“In 1866, the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce was organized with Col. Dudley E. Jones, president, and the late Henry W. Wilson, secretary. The initial meeting was held in the grocery store of the late Col. W. S. Oliver, on the east side of Main between Markham and Second. Rooms were secured in the Ditter building on the southwest corner of Markham and Rock Streets. Later the organization met in a room on West Markham.” – George R. Browne, Secretary, Written for W. W. Dickinson, Past President, Little Rock Board of Trade (1900 or 1901).
The Little Rock Regional Chamber is the oldest association in Arkansas, fifth oldest business/organization in the region, and 14th oldest business/organization in the state.
Since its founding in 1866, it has undergone many changes. Succeeded by a Cotton Exchange in 1882 and followed by the Little Rock Cotton and Produce Exchange the next year, beginning in 1884, the chamber spent 20 years as the Little Rock Board of Trade.
In 1914, the organization reverted to its original name – Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, but in 1918, changed to the Little Rock Board of Commerce.
The “Chamber of Commerce” name again became a part of the organization in 1924 and continued until 2016. In 1944, the Little Rock Chamber became the Greater Little Rock Chamber, but changed back to the Little Rock Chamber when the North Little Rock Chamber was founded in 1947. However, in 1948, the Little Rock group again reverted to the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.
On March 12, 1954, Foster Vineyard, President of the Chamber, and the Board of Directors received a letter from Kenneth Price, President of the North Little Rock Chamber, thanking the group for “removing the word ‘Greater’ from (its) name.” The letter continued, “we sincerely hope that the term ‘Greater’ when it refers to the two cities will be eliminated by others following this action on your part. We are anxious to cooperate and work with your organization in every way possible in order to make the two communities better places in which to live.”
The two organizations existed for the next 23 years without changes to their respective names. In 1977, the “business, professional and industrial leadership of both cities recognized that the metropolitan Little Rock/North Little Rock area is one economic entity.”
Subsequently, the boards of directors of both chambers recommended consolidation of the groups into a new business, professional and industrial force called the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce of Little Rock/North Little Rock.
In 1978, the organization changed its name to the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, a name more recognizable to those outside central Arkansas. In 2000, in anticipation of the move into its new, state of the art headquarters, the organization became the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, the name it carried until 2016.
In conjunction with its 150th anniversary, the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new logo and revised simplified name. The organization is now referred to as the Little Rock Regional Chamber.
For more information, Graham Cobb, (Chief Operating Officer), 501.377.6007.