Impacting a Community: A Glance at the Feats of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce 1875 through 2011
“Impacting a Community: A Glance at the Feats of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce 1875 through 2011”
By Marisol Arellano, Taylor Bushroe, Dylan Caldwell, Nolan Dye, Shianne Fore, Haleigh Hunley, Kaine Jackson, Jennifer McGee, Erin Purcell, Shawnna Smith, Dustin Swartout, and Derrick Weil
Published in 2011 by New Tech Academy
The Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce and New Tech Academy would like to welcome you to Fort Wayne! In our ever-changing world, Fort Wayne’s commitment to commerce, community and culture has set the city apart from others in its liking. However, as we look at the great potential our city has for the future, we must constantly be reminded of where we started. During the Chamber of Commerce’s illustrious 135 year existence, a wide variety of prominent events, decisions and feats have occurred. Enjoy taking a look back through some of the most influential, impactful and unique feats of the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. New Tech Academy is part of Fort Wayne Community Schools newest reform initiative. As Northeast Indiana’s first New Tech high school, NTA offers students a unique opportunity to be empowered in a real-world 21st Century learning environment. To find out more, please call 260-467-6500. Follow on Twitter @NewTechAcademy
New Tech Academy @ Wayne High School
The Beginning: A Glance Back 1875
— The Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce has a rich history that began in 1875. Merchants (70 local businessmen), in an atmosphere of civic cooperation, joined to compare the challenges of doing business and to share beneficial solutions to those problems.
1893 — In 1893 and 1899, respectively, the Wayne Club and Commercial Club are formed as predecessors to the Chamber. Early efforts in the community to organize businesses 1899 would soon lead to the two clubs merging in 1910. This formed the modern Chamber of Commerce.
1910 — The Wayne Club and Commercial Club decide a merger is best for the community. a
Local businessmen, such as B. Paul Mossman, lead effort. This decision would spearhead launch into the 20th century by the Fort Wayne business community.
1915 — The Chamber of Commerce holds Women’s Suffrage Tea.
Long since the women’s suffrage movement of the 1870’s, the local community had been led by strong women leaders. For this reason, the Chamber has shared its building with the local Woman’s Club since it was built.
1919 — The Chamber is notified that International Harverster may be seeking to build a new truck plant. Arthur F. Hall leads committee to persuade company to move to Fort Wayne.
Roaring Fort Wayne: 1920’s to 1940’s 1920’s
— A campaign is launched by Chamber to highlight community’s diverse workforce and (high percentage of skilled and intelligent workers) stem the influx of African Americans into community.
1920 — Chamber of Commerce sign a contract to bring in International Harvester Companies Motor Truck Plant. The new plant would cost $5 million and bring 4,000 to 5,000 jobs to the community. This would forever change the impact the F.W.C.O.C had in developing local industry.
1922 — Chamber leaders form the Greater Fort Wayne Development Corporation with the goal of recruiting more large industries to relocate to the city.
1926 — Construction for the new Chamber of Commerce building begins. The Spanish Eclectic design by Guy Mahurin opened in 1928; the building reflects the growing importance of Chamber to city’s business community. In a sign of unity, the Chamber rented the top floor to the Woman’s Club for just one dollar annually.
1927 — The Chamber elects Albert Schaaf as president.
Schaaf will forever be remembered as an avid pioneer in city planning and building cohesive communities.
1930 — Inspired by recruitment of International Harvester, The Chamber helps build a factory for Magnavox Televisions. Magnavox would relocate from California bringing more jobs to the community.
1930 to 1943 — In light of the Great Depression, the Chamber experiences over a decade troubled with economic woes, lack of business growth, and personal financial woes.
Classic Fort Wayne: 1950’s– 1990’s 1945 — Earl S. Ward, Vice President of the Chamber is quoted as saying, “Everything the Chamber of Commerce does is aimed at creating new work opportunities.” This statement would guide the focus of the organization into the future.
1954 — Local business Perfection Bakeries begins distributing Sunbeam bread.
The iconic rotating bread sign is soon erected on top of building. It still stands as one of the most recognizable signs of Fort Wayne commerce.
1959 — The Chamber is recognized for its safety practices.
No other safety council anywhere in the entire U.S. had won as many awards for the assurance of protection in comparison to the organization during this time period.
1960 —The Chamber has its hand in improving many local infrastructures, such as: mass transportation, state legislative, civic improvements, education requirements, streets and highways, international development and much more. It is perplexing how outstanding the Chamber is in accompanying the community in a multiplicity of areas.
1968 — The Chamber helps make The Annual Jaycees Haunted House possible.
For years, the Chamber of Commerce has worked with youth organizations to get more young adults involved and educated in smart business practices.
1973 – In a move to help widen the reach of
the group, The Chamber was renamed the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. Organization looks to expand its network to new areas within the community.
1980’s — One of the most significant times at The Chamber was in the early '80s when it raised more than $9.2 million for economic development. At that time, this was the largest sum of money raised by a Chamber throughout the country
1999– As the new century approaches, over 1,900 businesses were with the Fort Wayne Chamber. This would mark signs of continued progress into the 21st century.
The Future is Now: 21st Century
2005 — The Chamber member businesses donate $30,000 to the Indiana National Guard Relief fund for the Hurricane Katrina.
2010 – The Chamber has always had a hand in supporting many local traditions.
In a glorious sight, one that could not be missed, the Chamber of Commerce continues to make the Festival of Trees possible through its sponsorship.
Jan. 2010 — With a heavy heart, the Chamber decides to sell the building they have occupied for the last 81 years. Their search will coincide with the attempt to continue to connect further with other agencies that promote local growth.
March 2011 – The 7th Annual Athena Awards were hosted by the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce. The awards provide the Chamber the opportunity to acknowledge many of the hardworking members of the business community.
Oct. 2011 — The Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce has greatly educated and made connections with other cultures. They have scheduled a trip to meet the business men and women of China and learn about foreign business practices to enhance our city.
The Chamber has played a fundamental part in the business development and leadership roles in Fort Wayne and will continue to do so for the next 135 years.
Chamber Information The Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce prides itself on putting our members first, serving their businesses and allowing them to grow and prosper. The Chamber is the sum of the collaborative efforts of members within Northeast Indiana who share the insight and inspiration to excel in business. We represent the voice of business development for Fort Wayne, Allen County and Northeast Indiana. Our mission is to serve as the primary advocate for commerce and business within the Greater Northeast Indiana region by providing solutions and services for business that ensure our members have what they need to flourish. The Chamberâ€™s rich history dates back to 1875, when a civic-minded group of businessmen began meeting regularly to address local business issues and trends. Today, the Chamber is a strong not-for-profit business membership corporation dedicated to putting members first in developing and directing the future of commerce and business in Northeast Indiana. From the smallest organization to the largest business employers in the area, the Chamber acts as the voice of business through government affairs, networking events communications & marketing opportunities, business development, educational programs and numerous other programs and services. Chamber members have a strong voice in the community with the ability to: Get heard, Get help, Get connected, Get closer & Get ahead It all comes down to getting involved. We invite you to learn more about the Chamber, our members, this community of commerce and the opportunities that reside here in Northeast Indiana. Courtesy of the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce
Chamber Leaders The Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce 826 Ewing St. Fort Wayne, IN 46802-2182
Mike Landram– President & CEO
Jennifer Fisher– Program Manager
Deb Young– Controller
Marlene LeMon– Field Representative
Michelle Merritt– VP of Member Relations & Communications
Jules Overby– High School Initiative Field Representative
Dave Young– VP of Air Service Development
Derrick Sherck– Field Representative
Membership and Communications
Katy Stafford– Director of Government Affairs
Jon Swerens– Director of Communications
Melissa Beber– Government Affairs Coordinator
Lauren Richwane– Communications Specialist Teresa Royer– Member Relations Specialist
Administrative Team Liz Struckholz– Membership Event Coordinator Kathleen Farrier– Accounting Manager Tim Jones-- First Impressions Coordinator Julie Nolan– Morning Receptionist Karen Patterson– Data Processing Manager
Sources of Information THE CHAMBER COMMERCE TAKES A BOW By Albert Schaaf, 1947 FORT WAYNE, THE RENAISSANCE OF A CITY By Canterbury Schools, 1951 CHAMBER OF COMMERCE SCHEDULE PLANNER 1957 THE PICTORIAL HISTORY OF FORT WAYNE, INDIANA By B.J. Griswold, 1971 TWENTIETH CENTURY: HISTORY OF FORT WAYNE By John Ankenbruck, 1975 THE FORT WAYNE STORY By John Ankenbruck, 1980 HERE’S FORT WAYNE — PRESENT AND PAST By Michael Hawfield, 1993 HISTORY OF FORT WAYNE & ALLEN COUNTY VOL 1-2 By John Beatty, 2006 FORT WAYNE NEWSPAPERS ARCHIVES THE GREATER FORT WAYNE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE