The Chamber of Commerce has been a part of the Idaho Falls scene for 108 years, helping to forge the business community forward. Although the message content has changed over the years, the Chamber has been dedicated to telling the Idaho Falls story. Information has been and continues to be readily provided to the business world and others seeking information about regional shopping, cultural interests, medical and health care, recreation, transportation and other businesses and organizations in Eastern Idaho.
In June 1904, as businessmen came to realize that their own prosperity depended on the development of a prosperous, healthy, happy community, a group of business leaders formed the first business organization called the Idaho Falls Commercial Club. In 1907, the group was reorganized as the Idaho Falls Club of Commerce, as their primary focus shifted to attracting new industries and commercial development to Idaho Falls.
The name changed April 28, 1919, to Bonneville County Commercial Club and again April 5, 1922, when they adopted the name Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce. In the late 1950's, it was recognized that whatever affected the businesses of Idaho Falls, had a profound impact on the surrounding communities, so the name was changed to The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce, it's present designation.
This is how Idaho Falls was described in a pre-World War 1 postcard produced by the Chamber.
“Come to Sunnyland, the city with 6,000 inhabitants, two fine large schools,
23 teachers and a superintendent all of whom earn $60 to $100 per month.”
What a far cry from the current information! There are over 57,000 residents in the City of Idaho Falls. The population of the cities of Ammon, Ucon, Iona and the surrounding communities add thousands more to the Greater Idaho Falls area, which has four high schools, three secondary, eighteen elementary, a technical college and extensions of universities, private schools.
When the state of Idaho was originally selected to become the home of the Atomic Energy Site in 1948, Pocatello was expected to be chosen to house the headquarters. Although agriculture has always been the predominant industry in Idaho Falls, our Chamber business leaders, through clever planning and lobbying, managed to sway the Washington DC decision makers to select Idaho Falls instead. These forward thinking Chamber officers made several trips to Washington DC and began a little 'creative' work here on the home front. For example, a road was needed to connect the Site location with the town where the headquarters would be located. Chamber officers were in Washington DC telling that such a road existed. In the meantime, Chamber members were busy west of Idaho Falls grading a road across the desert to the junction of the highway from Blackfoot to near where the Central Facilities were to be, starting where farm roads left off. When the selection committee came to town, Chamber members and their wives played host and saw to it that everyone, including wives of the committee members, were sold on Idaho Falls. Pocatello did not make the same overtures and when the decision was made, it was for Idaho Falls.
Over the past fifty plus years, the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) has played an instrumental role in the economy of Idaho Falls and continues today. With all the changes seen over the years, the Chamber has continually remained behind the promotion of the INL.
The year 1976 marked the Bicentennial of the United States. Two years prior to that, as a project commemorating the event, the Chamber initiated construction of a new environmental-education center on the northern edge of Russ Freeman Park. The structure was to cost over one million dollars. Our plan for the site was for it to become the permanent home of the Chamber of Commerce. It turned out that this location did not facilitate our ability to serve the interests of the business community or promote tourism. After the Chamber moved back to a downtown location, Science Center became the branch location for Idaho universities and has become a valuable asset to the education system of Idaho falls and the surrounding area.
The Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce is affiliated with, but not governed by the United States Chamber of Commerce, the Idaho Chamber Alliance and the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry. The present governing Board of Directors consists of the chair, two vice chairs, treasurer, immediate past chair, nineteen board members and four ex-officios. The Chamber employs a President & CEO and an office staff of five.