Northeast Kansas City Chamber of CommerceOur History in the Northeast
From a small business group called (NEAT) NorthEast Alliance Together, the Northeast Chamber of Commerce (NECC) was founded in August 1994 as a 501(c) 6 organization.
Progress can be seen in the programs and services established by staff and board members over the years. Hired as the first Executive Director, Tom Frommer, a Christian Pastor by profession, contributed his experience of working with volunteer organizations and his faith in God to help create an identity for the Chamber.
Implemented were the Business After Hours, the first Fall Festival and the Outstanding Business Awards. The Business After Hours, hosted by chamber members, provides network opportunities for businesses to exchange business cards, promote products and services, and finally, meet new friends.
The Fall Festival was created to highlight the Northeast neighborhood, businesses and area organizations. The Festival really started as a parade celebrating the 100 th birthday of Independence Blvd. , the first Kansas City Boulevard . There were coordinated activities all over the Northeast area. The following year another smaller parade led people to our first festival at the Concourse Park , with live stage entertainment, carnival and community activities. This festival continues to grow and introduce new people to the area.
The Outstanding Business Awards are provided each year to those businesses that have displayed a commitment to helping the Northeast thrive and survive. Past recipients have included Regal Plastics, Champion Graphics and Spallitio’s Pharmacy. Many more have followed.
Proceeding Tom’s great work as Executive Director was Scarritt Renaissance Neighborhood Association President, Michael Bushnell. Michael, a small business owner of Northeast Telecommunication Consultants brought to the chamber the importance of bridging the gap between business and community.
This was evident, as important strategic alliances were established between the chamber and the Historic Homes Tour, Kite Festival, Public Improvement Advisory Committee (PIAC) and finally with the surrounding neighborhood associations. In addition, the Chamber established working relationships with the neighborhood’s two elected state officials, Senator Ronnie DePasco and Representative Henry Rizzo. Their efforts helped mold the chamber into an advocate for the neighborhood, allowing the chamber to provide regular legislative updates and organizing annual visits to our state capital as part of Northeast Chamber Day.
Lastly, under Michael’s leadership, membership thrived, reaching a high of 80 paid members. This growth was a result of an aggressive sales effort by the chamber’s Ambassador Committee (one of many active board committees), reasonable membership dues that range from as low as $50/year (0-2 employees) to as high as $400/year (26 + employees) and Chamber incentive offerings that include Business Training Seminars, a Bi-monthly newsletter and monthly networking luncheons. Luncheons at that time were held at Jennies Italian Restaurant. Michael Bushnell, seeing a personal business opportunity and the need for a voice for the business and residential community, purchased the Northeast News, the local paper. This left an opening for not just one Executive Director but two to fill the shoes of Mr. Bushnell.
John Fierro and Rosemary Gibbons were hired as part time staff in July of 1998. Their one year tenure brought the chamber a combined 30 years of experience in the not for profit sector in those areas needed to enhance the work of their predecessors. Those areas include advocacy, training, program development and fundraising. Their grant writing efforts brought the Chamber a city grant to purchase a Gateway computer, establish a Northeast business database and develop marketing materials. John Fierro moved on the Mattie Rhoads Center and Rosemary Gibbons to Africa .
In June of 1999 Rebecca Koop, a Chamber business and Board member since 1995, assumed the part time position as Executive Director. Her long time involvement in spearheading the Fall Festival, Concourse Fountain renovation, community involvement and board experience prompted her to leave her teaching position of 18 years at William Jewell College and accept the directorship.
Rebecca was responsible for coordinating the first annual Pocket Directory in 1999-2000 and individual profile binder of members businesses. The Fall 2001-2002 Pocket Directory includes 101 members and a locater map. The 2002-2003 will include web and e-mail addresses. Directories are made available free to the public at the Fall Festival. The current Chamber Logo and Fall Festival promotional brochure were influenced by her artwork designs. Rebecca set into motion implementing the City grant and setting up the Chambers books. The Executive Directors responsibilities include; managing memberships, yearly membership directory, invoicing, mailings, newsletters, notices, correspondence, organizing monthly luncheons, speakers and programs. The Chamber office is located inside the UMB Bank at 6400 Independence Ave. We can be reached at 816-231-3312.
Your Chamber Board and Staff are hard at work with our updated Strategic Plan that will mark a new course for the upcoming years. We are excited about Cliff Drive being designated as a Missouri Scenic By-Way and the future economic growth it may bring. Great improvements are being made to Independence Avenue . Our ongoing partnerships with Old Northeast Inc., Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic EDC, and Historic Northeast Renovation Corporation will benefit both businesses and residents. We continue to support area organizations, churches and schools as we all work towards providing important cultural, economic, social, and educational resources for our Northeast Community.