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History comes alive as Denver Metro Chamber celebrates 150 years

The Denver Public Library plays host to an exhibit spotlighting the chamber of commerce

Gigi Sukin //April 12, 2017//

History comes alive as Denver Metro Chamber celebrates 150 years

The Denver Public Library plays host to an exhibit spotlighting the chamber of commerce

Gigi Sukin //April 12, 2017//

To celebrate 150 years since launching as a support system for the local business community, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Denver Public Library to produce a public exhibit running April 11 through October 2017. The showcase will feature historic people, articles, trinkets, dedications and more demonstrating both the lifespan of Colorado's capital city and the chamber's service to the community.

In 1884, the Denver Board of Trade officially became the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, having previously raised funds to bring the railroad from Cheyenne, Wyo. to Denver.

"We're proud that we've been early supporters of smart investments in our community," says Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, Kelly J. Brough

"Whether that was raising funds for the rail spur back in 1867 or offering support for bold ideas, like funding early childhood education in Denver, building Denver International Airport and FasTracks, bringing Major League Baseball to Colorado or allowing independent voters to participate in primaries."

Other major accomplishments the Chamber had a hand in through the years include:

1896 – The U.S. Mint plants itself in Denver, thanks to strong lobbying from the Chamber.

1898 – After intense promotion, the National Stock Growers Association Convention meets here. By 1906, the National Western Stock Show is officially at home in Denver.

1987 – The Chamber forms the Metro Denver Network, the Greater Denver Corporation and the Small Business Profit Center.

2003 – In partnership with Aurora an the region's economic development team, the Chamber provides business support for the passage of a bill to ensure the CU Health Sciences Center Fitzsimons campus build-out. The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation is created and launches BreakThrough Denver! – a five-year campaign to create 100,000 jobs and raise $12.5 million to fund economic development activities.

2012 – The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office announces that Denver will be one of three locations for new satellite offices.

2013 – United Airlines announces it will begin daily nonstop services from DIA to Tokyo's Narita International Airport, successfully ending more than a decade of efforts to land this route. DIA also adds direct international flights to Mexico and Iceland.

Through economic ups and downs, the Chamber has advocated on behalf of the business community to prop up the Mile High City's marketplace. 

"We work hard to bring out the best in everyone during a challenge or crisis," Brough, who took her role in 2009, says. "The business community and the Chamber have always stepped up when we've faced economic uncertainty, whether it was … donating portions of their paychecks to a relief fund for those who were unemployed during the Great Depression, or providing financial support so that organizations like the University of Denver or the then-Museum of Natural History could continue to operate."

Brough explains the Chamber has also provided unexpected statewide resources throughout the decades, including assistance for flood and fire victims, rewards for tips to solve local crimes, and the donation of land that led to the creation of the Fitzsimons Hospital and Lowry Air Force Base.

Looking to the future, Brough remains optimistic.

"What has set our region and state apart from others is a willingness to come together and find the right solutions for Colorado," she says. "We're growing and we'll continue to face challenges, but we are committed and confident in our time-tested approach, and we know it will work to help us no matter what we face in the next 150 years."

Western History and Genealogy department of the Denver Public Library