About Us

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS!
March 27, 1917 - 2017

The Suburban Essex Chamber of Commerce formerly the Bloomfield Board of Trade was incorporated in March 1917. Over the years, the chamber’s name was changed to the Chamber of Commerce of Bloomfield, New Jersey in March of 1923. Then more recently in January of 2003 the name was changed to Suburban Essex Chamber of Commerce, A New Jersey Nonprofit Corporation when they united with the Belleville Chamber of Commerce to comprise the Townships of Bloomfield and Belleville and the Borough of Glen Ridge.

Our Mission Statement
"We are a volunteer association of businesses and professional people, working together to nurture and enhance the growth and prosperity of the business community. Our organization encompasses a broad spectrum of prestigious members including: many professional practices, service businesses, retail and wholesale establishments, organizations, civic members and patrons."

Suburban Essex Chamber of Commerce By-Laws Revised BY-LAWS (00236491)

100th History of Chambers

Throughout history there are always groups and individuals that make a difference in the lives of their citizens. We are blessed to be among some of those exceptional individuals this evening.

In so many ways chambers of commerce hold that important role in the United States of America. As I thought about our very own chamber, I did some research on this topic and I would like to share some of the things I learned about the importance of Chambers of Commerce in the history of our country. In the United States, the very first chamber of commerce was created in 1768 in New York City with the stated objectives of encouraging commerce, supporting industry, adjusting disputes to trade and navigation, and for producing laws and regulations relative to trade.

By 1773, only 5 years later, a newly formed chamber of commerce in Boston was responsible for leading a historic protest against tax-- that had been imposed on British tea. This protest was the Boston Tea Party and the beginning of our independence from England.

Only 10 years later, following the Revolutionary War and after the British evacuation in 1783, The New York Chamber of Commerce was responsible for the completion of the first Atlantic Cable, a transatlantic telegraph undersea cable that ran under the Atlantic Ocean for communications. This reduced the communication time from 10 days to a much shorter time between the US and Europe. Prior to that, messages were sent via steamship.

Moving ahead a little more than 100 years, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce created in the early 1900s, conducted the very first referendum to create a plan for a national budget under the federal government; it was also responsible for signing into law the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 which established the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Trade Commission.

The foundation of our very own chamber was started in 1898 as the Bloomfield Board of Trade, in order to improve the community at large in Bloomfield by bringing the business community together, as more and more people settled to this area. To better appreciate that time, there were 44 dressmakers in town with Ampere Silk Works and the Thomas Oakes Woolen Mill supplying them the materials needed to make their wardrobes. Home sewing was a very popular thing. There were also 15 boot and shoe makers in town who were supplied by Newark tanneries; and 11 hatters established their businesses in the Watsessing area.

The Bloomfield Board of Trade incorporated as a nonprofit on March 27, 1917.

The Bloomfield Board of Trade was converted to the Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce in March 1923 under the presidency of Clarence E. Van Winkle. At the time, we had 150 members who were dedicated to developing the community physically, morally and financially. The U.S. Census reports that as of 1930 Bloomfield ranked #15 among the municipalities in NJ with 85 industrial plants, and 480 retail stores with a total annual business nearing $13M! According to the census there were nearly 97,000 wage earners living in the area. General Electric, American Book Company, Jensen Creamery Machinery Company, North End Tool Company, Peerless Tube and Westinghouse Lamp Company are some of the more prominent businesses of the time.

The Board of Trade from its very beginning was responsible for observing the local centennial celebration; and, also hosting an annual dinner with well-known speakers of the day.

The Fourth of July Celebration which included a parade was followed by athletic events in the afternoon and fireworks in the evening. The Fourth of July event was so popular that besides the local residents, thousands came from surrounding communities to take part in the festivities. The young chamber was also instrumental in raising charitable contributions for other communities that had suffered disasters such as the San Francisco disaster of 1906 where $2,316 was collected in a couple of days to send to the victims.

The chamber assisted town authorities to bring a supply of fresh water to the township in 1905. The Board of Trade was also involved in appropriating land in the community for park purposes.

Belleville, once part of Bloomfield, and originally known as the Second River or Washington, designated as the Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, is a French-name that stands for “beautiful town.” Belleville, situated on the banks of the Passaic River, took the lead in transportation. Steamships connected Belleville to the rest of the world before roads and bridges were built. Belleville was a great center of industry and manufacturing. The Belleville Chamber of Commerce established in 1935 and incorporated in May of 1949 had the motto, “Dedicated to Making a Good Town Better.” Companies that specialized in everything from manufacturing, shipping, retail and financial services made up the landscape of Belleville. From the manufacture of brass lamps to shipbuilding and battery production, Belleville was indeed the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.

Clara Maass Hospital, founded in 1868, was a member of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce and was called Newark German Hospital. It was renamed in 1952 in honor of a former nurse, Clara Maass who was the only woman and only American to die from yellow fever experiments. The Belleville Chamber of Commerce joined the Bloomfield Chamber in January 2003 under the former past president Jolie A. Ruffalo. A new name was created, The Suburban Essex Chamber of Commerce. With the new name, the Suburban Essex Chamber extended its membership to citizens and businesses in Bloomfield, Belleville and Glen Ridge, which did not previously have a chamber of commerce.

As we can take note, the foundation of our mutual chambers which became one in 2003, has a very rich history and culture. Although through the years the base of our membership has changed from industrial and manufacturing to professional and services-oriented businesses, we are still dedicated to supporting business organizations and local government to improve, develop and promote business. Our mission statement says it all, “a volunteer organization working together to nurture and enhance the growth and prosperity of the business community.” With today’s technology we are now able to communicate not only with the traditional networking events, but also by using our Spotlight Directory both in print and online. We have a web page presence and use social media to connect with businesses and consumers alike.

As we move into the next 100 years, it is our legacy of promoting civic, industrial, professional and social welfare for the people and businesses in Bloomfield, Belleville and Glen Ridge that will lead us into the next century.

2017 President
Josephine O'Brien
XCEL Federal Credit Union