The Orange Chamber of Commerce Celebrates 100 Years.
For the past century, the Orange Chamber of Commerce has served to enhance Orange’s business community. This August, the organization is celebrating its 100th anniversary, and those involved are eager to continue boosting local establishments.
In 1921, the Chamber of Commerce held its first meeting at the local store Den O’ Sweets. The Chamber had almost 80 attendees and over the decades has continued to maintain a steady membership portfolio filled with businesses, individuals and volunteers—all working together to sustain Orange’s economy.
“Every great business is built on community, and you can really feel that in Orange,” says Executive Director Elizabeth Holloman. “The Chamber members and volunteers are so committed to the city.”
The community spirit is what pushes all Chamber members, individuals and businesses to work together. The organization’s mission is to enhance and promote Orange’s business opportunities and advocate for each and every establishment.
“Hundreds of businesses together have a loud voice, and that’s what we’re aiming for,” says Holloman. “Everyone is stronger together.”
Chamber volunteers and employees work with the City of Orange to advocate for and express the needs of their members. Last year, they pushed for outdoor dining and constructed the Plaza Paseo to help businesses stay afloat during the pandemic.
“Everyone, especially local businesses, have just come off a rough year, and we all need to be supportive of each other,” says Vice Chair Pat Buttress. “As a resident, I don’t think we can allow ourselves to not be concerned with the businesses that provide so much to our neighborhood.”
Although travel brochures and visitor hubs have become increasingly rare as the world creates a digital shift, the Chamber of Commerce has remained a wealth of information for all visitors and residents. Holloman says they often receive phone calls asking for all types of recommendations, including local hotels, carpet cleaners, dentists and more.
“If someone reaches out to us, we know exactly who to refer them to, because we’ve vetted everyone,” she says. “We make personal references and connections, and it’s great visibility to strengthen your business.”
Special events hosted by the Chamber, like the Orange May Parade and the State of the City, give residents a chance to connect and build a stronger sense of community. Although the organization’s main focus is to optimize the city’s business interests, Holloman says anyone, business owner or not, can be a member.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary, everything is coming full circle for the Chamber of Commerce. The original Chamber office was located right next to Felix’s Continental Cafe. A century later after a few moves, their new office opened in almost the same location.
“We’re back where it all started,” says Holloman. “It’s exciting to be in a building that’s more than 100 years old and to celebrate the history.”
To kick off the new office, the Chamber hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebratory event. But the festivities don’t stop there. The members plan to have a year-long celebration honoring the Chamber of Commerce’s centennial anniversary and rich history. From Orange trivia nights to partnerships with local elementary schools, Holloman says she’s excited to get the entire city involved.
“The best part is the building of the community and the feeling you get when you’re all connected in Orange,” she says.
Looking forward, the Chamber aims to continue working with city officials to strengthen the businesses around town. Before the pandemic, the group hosted in-person monthly breakfast meetings, dubbed Eggs and Issues, as a way to connect local business owners with the City. The meetings have recently been remote, but Holloman hopes to expand to in-person events again to fully involve the community.
“When you start a new century, you have time to reflect and see which direction you want things to go,” says Holloman. “It’s a great time to be involved with the Chamber.”
At its heart, the Chamber of Commerce is a group of compassionate and innovative members who volunteer their time to enhance the business community. Whether that’s by celebrating a business’s success or by lending a helping hand during difficult times, the Chamber is ready to support every facet of local businesses.
“The Chamber is such a positive force in our community,” says Buttress. “We need to make sure that we’re helping our businesses. Supporting our Chamber is one of the best ways to do that.”
Orange Chamber of Commerce
34 Plaza Square, Old Towne Orange CA 92866 / 714-538-3581