Chamber History Timeline

2022

Stephen Buckley hired as new CEO

  • Senior VP Peter Webber retires after working at Chamber for 17 years.
  • Bernie Romanowski hired as first Chief Operating Officer
  • Chamber celebrates 100 Years Young at Annual Dinner Celebration, designs floats and participates in July 4th parades, creates new Blackburn Brew Fest and has mural painted at Harbor Loop location.
  • Awarded $50,000 extension to pandemic relief grant and helps develop summer workforce program
  • Convenes special caucus with Education Leaders and Elected officials to address severe Social Emotional Learning challenges at the region’s five school systems
  • Holds first WellFest Fair at YMCA highlighting more than 30 local H&W organizations
2021
  • Chamber completes base Capital Campaign through its Foundation for the buildout of new Harbor Loop location
  • Awarded two pandemic related grants in excess of $250,000 to continue supporting the business community recovering from the pandemic
  • CACF passes $70,000 mark in grants awarded to area non-profits and schools
  • Ipswich Chamber merges in to become the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce
2020
  • Chamber shifts to virtual operations in March due to the pandemic and moves out of its Commercial Street location in April
  • Starts renovation of new 24 Harbor Loop location in January and moves in August with an official Ribbon Cutting Ceremony held with 50 community leaders on August 31, including placing a time capsule at the base of the flagpole
  • Finest hour to serve, works with businesses on pandemic relief grants and new promotions; daily email updates; new webpage with pandemic and business information
2019
  • Chamber updates and re-launches capeannchamber.com with improved functionality and navigation and a responsive, mobile-friendly design
  • Governor Charlie Baker delivers keynote address at Chamber luncheon
  • Reaches 1,000-member mark, adding 150 new members in May drive
  • Health & Wellness committee is formed
2018
  • Forms Cape Ann Innovators Collaborative (CAIC)
  • CAIC helps create North Shore Blue Economy Task Force
2017
  • The Cape Ann Community Foundation (CACF) makes first round of grants to three Cape Ann non-profit organizations
  • The first 1,000 special Cape Ann license plates are issued
  • Cape Ann Next Gen young professionals committee is formed
2016
  • With key support from the Chamber and the Cape Ann Community Foundation, the first Cape Ann Plein Air (CAPA) event is held in October
  • Successfully advocates to cut business tax rate classification in half from 1.06 to 1.03
  • Updates and re-launches Rockport website rockportusa.com; more than 200,000 views annually
2015
  • Chamber’s Business Education Collaborative launches Cape Ann Career and College Fair at Gloucester High School  
  • Creates the Cape Ann Community Foundation (CACF) as an affiliated 501(c)3 charitable organization to manage the proceeds of the Cape Ann license plate
2014
  • Chamber updates and re-designs its visitor website capeannvacations.com
  • The Cape Ann license plate initiative officially begins with the approval and registration of the design created by Rockport resident and graphics artist Annalei Babson.
2013

Ken Riehl hired as Chief Executive Officer

  • Red Sox COO Sam Kennedy and Secretary of Education Matthew H. Malone headline Chamber events
  • Chamber updates and re-launches website capeannchamber.com
  • The Chamber’s monthly magazine Soundings is converted to an e-zine
2012
  • Chamber’s Manchester Division produces first Festival by the Sea (August), successor event to the Manchester Arts Festival; and co-sponsors first Gloucester Blues Festival (August)
  • The Chamber hosts a Congressional Debate among the 6th District Congressional Candidates Congressman John Tierney (D), Richard Tisei (R) and Daniel Fishman (L).
  • Government Affairs and Tourism Councils are established
2011

Robert Heidt hired as Chief Executive Officer

2010
  • The first issue of the Cape Ann Guide magazine is published
2009

Bob Hastings hired as Executive Director

2008
  • Scholarship established in honor of Mike Costello’s 30 years of exemplar service
2007
2006
  • Chamber launches Member-2-Member Savings Connection program to encourage companies and their employees to do business with one another
  • Businesswomen’s Committee celebrates 20th anniversary with creation of the Carolyn M. O’Connor Scholarship Fund
2005
  • Chamber’s Rockport Division creates the first annual Rockport Harvest Festival
  • Rockport Chamber of Commerce merges with the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce
  •  Gift Certificate Program expands in 2005 to include all of Cape Ann and re-named Cape Ann Gift Certificate
2004
  • Pat Roy Scholarship created in honor of first woman Board President
2003
  • Chamber establishes information brochure kiosk at Burger King Plaza on Route 128 in North Beverly
2000
  • Irish Sweepstakes begins
  • Gloucester Gift Certificate program launched
1997
  • Chamber kicks off 75th anniversary year at the Annual Dinner
1996
  • Chamber creates Red Deering Scholarship
1991
  • Chamber’s Rockport Division hosts first annual Rockport Community Egg Hunt
1990
  • First Chamber Golf Tournament (May), sponsored by the Business / Ed. Collaborative to raise funds for Chamber scholarship program
1988
  • First Annual Chamber Auction (July)
  • On behalf of commercial property owners, Cape Ann Chamber fights City Hall over increased property taxes.
1987
  • Chamber moves to its new location at 33 Commercial Street, Gloucester
  • Board of Directors creates the Business/Education Collaborative
1986
  • Establishes Businesswomen’s Committee with it first luncheon
1985
  • Chamber hosts first Evening Business Exchange (now Business After Hours) at Sudbay Auto
  • Chamber’s Rockport Division creates the first “Christmas in Rockport” month long holiday celebration
  • Kicking off whale watch season, the Prince of Whales Costume Ball was held in the Great Hall at Hammond Castle. Mike Costello and his wife came dressed as the monkfish and doll-fin. “A great gathering of costumed individuals danced, drank, and enjoyed refreshments and conversation.”
1984
  • First Gloucester Schooner Festival
  • Advertisements appear in regional publications and newspapers advertising Cape Ann as the “Whale Watching Capital of the World.”
1983
  • Essex clam chowder competition begins, part of Essex Pride Week; becomes Essex Clamfest 1985
1982
  • Chamber hosts its 60th Annual Dinner, with remarks by Governor Ed King
  • Chamber testifies in support of fair taxation for business at Gloucester’s first tax classification hearing
1981
  • Waterfront Festival, Small Business Week and $25K Game are started, first winner Charlie Foster; started as the “Gold Rush”, a $10K Game
  •  Establish first scholarship for a high school senior
1980
  • Ads in tourist publications boast “October is Museum Month on Cape Ann.”
1979
  • Chamber promotes tourism and maintains an information booth next to the Fishermen’s Memorial Statue as well as a walk-in Visitor’s Center at the Fitz Hugh Lane House
1978

Mike Costello hired as Executive Director

  • Chamber warns… despite implementation of 200 mile offshore fishing limit, the next few years of fishing will be difficult. According to Chamber Director Mazzaglia, “At the outset, it was just fair game – whoever was there caught. Because nearly all foreign ships were larger than the local fishing boats, the law of the sea was almost like the law of the jungle.”
  • Chamber speaks out against fishing quota and 8 day ban on behalf of fishermen. “If they can impose a quota for 8 days, why not 80 days.”
1977
  • Chamber warns that closure of Georges Bank cod fishery will have a severe economic impact on Gloucester’s struggling fishing industry. Chamber ED, Frank R. Mazzaglia, also administrator of the Gloucester Area Fisheries Association, submits an economic report to New England Regional Fishery Management Council to recommend quotas for all nations fishing within the 200-mile zone and to amend the 1977 domestic quota and grant other relief.
  •  Chamber endorses settlement of sharing control of Georges Bank fishing grounds with Canadians.
1976

Frank R. Mazzaglia hired as Executive Director

1975
  • Chamber is a leader in the effort to establish a 200-mile limit to support Cape Ann’s fishing industry
1974

Neil E. Davis hired as Executive Director

1973
  • Cape Ann Area Chamber of Commerce establishes new divisions – industrial expansion, tourist promotion, civic affairs, governmental affairs, transportation, human resources, economic development, business, and government relations.
  • Chamber’s service area is expanded to include Manchester-by-the-Sea, and name is changed to Cape Ann Area Chamber of Commerce to reflect more accurately the larger regional structure
  • 300 Member Gloucester of Commerce holds vote to dissolve and establish a new Cape Ann Area Chamber of Commerce. Frank O. King Jr., outgoing president of the Gloucester Chamber, supports the move toward a regional chamber. King says it would provide “a new, more viable, active and aggressive chamber and encompass activities that have never been touched before by the Gloucester Chamber.
  • Cape Ann Area Chamber covers Gloucester, Essex, Rockport, and Manchester. Budget to increase from $20,000 to $100,000 by 1977. A new Executive Director search to be held.
  • New England Regional Fishery Management Council to recommend quotas for all nations fishing within the 200-mile zone and to amend the 1977 domestic quota and grant other relief.
1965
  • Chamber Manager Cafasso speaks on Urban Renewal in Gloucester. “It’s going to be one of the most beautiful urban renewal areas in the United States.”
  • Bill Cafasso and Governor Volpe work together to try to convince Canadian government to name Gloucester as second New England terminal for ferry to Nova Scotia.
1962

William P. Cafasso hired as Manager

  • Had been a deputy sheriff of Essex County and served as the Chamber’s promotion manager for several years
1961

Robie M. Liscombe hired as Manager

  • Chamber speaks on behalf of Gloucester Harbor Dredging Project at the US Congress/Senate Committee on Appropriations Public Works hearings in Washington; and on behalf of waterfront renewal and Gloucester Harbor Dredging project.
  • Hart is in attendance when Governor Volpe signs proclamation designating May 21 – 27 as Vacation Planning week.
1957
  • Chamber reports that inquiries and requests for reservations in the Cape Ann area are up 10% from last year.
1954
  • Chamber speaks in support of newly founded Fish Stick industry that created 500 new jobs and is said to have saved Gloucester’s Fishing Industry. Boston Customs authorities argue with Federal authorities that fish sticks will get no more duty protection than any frozen fish.
1953
  • Hart joins Mayor Grillo in Everett in the launching ceremony of tanker Esso Gloucester.  
  • Hart speaks about the importance of redfish, otherwise known as ocean perch. He describes redfish as “the fish that saved the Gloucester fishing industry.”
1950
  • Hart calls out Mayor John Burke after 7-day fish processing strike for having a vested interest in Gloucester’s competition and for hurting Gloucester’s people and private fishing industry in favor of corporate processor.
  • Serves on Gloucester Citizens Diabetes Committee
1947
  • Chamber rejects the Newburyport Plan where local merchants would pledge to cut their prices by 10 percent to counteract sweeping post war inflation and instead sends a telegram to President Truman asking him to request that the National Association of Manufacturers inaugurate price reductions
1946
  • Representative Bates of Massachusetts speaks in Washington at the State Department’s Committee on Information for Trade Agreements about a proposal sent by Gloucester Chamber of Commerce President
  • Chamber calls for import quota on fish to be fixed at the 1945 level. “In many New England communities, notably Gloucester, fishing is the only industry. Unless something is done to protect this source of food …sections will be wiped out.”
1944
  • Chamber predicts manpower shortage in the fishing industry of 300-500 by spring of 1944. Draft Boards have been taking fishermen and there is not enough time to get replacements trained. This will eventually lead to a food shortage on the home front.
1943
  • Manager Larry Hart notes that they are suffering from a labor shortage just as every city is. Gloucester’s population grows from 24,000 to 42,000 with summer visitors. The fishing fleet is down by 23 boats, and they can’t get parts. Several hotels have been taken over by the Coast Guard and others are closed for lack of help and food.
  • Norman’s Woe must not go! A magazine article calling for the removal of Norman’s Woe, a 400-yard reef mentioned in Longfellow poem The Wreck of The Hesperus gets the attention of many including the Maritime Association of the Boston Chamber of Commerce. Gloucester Chamber of Commerce Manager, Lawrence J. Hart, speaks out for Gloucester seafarers and residents stating that they are opposed to the removal of Norman’s Woe. They would like Round Rock Shoal removed instead.
1942
  • Chamber President remarks on war restrictions placed on coastal artists. “Sketchers and painters with whom New England coasts and ports are popular, will not be permitted to include any lighthouse or area set aside for defense use, or any government craft or structure in their sketches, drawings, or paintings. Artists may be required to submit their work to someone in authority for approval but no order in that respect had been issued.”
1941
  • Gloucester Chamber of Commerce booth is a busy attraction at the 25th annual Sportsmen and Boat Show held at Mechanics Building in Boston. “Larry Hart and his force in the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce booth were once again swamped with inquiries about tuna fishing in Ipswich Bay. The mounted head of a giant tuna at the Gloucester Booth has attracted considerable attention.”
  • Lawrence Hart speaks on behalf of the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce at the Legislative Committee on Mercantile Affairs in support of allowing highway transportation on Sundays. “Gloucester wants an opportunity to compete with the New York market and by holding fish until after Sunday it is impossible to reach the market in time to make sales. Boston has larger boats with icing facilities, while Gloucester has smaller boats without those conveniences.” Members of the A.F. of L. fishermen’s union say they will strike if the law to permit highway transportation of fish on Sundays was passed.
  • Gloucester Chamber and the Ipswich Bay Tuna Club host Bay State Tuna Derby on July 28 and August 3 on Ipswich Bay.
1939
  • Chamber opens a membership and budget campaign. “It has been many years since the Chamber of Commerce was reorganized from the Board of Trade back in 1920. As these years have passed, the Chamber has established itself as an indispensable organization in the business, civic and community life of the city.”
1937
  • Western Avenue Chamber Booth serves over 18,000 inquiries during the summer season. The film Captains Courageous has been instrumental in attracting more visitors to Gloucester, specifically to the Fisherman’s Permanent Memorial. The supply of tourist maps, specifically The Cape Ann Trail is depleted from the heavy tourist volume.
  • Richard B. Fisher, President of Gloucester Chamber, heads to Boston with city officials by schooner for premiere of Captain’s Courageous. While they are in Boston, they plant a tree in Boston Common near the Soldier’s Monument in memory of the men who have gone down to the sea in ships.
1936
  • Miss Marian S. Goodwin has overseen the Chamber Information booth for 9 years. Between June 27, 1936 – September 15, 1936, twelve thousand people have called the booth for information.
1934
  • Gloucester makes national news during Art Week – a week when members of the summer art colony display their work in the windows of local shopkeepers. A drawing of two nudes in a shop window has Gloucester men and their wives in an uproar. “The offending drawing, by Ann Neumark of Boston has been removed from the window of Blanchard’s Jewelry store by order of Lawrence J. Hart, secretary of the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce, who had been called upon to get the nudes out.”
  • On behalf of Gloucester vessel owners and fisherman, Lawrence Hart speaks out against merger of Navy and Coast Guard.  They do not want a weakened Coast Guard.
1933
  • Local businessman, Jesse R. Kenyon, manager of Rogers Isinglass and Glue Company is elected as Gloucester Chamber of Commerce President.
  • Members of the Chamber as well as British Officers of his Majesty’s Dundee, a visiting British Vessel in Gloucester Harbor, are invited by the Shriners to Shrine Day at the racetrack.
  • Chamber hosts a farewell testimonial dinner to Lieutenant Commander Fletcher W. Brown, commandant of the United States Coast Guard. The party is held at the Savoy Hotel. Chamber President Jesse R. Kenyon introduces Ex-Collector Henry F. Brown as toastmaster. All in attendance voice their appreciation and esteem for Commander Brown
1929
  • Gloucester Chamber of Commerce writes to the Municipal Council asking that they petition the legislature to appoint a Police Commissioner in Gloucester due to the alarming prevalence of crime in the city. “The continued defiance of the will of the people by clans, blocs and lobbies will arouse quietly but irresistible the storm if those of the community arrayed against the sinister forces.”
  • A. Piatt Andrew of Gloucester Chamber of Commerce raises funds to bring Belgian Carillonneur to perform weekly summer carillonneur concerts at the Church of Our Lady of Good Voyage. – Gloucester Chamber and Biloxi, Mississippi Chamber investigate the possibility of a National Schooner Race between the fishing schooners of Gloucester and those of Mississippi. The difference in size of the vessels used on the Atlantic is deemed to present an unfair advantage. The Gloucester Chamber is busy planning their annual schooner race on August 31, September 2 and 3, 1929 with a budget of $20,000.
  • Gloucester Chamber of Commerce reports that the summer of 1929 is one of the biggest seasons in years. The New England Council attributes the increase in tourism to New England tours of the American Automobile Association and the cumulative effect of recreational advertising that has been carried out by state publicity bureaus, hotel associations, and regional organizations.
1928
  • At a meeting held at Spiran Hall in Rockport, William J. MacInnes of Gloucester Chamber speaks in support of Rockport Harbor as port of call for new steamers built by Transoceanic Corporation of the US. Captain Herbert Hartley, representing Transoceanic, visits Cape Ann to inspect Rockport Harbor.
1927
  • Secretary Hart speaks at Ipswich Chamber of Commerce’s First Fall Meeting on October 25 about the work completed by the Gloucester organization. A discussion on local housing follows.
1926
  • Chamber holds a get-together festivity at City Hall, Captain Irving O’Kay addresses the group and tells of the various wars in which he was engaged. A supper and dancing follows. William Kerr was chairman of the committee of arrangements
1925
  • Practically all of Gloucester turns out to send off George C. Crosby, William A. Publicover, and A. Simpson Lyle as they embark on a unique advertising scheme of the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce and Cape Ann Hotel Association, traveling by car covered in Cape Ann advertisements and stopping in every state along the Atlantic coast to Florida.  “One of the most significant features of the car and what perhaps attracted the most attention, is a miniature representation on the top, of the far-famed Thacher’s Island and Lights. The reproduction is exact in every detail. The twin light house is electronically illuminated so as to give the same effect as the island lights themselves.”
  • Chamber extends courtesy membership to Poughkeepsie Chamber of Commerce Manager A. W. Tiller.  Poughkeepsie Chamber reciprocates. “I am sure the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce would want to extend the courtesy to everyone who comes to Cape Ann at any  and all times and if there is any way in which we can be included in this list, will you send us the requirements that we must adhere to? We will be most glad for this opportunity.”
1924
  • Chamber cooperates with Policy Committee of The American Peace Award and the Bok Peace Prize Plan by collecting ballots. “The American Peace Award was created in 1923 by Edward Bok, who believed that the United States government was not taking initiative to promote peace in the world”
1923

Lawrence T. Hart hired as Manager; serves until his retirement in 1961.

  • Chamber elects six directors for a two-year term and three for a one-year term. Three more directors will be chosen to represent industrial, mercantile, and labor interests
1922

Herman F. Lion hired as Manager of Gloucester Chamber of Commerce

  • Chamber rebuts Mayor Wheeler’s inaugural address on Jan 6, 1922, where he lashed out at the fishing industry and Board of Trade/Gloucester Chamber of Commerce calling them a “Band of 40 Thieves.”
  • Chamber President William Kerr and Secretary and recording officer Herman Lion organize meeting of 1500 citizens calling for resignation of Mayor Wheeler. President Kerr call upon William J. MacInnis to interview Mayor Wheeler and entice him to retract his comments and attacks on the fishing community and Chamber.
  • Opens new headquarters in Jason’s Block by an entertainment of singing and general festivities with a buffet lunch served. Moves from the Gloucester National Bank Building at 185 Main Street, which had been its headquarters for nearly 20 years as the Board of Trade.
  • Beautification Committee holds cleanup week and encourages people to remove rubbish from their premises.
  • William E. Kerr of Cunningham & Kerr named First President of Gloucester Chamber of Commerce
1921
  • Gloucester Board of Trade selects an executive committee for the Gloucester Chamber of Commerce Organization campaign.  “The scheme on which four male workers from an institution which makes such work a specialty is being pushed by four men workers.” Headquartered in the Gloucester National Bank, six directors will serve a two-year term and six for one year. The original directors elected are Col. Charles F. Wonson, Louis A. Rogers, William J. MacInnis, John F. Perkins, Arthur C. Davis, William E. Kerr, George O. Stacy, A. Piatt Andrew, Charles T. Heberle, Isaac Patch, Fred A. Schackleford, and Thomas J. Carrroll.
  • Gloucester Chamber of Commerce begins to be organized; committees formed and chairmen appointed: Constitution & Bylaws Committee Chairman – Lincoln S. Simonds; Election Committee Chairman – Fred Bradley; Program of Work Committee Chairman – Louis A. Rogers; Forum Committee Wilfred H. Ringer; New Quarters Committee – Earl O. Phillips
  • Mayor Wheeler calls for a meeting with Gloucester Board of Trade, requesting that they work together despite political differences.