At the end of May, A. F. Huston(Lukens Steel), Harry I. Schotter (Electric Light Company) and F. W. Harris (Midvale Steel Plant) - three men who led big-name Coatesville companies involved in Coatesville's industrialization' called for a meeting to organize a Chamber of Commerce in the city. The meeting was a rousing success, and the community responded positively. Within a month, they had reached their membership goal, and were immediately recognized as a driving force in Chester County's growth and industrialization. With allies that included city council and Lukens Steel, the Chamber's influence was undeniable.
During the beginning of the Great Depression, the Chamber of Commerce stepped up to help the Chester County community in a serious way. The Chamber started job programs that became a key factor in keeping a large portion of the Chester County area's families out of poverty. The job programs placed a large percentage of unemployed citizens in full- or part-time employment. At the 1939 annual dinner, the guests spoke of success in Chester County following the renewed trust in businesses. Thanks to assistance from the Chamber, Chester County had escaped from the Great Depression intact, and had a bright future ahead of it. The retail division played a huge part in regaining the public's trust and moving forward economically.
The Chester County G. O. Carlson Airport (formerly the Coatesville Airport) has strong roots in the Chamber. The airport was built in 1928, owned and maintained by the city of Coatesville. The Chamber was a driving force behind both the construction of the airport, and its sale to the county in 1959. The financial burden of the airport had become too much for Coatesville to handle alone, and when Chester County purchased it, the compensation was put into the city's public works projects. With the airport owned by the county, it was able to expand, improve and serve a greater portion of the Chester County area.
Success in the 21st century
Revitalized the Chamber with a new logo, mission, new programs and renewed spirit.
The Chamber developed a new Regional Planning Initiative Committee that focused on municipal cooperation. The committee's first accomplishment was getting 15 municipalities to combine their requests to PennDOT to get the Route 30 bypass improvements completed.
The Chamber completed a Future Focus Regional Economic Development study, which provided priority projects for us to work on including helping to retain and draw businesses to locate in Western Chester County. The study also provides comprehensive demographics of our region, enabling developers and investors to discover the many attributes of our region.
WCCCC accomplished one of the study's priority projects: by forming a Western Chester County Council of Governments (COG) with 13 of our municipalities. The COG continues to work on regional work; including sharing equipment, applying for grants and supporting police and fire regionalization, as well as forming emergency contingency plans.
The Chamber began a series of Love Local events encouraging members to buy from local farms and raise awareness of the importance of agriculture, the No. 1 industry in Chester County.
WCCCC created ChescoWest.com to brand the Western Chester County Region with an identity that reflects its diversity, affordability and unique character.
In June 2015, we began the Route 30 Multimodal Transportation Study - a coordinated land use and transportation plan for the Route 30 Corridor in Western Chester County. This study will advance the road, rail and trail improvements in our area.
The Chamber will continue to actively be involved in promoting business growth, retention and revitalization of our region. This includes supporting the agricultural base in our community and encouraging business support of agriculture located in the Chester County region. Our partnerships with local school districts allow our business leaders to assist in guiding school programs to create a stronger workforce. Our mission is to create our vision of a thriving region that is well connected, innovative and accessible for community and business growth.
Join WCCCC to help us continue to connect our members to new ideas, resources and relationships to achieve their goals.