• Time Machine: 100 years for the Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce

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    August 22, 2018

    The Cedar Rapids Chamber of Commerce, formed in 1918, is marking its 100th year as a promoter of economic and community development. It has had different names over the years and has moved a number of times, but it’s been “pushing” issues for a century.

    In the years immediately after its formation, the chamber led the successful community effort to have the Lincoln Highway routed through Cedar Rapids. The effort — which involved mobilizing the business community to lobby the state and federal bureaucracies — mirrored the one 80 years later when the chamber led a multiyear effort to get federal funds to extend Highway 100 from Highway 13 to Highway 30.

    In the 1970s, the chamber was part of a coalition — with most of the credit going to longtime Mayor Don Canney — to route Interstate 380 through Cedar Rapids, with a number of entrances and exit to lead people downtown and to core neighborhoods.

    In response to the farm crisis in the mid-1980s, the chamber formed the Committee of 100, which evolved into Priority One, the chamber’s powerful economic development arm. Its singular focus was to recruit a variety of businesses to diversify the city’s heavily ag-based economy and make it more recession proof

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