Who Knew The Miami Chamber of Commerce Began as a Pop-Up?

March 01, 2014 | by megan mccrink | Talk of the Town

The Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce has come a long way, from a small pop-up “office” to a force now leading the charge of the city’s renaissance.

Miami chamber of commerce Founder C.W. “Pete” Chase (CENTER) along with Jules Arkin and Larry Aberman re-creating the scene at the site of the first Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, here in March of 1971.

Formed in 1921, the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce’s first location was an unlikely one—underneath an umbrella set up on the corner of Alton Road and Fifth Street. While it was great for shade, the arrangement for obvious reasons wasn’t very conducive for kickstarting a young city’s economy. Fast forward five decades, and you’ll find this photo of founder of the MBCC C.W. “Pete” Chase Jr., along with Chair Jules Arkin and Chamber member Larry Aberman, re-creating the umbrella office for a 1971 photo op, in an ode to the Chamber’s humble beginnings.

Current Chairman Michael S. Goldberg is a second-generation city leader (his father was chairman in the ’70s) and has seen the city of Miami Beach through “the good times, bad times, and the challenging times,” using the Chamber as a way to expand this town into the booming city it is today. “What I joke is that in the ’80s, on Lincoln Road, I could have a bowling ball, throw it down the street, and not hit anybody,” Goldberg says.

With Miami Beach’s expansion, the Chamber has expanded too, not only assisting its members in connecting with other members but also forging relationships between them through events and meetings held throughout the year. This month, the Chamber will host its second annual Better Beach Awards, recognizing development in the real estate industry on Miami Beach.

“The Chamber now is really the core for everything going on around everything else,” says Ceci Velasco, the Chamber’s executive vice president and COO.

It’s connections such as these—even if they happen under an umbrella—that reveal a serendipitous story to be told for years to come.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY STATE ARCHIVES OF FLORIDA, FLORIDA MEMORY

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