European prototypes, were associatons of trademens organized for the protection and promotion of commerce. The establishment of the New York State Chamber was a result of the obnoxious Stamp Tax Act, passed by Parliament in 1765. Forced to organize in self defsnese to fight the Act, New York tradesmen quickly perceiving the advantages of such assosciation.

Those early Chambers undertook to promote the sale of goods. They organized markets, made and enforced rules of trade, protected goods in transit, and even operated their own trading floors. But their activities were limited to those directly connected with commerce.

But the emergence of the Chamber of Commerce as a true community organization came much later as businessmen began to realize that their own prosperity depended upon the development of a prosperous, healthy, and happy community. From the late 1800's and on, the growth of the Chamber movement in the United States was rapid.

Today, there are such 4,000 organizations in the country. The Chamber of Commerce today has little in common with the old "Board of Trade" or "Booster Club" of fifty years ago. The changes has been one of refinement; the philipsophy has changed.

In the early 1900's most local Chambers were primarily interested in attracting new industries to their community. Civic and commercial development took second place. While industrial development was still often a major emphasis, gradually Chambers came to recognize that industrial growth was dependent on civic and commercial development as well. In fact, during the first quarter of the past century so much emphasis was being placed on civic problems that many Chambers began to assume the character of civic assosciations. It soon became evident that Chambers, in order to be true to their purpose, must remain primarily business organizations, and express the point of view of business. The importance of balance in the Chamebr of Commerce program began to be recognized.

Another major change took place with the advent of the New Deal in 1933. Governmental affairs on federal, state, and local levels became major items in the Chamber of Commerce program. The Chamber became the interpreter of government to business, and conversely, of business to government. In this field of activity, the Chamber of Commerce is assuming growing responsibilties and achieving increasing usefulness.

And just as Chambers through the centuries have changed and adopted to meet the needs of the time, so will the Chambers of today be constantly alert to the changes taking place in our society and adopting to meet those needs" (History of Chambers of Commerce).