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  Wednesday, March 4, 2015
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An Update on the Chamber
By Rick Winterson

     The South Boston Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization.  It consists of more than 200 local businesses, as well as many individual members who are senior managers from this area.  The member businesses operate along West and East Broadway, around Andrew Square, and throughout the entire neighborhood.  They are sited in Fort Point, the EDIC, and the Marine Industrial Park.  Many new businesses from the emerging South Boston Waterfront have joined the Chamber.

     The South Boston Chamber of Commerce is a completely independent organization.  While it holds a membership in the Greater Boston Chamber, its interests and activities are exclusively local.  “We work in the trenches,” says one Chamber officer.  “We are the only organization in South Boston that is focused solely on the needs and issues of the entire South Boston business community.”

     The South Boston Chamber of Commerce was originally known as “the South Boston Board of Trade”.  In 1995, that was changed to the current Chamber designation, reflecting the way South Boston’s businesses were evolving.  For a while, the Chamber operated in conjunction with the Main Streets program, revitalizing specific neighborhood commercial areas.

     The South Boston Chamber reorganized itself in 1999.  It has since grown to more than 200 members, which generate annual revenues amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars.  These businesses also employ large numbers of local people, and in many cases, they actively seek to employ South Boston residents. 

     A frequently-asked question is, “What is the South Boston Chamber of Commerce doing for me?”  A better way of stating the question is, “What is the Chamber doing for its members?”  Here are some examples:

     The Chamber hosts monthly business networking meetings, which are called “Biz2Biz Network Meetings”.  Recently, these meetings have taken place on board the luxury yacht “Integrity” and at Peter Chew’s Pan Asia Restaurant – business can mix very well with pleasure.  Speakers, who talk for the first 20 to 30 minutes of the Biz2Biz meeting, have included marketing guru Mike Riley, Andre Porter of Boston’s Office of Neighborhood Development, and Anthony Gilardi of the South Boston Resource Center.

     The Chamber has co-hosted several “Business Building Initiatives” with the Convention Center and Massport, both of whom are anxious to work with the small businesses of South Boston.  Massport actually measured the impact of these meetings, and found that they resulted in $200,000 worth of local business being awarded to South Boston enterprises.  The Chamber showcases local businesses in many other venues also.

     Some of the Chamber’s community activities are the South Boston Street Directory, the Holiday “adopt-a-pole” decorations, and “trick or treat on Broadway”.  They function as watchdogs on issues ranging from quality-of-life to increasing employment.

     The Chamber’s most prominent and highly visible community activity is the Annual South Boston Street Festival – the seventh such Festival takes place on Saturday, this coming September 9.  Between 10,000 and 15,000 (!) festival-goers visit each year.  Merchant displays, marvelous things to eat, non-stop entertainment on two stages, and lots and lots for the kids will be set up on Broadway from I to L Streets.  The entertainment includes such notables as “Brickyard Blues”, “Steve Songs”, and “Theater on Wheels”.   You simply don’t want to miss the 2007 Chamber Street Festival.

     Contact the Chamber at P.O. Box 476, South Boston, MA  02127, or call (617)269-0304, either to join or to take part in the Street Festival.  The Chamber will have a tabletop display at the Festival, so you can pick up printed literature at that time, while talking with the Chamber officers.     

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