Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce - About us

Chamber History

Williamsport Lycoming Shamber of CommerceJuly 2010

This is the eighth 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.

With the Fourth of July weekend winding down, I thought it might be interesting to see what was going on some 34 years ago during our country’s Bicentennial Celebration – that is not a misprint – believe it or not it has been 34 years since the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of the United States of America!  Think of all your family members and friends you were with over this Holiday weekend who were not even born when we celebrated the Bicentennial – it is truly hard to believe.
As you might expect, the Chamber was involved in a variety of issues during 1976 as well as assisting in helping Williamsport and Lycoming County celebrate the historic occasion.  One subject area of great interest to the business community of the time was the ongoing construction of the Susquehanna Beltway – or, as many of us know to it now, I-180.  At their meeting of March 24th, 1976 the Chamber’s Board of Directors was given an update by representatives of PennDot. 
Mr. Jack Matthews and Larry Erdley from the PennDot District office in Montoursville provided the update and noted that PennDot was planning to open the section of the Beltway between Sand Hill and Halls Station by the end of the year and start construction on the remaining link between Hepburn Street and Sand Hill by early 1977.  PennDot hoped to have the whole section of the roadway opened by the beginning of winter.
Another issue facing the community and causing concern for the Chamber’s members was the proposed County Comprehensive Plan.  Several Chamber Board members expressed a strong concern that the Planning Commission’s proposed Comprehensive Plan for Lycoming County was a “no-growth” Plan.  The Board passed a resolution to present to the County Planning Commission that the Chamber believed, among other things, the Plan should have more land identified as “industrial-residential-farmland rather than exclusively as farmland and/or residential.  It was their opinion this could stifle job growth.  A formal position was written expressing these concerns and the Board of Directors planned to present their views both in writing and in person before the Commission.
The Chamber has a long history of bringing the concerns of the business community to our elected officials and in trying to keep Chamber members informed on the issues of the day; 1976 was no different.  At its meeting of October 27, 1976, the Chamber hosted a Question & Answer session with candidates for the United States Congress, Mr. Allen Ertel and Mr. Joseph Hepford.  The questions asked of the candidates serve as a good barometer of what the issues of concern were to the business community in 1976.  The first question that was asked is one that I could tell you was asked today and you would understand why:  “In the area of business regulation by the federal government, what are your views on reform of regulatory agencies, increased environmental controls and more government intervention in consumer affairs?”   Another question asked also rings as an issue today as well: “Do you believe we need basic tax reform, and if so, in what particular areas?”
In writing these columns, I recall mentioning several times how it seems the more things change; the more they remain the same.  Many of the issues are either the same, or very similar.  I think the fact is we never solve major concerns completely.  What I mean is while we may solve issues during our time, the issues that are critical to us are always important – taxes, environment, public safety etc.  We can only solve the public problems we face in our lifetime for our lifetime.  God Bless America! Happy Fourth!