Leading the Business Community since 1801
The Hampton Roads Chamber is proud to be an organization that has been leading the business community since 1801. What started as a group meeting at the Norfolk Exchange Coffee House to establish guidelines for the city’s chamber of commerce turned into the third chamber established in the United States. As the Hampton Roads region developed, individual chambers opened in the Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach cities to support their local business communities.
In the mid 1970’s, the leadership of the five chambers began to meet monthly and created the Area Cooperation Committee. This collaborative effort led to the creation of the Tidewater Virginian magazine that promoted the region’s business community. Together, these leaders tackled major issues like regional development, tourism, education, transportation & port development, and government affairs which expanded past city lines. Through this discovery, it was determined that the creation of a single chamber would better handle regional issues on behalf of the community. In January of 1984, the Hampton Roads Chamber officially went into business!
Many changes went into effect after this merger such as the decision to sell the Tidewater Virginian magazine to Virginia Business Magazine along with the creation of LEAD Hampton Roads (now LEAD757). During that time, the Hampton Roads Small Development Center (the SBDC), became an affiliate and continues now to support small business growth within the region. The Hampton Roads Chamber aided in the creation of the Sports Council of Hampton Roads until its dissolution a few years ago along with the creation of Chamber Solutions which was ultimately sold to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce but continues to offer benefits to chambers across the Commonwealth.
Until 2009, the Chamber kept offices in each of the five cities. It was then discovered that a centrally located office in Downtown Norfolk would better handle the needs of the growing Hampton Roads business community. Over the years, the Chamber has created partnerships with the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, The Hampton Roads Alliance and many more organizations to promote business growth in the region. In 2015, tHRive, the young professionals program of the Chamber was created to empower young professionals and encourage growth in our region. Expansion did not stop there, in 2022 the Chamber proudly welcomed its newest affiliate, VOLUNTEER Hampton Roads.
As our story continues, we are excited to see what great things the future will hold for the Hampton Roads business community and our Chamber alike. As 1 of only 140 Five Star Accredited chambers in the United States, it is certain that YOUR chamber will continue to strive to make this region the best place to do business in Virginia.