Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce - About us

Chamber History


Williamsport Lycoming Shamber of CommerceThis is the first in a series of articles taking a look back at the Chamber's history in celebration of its 125th Anniversary.  The Chamber was founded on December 15, 1885 as the Williamsport Board of Trade.

                      On Tuesday evening December 15, 1885 a group of Williamsport businessmen met in the "Common Council Chambers" at 7:30 to elect the first officers of the Board of Trade; thus starting an organization that has continued on to this day and is now known, of course, as the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce.
            On December 15th the Chamber will mark the beginning of its 125th year of service to the businesses and community.  The year long celebration will start with a PM Exchange at the Chamber Offices on Wednesday and the year long commemoration of our 125th year will continue with a variety of events and activities designed to not only call attention to all the business community has accomplished over the course of the years, but to also honor the thousands of volunteers that have contributed their time and resources to help the Chamber in its efforts to improve our region.
            On that first night 125 years ago Emanuel Andrews Esg was selected as Chairman and L.M. Otto Esq was selected to serve as Secretary.  I assume the handwritten minutes I am getting this information from are written in Mr. Otto's handwriting. Mr. E.R. Paymet was subsequently elected the organization's first President and other Board positions were also filled that night.  Other business conducted that evening was the election of a full Board of Directors and the adoption of the organization's by laws.  Later in the month of December and into January a number of meetings were held to create committees and to vote on accepting new members.
            Over the years that followed the Board of Trade continued to grow and prosper.  Much has changed since those time (There were no women on the Board), but much has remained the same.  As you read the Minutes from throughout the years, while issues and people came and went, the basic purpose of the organization never truly has changed.  Business people dedicated to maintaining a strong business climate and local economy that helps to provide jobs for people.
            To give you an idea of what occupied the Board of Trade in its early years; one just can look at the names of some the standing committees they created.  In 1891 the committees of the Board of Trade were as follows:  Manufacturing, Transportation, Promotion of Trade, Legislation, Public Improvements, and my favorite:  Protection of Merchants and Manufacturers from Imposters.  If you look closely at this list, you can see our Founders were interested in many of the same things the members of our Board of Directors are now.  In fact, while I laughed at the last one concerning imposters, I realized that, while we may not have a committee for that anymore, we still do try to protect our local business people from imposters.  You may recall this past summer when there were reports that shoddy workmen were in the area looking to pave driveways at suspiciously low prices and for cash, it was the Chamber that sent out the first alarm through emails to its members as well as a call to the local media.  So, I guess some things really haven't changed much.
            During the course of the year we will have articles in our newsletter recalling some of the issues and events that occupied our predecessors.  We will, as I already mentioned, have events and activities designed to celebrate all that the business community and this organization has meant to Williamsport and Lycoming County.  I hope you will enjoy them and I hope you will join us at some of our events.
            Finally, in my column this month I wrote about the importance of buying local.  This was something not lost on the Founders of the Chamber.  At their meeting of June 12, 1905, The Board of Trade passed the following resolution:
            Whereas this Board of Trade exists to foster, encourage and develop "Home industries and activities" and,
            Whereas one of its chief objects should be to induce the people of Williamsport to give assistance and encouragement in as far as possible by purchasing goods and merchandise manufactured and dealt in by Williamsport business houses:
            Therefore be it resolved that it is the opinion of this Board of trade that the city of Williamsport in its purchases of supplies for city use, in the construction of Municipal improvements and in the selection of material for such improvements, should be guided by the principal that home protection and patronage is a first duty, and other things being equal should grant every reasonable favor to home manufacturers, merchants, contractors and dealers.
            The more things change, the more they remain the same.  Please join us throughout the coming year to celebrate the Chamber, it support of local business and its other good works these past 125 years.