WOOSTER AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
. In 1900, Walter D. Foss, President of The Wooster Brush Company served as the first President of the Wooster Board of Trade.
· Located at 12 Liberty Street, the Board enticed new industries by offering land, loans and other incentives. All aspects of Wooster’s welfare and progress concerned them.
· In 1908, the Wooster Board of Trade was incorporated under the laws of Ohio as a not for profit corporation “to promote the industrial, commercial, civic, mercantile and manufacturing interests of the City of Wooster”.
· Most of the important matters of the day were brought before the Board for decisions and actions. In 1912, the Fair Board asked that the businessmen of Wooster close their places of business for two days during the fair.
· Transportation was an essential part of development. The Board concerned itself with paving and improving the Lincoln Highway and assisted the county with the construction of a paved road from Cleveland through Wooster. (1913)
· All 445 members of the Board of Trade were present for the 1914 annual meeting. The Board entertained those assembled and the $6.00 bill for the annual meeting cigars was approved.
· In 1916, local efforts supporting the war effort superceded most concerns. Three members of the Board of Trade acted on the executive committee to raise one million dollars for the University of Wooster. A public smoker was held on November 17, 1916.
· A motion was adopted during the annual meeting to create a sinking fund for the securing of factories for our city. (1917).
· The board quietly took options on 40 acres of land for Wooster’s first park, deeded to the City for Christmas Run park. (1920) Board of Trade real estate was appraised at $60,000.
· The Board closed contracts with many industries including Akron Brass Company and Wooster Rubber Co. (1921) The urgent need was securing more sites where factories could be located. New industries were knocking on the door and the outlook was golden.
· By unanimous consent, the secretary was instructed to send a check for $5.00 to Morris Kropf, “the boy who so well entertained us with his whistling at the annual meeting.”
· To raise additional money for development, the Board authorized the sale of 10 year coupon bonds in the aggregate sum of $65,000 at the rate of 6.5% per annum. As collateral, all of the Board of Trade’s assets were assigned to the Commercial Banking & Trust Co. (1926)
· Increasing demands were made on the Board of Trade during the war emergency. The board felt they should continue giving assistance to all worthy war efforts and assist the people of the community in complying with war regulations and orders. (1942)
· The board spearheaded the renewal of the sustaining fund to obtain new industry for Wooster. All segments of the business community contributed. Sixty-four men representing all lines of retail and professional business went on record as approving this solicitation of funds for the purpose of securing suitable factory sites and other expenses incurred in locating new industries and expanding existing industries. (1944)
· The Directors authorized construction of a railroad siding on the 40-acre site they had purchased from the College to serve new and existing industries. Five companies, Silver Brothers, The Wooster Rubber Co., Gerstenslager Company, Wooster Brass and Bauer Mfg. Co. bought land there to gain rail transportation access. International Paper Company came to Wooster, locating their plant on a 10-acre site owned by the Board of Trade on Palmer Street. (1940-1948)
· The Chamber relocated their office to the rear of St. James Episcopal Church (1940)
· In 1948, poor phone serviced caused the Board to take action. Complaints were received that it took 1/2 hour to place a call from Cincinnati to Ohio and 1 to 15 minutes for a local call.
· Members voted to change the name of the Wooster Board of Trade to the Wooster Chamber of Commerce. (1950)
· A lighted Christmas tree was placed at the tomb of August Imgard, who erected the first Christmas tree in Wooster in 1847. Two hundred thousand seals, commemorating Wooster as “the home of the first Christmas tree” were given to members and the area public. (1951)
· The Chamber established the Wooster Area Safety Council with the first awards banquet being held in April, 1954.
· The board spearheaded the groundwork to establish the United Fund. (1957)
· To stimulate industrial development and approve the issuance of industrial revenue bonds, the Chamber established the Wayne County Community Improvement Corporation. (1963)
· Help was given to secure the site for the new airport. The old airport property was mortgaged and the Chamber’s savings account was used as collateral to borrow the final amount needed to purchase the land. Plans were formulated to establish the old airport property as an industrial park site. Discussions entailed rezoning and the extension of water and sewer lines. (1967)
· The Chamber gave assistance to Bell & Howell for their new plant. (1967)
· Twenty-four acres of Chamber owned land was bought by the State Highway Department for expressway development. (1971)
· The Chamber was on the move again and extensively remodeled their new office on the northeast corner of public square. (1956)
· Daily inquiries were now being received as the Chamber began serving as the area’s Better Business Bureau. (1963)
· President Nixon’s wage price freeze applied to Chamber dues, allowing no dues increase. (1973)
· After being nominated by the Chamber, Wooster was selected as an All-American City in 1975.
· The scope of activities now being initiated by the Chamber necessitated the change in name to the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce. (1982)
· Realizing the potential economic impact of the tourism industry, the Chamber played a major role in the creation of the Wayne County Visitor & Convention Bureau to provide ongoing promotion of Wayne County as a tourist destination. (1983)
· The Chamber’s downtown revitalization committee officially organized to become Main Street Wooster, Inc. (1984)
· The Uptown Business Association was formed to unite businesses in the north end. (1985)
· The Chamber continued its mission of economic development. Through the efforts of the Chamber, LuK and Seaman Corporation opened new plants in Wooster. Expansion assistance was given to Astro-Fab, Wayne Door, Buckeye Container, D+S Distribution, Prentke Romich and United Titanium. The Chamber played a major role in the Long Road Industrial Park, ensuring future growth for the community. (1989)
· New Chamber events included the Wayne County Business Showcase, Wayne County Home & Garden Show, Woosterfest, Golf Outing and Leadership Wooster Program. The 100th Annual Meeting was attended by more than 600 members.
· The Wooster Welcome Center was founded to assist visitors and the Chamber’s first web site was designed. (1996)
· Wooster was selected as a finalist for the All American City Award.
· Members of the Chamber pledged funds to purchase the new Chamber office located at 377 West Liberty Street. (1994)
· Precedent was broken with the election of the first women ever to serve on the Chamber’s Board of Directors (1978) and later as Chairperson of the Board. (1995)