A New Look for the Chamber of Commerce Centennial
Homestead, Florida. For 100 years, members of the business community in and around Homestead, Florida have served as an economic anchor through the Chamber of Commerce. They have been through booms and busts, sharing the good times and coming together when natural or other disasters struck. It is a far different time from when those first trainloads of beautiful produce headed north or when the December 11, 1935 headlines announced the dedication of the Homestead Airport.
In keeping with celebrating the past while embracing today’s growth and looking to the future, the name, South Dade Chamber of Commerce and the new logo that links the “old to the new”, were unveiled at a recent Chamber of Commerce Board Meeting. Bob Jensen, noted for his preservation of local history, pointed out that a similar rationale was on the minds of those early business owners and civic leaders not long after the new Chamber was established. “The Chamber was reorganized in late November of 1917 and was renamed the South Dade Chamber of Commerce. The 1917 election of officers saw Bank of Homestead cashier W.M. Bradley elected president. A regional look was achieved with A.L. Hearn of Silver Palm elected VP; Lewis Twyman of Homestead, secretary; P.L. Carlton of Modello, assistant secretary and O.B. Parker of Redland, treasurer."
The full transition from the previous name of Greater Homestead/Florida City Chamber of Commerce to the South Dade Chamber of Commerce will take several months and it will be a highlight feature of the Chamber of Commerce Directory that will be published as a Centennial Edition prior to February 2015. The new website will transition prior to that date in a transparent manner with no impact on users.
Small, medium, and large businesses, as well as not-for-profit and civic organizations find a home in the Chamber where their voices can be heard and they actively support “Buy Local” initiatives. The Chamber also works with the city economic development offices and organizations such as the Beacon Council, Visit Florida, the Florida and U.S. Chambers of Commerce to promote opportunities to businesses that might consider relocating to the area.
What is the Chamber?
The Chamber of Commerce is a group of people who have chosen to serve in an administrative or advisory capacity exerting leadership in dealing with community challenges and opportunities for the enhancement of free enterprise.
The Chamber of Commerce is an organization established to further the business interests of the community and consists of business and professional people of that community. Together, they work as a central unit for community development taking on projects and accomplishing tasks that one individual could not do alone.
To strengthen the economy of South Miami-Dade and enhance the quality of life for our residents and visitors through programs of voluntary action to preserve and protect the American system of free competitive enterprise; and to advance the economic, civic educational, cultural and social well being of the South Dade community.
Organized in the summer of 1915 with 24 charter members, the Greater Homestead / Florida City Chamber of Commerce is proud to be the second oldest chamber in Miami-Dade County. Then, as now, the chamber worked as part of a team with the cities of Homestead and Florida City to make south Miami-Dade a better place to do business and raise a family.
Originally named the Homestead Chamber of Commerce, the chamber was reorganized in 1917 and was renamed the South Dade Chamber of Commerce. Officers and directors were elected from Silver Palm, Modello and Redland, as well as the two cities, giving it a more regional view.
The first chamber promotional booklet was published in 1921, thanks to Henry Flagler’s land holding company, the Model Land Company. Another reorganization took place in 1923 and the name changed to the Redland District Chamber of Commerce. An even greater regional look came about with the directors elected from Homestead, Florida City, Redland, Silver Palm, Modello, Naranja, Princeton and Goulds. The chamber named the north and south roads in the Redland District for Dade County and won 1st prize at the Florida State Fair for community exhibits.
The chamber built its first building adjoining Old City Hall in early 1924 and organized the first Redland District Fruit Festival the same year.
The attraction of a second railroad to Homestead, the Seaboard Coast Line, was a major chamber success in the late 1920’s. The chamber was responsible for convincing landowners to donate land for the right of way. Projects of the 1930’s were to attract a circus to winter over in Homestead, tourist camps, Homestead’s Bayfront Park, and the purchase of land and construction of a festival pavilion for the fruit festival in Homestead near Municipal Park, on NE First Avenue. The festival building also housed the chamber’s offices.
The chamber took on a new look in late 1949 when the composition of the elected board of directors was changed to five members at large and the presidents of 15 civic and veterans groups in the area from Florida City to Perrine.
Some time before January of 1962 the name was expanded to Homestead-Redland District Chamber of Commerce, and then later the Redland District part was dropped. At the request of the mayor of Florida City, the name was changed to the Homestead / Florida City Chamber of Commerce in 1981.
In 1994 the chamber moved back to one of its original locations, Historic Old Town Hall. The chamber is now located at 455 North Flagler Avenue, Homestead, FL 33030, maintaining and preserving its original mission for the benefit of the business members of the South Miami-Dade area.