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What is a chamber of commerce?
A chamber of commerce is an organization of business and professional people whose goals are to promote their commercial interests, build a healthy economy and improve the quality of life in their community, region, province/territory or country.
In Canada, chambers of commerce have existed for over two centuries. In fact, with roots dating to 1750, the Halifax Chamber of Commerce is recognized as the first chamber of commerce established in North America.
Shortly after the turn of the 19th century, boards of trade were formed in the cities of Saint John, Quebec and Montreal.
From these beginnings, the movement grew and now represents more than 500 active chambers of commerce and boards of trade in communities across the country.
In Canada, the terms “chamber of commerce” and “board of trade” are interchangeable and
synonymous. There is a general trend towards the use of “chamber of commerce” as this term is the only one used in most other countries.
What do chambers of commerce do?
Chambers of commerce bring businesses together to lead and build vibrant, sustainable communities.
While the missions of individual chambers of commerce vary, they all tend to focus to some degree on fostering trade and industry, stimulating civic development and promoting, generally, the welfare of the community and its surrounding areas.
Some of the products and services that chambers of commerce offer include networking opportunities, advocacy, business advice, benefit programs and professional development.
Why are chambers of commerce important?
Chambers of commerce are vital to the economic viability of the communities they serve.
They advocate for public policies that will foster a strong, competitive economic environment—one that benefits the businesses and families in their towns and across Canada.
Chambers of commerce rally support for initiatives that will create jobs, provide tax relief for individuals and businesses, and improve the quality of life in their communities.
Chambers of commerce also play a key role in the development of local businesses. Through the benefit programs, networking opportunities, professional development and business resources offered, chambers of commerce are important vehicles for business people to grow and promote their business.
In Canada, chambers of commerce which belong to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce form a powerful network that represents the views of 192,000 businesses at the municipal, provincial/territorial and national levels of government.
Together, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce network is the voice of Canadian business—a voice that is sought by government, opinion leaders and the media.