The company.

Author:Heffes, Ellen M.
Position::THE OFFICE - Dialogue with William Howard Taft - Interview

How did the organization get started

The U.S. Chamber was created at the suggestion of President William Howard Taft, who believed that the business community needed a national organization in Washington, D.C., to represent the united voice of business on federal issues.

The Chamber had some outstanding leaders in its formative years, including Chicago banker Harry Wheeler, who became the first president, and Harvard graduate Elliot H. Goodwin, who became the first chief executive.

How has the business model changed over the years

Over its 100-year history, the Chamber has become more globally focused and more involved in a much broader range of issues. One thing that has not changed--and never will--is its core mission to defend, protect and advance the free enterprise system, a system that creates more opportunities, jobs and prosperity than any other system ever devised.

What are some significant events in its evolution?

The U.S. Chamber and its members played a key role in mobilizing America's industrial might to win World Wars I and II. U.S. leaders turned to the Chamber to help navigate the dark days of the Great Depression and restore hope in America.

In the 1960s, the Chamber engaged the business community in a war of a different kind--against crime and poverty, which were undermining the American Dream and tearing society apart.

When the oil crisis of 1973 led to price controls and rationing, the Chamber pushed for expanded domestic production, including oil and gas exploration, coal mining and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

In 1981, the Chamber launched the "Let's Rebuild America" campaign to build support for President Ronald Reagan's Economic Recovery and Tax Act.

As globalization took hold in the 1990s, the Chamber was at the forefront of expanding opportunities for the export of American goods and services, and all the jobs that exporting would create.

In the 2000s, the organization experienced a period of substantial growth. It was better financed, more global and more politically active.

What are some current challenges?

The No. 1 priority for the U.S. Chamber is to foster growth and create jobs. The organization advocates for an American Jobs and Growth Agenda that would vastly increase U.S. energy production; rein in overly burdensome and costly regulations that choke economic growth; open more markets to American goods and services; encourage innovation; and sensibly reform the tax code and entitlement programs to...

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