What is Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber?

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Cities have different ways of organizing. In some places, there are aldermen (or alderpeople). In other cities, there are Boards of Supervisors. Cincinnati has a balance between the strong-mayor type of government and the council-manager type of system. Cincinnati’s city council is the main legislative body, and a city manager is the main administrative officer for the city. Cincinnati’s city council has nine seats, and those seats are elected for four-year terms.

What Cincinnati also has, which many cities do not, is a very active, prominent Chamber of Commerce.

The Queen City’s Chamber of Commerce is one of the biggest in the United States, representing over a half-million employees across the tri-state region of southwest Ohio, northern Kentucky, and southeast Indiana. Our Chamber has won the award for national Chamber of the Year on two separate occasions.

In 1839, a group of 76 companies banded together to form the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, meeting for the first time at the corner of Walnut and Fourth downtown, in what used to be the Cincinnati College Building. This initial Cincinnati meeting was more than 70 years earlier than the United States Chamber of Commerce’s first meeting.

As Cincinnati expanded out into eight counties in the 1960s, the group’s name changed to the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce. In the 21st century, the group is now known as the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, and is comprised of 15 counties – five in Ohio, seven in Kentucky, and three in Indiana.

Every small business attorney in the region is very familiar with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, as is every lawyer working with the large international conglomerates with offices in Cincinnati. The chamber’s significance in drawing big business to the area – and retaining those businesses – cannot be overstated.

The Chamber’s Most Prominent President

The Chamber did have one president who is the most recognized of the group’s 182-year history. John P. Williams Jr. served as the group’s president for 17 years, from 1984 until 2001. Williams had been a decorated Marine in the Vietnam War, earning a Bronze Star Medal and two Purple Heart medals. Upon returning, Williams continued his law career at Taft Stettinius & Hollister.

Williams’s work leading the Chamber of Commerce helped bring the Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America headquarters to Cincinnati, and brought two new sports stadiums to Cincinnati’s riverfront. Williams also helped the chamber organize two massive events in the region – Taste of Cincinnati (which started in 1979, and is now the country’s longest running culinary arts festival) and Oktoberfest Zinzinnati.