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August 8, 2006 > 100 years of service

100 years of service

by Jessica Edra

August 16, 2006 marks the 100th birthday of the Newark Chamber of Commerce. They've come a long way since their 1906 founding as a "land sales and industrial growth" group, according to their web site, Today, "the Newark Chamber of Commerce is comprised of about 300 member businesses all dedicated to the continued success of our fellow members and our community."

Community involvement and support of local commerce are the foundational motivations of all modern chambers of commerce. They are advocates for the business community, acting with the full influence of their member base. For instance, Newark's Chamber of Commerce recently fought to bring Home Depot to the city. And just last year, the Chamber produced and funded a map of Newark. Currently, they're creating a community guide, according to Linda Ashley, Chamber Chief Executive Officer. At the individual level, Ashley herself is involved with many community organizations, including the Newark Educational Foundation which is raising money to put music programs in schools. It is through members such as Ashley, that the Newark Chamber of Commerce seeks not only to promote a healthy business climate, but also a healthy city.

Curiously, the city of Newark, tagged by its Chamber, "The Best Kept Secret in the Bay Area," is only 50 years old. According to the Chamber's web site, incorporation of Newark -independent from other districts- occurred on September 22, 1955. In fact, it is due to lobbying and a vote by the Newark Chamber of Commerce in 1953 that Newark became its own city instead of an industrial zone of what was then called the Washington Township, a large portion of which was to become the city of Fremont. Thus, even before the city formally came into being, the Chamber of Commerce was looking after the Newark area and had its best interests at heart.

At 100 years of age, Newark's Chamber is the granddaddy of all the locals. Hayward's Chamber, founded in 1941, is the next oldest. The Fremont Chamber was formed one month before the city incorporated, so it has already celebrated its 50th birthday. Milpitas' Chamber was formed in 1957, making it 49 years old. Union City's Chamber traces its roots to the Decoto Chamber of Commerce, formed in 1916. However, the Union City Chamber of Commerce wasn't actually founded until 1963, making it the youngest in the greater Tri-City area.

The 100th birthday celebration will be at Swiss Park, 5911 Mowry Avenue, 11:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch, entertainment, and-of course-birthday cake will be available. "We're going back to an old-fashioned picnic," says Ashley, after listing a number of games slated, from water balloon tosses to hula hoop contests. "We have presents for everyone," she promises. In addition, Mayor David Smith will speak, "briefly," he says!

Newark, Fremont and Union City Chamber members are invited to join the fun. Reservations are required and must be prepaid by Thursday, August 10. Cost is $25 and may be paid by credit card or check to Newark Chamber of Commerce, 6066 Civic Terrace Avenue, Suite 8, Newark, 94560.

For more information, call (510) 744-1000 or visit

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