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History

A reflection on the past and a vision for the future

“PROGRESS SHALL BE THE RESULT OF RETAINING THE GOOD OF THE OLD AND EMBRACING THE TRIED OF THE NEW.”

Once again, we find ourselves in a defining moment of time, shaping a promising future for Greater Madison as a home for industry and innovation. Our mission is the same as the one originally published in 1914: to build upon Greater Madison’s legacy and gifts for the benefit of the next century and beyond.

For more than 140 years, from our beginnings as the Madison Business Board in 1869, the Chamber has given voice to businesses in the region. See how we got here and how the Chamber is moving Greater Madison forward into the future.

Timeline

1950:
Association renamed Madison Chamber of Commerce and members elect Arthur Towell as president.
1952:
Madison Chamber of Commerce, Madison Associations, Inc., and Madison and Wisconsin Foundation merge and rename as Madison Chamber of Commerce and Foundation.
1953:
The Chamber holds its first Annual Dinner.
1961:
Chamber membership reaches 1,100 members.
1971:
Chamber renamed Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce to encompass the entire Madison metropolitan area.
1972:
Two new organizations emerge from the Chamber:

  • Its Convention and Promotion Division spins off as the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • The Central Madison Council launches to revitalize downtown and promote it as a place to shop, live, work and recreate.
1973:
Business and Education Coordinating Council, formed in partnership with the Madison Metropolitan School District, begins as a forum for communication and interaction between business and education.
1978:
On May 4, fire destroys the Chamber’s headquarters, along with all organizational property and records.
1987:
In partnership with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, the Chamber forms the Wisconsin Innovation Network (WIN) to expand Wisconsin Venture Fair and High Technology Consortium efforts statewide.
1991:
Metropolitan Neighborhood Business Council of the Chamber forms, with local neighborhood associations.
1993:
Leadership Greater Madison launches with Chamber sponsorship, designed to prepare emerging leaders to make meaningful community contributions.
2004:
Jennifer Alexander joins as Chamber president. The Chamber starts Magnet, targeting people in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, designed to attract and retain the next generation of leaders to the region.
2005:
Small Business Advisory Council forms as an advisory committee to the leadership of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of the City of Madison.
2007:
Jennifer Alexander announces first-ever candidate endorsements for the Madison Common Council on Feb. 7. “Our goal for this election is to educate the voters on the candidates and their positions on issues that shape the business climate in Madison,” said Alexander.  “I think you’re going to see the business community more involved in the elections—and it’s only going to grow.”
2012:
Jennifer Alexander retires, and Zach Brandon is hired as Chamber President.
2014:
neXXpo, the reimagined “what’s next” business expo, debuts at the Alliant Energy Center, along with the first Pressure Chamber.
2014:
The Chamber acquires Accelerate Madison, incorporating the organization as a Chamber program focused on highlighting Greater Madison’s booming tech sectors.
2015:
IceBreaker makes its debut as the only business event on the floor of the Kohl Center.
2016:
The Chamber sells its building at 615 E. Washington Ave. to Dane County for the purpose of opening a new homeless day resource center.
2016:
HealthTech Capitol launches as an initiative dedicated to establishing Greater Madison as the world leader in health innovation.