The term “Chamber of Commerce” is one of the oldest and most well-recognized brands in the world, but there is significant public misunderstanding of its meaning.
There is an old adage in the chamber world: “If you’ve seen one chamber, you’ve seen one.” This is true as all chambers have different mission and focus areas; there is not one cut-and-dry example of what a chamber of commerce is. Just as every community is different, every Chamber of Commerce is different, also.
At its core, a Chamber of Commerce is an organization of businesses seeking to further their collective interests, while advancing their community, region, state or nation. Business owners in towns, cities and other regions voluntarily form these local societies/networks to advocate on behalf of the community at-large, economic prosperity and business interests.
A bit of history: Chambers have existed in the United States for more than 200 years, with many having been established before the jurisdictions they represent. A business-led civic and economic advancement entity operating in a specific space may call itself any number of things — board of trade, business council, etc. — but for the purposes of this primer, they are all chambers of commerce.
Chamber missions vary, but they all tend to focus to some degree on five primary goals: building communities (parish/region/state) to which re
sidents, visitors and investors are attracted; promoting those communities; striving to ensure future prosperity via a pro-business climate; representing the unified voice of the employer community; and reducing transactional friction through well-functioning networks.
Chambers have other features in common. Most are led by private-sector employers, self-funded, organized around boards/committees of volunteers, and are independent. They share a common ambition for sustained prosperity of their community/region, built on thriving employers. Most are passionate proponents of the free market system, resisting attempts to overly burden private sector enterprise and investment.
Locally, we’re fortunate to have numerous chamber of commerce groups representing our community. Some (like the Rayne Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture and the Eunice Chamber of Commerce) focus their efforts on one community; the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce represents all communities across Acadia Parish; One Acadiana works on a multi-parish regional level, serving the entire 9-parish Acadiana Region.
With a membership of nearly 300 business and community organizations that spans Acadia Parish and beyond, and which represents 70% of the local workforce, the Acadia Parish Chamber of Commerce is dedicated to ensuring local business success and fostering regional economic vitality by offering local business tools and resources, promoting Acadia Parish to destination guests, and initiating economic development efforts. We support local businesses. We unite key stakeholders. We lead collaborative efforts throughout the community.
Regardless of how you define a chamber, I’m thankful for these various groups throughout the region & state because together we are stronger. It is a great benefit to our communities to have different groups working on aligned efforts for the benefit of creating a strong business environment.