History of the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce
In October of 1893, a group of civic-minded businessmen incorporated the Citizen’s Improvement Association of Pekin. The organization was formed for the purpose of “advancing the business interest and promoting the commercial growth of the City of Pekin.” The five directors that were selected to control and manage the corporation for the first year were: Everett W. Wilson, George Herget, Jesse B. Cooper, Henry Block, and Joseph V. Graff.
A second business association, the Pekin Retail Merchants Association, was organized in 1900 with Ferd Pauley as President and Fred Helm as Secretary. The purpose of this organization was to promote better business practices and systems.
In 1904 the Citizen’s Improvement Association of Pekin changed its name to the Commercial Club of Pekin. In 1911 they merged with the Pekin Merchants Association, but retained their name as the Commercial Club of Pekin.
In 1916 the name of the organization was changed to the Association of Commerce of Pekin, Illinois. Phil H. Sipfle was the managing secretary, and Maude M. Smith was hired as the office secretary on May 27, 1916.
Smith retired in 1961, after 45 years of service to the organization. However, she continued to attend the annual meetings into the 1980s. Her attendance was noteworthy, as she had never missed an annual meeting since she was hired by the organization in 1916.
In 1962 the name of the organization was changed to the Chamber of Commerce of Pekin, Illinois. In 1978 the name of the organization was changed to the Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce.