History of The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce



The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce celebrated 93 years of service to the New York City business community on July 15, 2013.

Eleven prominent Yorkville merchants founded the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC) in 1920.

In the wake of World War I, New York City was experiencing a period of unprecedented growth, prosperity, and business expansion. Rapid transit extended the city’s boundaries, drawing more visitors and attracting new business. The influx of European immigrants and a new wave of migration from the American South swelled the ranks of both merchants and laborers.

Then, as now, technology was changing the face of American business and culture. New York was already the financial capital of the world. It was a major shipping port and leading tourist destination. At the same time, the City was brimming with labor unrest, political corruption, and organized crime. The Roaring Twenties, to paraphrase Charles Dickens, was the best of times and the worst of times.

The Yorkville Chamber of Commerce, as it was then called, promised its business members advocacy and support in the tumultuous post-War marketplace. Membership in the Chamber gave small business owners the leverage to not only further their businesses locally, but also to negotiate the political backwaters of Tammany Hall.

In its early years, the Yorkville Chamber of Commerce traced its boundaries from East 57th to East 86th Streets, an area popularly known at the time as Germantown. As its constituency grew, it expanded further south, then west, taking on a variety of new names -- the Mid-East Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, the East Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, and ultimately, the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. Ten years ago, the Chamber numbered 200 members. Today it’s membership is now over 1,400 and the Chamber represents the overall voice of over 100,000 small & mid-size businesses in Manhattan.

Over the years, the Chamber has provided its members with information and services, advocating on their behalf. It has also supported a variety of programs in the surrounding community. As in the days of Tammany Hall, the Chamber continues to be a leading voice for its members and the communities where they do business.

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce is meeting the challenges of the 21st century -- a time when technology is, again, changing the face of business. As relevant today as it was 84 years ago, the Chamber is at the forefront -- supporting entrepreneurs as they do business in this exciting time in New York.

Today, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce (MCC), with 10,000 members and subscribers, serves as a primary resource and help for small and mid-size firms doing business in Manhattan. The MCC represents the voice of over 100,000 companies in Manhattan and partners with over 300 diverse business organizations. The Chamber supports the business community through advocating for positive business legislation, hosting 3-4 monthly networking events and seminars, expanding marketing opportunities and international outreach. MCC’s mission is to advocate for, connect and educate the business community in Manhattan. MCC is also focused on providing opportunities for
women and minority business ownersfinancial literacy and workforce development.

Establishment of the MCC Community Benefit Fund

In 1993, MCC established the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce Community Benefit Fund (CBF) as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) Fund, which owns and manages two of the largest and oldest street fairs in New York City,
the 2nd and 3rd Avenue Community Benefit Festivals on Manhattan's upper east side. The proceeds from these large events are deposited into the MCC Community Benefit Fund. Non-profit agencies in the district submit grant applications for funding from the CBF for programs directly affecting the neighborhoods of Community Board 8. These include programs focused on education, youth, eldercare, health care, the arts, etc. The Fund has donated over $3.0 million to nonprofits to date.

The MCC Community Benefit Fund also organized the first NYC Volunteer Expo in February 2005, drawing over 1400 new volunteers to over 60 small to mid-sized non-profit organizations in Manhattan. Subsequent Volunteer Expos were held in 2006 and 2007. And currently, the CBF supports the grassroots volunteer recruitment efforts through TimeBanksNYC and NYC Service under the Mayor's directive.

Establishment of the MCC Foundation

The MCC Foundation (MCCF), a 501c(3) non-profit affiliate of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce established in 1994, is dedicated to identifying and fostering business education and leadership. The Foundation provides mentoring and educational opportunities for small and mid-size businesses.

Our resources and programs:

 

  1. Identify and examine small business issues and engaging small businesses in the dialog to help service their needs
  2. Inform and involve both business and government leaders to ensure the programs are visible and utilized to support business growth

The Foundation partners with local and national partners to achieve its goals such as NYC Department of Small Business Services, FIT, US Department of Commerce, US Department of Commerce District Export Councils and Weissman Center for International Business at Baruch College CUNY.

In 2009, MCC partnered with the MTA to support the small business community along the 2nd Avenue corridor of 68th-96th St. where the 2nd Ave. Subway construction has had an enormous negative impact on businesses. Both City Council Members Jessica Lappin and Daniel Garodnick have supported the efforts with small annual grants and the chamber continues to support other neighborhoods as well such as the lower east side, east Harlem and Washington Heights.

And in 2013/2014/2015, we received grants to both educate and enroll small business owners in the NY State of Health program, the state’s response to the Affordable Care Act.

Under the auspices of our Foundation, in 2006, MCC became a founding member of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge with the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and FICCI Flo in New Delhi, India.

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