Over the last year, we’ve been doing lots of celebrating – and for good reason. It’s not every day we get to recognize the 150-year milestone of our Chamber (although many of you might feel we did talk about it every single day for the last 364 😊). Well, today is THE DAY that we officially mark the big 1-5-0. (Seriously, today is the actual day of our birth 150 years ago.)
You’ve heard our story, that the Chamber was founded with the imperative of connecting our region to the transcontinental railroad, and the promise of commerce and travel that came with it, to Denver. At the time, our founding was celebrated as a valuable step toward becoming a major city: “It was a potent power, if rightly conducted, whose importance could not be overestimated,” the Rocky Mountain News reported just days after our founding on Nov. 13, 1867.
But more than that first day, our hope and our desire is that from 1867 to 2017 you’ve seen our efforts and impact every single day in both big and small ways. (By the way, that’s 54,788 days, counting leap years, that we’ve been working for business.) It’s hard to express how much pride I feel to be part of an organization that has devoted itself to having a positive impact on our region and our state for 150 years:
Building connections. We’ve helped connect our region, our state and our world to our companies through the railroad, our airport and FasTracks. We also connect people and make sure you meet those who can help your business thrive and your company succeed through our Leads Groups, networking events and policy committees and forums. And, we connect the public, private and nonprofit sectors because we know that together we accomplish more.
Supporting your quality of life. We know quality of life is critically important to attracting and retaining one of the world’s smartest and healthiest workforces. Throughout our history we have started festivals, orchestrated trips for our members to travel together, paid the operating expenses of our Museum of Natural History (now one of our country’s top museums of nature and science), championed the creation and reauthorization of our Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, supported bringing major league baseball and sports stadiums to our region and so much more.
Advocating for our community. Beyond raising $500,000 in less than a month to build that rail spur 150 years ago, we also secured land to bring Fitzsimons Hospital and Lowry Air Force Base to Colorado, we offered rewards for crimes, we started the region’s first public library, we literally stopped violence in the streets, we’ve planted victory gardens and (more often than we like) we fight off bad ideas on our ballots and work hard to pass those that make our state stronger economically.
Driving our economy forward. At the core of what we do every day is putting Coloradans to work in really good jobs. That means we ensure every company gets the support it needs to start, grow and succeed. We ensure the very best of our region and state is represented to companies who we think should be looking to Colorado to do business. We build capacity in future generations to lead our work and maintain our shared values (what we call Colorado’s Civic DNA™).
You can learn even more about our history in a special issue of our magazine, Business Altitude.
We truly thank you. Because it’s our members who shape our priorities and our values. You are making Colorado the best place live and do business. We wouldn’t be toasting 150 years tonight without you. We hope to see you at Larimer Social to raise a glass.
Kelly Brough is the president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber.