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8 2009 GREATER PHOENIX ULTIMATE GUIDE TO LIVING HERE chamber history J ust a week after Benjamin Harrison's election as the 23rd President of the United States and nearly 24 years before Arizona became a state, a group of Valley business owners established the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce. November 13, 2008 marked the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce's 120th birthday. Though its name and address have changed over the years ( it was known as the Phoenix Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce from 1973- 1987 and took its current name in 1998), the organization has never wavered from its original mission: to help its members succeed and to make the Valley a better place in which to live, work and do business. Henry E. Kemp was the organization's first president, and oversaw its early priorities of building a wagon road to Prescott, construction of additional roads and railroads, fair freight rates and the compilation of statistical and agricultural data. As Phoenix grew, both in population ( from fewer than 300 settlers to nearly 30,000) and in area ( from half a square mile to five square miles) between 1870 and 1920, the Chamber was instrumental in promoting the area to attract visitors, new residents and industry. The Chamber worked throughout the 1920s and 1930s to extol the Valley's virtues to the rest of the country. Those efforts are often credited with helping Phoenix avoid the worst effects of the Great Depression. By the early 1940s, the Chamber, along with the rest of the country, worked tirelessly on behalf of the war effort. After World War II, the Chamber focused its attention on air quality, transportation infrastructure, downtown parking, water development and trade with Sonora, Mexico. The Chamber also helped spark the discussion leading to the 1962 establishment of the Phoenix Zoo and strongly encouraged Arizona State College's metamorphosis into Arizona State University. With the retirement of longtime leader Walter Haas in 1966, the Chamber's promotional efforts were re- focused onto local concerns such as traffic and pollution into the 1970s. To reduce both, the Chamber inaugurated a program called " Pool- It" to promote car- pooling and staggered work hours. Many of the issues of the 1970s carried over into the 1980s and were joined by the problems of ground-water and hazardous waste, economic development, city and state taxes, health care, freeway construction, membership growth and many others. After celebrating its Centennial in 1988, the Chamber pushed forward, adding the innovative BidSource government bid procurement program and, in 1994, moving into its current headquarters in the Chase Tower. Along the way, the organization's Public Affairs Department grew in size and stature, representing the membership with one voice and contributing to many legislative advances on behalf of business. Through its first 120 years, the Chamber has been a lynchpin of the Valley's progress and growth. With the continued involvement of its dedicated business members, the organization can continue to help shape the destiny of our area, our business community and our state. History of Success Chamber has always played a key role in Valley's progress and growth More than a half century ago, down-town Phoenix was a bustling business and retail hub of the Valley of the Sun. photos: Greater phoenix chamber of comerce