What has the Bend Chamber of Commerce been up to?
History of the Bend Chamber of Commerce from the 1920’s to date…
- The Bend Chamber of Commerce is officially incorporated in 1926
- Distributed tens of thousands of tourist guides and maps to tourists and potential tourists, and traveled around the country promoting Bend as a premier tourist destination in an effort to boost the local economy
- Starting in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, the Chamber did research, wrote letters and secured funding and labor for many irrigation projects, the results of which allowed Bend farms, businesses and homesteads to remain here and flourish. Many of the structures and systems built at this time still remain today and have been improved and expanded over the years to meet Central Oregon’s growing water needs
- Worked with the State and Federal governments to get new highways through Central Oregon and improve transportation to and from Bend to other areas of Oregon and California
- Planned, raised funds for, and built the 22,000 square foot Mid-Oregon Farmers Warehouse and Supply Center, completed in 1948, at the corner of 1st Street and Greenwood Avenue to provide farmers with a place to store, weigh and ship their wares and purchase supplies
- Spent $30,000 to build the “Chamber Fort” at Benham Falls where the Kirk Douglas classic The Indian Fighter, Disney’s Tonka and The Way West with Sally Field and Walter Matthau were filmed. The fort brought over $1 million to the local economy in the eight years it stood and opened the doors of Central Oregon to filmmakers who still use the area for major motion pictures today.
- The Junior Chamber of Commerce was active in business and community issues in the 1950s
- Assisted NASA with astronaut training programs and supported a number of space-oriented projects in Central Oregon including the Pine Mountain Observatory and space conferences
- The Chamber’s Merchant Committee merged into the Chamber proper and ceased acting as an independent entity – From the 1930s through the mid-1970s, the Chamber’s Merchant Committee had held Dollar Days, Zany Days, Harvest Days, beautification programs, decoration contests and Spring, Winter, Summer and Fall Openings to encourage shopping local, as well as being involved in community service
- Promoted Bend as a prime film location and acted as the local contact for film crews, organizing things like casting calls, lodging arrangements, securing official approval for shoots, etc. This pays off and in the 1990s, Kevin Costner’s The Postman, John Travolta’s Swordfish, the TV series McKenna starring Jennifer Love-Hewitt, and a large number of commercials and independent films were shot in Central Oregon, pumping millions of dollars into the local economy.
- Bend Chamber founded the Leadership Bend Program
- Started Balloons Over Bend
- Proactive role in the drafting of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Juniper Ridge project, earning the City of Bend millions of dollars in potential income over what the city was willing to accept from their selected Master Developer