The Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce has served the Kirkland community and local businesses for 100 years, a fact only recently discovered after the Kirkland Heritage Society researched newspaper articles from the early 1900s.
Previously, the chamber was thought to have been established in 1935, but the Kirkland Heritage Society confirmed last year that Kirkland incorporated its chamber in 1919. The chamber is now ready to celebrate the milestone with its Cirque du Centennial Ball, a celebration at the annual chamber gala on March 30.
“As mayor, and as a proud member, I want to congratulate the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce on 100 years of enhancing the economic vitality of Kirkland,” Kirkland Mayor Penny Sweet said. “The city appreciates your work to keep Kirkland diverse, vibrant and prosperous through the promotion of a strong and sustainable business community.”
Old newspaper clips found on microfilm helped confirm the chamber’s age. Chamber executive director Samantha St. John said that while other chamber have similar difficulty with historic records, Kirkland’s chamber is one of the oldest on the Eastside.
Currently, the chamber is more than 500 members strong and is working to re-imagine its five-year plan. St. John added that the chamber hit each milestone in its previous five-year plan since it was implemented in 2014. She said she is excited for the milestone celebration and how it highlights how far the chamber has come.
The Cirque du Centennial Ball will take place at the Redmond Town Center Marriott and feature silent and live auctions, dinner and dancing.
“It’s an incredible honor to be the executive director during this amazing time,” St. John said. “I’m most excited to bask in the glory of all the great accomplishments we’ve made.”
According to St. John, the chamber has made a point to invite chamber pioneers to the gala, including a former member who will fly in from Switzerland and was involved with the chamber during the 1980s.
“I’m excited to meet her and feel very honored that she’s made the trek this far to be with us,” St. John said.
As a nonprofit, the chamber serves local businesses through advocacy, supporting education and various resources for local small businesses. The chamber will soon celebrate its history but St. John added it is still looking to the future with potential mentorship programs and education.