Webb City Chamber celebrates 100 years

By Terri Nighswonger

The Webb City Chamber has a strong history of serving businesses in the area for 100 years. Celebrating that milestone this year with a number of activities, Gwen Allen, director of membership, and LeeAnn Crider, administration assistant, are up to the task.

“Our incoming president Kyle Hickam announced at our banquet last year that our goal was 100 new members,” Allen said. “We are almost half way there. He’s hoping to have a big announcement at our banquet in October that we’ve got that hundred. We’re doing pretty good. We’re on track. That’s been kind of a fun challenge.”

The challenge was met with some laughter and a thought of hiring an expert to help with the memberships.

“When he (Kyle) said that we had a meeting with our board and sat down and it was right after another area chamber had a big membership drive so we thought maybe that’s the way we need to go,” Crider said. “We’ve never really hired someone in to do membership drives. We didn’t really know a lot about it. So, we had a meeting with this guy that you can hire that will come in and do all the rah, rah, rah and we’re just like you know…we just didn’t feel like that was the way for us to go.”

They went with the personal touch – reaching out to people on their own.

“We have had a lot of help from our board members this year,” Crider said. “Kyle has been fantastic about pumping everybody up saying, 'we can do this,' so all the members that we’ve gotten have been because of our board and Gwen and me.”

The women said even if they don’t get to 100 they are already thrilled at the progress less than half way through the year.

The chamber currently has 270 members and is housed in a colorful Route 66-themed former garage.

Other activities for the centennial celebration include a logo contest, which was won by Asia Sansalone from Cardinal Scale.

“We’re trying to figure out something fun to do with that logo to give out to our members,” Crider said.

Allen said they are thinking about clings for business windows and maybe plaques as well. Several businesses will be honored at the banquet for having been members for 100 years.

The Chamber’s actual birthday is Oct. 31. The banquet is scheduled for Oct. 12 but a summer party is under consideration with an open house.

“We’re thinking it would be neat to have an open house, where we could have the garage doors up and people could come and go,” Crider said.

The Chamber was originally located at 106 N. Webb, directly across the street from its current location. It then moved to King Jack Park in 1995 and was constructed from materials salvaged from the Prosperity Junction Trolley Station. It moved to 112 W. Broadway in 2011.

On a recent trip to find some information on the chamber, Allen said she found minutes back to 1920 but could not find information for the earlier years.

“It could be because they were war years and there wasn’t a lot of records from then,” she said. “All their lunches were held in the Elks Lodge from the pictures that I have.”

While the Chamber of Commerce has grown from those early days, there is still much that stays the same.

“Our board is so good about backing us up,” Crider said. “They are behind us. It’s nice to have that kind of support. They are a great group of people.”

Allen added to that.

“This is a great town and everybody is just easy to work with. We’re part of a Facebook group with other chambers…they share stuff, ideas or issues.” 

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