Decades of Dedication

1960

1970

1980

1990

2000

2010

The following was taken from interviews with a number of the Chamber’s past chairmen on the occasion of the Chamber’s 125th Anniversary.

Ralph Kalberloh

1960s

CHALLENGES

• Jobs
• Build overpass over the newly constructed Highway 50
• Secure Air Service
• Purchase land for an Industrial Park
• Attract Trade and Professional Associations
• Change Missouri Boulevard from 2 to 4 lanes

Accomplishments

Adding new industry: Cheesebrough-Ponds (now Unilever), Scholastic Magazines, Inc, Interco, Inc & expanding Von Hoffman Press moving from St. Louis to Jefferson City with a $3 Million dollar (1966 money) new plant addition. The Jefferson City Jaycees allowed the Chamber to purchase their fairgrounds to find a home for Interco and property to relocate Von Hoffman Press. Purchased the land & secured the right of way for Industrial Drive & the extension off Jaycee Drive to Interco & Von Hoffman properties. The overpass over Highway 50. Secured TransMO air service to Jefferson City. The Missouri Medical Association moved from St. Louis to Jefferson City with the help of Dr. Shull. Recognized the unbeaten Jefferson City Jays football team. Funds were raised to build the memorial press box/ticket entrance to Pete Adkins Stadium with the leadership of Dale Findlay. Assisted Lincoln University in obtaining Legislative financing to build the 60,000 sq. ft. four-story laboratory. Raised funds ($400,000) to buy land for Industrial Development and passed the necessary Bond Issues.

1970s

CHALLENGES

Managing growth and expansion by updating zoning ordinances • Second Missouri River Bridge, Business 50 West and Highway 54 improvements • Air transportation, utilizing the Missouri River were on the radar • Restore the west side of the Capitol Building, which was severely deteriorating • YMCA growth • The Chamber Board endorsed the City sales tax proposed along with a property tax reduction of 40 cents • Opposed a 10% tax on soft drinks in Missouri • Supported the County and City in drug education programs • The Chamber supported the Downtown Association’s downtown mall.

Harold Westhues

Harold Westhues

1970s

CHALLENGES

Managing growth and expansion by updating zoning ordinances • Second Missouri River Bridge, Business 50 West and Highway 54 improvements • Air transportation, utilizing the Missouri River were on the radar • Restore the west side of the Capitol Building, which was severely deteriorating • YMCA growth • The Chamber Board endorsed the City sales tax proposed along with a property tax reduction of 40 cents • Opposed a 10% tax on soft drinks in Missouri • Supported the County and City in drug education programs • The Chamber supported the Downtown Association’s downtown mall.

Accomplishments

Opened the Westinghouse Plant (now ABB). Mrs. Pat Bergauer, Ramada Inn executive, was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy. She is believed to be the first female member of the Board. The Chamber supported House Bill 145 authorizing Jefferson City to zone 2 miles outside the city limits. Jefferson City, Columbia, and Fulton Chambers identified various initiatives to jointly promote Mid-Missouri. The Education Committee of the Chamber established a Junior Achievement Program for area high school students.
One of the biggest challenges facing our community in the early 70’s was growth and lack of resources. Growth and expansion caused growing pains. Energy was high, new issues and projects were on the horizon, but the Chamber was short on members, finances and staff.

Phil Freeman

1980s

At age 29, Phil Freeman was the youngest chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors. (He notes that Dick Wilson was also 29 when he served as chairman, but Dick was several months older than he was.)

CHALLENGES

The 80’s shared many of the same issues being discussed today • Economic development • Jobs • Infrastructure improvements

Accomplishments

• Scholastic’s new national distribution center opened. 250 jobs were created.
• The Chamber assisted in locating the Maytag Company’s national parts distribution facility which created 50 new jobs.
• Unified Economic Development was created by an agreement with the City of Jefferson and the County of Cole. The first Director of Economic Development was retained and that partnership has benefited the community for the past 30 years.
• The main challenge was to continue to build the partnerships necessary to promote Jefferson City on a national arena.

1990s

Kathy Peerson was the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

CHALLENGES

Taxes • Economic Development • Meeting the demand for employees for new businesses large and small • ABB Power Transmission & Distribution raised to their highest employment levels in several years and other local manufacturers showed record-level employment numbers as well • A conference/convention center was a huge issue in the mid-90’s as it continues to be today

Kathy Peerson

Kathy Peerson

1990s

Kathy Peerson was the first woman to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

CHALLENGES

Taxes • Economic Development • Meeting the demand for employees for new businesses large and small • ABB Power Transmission & Distribution raised to their highest employment levels in several years and other local manufacturers showed record-level employment numbers as well • A conference/convention center was a huge issue in the mid-90’s as it continues to be today

Accomplishments

The chamber’s economic development efforts were paying off in 1994. Scholastic’s expansion to the Algoa area was the first location in the Chamber’s industrial park. Command Web Offset Co. also located to the Algoa area. Cheesebrough-Pond’s (now Unilever, the world’s largest personal care liquid facility in the world) completed a major plant expansion when company officials moved their toothpaste operations to Jefferson. Today, Unilever employs around 460 people. Other major employers helped lure suppliers to Jefferson City creating hundreds of jobs.
The 1993 flood took Great Central Lumber Company’s property. They relocated near the fairgrounds because of efforts from the chamber, local government and the Jefferson City Jaycees.
The Lincoln University Page Library was funded with assistance from a community wide campaign and generous chamber members giving time and dollars. The success of the larger employers fueled opportunities to dozens of entrepreneurs all together generating thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue. Riverboat Gaming became a much-discussed issue. When the voters of Missouri agreed to allow gambling on riverboat casinos, Becker Gaming Group and later Aztar proposed docking the “Capitol Queen” riverboat in Jefferson City. The community sentiment was mixed as was that of the chamber membership. When presented on the November ’95 ballot, the citizens choose against riverboat gaming in Jefferson City.

Duane Schreiman

2000s

During the 2000’s the Chamber received its Twentieth Year Chamber Reaccredidation.

CHALLENGES

Membership retention • Communicate chamber benefits to the membership • Encourage downtown development • Build a convention center to position Jefferson City as a destination for meetings and conventions • Increase the number of qualified employees in the labor pool • Improve public transportation in Jefferson City and Cole County • Explore annexation to support additional areas for growth and development

Accomplishments

Improved public transportation for Jefferson City and Cole County. Upgraded Rex M Whitton Expressway and the completion of a 4-lane Highway 50 from St. Louis to Kansas City via Jefferson City with an interstate connection and designation.
The goal to redevelop the Missouri State Penitentiary has been a longstanding goal. Recognize the Missouri River as a resource for city drinking water, recreation and for riverfront development. Projects were developed to raise awareness of the river. Developing some of these projects in Jefferson City schools involved students and taught the value and role of the river for the area and helped raise awareness.
Economic development is an ongoing goal for the Chamber. The goal was set to attain a 55,000-population base for Jefferson City. To achieve this goal, we developed a pro-active recruitment program for attracting retirees to Jefferson City, attracting new business to the area and helping expand existing business.

2010s

During the 2010’s, the community and the country was just beginning to come out of The Great Recession of 2008. The Chamber followed every lead for business attraction projects, focused time and resources on existing business expansions and workforce development.

CHALLENGES

Advocate for Workforce Development & pay increases • Improve partnership between The Chamber, City of Jefferson and Cole County • Offer Economic Development Resources • Add Chamber Spec Building for new investment & jobs.

Bob Gilbert

Bob Gilbert

2010s

During the 2010’s, the community and the country was just beginning to come out of The Great Recession of 2008. The Chamber followed every lead for business attraction projects, focused time and resources on existing business expansions and workforce development.

CHALLENGES

Advocate for Workforce Development & pay increases • Improve partnership between The Chamber, City of Jefferson and Cole County • Offer Economic Development Resources • Add Chamber Spec Building for new investment & jobs.

Accomplishments

The Chamber supported many new initiatives regarding workforce development, including getting Jefferson City approved as a Certified Work-Ready Community, and helping to support another key initiative in our community – a new second high school. Capital City High School will open in 2019, and Jefferson City High School is also going through a major renovation as well.
Some of the most notable accomplishments during this time centered on new construction. The Mission Drive Interchange on Hwy 179 was constructed in partnership between Jefferson City, Cole County & MODOT. The Chamber funded the transportation preliminary design study to enable cost sharing of the local and state entities for the interchange to be built. This “paved the way” for SSM St. Mary’s to relocate and construct a state-of-the-art building in 2014. The Lafayette interchange was a significant improvement for our city. Providing access from Highway 50 to the Missouri State Penitentiary, Lincoln University and Jeff City High School. Cost sharing between MoDOT, City and County was developed through Chamber facilitation. The interchange was adorned with pylons and LED color lighting to really enhance the installation and create more civic identity. Sixty decorative “way-finding” signs beautify Jefferson City, from The Katy Trail to Downtown to guide visitors to some of our community’s most popular destinations.
The Special Olympics Training for Life Campus bid was won by Jefferson City in 2014. Jefferson City bid against Columbia, even after land had been purchased in Columbia for the project. Due to tremendous representation by Jefferson City community leaders and residents, Special Olympics of Missouri decided to change plans and locate in Jefferson City. The Campus is getting closer to reality as we speak!
The Chamber facilitated the vision of finally reaching the riverfront with access to the Island with a bridge connecting the Capitol grounds to this 30-acre future park right in our Downtown. During this period, some very generous community leaders have helped make this vision real and on its way to final implementation.
The Chamber Spec Building was sold!

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