It all began on the evening of Dec. 15, 1885 when a group of Williamsport businessmen met in the "Common Council Chambers" and elected the first officers of the Board of Trade. On that evening, an organization started that "is committed to excellent service, integrity, diversity and equal opportunity for all" which continues on to this day and is now known as the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.
On Wednesday, Dec. 15, the Chamber will celebrate its 125th year of service to local businesses and the community. The Chamber will hold a 125th anniversary breakfast at the Genetti Hotel at 8 a.m. on the actual date it was founded.
"We are carrying on in the tradition of our predecessors through our support of business and the local economy," said Vincent J. Matteo, President and CEO of the Chamber. "We are improving the quality of life for the people of Lycoming County through job creation."
The Chamber held a PM Exchange at their offices last December to start off the year long celebration. According to Matteo, the year long commemoration of the Chamber's 125th year also included a variety of events and activities that were designed to focus on the business community and their accomplishments over the years, and also to honor the numerous volunteers that have continued to dedicate their time and resources to help the Chamber to improve the community.
According to Matteo, the thousands of volunteers over the years who continue to give their time and money are what make the organization work.
"The Chamber is not a staff of just 10," Matteo said. "What drives this Chamber and still does is the volunteers. We have over 200 volunteers doing work for us."
The Chamber's mission statement is "to preserve, protect and defend the free enterprise system through promoting a good business climate and quality of life for the businesses and people of Lycoming County." According to Matteo, the first part of this statement is what the Chamber movement is all about.
"Free enterprise is a cornerstone of what our country was founded on," Matteo said. "It helps to create businesses, which in turn create jobs and prosperity."
The Chamber's vision statement is "to be a region of superior economic prosperity while sustaining our excellent quality of life." According to Matteo, the Chamber has played an integral part in the lives of just about everyone who resides in Lycoming County. It has helped in the creation of thousands of jobs, development of the community, construction of local parks and numerous other accomplishments.
Matteo said what he enjoys most about his work with the Chamber is creating jobs for the people of Lycoming County. The creation of jobs is the biggest social service that one can provide. Matteo said this is the biggest reward of his job.
"The other thing I most enjoy is meeting new people and being able to tour many different businesses over the years and see how they make things," Matteo said. "It is a lot of fun, and you learn a lot and get to see a lot that makes this country successful."
The Chamber has committed to a strategic plan that represents the goals and objectives for the coming years ahead. The four main strategies of the plan are economic development, community development, membership development and organizational development.
"While the plan contains new items, revised items and eliminates some contained in our past Strategic Plan, the focus of this Plan really has not changed," Matteo said. "The focus of this Plan and our organization continues to be the strengthening of our community through an improved business climate, the optimization of our assets and the economic well being all of who call Lycoming County home."
The Chamber is the only county-wide private organization that focuses primarily on the economic well-being of the business community, as well as the people employed by those businesses. Over the past 125 years, the Chamber has managed to be successful in all aspects of their organization, including building a strong business base.
Matteo concluded by saying, "Please join us as we embark upon our next 125 years of service."