History of the Chamber of Commerce
A Chamber of Commerce in Bradley County was first organized in Cleveland in 1919 to encourage development of the area. While it served a purpose, it knew only a brief existence because it lacked the philosophy, leadership and money to become a long-lived organization. Nevertheless, merchants recognized the need for some type of organization to promote the community, and the Rotary Club took the initiative to appoint a committee to explore the idea in August 1925.
The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce was founded in October 1925 as the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce. Its focus was sales promotion, credit rating, publicity and industrial development, proclaiming that “paying your bills means more prosperity for everybody” and publicizing the geography, population and statistics of interest to prospective industries.
The prosperous outlook in Cleveland attracted a large number of new businesses in the 1920s, particularly chain stores that competed with local merchants. At that time Cleveland had a number of local industries and began to attract other manufacturing plants because of the high standards maintained and the conditions for growth and expansion.
And the story continues with those same high standards.
Today the organization is one of more than 7,000 chambers in the United States, one of only 249 chambers accredited by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one of only eight accredited Tennessee chambers. The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber is a hub of national and international industry recruitment that includes Wacker Polysilicon North America, the world’s second largest producer of polysilicon and a more than $2 billion investment; Whirlpool Corporation, their largest single investment in the world to manufacture premier cooking appliances; Olin Chlor Alkali Products, which has invested $160 million in new membrane technology in the Charleston facility; Starplex Scientific Corp., a Canadian-based pharmaceutical plastics company; and Eastern Lighting Distribution Center, a distribution warehouse for GE Consumer & Industrial’s lighting unit.
The Chamber also provides workforce development programs, small business training, support for arts education, tourism marketing, and advocacy for legislative issues impacting our business environment and quality of life in Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County. The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce has also become a leading business organization in the Ocoee Region, fostering communication and facilitating effective collaboration on issues affecting business and economic development in the region.
In everything it does, from economic development and tourism activities to education efforts, arts and cultural activities, and community development, the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce strives to foster the business development of our members, the economic growth of our region, and the highest quality of life for our community.