What is a Chamber of Commerce?
What does it do for the Catonsville community?
To answer these questions let’s look at Catonsville’s Chamber of Commerce, its history and what role it does play in the health and vitality of our community.
In 1946, Catonsville formed its first business association, the Catonsville Business and Professional Association with business members primarily from Frederick Road’s main street. In 1989, an effort to reach beyond the Frederick Road corridor was made and the business association became incorporated, changing its name to The Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce, Inc. The chamber is a not-for-profit, 501(c) (6) private member business organization with a member elected board of directors.
For the first 51 years, the chamber was run solely by member volunteers. In 1997, as the business community grew and a slow revitalization of the commercial district began to take hold, the chamber’s board of directors decided to hire its first employee, an executive director. The elected president hires the director after approval by the board in accordance with the chamber’s by-laws.
Greg Morgan served as the chamber‘s first executive director for one year. He was followed by Maureen Sweeney Smith who then served from 1998 until 2000. It was during Maureen’s tenure that the chamber decided to continue the Arts Festival when the Jaycees, who had run the festival for several years, disbanded.
In 2001, Bruce VanDervort became the third executive director to take the reins and a part-time assistant was added to the staff. Over the next six years the Chamber grew to a membership level of 200 and local businesses continued to see value in joining together to build a strong business community – working to support each other while forming lasting business relationships and friendships.
In June of 2006, Bruce moved on and several other directors took short attempts at the position before Teal Cary was hired in June of 2008. A member of the chamber since 1994 through her graphic design business, a previous board member and past president, Teal was able to bring her graphic design and marketing expertise, along with a history of the organization to the director’s position. To this day the staff continues to consist of only one full-time director and one part-time assistant along with a subcontracted bookkeeper.
Through these last 11 years, the membership level has grown to 300. Member benefits now include advertising and sponsorship opportunities, business networking on the County and local level, and morning business seminars providing the tools for business growth and success.
The chamber continues its strong commitment to providing both member-focused and community enhancement events launching its award-winning Shop the ‘Ville campaign, a Sunday Farmers Market, the Frederick Road Fridays Summer Concerts, and our unwavering support of the arts through the annual Arts & Crafts Festival. And we continue to sponsor the Frederick Road light poll banners, bill boards and afternoon radio spots on Mix 106.5 that promote the Catonsville commercial district.
As you enjoy these many amenities that the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce provides please visit our website often and thank our members by patronizing their businesses. Our members are the engine that drives our local economy and makes Catonsville the town we love and a destination for visitors.