Some 50 current and former members from the Livonia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors gathered April 25 to celebrate the organization passing 1,000 members for the first time since the early-1990s.
Livonia Mayor Dennis Wright is a former member of the chamber board, and long-time chamber member since the days his family ran Wright’s Hardware at Five Mile and Middlebelt.
“The chamber understands growth,” Wright said. “The chamber promoted itself with the idea we can all gain something from it and grow together.”
This level of membership puts the Livonia Chamber among only a half-dozen Michigan chambers to have at least 1,000 members.
“We benefit from Livonia being such a loyal place,” said Dan West, the chamber’s president since 2006. “It takes a loyal community of business leaders to build such an organization, and we are grateful for all our members who support this chamber.”
The nonpartisan, nonprofit trade organization rebounded from the impact of the state’s economic downturn a decade ago when membership dropped to below 750 members.
“At the time, I heard from many people at the time that it was nothing against chamber, but they couldn’t afford the dues,” West said. “Many of them came back.”
The Livonia Chamber of Commerce was established on the winter of 1950 when local business leaders formed a nine-member board. The Chamber’s first board included William Brashear, who would become Livonia’s third mayor, and Eddie Edgar, the Detroit Free Press sports writer and name sake for one of our ice arenas.
The chamber’s first major initiative was leading a grass-roots effort to bring a main-branch post office to Livonia, which at the time was a township of 18,000 residents.
Over the next seven decades, Livonia evolved into one of the America’s best communities to live, work, play and learn. Livonia is Michigan’s ninth largest city with 94,000 residents and nearly 5,000 business addresses. The Chamber’s membership involves large employers, small business, and dozens of companies based outside the city, as they wish to connect with the Livonia business community.
The Chamber’s focus today centers on three big picture goals: Leading regional collaboration in Western Wayne County, advancing the skilled and technical workforce, and multicultural leadership to build worldwide interest in Livonia.
“Our Board and ambassadors have been instrumental in spreading the word about the Chamber’s work and impact,” West said. “They provide the touch points to engage our members. We cannot grow without them."