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Chamber to celebrate centennial

Caroline Carlson | Daily Press The Delta County Chamber of Commerce’s new multi-use complex is home to the commerce center’s organizations, Upper Peninsula Military Museum and the Webster Marble Inventing the Outdoors Museum. Pictured is Delta County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vickie Micheau giving a tour of a World War II exhibit at the Upper Peninsula Military Museum.

ESCANABA — The Delta County Chamber of Commerce will celebrate 100 years of dedication to its members and the community in July of 2021.

The area’s first chamber meeting was held on July 1, 1921 in Escanaba’s Strand Theatre. Original members included the William Bonifas Lumber Co., Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad, Escanaba Paper Company, National Grocer, State Savings Bank, National Pole Company, Delta Hardware Co., Fair Savings Bank Department Store, J.K. Stack Estate, Escanaba Manufacturing Company, Birdseye Veneer, I Stephenson Co. Trustees, Delta Hotel, Escanaba Motor Company, A.J. Kirstin Company, Ed Erickson Co., Greenhoot Bros., Kurz Bros. and Escanaba Morning Press.

In 1922 the Morning Press described the chamber not as “a factory grabbing institution,” but as “a civil betterment league.”

The Escanaba Chamber of Commerce was incorporated in December 1955. It’s purpose was to promote the improvement of business conditions and the civic, economic and social welfare of the people of Escanaba. The chamber was renamed the Delta County Chamber of Commerce in January 1976, amending the articles of incorporation to include the surrounding vicinity.

Today the mission of the over 650-member chamber is “to promote Delta County to make it a better community in which to live and transact business,” said Delta County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Vickie Micheau.

The chamber’s members come from local retail, commercial and industrial businesses. It also draws professionals and community members from Delta County and the surrounding area who seek involvement in business development, community improvement, and cultural and environmental enhancement.

To commemorate the centennial, the chamber will be posting one-minute videos on their Facebook page from January until its annual dinner in October. The videos will feature business representatives from the chamber’s longtime members, including the four original members still in existence who signed on in 1921. The original members include Verso Corporation (previously Escanaba Paper Company), Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad, Upper Michigan Peninsula State Bank (previously State Savings Bank), and Escanaba Daily Press (previously Escanaba Morning Press). The videos will also feature recipients of the chamber’s Century Award.

“It is important to the chamber that we showcase the milestones of our members over the century, and that will be our focus. The chamber would not exist today if not for our members and a supportive community,” said Micheau.

The anniversary celebration will be held in July 2021 at the chamber’s new multi-use complex on the U.P. State Fairgrounds. Home to the commerce center’s organizations, Upper Peninsula Military Museum and the Webster Marble Inventing the Outdoors Museum, the complex was funded through donations by the John and Melissa Besse Foundation and numerous community members. The new build received so much support that it was completed in less than a year.

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