Chambers and the Genius of America

by Joe Mayer

Who would have thought when the very first Chamber of Commerce was established in 1599 in Marseille, France, that this venerable business institution would come to embody much that is the genius of America!

Now, by genius, I am not referring to its generally assumed definition as “extraordinary intellectual and creative power”, but rather its broader meaning that accounts for “the prevailing spirit or distinctive character” of a person or place.  Chambers of Commerce, in general, and the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, specifically, reflect a culture of entrepreneurship, citizenship and leadership that define the qualities, the spirit and character, indeed the culture of what makes America great.


Small businesses (those with less than 500 employees – and, frequently with as few as 20 or less employees) are the backbone of Chambers of Commerce and America’s private sector economy.  Certainly, that is true among the 1,000 members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.  While I personally have the pleasure of working for a large aerospace company (Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company), I recognize that across our nation and throughout our community it is small business that creates the jobs, goods and services that drive prosperity. The spirit of entrepreneurship is the spirit of small business; it is where the rubber-hits-the-road and where ingenuity, hard work and calculated risk-taking come together to spell success for the United States.


Citizenship in this great nation entails more than a person’s legal status, it also engages a spirit of civic awareness, active involvement in our communities and caring for those in need.  Members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce volunteer their time to support a wide range of activities and events that enhance the quality of life in our community.  The Ballunar Liftoff Festival – NASA Johnson Space Center Open House which both entertains those who attend and educates them about the heritage and future of America’s human space exploration program is a prime example.  We sponsor forums for those seeking elected office and encourage voter registration and the casting of ballots for candidates of choice.  Our Chamber’s not-for-profit member organizations are also part of a culture that promotes the common good and provides a safety net for those with special needs.


Throughout its history, the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce has been blessed with leaders with the vision and determination to make a difference.  Consistent with our “Chamber 2012 Vision” statement, they have endeavored to provide “leadership and service to a prosperous and vibrant community.”  I speak from personal experience as I have served with our President Cindy Harreld, Vice President Shari Sweeney and the entire Chamber team.  I was preceded as Chairman of the Board by Richard Allen (Space Center Houston), who emphasized we must be a member-focused organization, and our “We’re All About U!” campaign became central to that mandate.  My successor, Mike Furin (My Flooring America), is prepared to raise the bar again, taking us to the next level in executing our Chamber Mission of “business growth, educational excellence and community connections.”

For the past 50 years our Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce has contributed to that exceptional genius that is America, and I have no doubt that we will do so for many more decades to come!

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