Chamber of Commerce

The Partnership: BCA, CCAA Working Together on Behalf of Business

In 1937, as Alabama teetered on the brink of recovery from the Great Depression, representatives of the chambers of commerce from the leading cities of Alabama — Huntsville, Mobile, Dothan, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, Alexander City, Selma and Dothan, along with utility and media representatives — met in Mobile to found what was originally known as The Alabama Association of Commercial Organizations. The intent of this group, as originally stated, was to "foster the commercial, industrial, and recreational welfare of the state…"

This group of like-minded business and civic leaders maintained a loose association through the years, and in 1997, adopted the name Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama (CCAA). In 1999, the volunteer leadership of CCAA saw the need to take CCAA from a volunteer-led organization to a professionally staffed group that would allow it to become more involved in events that would shape the future of Alabama's business community. Ralph Stacy, former executive director of the Greenville Area Chamber of Commerce and past Chairman of CCAA, was named the CCAA's first president and CEO and set about the task of bringing more than 120 local chambers across the state together to help form a true grassroots business network.

In 2003, William J. Canary, former special assistant to President George H. W. Bush and most recently president and CEO of the American Trucking Association, accepted the post of president and CEO of The Business Council of Alabama (BCA). Since its formation in 1985 by the merger of the Alabama Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Industries and Manufacturers, BCA had always maintained contact with CCAA and supported the efforts of local chambers. Canary saw the great potential that the more than 60,000 members of local chambers offered to the efforts of BCA in the halls of government and set in motion a plan to formalize the relationship of the two organizations. In October 2003, an historic agreement was signed linking the two through The Partnership.

In the 10 years following formation of The Partnership, both groups have been able to find common ground on business issues. In addition to bringing local business leaders of all types together in the Leadership Exchange format, The Partnership maintains contact during the legislative session through conference calls with key BCA staff, elected leaders and others involved in the political process to keep local chambers and their leadership up to date on business issues. Through the Capital Briefing publication, members of The Partnership receive a weekly update on the goings-on in Montgomery and Washington. The Partnership also coordinates trips to the State House for several chambers who want to visit with their local legislators.

The mission of CCAA is "to build a better Alabama…through strong Chambers of Commerce." The Partnership, anchored by BCA's unwavering support, helps bring that mission to reality. That same spirit set forth in 1937 is still alive and well today in the form of The Partnership.

For more information, contact Jeremy Arthur, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama, at jarthur@bcatoday.org or (334) 264-2112.

You can also contact Kim Thompson with the Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama at kimt@bcatoday.org or (334) 264-2112.