Salem Chamber History
Throughout its long and successful history, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce has strived to fulfill its mission: “To foster, promote, and develop the advancement of the commercial, financial, industrial and civic interests of Salem and the surrounding area.” From its very early beginnings, the Chamber has worked to serve as the “catalyst that creates the best possible environment for business.”
The 1898-1899 Polk Salem Directory indicates that the Salem Board of Trades was headquartered in the Grand Opera House block on Sixth Street in Salem. Two years later, the Salem Board of Trades listed its address in the New Grand Opera House with various retail merchants from Salem listed as members. In 1903, it was reorganized to include other professions and the name was then changed to the Salem Chamber of Commerce. The organization operated under that name for 22 years, disbanding in 1925 only to reorganize in 1926 as the Better Business Bureau. That name conflicted with the national chapter of the Better Business Bureau, so yet another name was used-the Salem Business Bureau. In 1947, the name was changed back to the Salem Chamber of Commerce and the office was located in downtown Salem at 417 East State Street. One last change was made in 1956 when the organization formally registered with the state of Ohio as a 501© 6 under the title of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce.
Located on the southeast corner of East State Street and South Lincoln Avenue, the Salem Chamber building stands proudly at the busiest intersection in the city. The community’s Village Green is in the Chamber’s front yard and it includes a historic Mullins statue and fountain, and a war memorial that honors all war veterans, living and deceased. The building formerly housed the First Baptist Church and was built in 1867. The church moved in 1947 when a fire occurred after the steeple was struck by lightning. Several other businesses including the American Automobile Association, a sporting goods store, and Montgomery Ward occupied the building. In 1986, the Salem Community Foundation generously provided funding to the Chamber for the purchase and renovation of the building. Today, the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce occupies the entire first floor of the building coupled with the offices of the United Way Services of Northern Columbiana County.