History

 

Taken from article printed in Bridgeton News, Thursday, September 26, 1968

 

City Chamber Active since 1890’s

 

Chamber of Commerce history dates back to the 1890’s during which period records show a Board of Trade was active in this city. Records further indicate that early in the 1900’s a Commercial League came into existence. This league operated from its own headquarters on Atlantic Street and proved to be very active in municipal affairs.

 

Available historical accounts are somewhat unclear and the time lapse between each organization’s existences is unknown. It is recorded however, that a reorganization of an already existing Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce was completed in November, 1920. This organization was supposedly active within the city limits only.

 

In 1938 an organization again operated under the name of Bridgeton Board of Trade and had as its first president, the late Robert G. Howell. The present Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce was so named on Wednesday, May 15, 1963, pursuant to a public meeting arranged by the Board of Trade and the Bridgeton Merchants Association. The meeting was held in the auditorium of the Atlantic City Electric Company with George J. Geisinger, presiding. Officers elected were: George J. Geisinger, President; Frank Walter, Vice President; John S. Sheiry, Vice President; George H. Mecouch, Secretary; and H. Myron Bacon as Treasurer. Mr. Cairl Butterfoss was elected as Executive Vice President and Manager. The new headquarters were set up at 10 N. Pearl Street. (Certificate of Incorporation signed May 22, 1963.) First large event executed was a “Salute to Industry” affair for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Ferracute Machine Co. The BACC went on record being in favor of an erection of a Cumberland County College. The chamber also went on record endorsing the construction of a bridge between Sea Breeze and Bombay Hook Point. Efforts were made to request adequate road signs along the Southern New Jersey highways pointing the way to Bridgeton, NJ. The chamber worked closely with the Bridgeton Industrial Commission in efforts to locate new industry in the area. One of these new industries is the Leone Industry on S. East Avenue. 

End of Article, dtd. 9/26/68

 

Taken from article in Bridgeton Evening News, Thursday, September 17, 1964.

The marriage of the Board of Trade and the Merchants Association into a unified Chamber of Commerce didn’t exactly turn out as anticipated. It was believed that a merger of interests for the betterment of Bridgeton would be the proper way to seek greater progress. However, there were two factors involved:

the Board of Trade was primarily devised to concentrate on new industry, while the merchant’s group was mainly concerned with sales promotions and attractions for shoppers. While the two groups both were concerned with Bridgeton’s expansion, there were different ways proposed for making this possible, all of which seemed to create more disunity than unity and ended all hopes of securing a professional executive who would keep everybody happy.

   

Despite the inability to command sufficient financial support with which to pay a $10,000 salary for an executive secretary, the Greater Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce will be continued. Betty Ireland

will continue in the position of executive secretary.  Mrs. Ireland began her career with the Board of Trade (known as the BACC) in March, 1942, under the presidency of the late I.W. Goldberg.

 

The future of the Chamber of Commerce, as well as Bridgeton’s ability to expand in the growing South Jersey economy is still in the hands of our business and industrial leaders. Without their wholehearted support, no organization can function properly, no actual progress for the over-all good of the community can be achieved, and we’ll continue to go gradually downhill in the years to come.

 

Bridgeton has the kind of leadership, that could make the Chamber of Commerce a good force for the

city and if this is the first objective, we can start all over again.

 

We have a City Industrial Commission, with the authority to act, which has been able to replace the departed Aberfoyle Company on E. Commerce Street and provides jobs for over 200. It also has

attempted to bring other new industry here, without success, after months of hard work.                             

 

But the Chamber of Commerce, with public relations department, could very well give Bridgeton a boost

in several directions and keep the city alive with promotions of all kinds. If we happened to be as clannish and civic-minded as some of the leaders of Millville, we might not get into so many dogfights that are detrimental to the public good. We hope the Chamber of Commerce goes ahead and finds a way to

serve the city and rally the support which fell apart after a promising start. 

End of Article, dtd. 9/17/64.

 

Taken from various BACC minutes and BACC newsletters

The Chamber had good years and lean years between 1963 and 1968. In 1886, the BACC reorganized and revised the By-Laws. In the mid 1980’s, the Chamber relocated their offices at what was then UJB/Cumberland National. There were two reasons, one was finances, space at the bank was free thanks to Gary F. Simmerman, Bank President, The second reason, Betty Ireland had become ill and Carolyn Heckman, Simmerman’s secretary, took over the secretarial duties and the relocation made this easier

for Heckman to handle her bank duties and the chamber’s duties simultaneously. The Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce is still located in the bank, now known as Summit Bank, 57 E. Commerce Street, Bridgeton, NJ 08302.

  

In 1987, the Chamber resumed its annual “Salute to Industry Dinner” and is now an annual tradition

during the month of October.  In 1988, the chamber began to publish the bi-monthly Newsletter under

the editorship of Frank Mastoraki. In 1991, the Chamber applied for and received Non-Profit Corporation status from the Internal Revenue Service, Federal Tax Code, Section 501 (c) (6). In 1993, the Chamber became active in the NJ State Chamber’s annual trek to Washington in February.  The following year, through the BACC, the county had its first hospitality suite for the Congressional dinner and reception delegation at the Washington Shearton. In 1995, the Chamber hosted its first annual Golf Tournament which offer members and friends a day of golf, good food and of course, networking opportunities.

That same year, local Bridgeton civic leaders along with Chamber leaders met to discuss the future of

the City, the Chamber, the area and advancement of economic development. On December 5, 1995,

the Cumberland Development Corporation was officially incorporated for the purpose of economic development for Western Cumberland County. Participating municipalities were: City of Bridgeton, Deerfield, Upper Deerfield, Hopewell, Shiloh, Stow Creek, Greenwich, Fairfield, Lawrence, Commercial, Downe and Maurice River Townships.

 

In April, 1997, the chamber reached out to its nearest neighbors, the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Millville Chamber of Commerce, to host the first tri-chamber event which

was a “Breakfast with Governor Christine Todd Whitman”. The following month, May of 1997, the

Chamber launched its very successful Student Mentoring Program with local high schools. In October 1997, the three chambers hosted a candidate’s forum. In March of this year, the Chamber has again initiated another Chamber tradition, that of hosting a Cumberland County Economic Panel. The panel consists of local experts discussing the current economy and their forecasts for the next 6 months, nationally and locally. At the reorganization meeting for this new fiscal year, the Chamber has revitalized

its committee structure.

 

History does tend to repeat itself. In researching the Chamber’s history, I came across these articles. October, 1963, Newsletter article, “President’s Message”…”To all those in the Bridgeton Area who

worked so hard to put together our Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce, I extend full thanks. A cordial welcome to all 309 firms and their 365 assigned memberships in our new Chamber. I urge every business and professional man and woman in the Bridgeton Area to fully participate because, in my opinion, this Chamber of Commerce will have a short and long range, far reaching effect, on the growth and development of this area. If each member will become fully informed on the activities of our Chamber and speak to others urging their support, we will have a good year and achieve our goals. We have been

many years in getting to this point. Let’s use our newly found instrument to the fullest. Sincerely,

George J. Geisinger, President, October, 1963.”

 

“Manager’s Corner, October, 1963… It was just under five months now since I became a resident of the Bridgeton Area and Manager of your Bridgeton Area Chamber of Commerce. You are to be complimented on the excellent start for your Chamber of Commerce that is creating much favorable comment. You

have achieved national recognition through the Chamber of Commerce of the United States in setting up your organization. Most important of all, you have created the vehicle that all agree is sorely needed to bring about area development. Don’t ever permit it to be torn apart over any single issue. Its importance

to you and the community transcends any one issue. Some of you will disagree with some of the actions that are taken by the Board of Directors, decisions that are reached in a democratic fashion. If you are displeased, say so, but continue to work in your organization, to bring about your viewpoint. If your Chamber is to do the job intended for it then it will enter controversial issues and will take a position.

I’m sure you wouldn’t want it otherwise. One other thing, your Chamber of Commerce is not an organization that can pull rabbits out of a hat for you. Results will be achieved in a painstaking, methodical fashion; study, investigation, action. Do not expect your Chamber to do in six months those things that

have been neglected for sixty years! Your help is needed. Are you serving on one of the Chamber’s committees?” Cairl L. Butterfoss, Manager, October, 1963.

 

“President’s Message, June 9, 1965, Francis H. Sharp… the most important thing to report in the year’s activity is the way that we have cooperated with other civic agencies and the respect that has been built

for the chamber. We may not take much credit for the healthy economy of our city but we have been a

part of almost everything that has gone on. Our efforts to have the county college located in our area, for instance, was an unprecedented example of cooperation between various city and township agencies

with the chamber to present and publicize the case. Let’s hope Joe McCulley’s untiring effort, in this

cause, may have set the pattern for a method for attracting an industry or other type of establishment.

The chamber serves as a clearing house for information for both resident and visitor. The chamber publicizes the city and sees that we are represented in all areas of regional affairs. It is a great honor to serve as the President of the chamber. But no organization like this can function with out a strong Board

of Directors and many hard-working committee members. We have both.” Francis “Binks” Sharp, 6/9/65.

 

“To Bridgeton Area Citizens, Sept. 16, 1968… the response from various segments of our community

in behalf of the Chamber’s activities has been tremendous. I especially want to recognize the efforts and cooperation of the Bridgeton Evening News, WSNJ, Atlantic City Press, Advertiser Press, City Council,

U-Can and the members of our judiciary. Did you know that in response to an invitation from the chamber to a meeting on the Anti-Shoplifting Campaign, Judges Adler, Joseph, Gallner, Commissioner Spoltore, Chief Semple, Probation Officer Joseph Hackett, Mayor Yetman, and many others took time from their busy schedules to attend. They know your chamber is engaged in activities worthwhile and vital to the community and want to offer whatever assistance they can. The progress U-Can has made in its short

life span under their chairmanship of Paul J. Ritter and many workers of the Steering Committee have

been nothing short of phenomenal and we wish them continued success and pledge our support.

The one area where we haven’t hit our stride as yet is in the area of membership. Quite frankly, there

are many merchants and professional men and a few industries who are not members of THEIR chamber and we hope that when they are contacted they will respond with a spirit of cooperation and support to

the men of the Chamber who devote long hours of work and achieve the chamber’s objectives culminating in community benefit of our members and their economic interests. The community as a whole must AWAKEN to this need! We can no longer pass the responsibility of community progress on to someone else. What our Chamber needs is total involvement. The Bridgeton Area is your community. Give us

your support and watch us move….Joseph F. Russo, President”…9/16/68.

 

As current 1998-99 President of your chamber   I say DITTO

 

Carolyn Heckman

President, BACC          

July 7, 1998