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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Dinnerware once used by the Chamber. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

DUBUQUE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE. Organization whose goals are the promotion of the Dubuque area for a broad range of commercial and industrial activities and promotion of the quality of life in the Dubuque area, has a long history.

The Chamber is a member of a long line of organizations whose goal has been to improve the business climate of the city. The first BOARD OF TRADE was organized on September 28, 1854, at a meeting held in the Globe Hotel. The officers included Forrest GOODRICH, president; Edwin James, Jr., secretary; and Mordeai MOBLEY, treasurer. Efforts were made by this group to expand the trade territory of Dubuque, but the organization, faced with the hardships caused by the CIVIL WAR, lasted only a few years before disbanding.

On January 8, 1876, the second Board of Trade was founded at a meeting held in the offices of the Dubuque Agricultural Society. Henry S. HETHERINGTON was elected president and John Samuel HANCOCK, secretary. Membership grew from ninety-six members in the first year to one hundred fifty the second year.

In 1902 a new organization was formed to advertise the city. The DUBUQUE CLUB proved extremely successful. In 1911 this organization sponsored the Dubuque Industrial Corporation that raised funds to attract the BRUNSWICK-BALKE-COLLENDER COMPANY, the first large industrial firm to locate in the city.

By 1916 weaknesses in the Dubuque Club led to it merging with other organizations in the community to form the second commercial club.


The DUBUQUE COMMERCIAL CLUB members on February 16,1 920, changed the name of their group to the Dubuque Chamber of Commerce. In 1922 the Chamber purchased the former site of the DUBUQUE CLUB, and it became one of the few Chambers of Commerce in the United States to be the owner of a modern building in which civic activities could be centered.

Efforts to attract and keep businesses in Dubuque had been the primary goal since its founding. Perhaps realizing that Dubuque was becoming too dependent upon a few major industries, the Chamber in 1922 established its New Industries Committee. Composed of fifty businessmen, the committee carefully reviewed all companies interested in coming to Dubuque. Unfortunately for the Chamber, this may have created the feeling during the GREAT DEPRESSION that the Chamber was really not interested in new companies, but simply supporting those in town. (1)

In 1928 a special committee of the Chamber was instrumental in combining the fund drives of the Dubuque Boy Scouts, DUBUQUE BOYS' CLUB, YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.M.C.A.), YOUNG WOMEN'S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION (Y.W.C.A.), Sunshine Circle, MOUNT PLEASANT HOME, HILLCREST BABY FOLD, Salvation Army, and DUBUQUE VISITING NURSE ASSOCIATION into Dubuque's Community Chest, the predecessor of the United Fund and United Way.

In 1929 the Chamber sponsored the first annual "Made in Dubuque" week to showcase Dubuque businesses. A "Miss Dubuque" was chosen.

During the years of the Great Depression, the Chamber championed aviation and encouraged the city to plan on the development of an AIRPORT. The Chamber was active in sponsoring events. An estimated 400 farmers, business, and professional people attended the first annual Tri-County Indoor Picnic at the UNIVERSITY OF DUBUQUE. The following year, at least 10,000 people attended the Dubuque County Farm Bureau Picnic at UNION PARK sponsored by the Retail Merchants' Bureau of the Chamber. The Dubuque Chamber hosted representatives of fourteen other cities in 1930 at the Upper Mississippi River Conference to push for a nine-foot MISSISSIPPI RIVER channel. The same year, by special action of the Board of Directors of the Chamber, a Credit Rating Bureau was established.

The Centennial Celebration in Dubuque in September 1930 marked the Black Hawk Purchase Treaty of June 1, 1833; the 145th anniversary of the settlement of Dubuque; and the 103rd anniversary of the city on its present site. Various committees of the Chamber worked for years on this event.

In 1975 the Chamber published a book that represented the community through pictures and promoted the area. In 1980 the Chamber developed the Dubuque Book which businesses could use in recruiting new employees. It was also an economic development tool. The book was updated in 1988. In 1994 the chamber proposed an image package of two parts. One part would include the Metro-Community book with the theme "Building a Strong Future on Solid Heritage." This would also include topics like family values, culture and arts, tourism, history, medical arts, business and industry. The second part would be a Newcomer Information Kit with information on utilities and a map of the city. Companies could tailor the image package to meet their own needs. (2)

In 1991 the Chamber received a Certificate of Achievement in the field of member retention awarded by the National Association of Membership Directors.

In September 2001 staff members of the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce and the GREATER DUBUQUE DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION relocated from their offices in the TOWN CLOCK PLAZA to their new home, Harbor View Place, a three-story, 25,000-square-foot facility at Third and Main STREETS. The prior location had a variety of problems, but the primary consideration was that the building was not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Constructed on the site of the 150-year-old MERCHANTS' HOTEL, the construction of the new building featured brick facade and turret carrying an "old Main feel." Now, however, the site was being labeled "the gateway into the Fourth Street Peninsula area" with the city's America's River project. (3)

Photo: 2017

Affiliated under the Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce, Young Professionals Dubuque (YPD) was formed in 2006 to connect young professionals with each other, the business community, and the city.

Young Professionals of Dubuque began with approximately 60 members and grew to over 1400 members by 2016. The Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce discovered that Dubuque-area young professionals were looking for an organization that would do things differently. Young professionals were asking for a group that addressed their needs with creativity and a focus on professional development, networking, and community involvement. Those needs coincided with the Chamber's desire to acquaint the area's young professionals with each other; knowing that relationship is a powerful retention tool. (4)

The 1966 Dubuque City Directory listed 607 Fischer Building.

The 1985 Dubuque City Directory listed 880 Locust.

The 1987 Dubuque City Directory listed 790 Main.

The 1993 Dubuque City Directory listed 770 Town Clock Plaza.



1. "Turning Points," Telegraph Herald, September 25, 1983, p. 29

2. Bergstrom, Kathy. "Chamber Develops Image Package," Telegraph Herald, March 18, 1994, p. 2A

3. Kittle, M. D.,"Dubuque Chamber Moves Into Its New Home," Telegraph Herald, September 8, 2001, p. 3

4. Dubuque Chamber of Commerce. Online: http://www.dubuquechamber.com/workforce/young-professionals

Gibson, Michael. "Yesterday and Today." The Golden View, January 2012

Pamphlet. "Dubuque Area Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner Celebrating Its 60th Anniversary March 31, 1976