Reaching for new horizons
The Chamber was an early supporter of the 1962 World's Fair, an event that experts said could never succeed. Seattle City Councilman Al Rochester planted the idea in the 1950s, at an informal lunch with the Chamber's executive vice president, director of public affairs, and an editor from the Seattle Times. Spurred on by their support, Rochester began to actively pursue the idea.
Soon after a bill was drafted in Olympia asking for $5,000 to form a World's Fair Commission. Momentum picked up significantly from there, particularly with the governor's appointment of Eddie Carlson as chair of the World's Fair Commission.
Following the fair, the Chamber worked to continue the momentum, writing in its 1962 annual report that "success of the Fair has inspired Seattle with a feeling of accomplishment--and ability to accomplish. We are ready--and eager--to reach for new horizons."
Promoting trade and building relationships
In 1961, 13 businessmen participated in the first Chamber European Trade Promotion Mission, visiting seven major European cities in six countries. Chamber President Wheeler Grey reported that the mission "broadened the trade activity which has been so successful in the Orient."
The Chamber continued to advance trade with Asia as well, and helped coordinate the establishment of a permanent Kobe Trade Office in Seattle.
Promoting economic opportunity for all
Seattle's first Job Fair was organized in 1965 by the Chamber in response to increasing concerns in Seattle's black community about high unemployment. The fair brought together representatives of major businesses and prioritized the recruitment of minorities by local businesses.
Building a world-class city
The Chamber began efforts in 1964 to obtain a major league baseball franchise in Seattle. By 1966, the Chamber was also working to attract a professional football league franchise and finance a multi-purpose domed sports stadium.
The Chamber also supported the Forward Thrust bond measures and helped establish a citizens' planning committee. Civic leader Jim Ellis had proposed Forward Thrust for Seattle and the surrounding areas, calling for major capital improvements to prepare the region for future growth. In a 1968 election, voters approved seven propositions worth $333.9 million by the required 60 percent, including a $40 million multi-purpose stadium (the Kingdome) and $118 million for new parks. Rapid transit failed with only 50.8 percent of the vote.
Sources: Seattle Business Special Edition: Seattle Chamber Celebrates 100 Years; Seattle Business; HistoryLink.org