The GREATER CLEVELAND GROWTH ASSN., a leader in promoting BUSINESS, INDUSTRY, and the image of the Greater Cleveland area, originated as the Board of Trade, organized by 36 local merchants on 7 July 1848. Designed to help its members operate their businesses more efficiently, the board had 230 members and was incorporated by the time it issued its first annual report in 1866. After forming a committee to encourage new industries and businesses to locate in Cleveland, the board reorganized as the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce in Feb. 1893 and expanded its activities beyond commerce to include general civic affairs. By 1899 membership in the chamber had grown to 1,100, and in May the association dedicated its own office building on the northeast corner of PUBLIC SQUARE. Its program of civic involvement included the development of the Group Plan for the MALL (1900) and a sanitary code of the city which included meat and milk inspections (1904). During the 1920s and 1930s, the chamber was active at both state and national levels, opposing wage and hour legislation and lobbying against state income tax bills. After losing members and income during the Depression, the chamber reorganized in 1936, introducing corporate membership and hiring specialists to lead its civic-improvement projects.
In Dec. 1967, it merged with the Greater Cleveland Growth Board, organized in 1962 to retain jobs in the city, and became the Greater Cleveland Growth Association. By 1979 the Growth Assn. had 6,400 members with 96 employees and a $7 million budget, which included $5 million in federal funds for job training and minority business assistance. Among its new programs in the 1980s were the Cleveland Area Development Corp., the Council of Smaller Enterprises, and the Metropolitan Cleveland Jobs Council. In 1990 it moved from the Huntington Bldg. to TOWER CITY CENTER in the Terminal Tower. In Aug. 1994 Carole F. Hoover became president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Growth Assn. Under her leadership, a study of the economic conditions in Greater Cleveland was conducted. With its community partners, the Growth Assn. began a Jobs and Workforce Initiative in the spring of 1995. This initiative included the participation of local employers and training organizations to design and implement a workforce readiness strategy. As of June 1995, the Greater Cleveland Growth Assn. had 15,910 members, making it the largest Chamber of Commerce in the world.
In March 2004, the Greater Cleveland Growth Association, CLEVELAND TOMORROW, and the GREATER CLEVELAND ROUNDTABLE merged to form the Greater Cleveland Partnership. The merger encompassed the affiliates of these bodies such as COSE, the Northeast Ohio Technology Coalition, and the Commission on Economic Inclusion.
Baker, Samuel B. "The Cleveland Chamber of Commerce in the Great Depression," (Ph.D. diss., Case Western Reserve Univ., 1984).
Greater Cleveland Growth Assn. Records, WRHS.