The year was 1918, less than two decades after Brooklyn formally joined the city ménage, and the borough was experiencing a boom in population, largely due to a thriving manufacturing industry and increased access to city transportation. In response to the growing needs of the young borough, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce (BCC) formed, vowing to protect and promote the commercial and industrial interests of the community. A century later, the BCC prepares for a yearlong celebration of its centennial, looking back on development and economic growth in the city’s most populous borough.

Old Chamber Building

“Our Anniversary Gala is cause to celebrate not only [the Chamber’s success, but also the success of Brooklyn,” said Peter Meyer, NYC Market President for TD Bank, and BCC’s Centennial Chair.

Celebrations will begin this coming February with a gala at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge (which underwent a $77 million dollar expansion in 2005 to accommodate the growing business and tourism sectors in Downtown). More than 900 members, elected officials, developers, stakeholders, and other Kings County shakers are expected to attend, with a keynote speaker and performances by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and BKSTEPPERS marching band.

The BCC is also partnering with the Brooklyn Historical Society to host a three month exhibit, scheduled to open in early February, titled “100 Years of Business in Brooklyn.” It will look back at the evolution of industry and commerce over the century, as well as show the film Everybody Knows Brooklyn, produced by the Chamber in 1964. From March through November, four “Centennial Talks” will be held in different neighborhoods, assembling a panel of influential Brooklyn stakeholders to discuss how communities have changed over the years. An “Explore Brooklyn Walk a Thon” is also on the horizon a tour down Bedford Avenue, which, at 10.2 miles, is the borough’s longest drag.

Earlier this year, the Business Council of New York State gave the BCC further reason to celebrate, declaring it “Chamber of the Year.” When accepting the award, Andrew Hoan, Chamber President and CEO, stated:

Chamber 50th Anniversary

“This accolade encourages us to redouble our efforts serving over 2,000 member businesses throughout the borough and beyond from enrolling small businesses in health insurance plans, to creating Brooklyn’s first economic development strategy in over 15 years, to providing loans to minority and immigrant owned enterprises.”
Regarded as modern even in early days (it had 57 women members by 1922), the BCC continues to tailor programs to our unique urban blueprint. Given that immigrants account for 39% of the population (the third highest percentage of any large county in the U.S.), Hoan recognizes the need to continue advocating for minority and immigrant owned endeavors. Through its Community Development Financial Institution, for example, the Chamber is supplying micro loans to both of those too often underrepresented small businesses sectors.

Brooklyn Annual Summer Resort

“Our Centennial reminds us we have much to celebrate, but also much to do to lay the foundation for the next 100 years,” he added.

Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
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