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History of the Chamber
On October 26, 1920, 50 local business owners and members of the Board of Trade met at the courthouse to incorporate the Sanford Chamber. The mission of the newly formed civic group may have been to improve the lakefront and it may have been to make Sanford the largest town in the South Central section of Florida.
Original members paid $10 annually, which later increased to $25. By 1921, the Sanford Chamber had been elected to membership in the Chamber of Commerce of the United States.
Although the organization has gone through several name changes throughout its history, its purpose has remained consistent: to create and foster a dynamic business climate that provides a higher quality of life for community members.
The newly formed Chamber certainly roared in the 1920s, first establishing numerous committees to participate in agriculture, city development, education, good roads, legislative, membership, municipal affairs and housing, publicity, inland waterways, and transportation and traffic.
Over the past 20 years, the Chamber has seen a number of changes in leadership and vision, yet has maintained the core vision and programs that have made it such a vital player in the local community. With the collective strength of our members, we intend to build a stronger local economy with an active voice in our local and state communities.
On October 26, 50 local business owners and members of the Board of Trade meet at the courthouse to incorporate the Sanford Chamber.
In January, the Chamber adopts the slogan, “Sanford the City Substantial” to tout its many resources in addition to celery. In March, the Chamber unveils a new emblem that reads "Member of Sanford Chamber of Commerce, Sanford, Florida, The City Substantial. Members are encouraged to post the emblem on their car windshields!
Chamber is considered the premier civic organization of the city and county, and is recognized as the largest Chamber of Commerce in the world on a per capita basis with a membership of about 4,200.
That year, the local USO vacates its building next to Ft. Mellon Park and recommends that the City use it as a tourist recreation building and as offices for the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce. The motion carries, and the Chamber has inhabited the building ever since.
A Junior Chamber of Commerce forms, consisting of young men whose objective is to assist the Senior Chamber in all projects.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary appears before the Directors to request assistance and sponsorship for a Labor Day Regatta, sanctioned by the Florida Outboard Association. The Chamber indicates its wish to help make this a general day of celebration in Sanford. Plans are made for a Labor Day Celebration and dinner/dance at the Mayfair Inn.
Mr. Charles Marian, Representative of the New York Giants and a Director of the Chamber, expresses appreciation for the Chamber's cooperation regarding the Giants' activities in Sanford. Marian stated that the New York Giants were advertising the Mayfair Inn extensively in newspapers, billboards, radio and television.
The Chamber sponsors Miracle Soil Conservation Day and 385 acres of land are converted into a farm in a single day. An estimated 50,000 people attend the event from 42 states, resulting in nationwide publicity.
The Chamber is instrumental in bringing about the construction of a new bridge and approaches on Road 46 at the Lake Jessup Bridge.
The Sanford Merchants Association merges with the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce.
Plans to renovate the main office and conference room of the Chamber building include new work spaces, changing doors and windows, and installing central air, new windows, new lights, electrical outlets, drywall and floors at a cost of $23,000. Workers find a time capsule inside a wall that holds newspaper clippings and membership rosters.
Education Committee initiates a Realtor Tour to encourage realtors to showcase homes in Sanford to their clients.
The first annual Heritage Festival is held November 13 - 15, featuring Chubby Checker, Loverboy, Lonestar, rides, and a Bahamanian market. It's the biggest event to take place in downtown Sanford since the 1915 Seminole County Fair, the event generates $112,000 in income for the Chamber and more than a million dollars for the local economy.
The Greater Sanford Chamber of Commerce changes its name to the Sanford/Seminole County Chamber of Commerce, Inc.
The Chamber launches Bikefest, a successful three-day event at Ft. Mellon Park.
The Chamber changed its name to The Greater Sanford Regional Chamber of Commerce, once again recognizing its growth stretching outside of Seminole County with over 20% of its members from the West Volusia & Orange Counties.
Chamber Events and Awards
Since its inception, the Chamber has sponsored hundreds of events and awards, some of which exist today* or formed the basis for present day programs. These include, but certainly are not limited to:
Annual installation banquets*
Bikefest/Thunder in the Streets*
Small Business Connections meetings*
Blue Angels Show
Easter Egg Hunt
Golf tournaments and outings
Holiday Tour of Homes*
Lighted Boat Parade
Mardi Gras Balls
Sanford Community Follies
Golden Age Games
Trip to Eleuthera
St. John's Arts and Crafts Festival
Family fun in the park
Power boat races on Lake Monroe
Political Hob Nob*
The Annual Taste of Sanford**new in 2009
Volunteer (Topper) Award
Sports Hall of Fame Award
Dr. Luis Perez Humanitarian Award
Businessman and Woman of the Year Award
Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award
Annual Award Recognition*
*Those still in existence.
We have seen numerous changes in the leadership of the Chamber over the past decade, yet have continued to make great strides in serving existing members and the community. There is no better time to be involved with the Greater Sanford Regional Chamber of Commerce.