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Our History

Promoting the economic growth and prosperity of our business community since 1874

The Fox Cities Chamber (formerly the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry) is the result of a marriage of two business organizations that each trace their history back more than 100 years. Those original groups were the Appleton Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce of Neenah-Menasha.

The Appleton Chamber of Commerce was formed on September 9, 1874, with 20 members signing the constitution. The first president was Augustus Ledyard Smith, a mayor of the young city and a founder of the First National Bank. In 1875 cotton growing was attempted in Outagamie County, and the Chamber campaigned to establish a cotton mill in the city.

The project was dropped when cotton proved to be an unsuitable crop for the climate of northeastern Wisconsin. The Chamber resurfaced in 1891 and again in 1892, and it was reorganized still another time, amid much fanfare, in 1920, when 612 men became members in one day. It was incorporated April 3, 1920, with W.C. Wing as its first chairman.

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Little is known of the early history of the Chamber of Commerce of Neenah-Menasha, except that it, too, traces its history back more than 100 years. It is believed that during the first half of the twentieth century, several businessmen’s associations were started in Neenah, but none of them existed for more a few months or a few years.

In 1940, a group of Neenah business men formed the Chamber of Commerce of Neenah, with Otto Lieber elected as first president. In 1946 the directors of the Neenah Chamber invited Menasha businesses to join with them and reincorporated as the Chamber of Commerce of Neenah-Menasha.

On August 1, 1976, the Appleton and Neenah-Menasha organizations consolidated to become the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce and Industry, creating a broader geographical service base and range of business interests. At the time, the Appleton Area Chamber of Commerce had 749 members, and the Chamber of Commerce of Neenah-Menasha had 210. John Bergstrom of Neenah was elected president of the newly formed Chamber, which made its headquarters in what had been the offices of the Appleton group.

Through the years, the Fox Cities Chamber has a been a driving force in economic growth of our community and ensuring the success of our business community.

Read our 2022 Report to the Community to learn more:

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Become a Member!

Studies show that consumers are 74 percent more likely to be aware of a business — and 80 percent more likely to spend money there — if that business is a Chamber member. Let us help you connect, lead, and grow your business as an official member. Learn more about how the Fox Cities Chamber can serve your business