The Portland Regional Chamber Mission
The Portland Regional Chamber and its Community Chambers build a vibrant economy and vital communities through economic development, advocacy and member services.
A Brief History of The Portland Regional Chamber
In 1853, when Portland was one of America's leading seaports - ranking with New York, Philadelphia, Boston and New Orleans - the City's leading merchants founded the "Portland Board of Trade". One of the first such business associations in the Nation, the Board predates the United States Chamber of Commerce by 50 years.
Committed to further developing the port, the Board of Trade raised funds to dredge, mark and safely light the harbor, and established pier frontage lines for local wharves. Following the fire of 1866, the Chamber's headquarters were located at 34 Exchange Street, where stained glass and mosaic reproductions of the Board's seal can be seen to this day above the front windows and set in the floor, respectively.
After changing its name in 1915 to the Portland Chamber of Commerce, the association of business leaders incorporated itself (September 29, 1926) and purchased the 85-year-old Free Street Baptist Church to serve as the Chamber's offices. Signing the incorporation papers as President of the Chamber was Joseph C. Jordan, Chairman of Jordan's Meats/Jordan's Foods.
The Chamber retained famed Portland architect John Calvin Stevens and his son John Howard Stevens to restore the much-revamped church (adjacent to the present-day Portland Museum of Art, and now houses the Children's Museum) to its original appearance. The structure had been built prior to 1830 as a theater.
On January 26, 1949, reflecting its area-wide membership and concerns, the Chamber renamed itself the Greater Portland Chamber of Commerce. In the mid-1970's the Chamber joined with local Chambers in several adjacent communities to form the Chamber of Commerce of the Greater Portland Region. In 1997 the Board voted to rename the organization The Greater Portland Chambers of Commerce. Later, following a strategic planning process, the name was changed to the Portland Regional Chamber in 2004.
Today, the Chamber is, by far, Maine's largest business organization. While it has members from throughout Maine and many outside the state, the overwhelming majority are located in the thirteen communities which comprise greater Portland. Its operations include five active Community Chambers, covering seven communities (Falmouth-Cumberland, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland-Cape Elizabeth, and Westbrook). Other towns include Freeport, Gorham, Yarmouth, North Yarmouth, Gray and Windham.
The Regional Chamber works to strengthen the economy of Maine, especially that of greater Portland, so that its' citizens can have more and better paying jobs. The Chamber maintains active programs of service to members, a vigorous government representation effort, and annually produce major events which help make greater Portland an even better place in which to live and work.