Ohio Chamber History: The Reorganization

Through the years, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has worked tirelessly to maintain its positive reputation and remains as a champion for Ohio business. If you read the previous blog or are familiar with the organization, you may know that the original name of our organization was the Ohio State Board of Commerce. This changed in the 1920’s as part of a reorganization in order to better serve its members.

George Brinton Chandler

To accomplish this, the organization had to go through some changes. In 1924, it was decided that a reorganization would improve its impact and expand its reach. The goal was a “Broadening of the directorate and a systematic effort to secure membership of local chambers of commerce and other organizations.” This required three things:

  1. A renaming of the Ohio State Board of Commerce.
  2. A push to broaden its members by affiliating with the local chambers of commerce and other organizations.
  3. And, an expansion of the board.

In 1926, George Brinton Chandler assumed the role of the executive vice president. Chandler was considered to be a great leader of his time. His biography in an Ohio Chamber publication said this: “Under his leadership the Ohio Chamber of Commerce has grown to be the largest and most influential business organization of its kind in America. He has proved himself to be in every sense a business statesman, an orator, of ability, a keen student of public affairs, and is fondly known among his professional associates as the “Dean” of chamber of commerce executives”.

At this time, the name of the organization changed from the Ohio State Board of Commerce to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce: “The Executive Committee at its meeting of March 23, 1926, approved a policy of expansion of the chamber’s activities by appointing committees to study and recommend action upon such subjects as public expenditures, the cost of government, the corporation franchise tax, highways, and the like.”

Ohio Chamber of Commerce Constitution 1928

One main focus of the Ohio Chamber at this time was taxation. They established a campaign to revise the Ohio Constitution to “grant legislature power to establish classified taxation and put the state in line with other progressive commonwealths”. They also campaigned to establish a State Police.

When the Ohio Chamber went through this reorganization, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Canton and other chambers of commerce were members along with 2,175 other individuals and corporations.

Since then, the organization has grown to include many more local chambers of commerce and nearly 8,000 members in 2018.