The History of The Central City Area Chamber of Commerce

As far back as the early 1900’s we find reference to the meeting of “business men.” One such meeting was held “to devise ways, if possible, to bring more students to the college and consequently more people and more business to Central City.” In 1915 we still find reference to “get together” meetings of the business men of this city. It wasn’t until November of 1925 that the Business Men’s Club, as they were then known, proposed reorganization and recommended the name be “Central City Chamber of Commerce,” and the organization should be directly affiliated with the National Chamber of Commerce with headquarters in Grand Island. Other recommendations addressed a campaign plan, membership fees, solicitation of property owners for membership and a budget. In these early days of the Chamber, weekly luncheon meetings were held and their campaign plan was “to show each home and real estate owner that he has a share of the responsibility for making Central City commercially and industrially successful”, making the appeal for financial and moral support. People were reminded that “it is up to Central City to progress or do the opposite. The town can’t stand still. It won’t progress unless a body of men make it their business to push civic interests.” It was in December of 1925 that a committee was named to arrange for the annual meeting to be held after the holidays. While no details are found about what happened at this first annual meeting, a newspaper account of the 1930 fifth annual banquet and business meeting recounts speakers with a recap of achievements of the past year, election of officers and orchestra music. It was lauded as one of the best in the history of the organization both in attendance and enthusiasm. And so our Chamber Gala had its beginning! Leadership in the 1930’s consisted of a president, vice president and treasurer and 12 directors much like we are structured today. Later newspaper articles cite the continued work of the Chamber of Commerce and its ongoing support of Central City and the surrounding area. Their vision then, as it remains today is “we must not cease in our efforts to make our communities prosperous”.

Thanks to the Merrick County Historical Museum for their assistance in researching the history of the Central City Area Chamber of Commerce.