150 years ago, a small group of business men gathered to form an organization dedicated to growing the city of St. Cloud. Various efforts of this original “St. Cloud Board of Trades” were launched over the following years, each eventually disseminating into the next effort as ideas, procedures and services were tested. Finally, somewhere between 1915 and 1924, the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce was born. Later the phrase ‘area’ was added to the name, expanding the physical reach of the Chamber’s benefits into Waite Park and Sauk Rapids.
In January 2019, the Chamber received its third consecutive 5-Star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the pinnacle to our sesquicentennial anniversary. One of only two 5-Star accreditations in Minnesota, this status indicates the Chamber’s dedication to speaking up on laws and issues that will impact our city and state, investing in the next generation of workforce, and providing a wide variety of high-quality programs and events to meet the business community’s networking, training, and development needs.
The St. Cloud Area Chamber has just under 1,000 members, with over 3,000 employee representatives. Any company that signs up for membership also receives full access to Waite Park and Sauk Rapids Chambers. While business primarily centers around money, profits and growth, this is the real key to our Chamber’s unusually long history: connections.
The purpose of Chambers of Commerce is to build up business. We do this by bringing people together. By providing opportunities to have real conversations. By listening to what matters to you and being a voice in the political arena in your support. By seeking out the gaps in the community and CONNECTING the right people and resources together to build a bridge. Connections, friendships, resources for growth; that’s what we do best.
We’re proud to offer several annual programs celebrating 20+ year anniversaries in 2019. Maintaining a mix of recurring and short-term events keeps the community engaged, and ensures we are constantly brainstorming and adjusting to the changing needs of our members and their industries.
Two of our most well-known programs, the St. Cloud Area Leadership Program and the weekly Friday morning Chamber Connection, turn 30 this year. A consistent class size of 30 students graduate through our Leadership training each May, gaining a new perspective on business, life and culture in St. Cloud through immersive, hands-on experiences. Chamber Connection will host its 30th birthday party from 7:30 – 9 a.m. on December 6 at the Holiday Inn (we hope you can join us!) Despite the early morning start time, this weekly event draws crowds anywhere from 80 – 180+ through the doors of your business.
In the last five years, diversity and workforce development are two growing gaps the Chamber is working to build bridges over. As much of the work done through the Chamber is volunteer driven, three new committees have been formed to start making these connections: The Diversity Council, Business Education Network, and Big Idea Group.
Through these committees, in conjunction with established programming, we were able to participate in EPIC, a career exploration event for 2,400+ high school students, offer three new social networking events geared toward bringing out the youth in all of us, coordinate six high school internships, one high school teacher internship and three business-in-school events, and awarded one Diversity Award and over $25,000 in college scholarships to the St. Cloud and surrounding community, in 2019 alone.
Our permanent goal is simple: Provide resources and services for the businesses in the St. Cloud area to achieve success, enabling a better life for all.