History

2017
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce earns 5-Star Accreditation from the United States Chamber of Commerce. The top designation recognizes sound policies, effective organizational procedures, and positive impact on the community.
2017
Rochester Chamber releases a brag book, "We #ROC: 100 Reasons to Love the Rochester/Finger Lakes Region"
2017
Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce hosts a 130th anniversary celebration at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. More than 500 people attended and heard remarks from Rochester Chamber CEO Bob Duffy and representatives from the City of Rochester and Monroe County.
2016
RBA returns to its roots by rebranding as Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce. This move clarifies its position as the Chamber of Commerce serving the nine-county Finger Lakes region.
2015
The Rochester Business Alliance board of directors appoints former Rochester Police Chief, Mayor, and New York Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy president and CEO upon Sandy Parker’s retirement.
2006
RBA and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership announce the formation of Unshackle Upstate, a coalition of organizations and businesses with the goal of achieving reforms in Albany that make Upstate New York a stronger place to do business.
2006
Rochester Business Alliance convenes the Rochester Community Coalition, a precursor to the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. The group of local leaders presented priority projects to lawmakers for state investment and attention.
2005
Rochester Business Alliance and Wegmans CEO Danny Wegman form the RBA Health Care Initiative to create a healthier community and to seek ways for businesses to save money on health care coverage.
2005
Sandy Parker becomes Rochester Business Alliance president and CEO upon Mooney’s retirement.
2004
Rochester Business Alliance consolidates former Chamber and IMC operations at 150 State Street.
2003
Facing a decline in Rochester’s manufacturing base and the potential for the failure of one or both organizations, the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Industrial Management Council merge to form Rochester Business Alliance. Mooney serves as CEO and former IMC leader Sandy Parker becomes president of the merged RBA.
1996
The Chamber launches its first website with only two documents available: The course catalog for the Rochester Corporate Training Initiative and the Chamber’s regional wage and salary survey.
1996
The Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce goes into direct competition with the Industrial Management Council by offering staffing services provided by partner vendors.
1993
The Chamber hosts a closed-circuit viewing party for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce program “What Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know” featuring Paychex founder B. Thomas Golisano.
1989
A name change to the Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce solidifies the Chamber’s regional reach.
1987
The Chamber holds its inaugural Rochester Top 100 program, celebrating the region’s fastest-growing privately held businesses.
1987
The Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 100th anniversary at its annual dinner.
1985
The Chamber’s annual meeting is combined with dedication ceremonies for the Riverside Convention Center, built on the site of the Chamber’s former building.
1979
Thomas T. Mooney becomes the first full-time Chamber president, relieving the annually elected chairman of most operational duties.
1975
A new name, the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, reflects the organization’s increasing attention to regional development. Gilbert McCurdy launches a publicity program that leads to the television series “Pride in our Past…Leadership for the Future.”
1960
President Donald A. Gaudion declares that business leaders have a responsibility to support “art, culture, and political purpose.”
1956
The Rochester Chamber of Commerce’s membership reaches 6,700.
1955
A business show, “Industry on Parade,” is staged in the new War Memorial auditorium.
1954
Alexander M. Beebee launches a drive for new industries.
1952
President Joseph C. Wilson’s address, “Rochester’s Declaration of Independence,” proposes that the Chamber pull back on its objections to public housing and labor unions and develop a new interest in civil rights programs.
1949
A Rochester Chamber of Commerce banquet features the broadcast of WHAM-TV’s first program.
1948
Chamber trustees endorse the Truman Doctrine and Marshall Plan.
1942
A Council on Postwar Problems is formed, leading to employment and housing programs for veterans.
1941
The Chamber and the Industrial Management Council begin applying Rochester’s manufacturing skills to war production programs.
1938
The Rochester Chamber of Commerce Golden Jubilee celebration is clouded by threats of war in Europe.
1932
George Eastman commits suicide at his East Avenue home.
1931
The Community Chest begins the first emergency drive in the nation, bringing in $150,000.
1930
President Gilbert J.G. McCurdy attempts to reassure the community, saying, “Business isn’t headed to the bow-wows. An Unemployment Benefit Plan launched by 14 Rochester firms is praised throughout the country and by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1927
A four story addition to the Chamber headquarters, also paid for by Eastman, is dedicated. The building is considered the nation’s most adequately equipped for civic, social, industrial, and commercial functions.
1926
The Convention and Publicity Bureau brings 66,000 delegates to Rochester.
1921
The Chamber starts a series of New Citizen banquets to welcome Rochester’s newly naturalized immigrants.
1920
The Rochester Chamber charters a Better Business Bureau.
1917
President Harper Sibley dedicates the new Chamber headquarters.
1915
George Eastman offers $500,000 for a new Rochester Chamber of Commerce building. President George W. Todd adds more than $100,000 and construction begins on St. Paul Street.
1913
Rochester Chamber President Robert M. Seale, leads a group of 50 business leaders on a three-day automobile excursion to neighboring towns to strengthen their ties with the city. Publication of Rochester Commerce begins.
1907
Secretary Sidney R. Clark, noting that Rochester’s best prospects lay in its specialty industries, coins the slogan “Rochester Made Means Quality.”
1905
Clinton N. Rogers, the last of the Chamber founders to serve as president, persuades the city to curb the smoke nuisance and proposes a power dam on the Genesee River.
1904
Chamber membership opens to suburban businesses.
1901
The Chamber’s publication, Rochester, the Power City, is the first to depict the city as a budding metropolis. Trustees sponsor a number of concerts in city parks.
1898
George Eastman joins the executive committee, which achieves such objectives as all-night streetcar service and the publication of a glamorous Rochester Illustrated.
1895
The Rochester Chamber of Commerce moves its offices to the top floors of a 13 story building at Main Street and South Avenue.
1891
Chamber membership increases to 550, exceeding that of the Buffalo Merchants Exchange.
1891
A group of insurgents, among them Eastman Kodak founder George Eastman and Edward Bausch, son of Bausch and Lomb co-founder John Jacob Bausch, defeat the Chamber’s official slate of officers and its plans to reform the city charter.
1889
Chamber committees begin work on proposals involving one-cent postage rates, port improvements, and an increase in the city’s water supply.
1888
The top story of the Rochester Savings Bank at Main and Fitzhugh streets becomes the first Rochester Chamber of Commerce headquarters.
1887
Railroad and canal problems, banking concerns, trade with Canada, a growing city, and a host of other issues prompted 20 Rochester business leaders to gather in November 1887 to discuss forming a board of trade. In December, the group approved the Rochester Chamber of Commerce constitution and elected patent medicine king Hulbert H. Warner president.