skip mobile navigation
Aa Aa Aa

The Loop

Stay in The Loop. Find out what's
happening in the Fox Valley Region
through the Community Foundation.

Fox Cities Chamber celebrates 150th anniversary

The Fox Cities Chamber is celebrating a HUGE milestone in 2024 — it was 150 years ago when the area’s first Chamber was formed.

The Appleton Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1874 by 21 local leaders with the goal of uniting the business community for greater economic impact. I’m proud to say that’s still a mission we share today.

Post-Crescent headline from 1923

Now called the Fox Cities Chamber, we are a catalyst for positive change and a steadfast companion to the growth and prosperity of our region, playing an integral role in key developments:

  • Chamber played an integral role in opening of Fox Cities Expo Center and construction of the 441 interchange

    Planes, trains and automobiles: From 1874 on, we advocated for a better infrastructure and transportation logistics for businesses. Whether faster train service, constructing the 441 interchange or partnering with the airport, we help our economy grow.

  • Thriving community: In the early days, the Chamber had retail, tourism and other committees that have since morphed into their own freestanding organizations, all still successfully operating and helping the Fox Cities thrive. We were also a strong voice in the development of the Fox Cities Exposition Center, the establishment of a technical college, the creation of a regional planning commission, and many other growth initiatives.

    Chamber annual dinner in 1946

  • Octoberfest (pictured above): As one of the Midwest’s largest festivals, Octoberfest and License to Cruise are well known. But what many people may not realize is that the two-day event is presented by the Fox Cities Chamber. We have a large group of volunteers who come together each September to plan for nearly 300,000 attendees over both days.

Today’s Chamber continues to improve the local economy and quality of life through three main pillars of focus — Connect, Grow and Lead.

Our first board chair in 1874, A. L. Smith

Within each area we offer a variety of programs, services and events for businesses both small and large, across all industries — from networking and recognition to advocacy, education and economic initiatives.

It’s been a community collaboration for 150 years, and I’d like to thank our members and supporters who have helped us remain a viable, thriving entity … we couldn’t have done it without you!


Note: Over the past several years, many donors and fund holders have supported the Fox Cities Chamber Foundation with generous grants from their funds within the Community Foundation. Thank you for your generosity!

What does a Community Foundation do? Glad you asked! Learn more here.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.