Georgia Chamber of Commerce
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The Georgia Chamber of Commerce is a statewide membership organization centered on a mission of pro-business advocacy and headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, United States. The Georgia Chamber routinely supports good legislation and opposes bad legislation that most small and large business owners would consider a threat to their business success.
Founded in 1915 as the Georgia Manufacturing Association, the Georgia Chamber renamed itself the Associated Industries of Georgia in 1939. In 1968, the organization became the Georgia Business and Industry Association, and then in 1983 became the Business Council of Georgia. The most recent name change happened in 1992 and the organization has been known as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce ever since.
Throughout the years, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce has cultivated relationships with several smaller statewide associations, entering into affiliate partnerships with six groups. These organizations include Leadership Georgia (1971), the Georgia Self-Insurers Association (1975) the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (1990), the Georgia Employers’ Association (2003), The Council on Alcohol and Drugs/Drugs Don’t Work (2004), and The Tourism Development Alliance of Georgia (2004).
The current President and CEO is Chris Clark, who has held the position since 2010.
Today, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce employs approximately 30 people in the areas of operations, member services, government affairs, public policy, and communications. Hundreds of volunteers from businesses throughout the state are part of the organization’s board of directors, government affairs council and policy committees.
State chamber vs. local chamber
The Georgia Chamber is unique in the sense that each of the organization’s activities are designed for business advocacy purposes – including direct lobbying efforts, membership events, the Georgia Business Action Network (GBAN), and others. Local chambers, on the other hand, tend to focus on economic development and tourism projects. The Georgia Chamber is not a competitor to the local chambers in the state – rather, it is seen as a complement to networking and economic development programs offered at the local level.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce maintains an in-house team of lobbyists. This is to ensure business issues that matter the most to Georgia Chamber members are being watched, good legislation is being passed and bills considered detrimental to Georgia business are blocked.
Recent legislative successes include:
- Comprehensive Statewide Water Management Plan
- Business tax incentives and prevention of expensive insurance mandates
- Sales tax holidays, “Made in Georgia” marketing, water and energy efficient products
- Civil justice reform and class action lawsuit reform
- Provisions for expedited reviews of permits/variances
- Tourism sales tax reimbursement
The Georgia Initiative
The Georgia Initiative is an effort launched in 2008 and designed to reposition the Georgia Chamber from a primarily reactive to a highly proactive organization.
The objective of the Georgia Initiative is to make proactive participation and leadership possible by: increasing the capacity of the Georgia Chamber to identify key legislative initiatives that enable progressive change, to develop and shape policy positions that will drive that change, to more effectively lobby to support these positions, and to dramatically expand communications initiatives and infrastructure to support this proactive shift.
Areas of public policy focus under the Georgia Initiative include:
- Education and Workforce Development
- Environment and Energy
- Existing Business and Industry
- Health Care
- Law and Judiciary
The Red Carpet Tour and Georgia Quail Hunt
The Red Carpet Tour and Georgia Quail Hunt are events hosted in partnership by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Allies. Both the Red Carpet Tour and the Georgia Quail Hunt are highly regarded economic development programs in the United States, and both events host business executives from around the world each year to learn about economic development opportunities offered by the state of Georgia. Past event participants who eventually moved company headquarters to Georgia include Georgia Pacific and NCR.
The Red Carpet Tour is held each April and has been in existence since 1959. While participants visit Augusta each year to attend the Masters Golf Tournament, a second location differs from year-to-year to allow further exploration of the state. Locations have included Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Rome, Savannah and Valdosta.
The Georgia Quail Hunt began in 1988 and is held each year in Southwest Georgia. Guests participate in quail hunting and shooting instruction on nine different Southern plantations while networking with Georgia business and legislative leaders. Originally called the Fall Feather Hunt, the name was changed to the Georgia Quail Hunt to reflect the change in the time of year the event was held.