In late 1937 a small item in a Santa Clara newspaper announced that W.A. Wahl, Standard Oil agent for Santa Clara, was elected the new president of the Santa Chamber of Commerce, following the business group’s first president, James Dunn.
The organization’s first order of business for the coming year was to appoint a committee to work on Santa Clara Day at the 1939 Golden Gate Exposition in San Francisco.
A lot has changed since then, but the Chamber, now Silicon Valley Central (SVC) Chamber of Commerce, is still in the business of serving local businesses and promoting the many advantages of the Santa Clara Valley as a business location.
On Sept. 8, SVC Chamber celebrated that anniversary*, joined by more than a dozen local chambers in a barbecue mixer featuring plenty of celebrity guests. The anniversary was marked with proclamations and recognition from Governor Gavin Newsom, State Senator Bob Wieckowski, Assemblyman Alex Lee and Santa Clara University President Julie Sullivan.
Miss Santa Clara Tiffany Austin, Miss Silicon Valley Jasmine Wu and Miss USOA Alexis Steen were on hand to greet guests with smiles that didn’t wilt even in the 100-plus degree weather.
Another South Bay favorite, Sharks mascot S.J. Sharkie, was also circulating and dispensing hospitality — when he wasn’t trying to grab more hot dogs.
“It was fortunate his calendar was open because he loves to come to events,” said Sharks Group Sales Executive Kieran Paradine.
“We brought all the Chambers together to leverage our collective power in growing businesses in our region, in Silicon Valley,” said SVC Chamber Immediate Past Chair Joe Siecinski.
“It’s all about supporting businesses,” said Board President and “kitchen manager” John Elwood.
“The anniversary reminds us about the importance of not only saying what we’re going to do but then going out and doing it,” Elwood said. “Over the last two years we’ve been learning how to go forward in spite of COVID, and it’s important now to put those lessons to work in building regional cooperation and promoting the identity of South Bay businesses.”
Event coordinator Laura Merchants was encouraged by the turnout of about 150 for the anniversary.
“I’m very excited to see this many people even on such a hot day and also with the recognition from so many public officials,” said Merchants.
“The pandemic has not been easy,” Assemblyman Lee told the guests. “But now we’re going forward and we look forward to a great partnership.”
*The Chamber was officially incorporated in 1947, making this its 75th official birthday. But it was at work a decade before. The Santa Clara City Library’s collection of Chamber scrapbooks from 1937 through 1961 can be found at https://en.calameo.com/accounts/441915. The scrapbooks are a valuable source for digitally indexed clippings from local newspapers.